Beyond the festival
1. Don't assume that every restaurant is booked solid with or without festival events. You never know until you ask or check out OpenTable. We also swear by lingering lunches.
2. Grab lunch in the city. More often than not, a lot of "talent" doesn't have plans during the day, and you can catch them (and their teams) at some of the favorite lunch spots around town: Butcher & Bee, Two Boroughs Larder, Xiao Bao Biscuit.
3. My favorite late-night after-hours hang-out during the festival is The Bar at Husk. Great whiskey and always a great place to chat with the who's who in Southern cooking!
4. Go to Martha Lou's. It seems like everyone from out of town makes a stop at the soul food mecca. For my money, I head up to Bertha's Kitchen. If it's good enough for John T. (Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance), it's good enough for me.
5. Jon Bonne's book signing at Heirloom Books on Thursday is not an official festival event, but it will be mighty fun and enlightening. - Harry Root, owner of Grassroots Wine
6. Don't hesitate to stray from the festival schedule, especially if an event doesn't suit you. If a ticketed dinner feels like it's dragging, it's OK to duck out for a drink at a local bar.
7. All the food, wine and cocktails taste better when you are guilt-free. Start each day with a sunrise run along the Battery waterfront, and keep an eye out for dolphins: If it's warm enough, you may spot one. - Charlotte Voisey, Portfolio Ambassador for William Grant & Sons
8. The main areas around Marion Square are basically total chaos. As someone who loves to get away from that, I would suggest sneaking away for a picnic at Brittlebank Park off of Lockwood. No one is hardly ever up that way, and you can smell the salt air right off the Ashley and lay out a blanket without massive crowds trampling over you. Of course, you could also swing by Salty Mike's and The Marina Variety store on your way back for a snack and a drink with some locals. - Geoff Rhyne, The Ordinary's chef de cuisine
9. If you haven't visited Charleston since last year's festival, you'll find lots of new restaurants in town, including Big John's, Edmund's Oast, Leyla, Indaco, DeSano Pizza Bakery, Craftsmen Kitchen and Taphouse, Basico, Coda del Pesce, Sweet Radish Bakery and Warehouse, which is winning national recognition for its Sunday brunch.
10. Since food is the focus of the weekend, don't miss a trip to Heirloom (Book Co.) and The Commons, the shared shop on Broad Street with new and vintage cookbooks side by side with some great kitchen wares made in America. - Brooks Reitz, founder of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. and the forthcoming Leon's Oyster Shop
11. Walk as much as possible to and from events. While we're not saying you should head across the Ravenel Bridge to the Pluff Mud Oyster Roast in Mount Pleasant (not a bad idea, come to think of it), we try to pound the cobblestones when we can. - Lynn and Cele Seldon, travel writers
12. Take a cab. You don't have to worry about parking and you're free to enjoy the tastes and sips with no hesitation. - Carrie Bailey-Morey, owner of Callie's Biscuits
13. There is no secret parking lot: If you must drive, don't count on being able to park close to the festival grounds.
14. Rent a golf cart. Not a lot of people know that golf carts are legal in downtown Charleston. If you're staying downtown and going to events downtown, it's nice to get around with the open air cruise of a cart. - Brooks Reitz, founder of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. and the forthcoming Leon's Oyster Shop
15. Make plans to stay downtown and within walking distance to most of the activities. Drinking and driving is a no-no and who wants to be the designated driver at the biggest (and best!) food and wine festival of the year? - Lynn and Cele Seldon, travel writers
16. As wonderful as the downtown hotels are, don't be afraid to stay a little bit off the beaten path. Charleston is a lovely town to take a nice 15-20 minute stroll to Marion Square, and you'll want to burn off the calories. Plus, taxis and pedicabs are plentiful and relatively inexpensive to get you home after a long evening. It didn't hurt that Hominy Grill was on the route between my hotel and the festival so that I could kick off the day with a "Big Nasty." - Chris Chamberlain, food writer and regular contributor to Nashville Scene
17. Say thanks to volunteers as often as possible. The event couldn't happen without them. - Lynn and Cele Seldon, travel writers
18. Thank out-of-town chefs for participating. Thank hometown chefs, too. - Lynn and Cele Seldon, travel writers
19. During any spare moments, pop into the Southern Foodways Alliance tent for stimulating discussion and tasty beverages. - Bradley Taylor, founder of Revival Foods
20. I am a big fan of trying to do something cerebral every day, preferably early so you have a clear head. In addition to learning something cool, you will also have something great to talk about late at night when the conversation starts to deteriorate. - Harry Root, owner of Grassroots Wine
21. Carry plenty of business cards to trade with new people you meet.
22. Maintain really good terms with your in-laws throughout the year, because you will never need a live-in baby-sitter more than during the Charleston Wine + Food Festival. - Nico Romo, culinary executive director of Fish
23. Don't be afraid to miss a seminar that you've already signed up for if someone invites you to share a cab to a restaurant you've never heard of. The festival seeks to exalt the cuisine of Charleston, and not all of the best finds are set up in the tasting tent. - Chris Chamberlain, food writer and regular contributor to Nashville Scene
24. Work on a playlist of the weekend so you are always rolling with some theme music. - Harry Root, owner of Grassroots Wine
25. Chat up personalities if you see them milling about or waiting between events. - Bradley Taylor, founder of Revival Foods
26. If you can make it back to your hotel for at least an hour of downtime during the day, that's a real plus. But if you can't, make a friend in the Culinary Village so if you need to stash a backpack for an hour or so you can travel a little lighter. It's appropriate to bring them back a little something to taste when you return for your carry-on. - Chris Chamberlain, food writer and regular contributor to Nashville Scene
27. Arrive at demos and seminars early or linger when they're done so you can introduce yourself to chefs.
28. If you have a question, a nearby volunteer probably has the answer.
29. It's servers' time to shine: Knock (guests) socks off with your knowledge and expertise. Strut your stuff. Raise the bar. Show them why they're here in Charleston and why we are a force to be reckoned with in the culinary world. Go that extra mile with every guest, make contacts, impress. - Brittany Galbreath, server at The Ordinary
30. Remember it's a marathon, not a sprint. Don't spread yourself too thin by over-committing. Wine + Food events should be sipped and savored. Schedule time in between events to recharge, nap, take a run through the stunning streets of Charleston, or enjoy one of those lingering lunches. - Lynn and Cele Seldon, travel writers
31. There is no better hour of the weekend than the Waffle House Smackdown. (And not to take sides, but: Go Mike Lata!) - Jon Bonne, wine editor of the San Francisco Chronicle
32. Take advantage of the many cooking classes and demonstrations offered. Where else can you learn how to cook from rock-star chefs like Anthony Llamas, Edward Lee, Lionel Vatinet and Steven Satterfield? - Lynn and Cele Seldon, travel writers
33. Enter your schedule into a spreadsheet so you don't miss must-dos: Include after-parties and addresses.
34. If you aren't in town in time to make it to Southern Foodways Alliance Potlikker, a combination food and film festival, you can watch the films they are showing on the SFA website. A little insider information: The films they are showing are "Helen's BBQ" (Helen Turner, Brownsville, Tenn.) "Eggers: Caviar Fishermen on the Mississippi" and "Deadliest Throw: Inside the Flora-Bama Interstate Mullet Toss." Plus, a new film, "Sapelo: Red Peas on Sapelo Island." The human subjects of Sapelo will be featured panelists at a discussion in the SFA Tent in Marion Square on Friday at 4 p.m. - Harry Root, owner of Grassroots Wine
35. Get to the after-hours event early. We were there right as it started, and you could see the place fill up in a matter of 30 minutes or so, whereas there were no lines at the beginning. You had to elbow your way to some booths within 45 minutes of it starting. - David Schnell, Brown's Court Bakery's head baker
36. Don't miss the Culinary Village! You'll meet chefs from across the country and discover wines that you'd probably never encounter otherwise. - Chris Chamberlain, food writer and regular contributor to Nashville Scene
37. If you want to make sure to catch certain chefs, clicking on the chef's bio page on the festival website is the surest way to determine his or her agenda.
38. Get a heads up on the after-after party. Whether that's late night oyster shucking on the Battery or moonshine swigging in a backyard, there are always fun opportunities to rub elbows with some great chefs, writers and food personalities once the official stuff has ended. - Brooks Reitz, founder of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. and the forthcoming Leon's Oyster Shop
39. The Opening Ceremony (10:30 a.m. Friday) is the only free event on the festival schedule. You can also enjoy the public areas of Marion Square, where dogs and children are permitted, without a ticket, and at least get a feel for the festival.
40. There is definitely good people-watching Sunday at the main tent. - Drew Hedlund, chef of Fleet Landing
41. During the weekend, the Southern Foodways Alliance tent in Marion Square has a full schedule of really intriguing discussions. On Friday, Robert Barber, the owner of Bowen's Island and Vinny Detolo from Animal in Los Angeles will headline a discussion on oysters. At 2:45, Rodney Scott, Chris Shepard and Bradley Taylor will preach some Whole Hog Gospel. Saturday's SFA docket includes Frank Stitt leading a discussion on Alabama Ribs and Edward Lee discussing aging cured meats. - Harry Root, owner of Grassroots Wine
42. Get to the Opening Night Party early, and hit your favorite restaurants first. It's important to plot out a plan as soon as you arrive; last year's event at the Aquarium was a perfect metaphor because it's easy to feel like a salmon swimming upstream if you get out of the flow of the crowd. - Chris Chamberlain, food writer and regular contributor to Nashville Scene
43. Write a schedule of the events you want to check out. There is so much stuff going on that you may miss something if you get caught up in the village. - Boris Van Dyck, owner of Icebox
44. Mark which events you missed out on this year, so you can buy tickets for next year, as things always sell out. - Drew Hedlund, chef of Fleet Landing
45. Swing by the book signing to pick up a special gift for the favorite foodie in your life: It's not every day you can get a signed copy from the chef! - Charlotte Voisey, Portfolio Ambassador for William Grant & Sons
46. I take lots of pictures of wine bottle labels and save them to an iPhone app called Evernote for future reference. - Chris Chamberlain, food writer and regular contributor to Nashville Scene
47. Meet new friends through Instagram; tag personalities and the event. - Bradley Taylor, founder of Revival Foods
48. Take a picture of the products and recipes you like so you can remember the ones you love. - Boris Van Dyck, owner of Icebox
49. Follow @jdportman and @foragerman on Instagram. - Bradley Taylor, founder of Revival Foods
50. The festival's Facebook page is one of the best places to buy, sell and trade tickets, although you can do the same at the Marion Square ticketing tent if you prefer to keep your swaps offline.
51. There's nothing wrong with sneaking a disco nap.
52. Grab a light-but-stomach-lining breakfast snack like croissants at Christophe (Artisan Chocolatier)'s or donuts at Glazed. - Bradley Taylor, founder of Revival Foods
53. Bathrooms are plentiful, but it doesn't hurt to carry your own hand sanitizer (which is also useful in the tasting tent.)
54. Take a pedicab and grab some drinking-friendly comfort food at Xiao Bao Biscuit (mapo dofou) or Two Boroughs Larder (noodle bowl). - Bradley Taylor, founder of Revival Foods
55. There are going to be what look like small portable campers, but they are actually restrooms. They are very nice inside with real sinks and toilets, and are a lot better than waiting in line and using the plastic port-a-potties! - Jessica Wilkie, owner of Sweet & Savory Cafe
56. Some practiced drinkers swear by Blowfish, an Alka-Seltzer-like tablet, for hangovers. Caviar & Bananas keeps packets on the front counter.
57. You're likely to outlast your phone: The festival for the first time this year is providing a charging station in Marion Square.
58. Coffee is an important part of the weekend survival for locals immersed in the restaurant industry, or visitors that might have too much fun from time to time. To refuel, I like the high octane bottomless cup of Marina Variety Store, and it's a part of Charleston that you might miss otherwise. - Brooks Reitz, founder of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. and the forthcoming Leon's Oyster Shop
59. Down a bottle of Underberg or grab a shot of Fernet Branca if you feel one step over the line. - Bradley Taylor, founder of Revival Foods
60. Dell'z Vibez makes fresh juices with coconut water: Something to remember in the morning. - Ann Marshall, co-owner of High Wire Distilling Co.
61. If you purchase books or bottles of wine, and don't want to lug them with you, there's a FedEx shipping center on Calhoun Street, just one block east of Marion Square. (The festival isn't offering shipping services this year.)
62. Biggest tip hands down: Know where the bloody marys are in the tent. Don't be wooed by a specialty drink after a late night: Make that bloody mary your first stop and you'll start the day off right. Then have that specialty drink or vino! - Libba Osborne, principal of Leapfrog PR Co.
63. Make good decisions. Instead of five drinks after your head-spinning night, try 1 to 3. You will thank me later. Later being the next day. - Brittany Galbreath, server at The Ordinary
64. It's always good to start with a base with the food samples then move onto your wine. Makes for a better morning. - Hannah Bise of Rewined Candles
What to drink
65. Drink wines you haven't tried. There will be more Virginia wines in Charleston than ever before this year, and many of them are well worth tasting. Trust us. - Lynn and Cele Seldon, travel writers
66. Do your wine homework! The reality is that there are so many cool things in the big tents that it can be overwhelming if you don't have a game plan. And there is such an abundance of talented winemakers sampling their own wine that it would be a shame to miss! Some of my must-taste tables would be: Peay, Melville, Arcadian, Torii Mor and Matthiasson. - Sarah O'Kelley, co-owner of The Glass Onion
67. Think outside the box. Wine isn't the only adult beverage at the Wine + Food Festival. We're talking explorations of rum, beer, sherry, Irish whiskey and more. - Lynn and Cele Seldon, travel writers
68. Free water is nearly impossible to find at the festival. Bring your own bottle.
69. There is, yes, terrific wine all weekend. But much as I should be telling you to gleefully fill your wine glass, that would be disingenuous. Because: bloody Marys. And brown liquor. And rum. Honestly, it is hard to imagine a town with better taste in drinking than Charleston. - Jon Bonne, wine editor of the San Francisco Chronicle
70. Coffee in the morning? Kudu (4 Vanderhorst St.) is the local option closest to Marion Square. If you prefer chain coffee, there's a Starbucks right across the street, but brace for a lengthy line.
71. When you need to get away from the craziness of the Square, Closed For Business has a strong selection of craft beers. - Ann Marshall, co-owner of High Wire Distilling Co.
72. The festival's commemorative wine glass is distributed at more than half a dozen events. Whether you keep a collection, it's one of the simplest souvenirs.
73. Wine tent tip: Don't hesitate; expectorate! That's the fancy word for spitting, and while it might literally seem like a buzzkill, it will allow you to taste more and remember a thing or two. Plus, you might keep enough wits about you to avoid buying five cases of wine you barely remember the next day! - Sarah O'Kelley, co-owner of The Glass Onion
74. It is wise to plan your drinking slightly in advance. Bloody marys to begin. Make sure that bubbles - really, champagne and Lowcountry cooking were made to go together - factor in. Crescendo toward the whiskey. You've got a long day ahead. - Jon Bonne, wine editor of the San Francisco Chronicle
75. Check out the pop-up wine shop and grab that bottle you really enjoyed at one of the tastings. - Boris Van Dyck, owner of Icebox
76. Stay hydrated. Your liver will definitely need it. - Drew Hedlund, chef of Fleet Landing
What to eat
77. If you see a guy in a vest and an Outback hat roasting a whole lamb over an open spit, go stand in line. Don't worry how long it is. It's worth it. - Lynn and Cele Seldon, travel writers
78. Also, oysters. If I leave town without having consumed one-third my weight in 'em, I will have failed. - Jon Bonne, wine editor of the San Francisco Chronicle
79. Be prepared to taste lots of delicious foods and varieties of wines! I would suggest walking through the event and mapping out all of these foods and wines in front of you, then make your first round by literally just tasting small bites, so you can have the opportunity to try everything before filling up! - Jessica Wilkie, owner of Sweet & Savory Cafe
80. The festival sells tasting plates with wine holders, but the stock tends to run out quickly. Consider bringing a dish.
81. Skip my Friday dinner and go to the McCrady's dinner. Because Stephen Satterfield, Sean Brock and Tyler Brown. And Steve Matthiasson's wines. Except, sold out. Darn it. - Jon Bonne, wine editor of the San Francisco Chronicle
82. You eat and drink all day at food festivals, but you never feel like you've eaten. Venture out to one of the restaurants on Upper King for a quick recharging meal: I like a track burger and a Moscow Mule at The Rarebit. - Ann Marshall, co-owner of High Wire Distilling Co.
83. Check the Culinary Village schedule online to learn when your favorite chefs are manning the Tasting Tent: They take turns tabling, so you're not guaranteed a sample from every participating chef.
84. Grab a big breakfast near the culinary village: Virginia's (on King) is a great place to get some good food before trying all the great cocktails and wines at the village. - Boris Van Dyck, owner of Icebox
85. The nearest Waffle House is two miles down U.S. Highway 17, just over the Ashley River bridges.
86. Keep an open mind. Seated dinners in particular vary tremendously from year to year, and from restaurant to restaurant: Go without expectations. Eat outside of your comfort zone.
87. Visit the booths with a buddy for double portions of your favorite dish. - Jeanette Davis of Rewined Candles
What to wear and carry
88. It's a wine and food festival. Not a fashion show. On the grounds of Marion Square or on Wadmalaw Island, function always trumps fashion. - Lynn and Cele Seldon, travel writers
89. Wear your most comfortable shoes at all times. If you have stretchy pants or some Sans-a-Belts to accommodate your expanding waistline, patrons will excuse your fashion risk. - Chris Chamberlain, food writer and regular contributor to Nashville Scene
90. Wear sunscreen (even if it's cloudy.)
91. Trade show tip: Bring multiple types of shoes if you plan to spend all three days in Marion Square. - Ann Marshall, co-owner of High Wire Distilling Co.
92. Even if you don't have any official duties, you may want to bring your own white apron for collecting chefs' signatures.
93. Have rainy day gear and shoes on stand-by. The event has had its share of drenching and downpours in past years. - Lynn and Cele Seldon, travel writers
94. All the events, seminars and socializing can be demanding on your time. Ladies, refresh and re-groom with a blow out at Tease Dry Bar on King Street, just steps from the tents at Marion Square. - Charlotte Voisey, Portfolio Ambassador for William Grant & Sons
95. Tasting gets messy. Either avoid wearing white, or carry a stain remover stick.
96. Always keep your ID with you, no matter how weary you anticipate looking by the end of the festival. Events are restricted to of-age adults, and staffers will check.
97. Servers, starch your uniform, tighten your apron strings and hold on tight! They come in droves, for days! - Brittany Galbreath, server at The Ordinary
98. If you have cookbooks authored by participating chefs, tote them with you: Writers are always happy to personalize their books, no matter where you bought them.
99. Never underestimate the value of one of the wine glass holder lanyards. - Anita Holly of Rewined Candles