Illustration: Mick Connolly.
Illustration: Mick Connolly.

No matter how committed you are to eating and drinking, you'd have to attend 14 events every day for 17 days to cover the whole Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. To save you from this arduous, artery-hardening and altogether impossible undertaking, I've trawled through the program to come up with flavourful picks from this massively tasty festival, which runs from next Friday, March 1, to March 17.

We're all deliciously different, so pick a character and get planning.

For details and bookings, see melbournefoodandwine.com.au.

Scott Pickett, chef & co-owner of The Estelle in Northcote, is dishing up a wagyu feast.
Scott Pickett, chef & co-owner of The Estelle in Northcote, is dishing up a wagyu feast. Photo: Simon Schluter

 

The boozehound

You don't mind a tipple and you'd like to drink better, or possibly just more often. Hic.

Illustration: Mick Connolly.
Illustration: Mick Connolly.

The Wines of Wonderland

British wine guru Jancis Robinson presides over a panel discussing unusual and up-and-coming wine varieties. Be among the first in Australia to discover and taste wines such as Koshu from Japan, Teroldego from Italy, and Bobal from Spain. $160, Sunday, March 10, 3-5.30pm. ANZ Pavilion, Arts Centre, Melbourne.

The Festival of Hochkirch

John Nagorcka produces lovely biodynamic wines near the Grampians on a farm that also raises pigs and lamb. He'll be pouring his pinot noir and chef Brigitte Hafner will cook his lamb. $45 (children $10), Sunday, March 3, noon-6pm. Gertrude Street Enoteca, 229 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.

Cocktails v Wine

A sommelier and a mixologist fight for your votes in a contest that's sure to be as edifying as it is inebriating. Mezze are included. $75, Wednesday, March 6, to Friday, March 8, 5.30-7pm. Maha, 21 Bond Street, Melbourne.

Digging for Culture and When the Earth Gave Back

Vue de Monde's Lui Bar digs into Melbourne's liquid history in a two-part celebration that mines the history of gold-rush cocktails. The first night looks at settler drinks, including the cheeky Blow my Skull; the second revisits a menu from 1853 and includes Absinthe Punch. Food is included. $140 each night ($240 for both), Wednesday, March 6, and Thursday, March 14, 7-11pm. Level 55, Rialto, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne.

Brewer's Breakfast

It's never too early for beer so bring your bright, bushy tail to this brewing and baking demo, followed by breakfast. $65, Saturday, March 16, 8-10.30am, Bridge Road Brewers, Ford Street, Beechworth.

Sake Dinner

You'll be a sake sage after Taxi's sommeliers introduce you to sakes from around Japan, matched with elegant and sympathetic food. $120, Tuesday, March 12, 7-10.30pm. Taxi Dining Room, Federation Square, Melbourne.

Mezcal and Molé

Learn to cook Mexican food with Paul Wilson, then sit down for lunch in which you eat the seven varieties of Oaxacan molé´ (sauce) and taste mezcal, a spirit distilled from agave. Good luck standing up at the end of the festivities. $100, Sunday, March 10, 11am-2.30pm. Acland Street Cantina, 2 Acland Street, St Kilda.

 

Cheapskate

Loving the experiences but not loving the empty pockets.

Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar

Drink great Guatemalan coffee and learn about the magic bean's storied journey from South American hillside to Melbourne beverage. The walk-through farm installation features daily showcases from top Melbourne cafes. Free entry, coffee $3. March 1-17, Queensbridge Square, Southbank.

Gourmet Barbecue Festival

This weekend-long barbecue showcase includes an academy outlining various techniques, burger-creation contests (Saturday and Sunday, noon) and a wing-eating showdown (Saturday and Sunday, 1pm). $15 (food and some activities extra), Friday, March 1, 3-10pm; Saturday, March 2, 9am-10pm; Sunday, March 3, 9am-7pm. South Beach Reserve, Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda.

A Brunch of Cultures

Fifty-Six Threads Cafe serves a five-course brunch munch around the world. $40, Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3, 56 Derby Street, Kensington.

Restaurant Express

Some of Melbourne's best restaurants are doing lunch at a steal, with two courses, a glass of wine and tea or coffee for $40. The value is particularly keen at Matteo's, Grossi Florentino, Atlantic and Nobu. Also check out Bar Express for fixed-price drink experiences at cool bars.

Dandenong World Fare

Take advantage of free shuttle buses from Dandenong Station to attend this dandy eat, drink and dance-fest, with global food and performances. Free; tasting plates from $1. Sunday, March 3, 11am-4pm. Dandenong Market, 39 Cleeland Street, Dandenong.

 

Gourmand

You know - or wish you knew - the difference between veloute and verdelho.

Theatre of Ideas

Tickets to most masterclass chef demonstrations are sold out but three culinary stars are also presenting at this talk-fest focused on the future of food. Hear Australia's Matthew Evans, Canada's Michael Stadtlander and Sweden's Magnus Nilsson talk about sustainability, farming and the importance of food traditions. $65, Sunday, March 10, 2-5pm. Hamer Hall, Arts Centre, Melbourne.

Carcass to Coals

A whole free-range pig is butchered and cooked in a reverent nose-to-tail adventure. $280, Sunday, March 10, 10am-5pm. The Plot, 83 Gamon Street, Yarraville.

Teage and Scott's Wagyu Feast

Two of Melbourne's top chefs - The Estelle's Scott Pickett and Ezard's Teage Ezard - get creative with Sher wagyu beef over a five-course degustation that features wines from the same region in which the beef is grown. $185, Tuesday, March 5, 6.30-10pm. Ezard, 187 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

Explorar Nopales

If prickly pear, the fruit of the nopal cactus, isn't on your weekly shopping/foraging list, you had better come to this cactus-centric Mexican dinner. $45, Sunday, March 3, 7-10.30pm. Senoritas, 16 Meyers Place, Melbourne.

Alistair Wise

Tasmanian patissier Alistair Wise has designed a nostalgic selection of cakes and confections for afternoon tea, and makes an appearance on March 11. $59, Monday, March 4, to Friday, March 15, 10.30am-4.30pm. Aria Bar & Lounge, The Langham Melbourne, Southbank.

Dig It. Dejustation

Vegetarians are catered for at most food-festival events but this garden banquet puts vegetarian food centre-stage, with a six-course dinner featuring foraged forest ingredients. Gluten-free diners are welcome too. $99, Saturday, March 16, 6-10pm. Goldmines Hotel, 49-57 Marong Road, Bendigo.

 

Hungry kid

You're a junior masterchef with a penchant for plating up.

Cellar Door and Artisan Market

Children's cooking classes from chefs including Shane Delia and Joseph Abboud are part of an impressive weekend of food and wine sampling, picnicking and music at Como House. From $20 ($45 with wine tasting, under-12s free), Saturday, March 2, and Sunday, March 3, 11am-6pm. Corner Williams Road and Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra.

Dumpling Festival

Doesn't good parenting mean ensuring your kids love dumplings? If your answer is ''yes'', bring them to this all-day celebration of Cantonese dumplings, with cooking demos and lion dancing. Free (food extra), Sunday, March 3, 10am-3pm. Treasury Gardens.

Eat Drink Grow

Collingwood hipster hub and kid-friendly hangout the People's Market is celebrating sustainable food with right-on bites, veggie-patch workshops and bluegrass bands. $2 (food extra), Saturday, March 2, noon-3pm and 5-10pm. 64-68 Stanley Street, Collingwood.

Oodles of Noodles

Kung Fu Panda screens on the banks of the Maribyrnong, preceded by a noodle and dumpling frenzy. Free, Friday, March 1, 6.30-10pm. River Lawn, Footscray Community Arts Centre, 45 Moreland Street, Footscray.

Mini Chocolate Maestros

Children select decorative elements from a colourful buffet and use them in their chocolate creations under a chef's supervision. $35, Saturday, March 2, 10am, 1pm and 3pm. ANZ Pavilion, Arts Centre, Melbourne. (See also Become a Junior Chocolatier in the Yarra Valley.)

Picnic in the Paddock

Sack races, apple-bobbing and kite-flying are part of the picture at this traditional picnic, with local produce on hand to create a relaxing twilight picnic about two hours north of Melbourne. $15-$45 (under-12s free), Saturday, March 16, 3-8pm. Bridgeward Grove Olives and Art, 170 Englishs Road, Goornong.

 

Glam nibbler

Lovely food is part of your lovely life.

Sparkling, King Prawns and Caviar

Sip local bubbles or beer, taste hand-milked Yarra Valley caviar and munch local prawns while the experts involved explain how your lunch came to be. $90, Saturday, March 2, Saturday, March 9, Sunday, March 10, Monday, March 11, 12.30-3.30pm. Mentone Hotel, Mentone; Portland Hotel, Melbourne; The Exchange, Port Melbourne.

Pop, Rock and Pearls

Oysters shucked by the farmers who grew them, traditional caviar and marvellous champagne are on the menu at this intimate rooftop occasion. $150, Saturday, March 9, 2-5.30pm. The Aylesbury, 103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne.

Designer Bites

Food and fashion merge in a Gertrude Street crawl that combines VIP shopping with elegant eats at a total of seven hip venues. $95, Tuesday, March 5, 6-10pm. Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.

Fashion and Food Is Art

Fashion and food writers and top chefs, including Nicolas Poelaert and Ian Curley, talk about the connections between the sartorial and the succulent at this chatty lunch. $125, Friday, March 1, 12.30-3.30pm. ANZ Pavilion, Arts Centre, Melbourne.

Cheese, Wine, Objects

Beautiful food is elevated by perfect crockery and potter Shelley Panton's creations are as lovely as it gets. At this entertaining showcase, Panton's plates are the tactile stage for artisan Swiss cheese. $75, Wednesday, March 6, 6.30-8pm. Shelley Panton's Studio & Store, 88 Park Road, Middle Park.

Cocktails of Melbourne Dinner

Uh-oh, five courses of cocktails but, hey, it's OK because it's educational. Radio 3RRR's Cam Smith and alcohol authority Sebastian Reaburn lead this garrulous gulp through Melbourne's liquid history. $160, Tuesday, March 5, and Thursday, March 7, 7-11.30pm. Queen's Hall, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne.

Ardbeg Whisky

One of Scotland's earthiest, smokiest whiskies recently took a trip into space to see what effect zero gravity has on the ageing process. Try this peaty traveller and others, along with canapes. $55, Tuesday, March 12, 7-10pm. Alumbra, Shed 9, Central Pier, Docklands.

 

Bucket-lister

You've always wanted to pick, pluck, prepare, poach …

Hook, Lunch and Sinker

Take a fishing boat into the bay, haul in the catch of the day, then have it cooked for you by Stokehouse chefs. Beware, fisherfolk rise early! $190, Sunday, March 3, 6am-3pm. Stokehouse, 30 Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda.

Forage and Feast

Keep your eyes peeled for mushrooms on this foraging expedition to the Mornington Peninsula. Later, enjoy what you've gathered in a five-course meal. $160, Saturday, March 9, 9am-1pm and 6.30-10.30pm. Lamaro's, 273 Cecil Street, South Melbourne.

Crush, Stomp, Drink

There's lovely longevity to this good-value event. Crush grapes in the Epocha backyard then recover with lunch. Later in the year, return to taste your wine along with dinner. $150, Saturday March 9, 9am-3pm. Epocha, 49 Rathdowne Street, Carlton.

Super Healthy Home-made Bread

Bread-making is fun, healthy and enriching. Learn how to do it at this hands-on class, which also promises to send you home with a personal baking plan. $150, Saturday, March 2, 12.30-3.30pm, and Wednesday, March 13, 6-9pm. Brasserie Bread, 150 Thistlethwaite Street, South Melbourne.

Traditional Pickers' Lunch

The final days of the festival are dominated by rural events, including this enticing experience: join winemakers in picking, sorting and crushing grapes, then sit down with the experts for lunch. $120, Friday, March 15, 10am-4pm. De Bortoli Wines, 58 Pinnacle Lane, Dixons Creek.

Bushfood Flavours Cooking School

Native herbs and spices are the new ''it'' ingredients. Learn how to use and grow them at this hands-on class and lunch. $95, Sunday, March 17, 10am-2pm. Peppermint Ridge Farm, 540 Tynong North Road, Tynong North.

Slice and Dice Knife Skills

Wonky potato dice? Curvy julienne carrots? Sharpen up your act at hands-on cutting classes. $89, Saturday, March 2, 10.30am-noon, 2-3.30pm. Chef's Armoury, 422 Church Street, Richmond.

Melbourne's Six Sister Cities

You may never travel to Melbourne's sister cities, but at least you can get a flavour of them, assisted by Hamer Hall restaurant Trocadero and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Bring on Boston, Milan, Osaka, St Petersburg, Thessaloniki and Tian Jin. $180, Saturday, March 2, 1-4pm. Arts Centre, Melbourne.