ALBA INTERNATIONAL WHITE TRUFFLE FAIR
Held over five weekends in October and November, this festival in the Italian capital of white truffles comprises two events: Palatartufo: the Alba White Truffle World Market and AlbaQualita: an exhibition of gourmet food and wine from the local Piedmont region, one of the world's gourmet hot spots. Visitors can taste and buy authentic Alba white truffles and enjoy a range of activities including mediaeval re-enactments, gourmet street markets, wine and gastronomy events in this lovely old city. The festivities date back 84 years. With both Barolo and Barbaresco wines emanating from the region, wine enjoyment is assured. See fieradeltartufo.org.
TASTE OF CHICAGO
This annual festival bills itself as the biggest outdoor food event in the world, attracting more than two million visitors annually. To be held in Grant Park from July 9-13, 2014, the event offers the chance to sample such waist-threatening delights as Chicago-style deep dish pizza, barbecued ribs, Polish sausages and Eli's Cheesecake wares, along with a wide range of ethnic and regional foods. Beer and wine choices, however, are limited. This will be the 34th time the event has been held and live musical acts are a highlight, with Carlos Santana, Robert Plant and Kenny Rogers among those to have performed previously. See cityofchicago.org.
Franschhoek is arguably South Africa's most scenic wine region and is worth visiting at any time, but the annual Uncorked Festival, held over two days each September, heralds the start of spring and the release of new vintage white wines. Many of the leading wineries combine to offer live entertainment and several of them are home to restaurants serving local specialties. Others offer barrel tastings of unfinished wines or the chance to sample local gourmet foodstuffs, including spit-roasted meats, and local fruits and vegetables. Wineries involved include standouts in Boekenhoutskloof, Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate, Vrede en Lust and Solms-Delta, with authentic Cape cuisine and performances by the winery's own choir. See franschhoekuncorked.co.za.
GOURMET ABU DHABI
Billed as a "gastronomic lifestyle extravaganza", Gourmet Abu Dhabi has grown into a major international culinary festival, despite the fact many of the residents of Abu Dhabi do not drink alcohol. Each year a collection of big-name Michelin-starred chefs host dinners paired with wines from leading international producers, and the schedule also includes cooking classes. French chefs Pascal Barbot and Michel Rostang starred this year, alongside Australians Frank Camorra and Brent Savage, with wines from the likes of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild and Vega-Sicilia. The event runs from February 4-19, 2014. See gourmetabudhabi.ae.
SALON DES VINS DES VIGNERONS INDEPENDANTS
Small independent winemakers from across France descend on Paris twice a year to show off their "authentic wines with personality" in a fun atmosphere. If you've never tried a chablis or a corbieres before, here's your chance. Held at Port de Versailles on the edge of the city, this fair offers the chance to meet the winemakers and try wines from over 1000 labels and 13 different regions, so you are certain to uncover something new and exciting. These events are held in several of the major cities of France but the Paris event is the biggest and best. The next will be held from November 28-December 2, with another in March 2014.
THE WORLD GOURMET SUMMIT
One of the longest-running international gastronomic events, the World Gourmet Summit, supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, comes of age when it celebrates its 18th anniversary from March 26-April 5, 2014. This epicurean festival features some of the best chefs from around the globe (Mark Best and Matt Moran are among previous guests) as well as leading international wine producers hosting dinners and tastings. Aimed at showcasing Singapore as a leading foodie destination, the summit attracted more than 20,000 visitors last year and you'll find street food and cooking classes as well as celebrity chefs. See worldgourmetsummit.com.