The 46th annual Vinitaly convenes this month. ©VinItaly

(Relaxnews) – Italy’s answer to France’s Vinexpo takes place this month. Unlike other wine shows, this one is open to consumers and dedicated oenophiles. Here are some other major food events taking place around the world.

46th Annual Vinitaly
March 25-28
Veronafiere Fairground
Verona, Italy

Vinitaly is the Italian answer to France’s Vinexpo, an event devoted to international wines and spirits, winemaking and wine business. Last year’s event attracted more than 4,000 exhibitors, and 156,000 visitors from 100 countries. Unlike other wine trade shows that are closed to the public, Vinitaly focuses on consumers, oenophiles and wine lovers in addition to offering tastings, workshops and meetings between suppliers, growers and trade operators.

Food & Drink Expo

March 25-27
NEC Birmingham
Birmingham, UK

The largest food and drink trade show in the UK this year, the Food & Drink Expo is a major event for the food industry there. One of the highlights is the Farm Shop & Deli, which will highlight the latest food trends and also project the future of food. The event caters to grocery, foodservice, wholesale, specialty, retail and manufacturing.

34th annual International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference
March 29-April 2
New York, NY, USA

The theme for this year’s edition of the IACP conference is the “Fashion of Food.” Featured speakers include Grant Achatz, Dan Barber, Marcus Samuelsson and Ruth Reichl.  Concurrently, the event will also announce the winners of the 26th annual IACP awards, which honors cookbooks, new media and food journalism. Unlike the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards happening earlier in the month, nominees tend to come from more American publications.

Voting opens for Saveur’s Best Food Blog Awards
April 5

Vote for your favorite food blogs across more than a dozen categories including best cooking, best photography and best culinary travel blog.

Diner des Grands Chefs
April 16
New York, NY, USA

Last year, some of the greatest French chefs gathered together to create a memorable meal at the Chateau de Versailles to celebrate the admission of French gastronomy into UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The success of the meal gave rise to an idea that launched a World Culinary Tour. For their second edition, Relais & Chateaux Grands Chefs will gather in New York to celebrate fine American produce for 450 guests.

18th annual Food & Hotel Asia
April 17-20
Singapore Expo

As Asia’s largest food and hospitality trade event, the 2012 edition is expected to host 40,000 trade visitors from 90 countries. The show is made up of five specialized events that include Food Asia, Hotel Asia, Bakery & Pastry, Hospitality Style Asia and Hospitality Technology and Tea & Coffee. About 2,600 exhibitors from 65 countries will showcase their wares this year.

The 24th annual Specialty Coffee Association of America
April 19-22
Portland, Oregon, USA

Billed as the largest specialty coffee event in the world, the 24th annual edition is expected to gather 8,000 professionals and 700 exhibitors to the show. Crowd favorites include competitions like Best New Product, the United States Barista Championship, and the US Cup Tasters Championship in which coffee connoisseurs compete to prove who has the most sensitive taste buds: in a trio of samples, competitors must identify the lone coffee that’s unlike the others.

6th annual Women and Wines of the World International Competition
April 26-27
Monte Carlo, Monaco

While the competition is open to both male and female winemakers, the panel of judges for this unique event is made up exclusively of women. The tasting panel consists of women from all facets of the wine industry, like wine making, vine growing, sales, promotion, education, marketing and trained wine experts. Of the five female judges, two are French. The event is particularly significant considering that women around the world are increasingly becoming devout oenophiles.

World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards
April 30
London, UK

Sponsored by Restaurant magazine, the World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards rank chefs and eateries around the world and are widely considered a rival to the Michelin awards. The most notable difference between the two systems, however, is that the World’s 50 Best Restaurants seeks out young, fresh, new blood while Michelin rewards old stand-bys and traditional, haute cuisine. Chef René Redzepi of Copenhagen restaurant Noma will be defending his title as the best restaurant in the world for the third year.

35th annual World Association of Chefs Congress 
May 1-5
Daejeon, South Korea

It’s noteworthy that organizers of the WACS chose to bring their congress to Korea for the 35th edition. Korean cuisine, for instance, has been identified as a food trend for 2012. Restaurant consultancy group Baum + Whiteman even declared 2012 year of kimchi, a spicy, pungent cabbage that’s a staple of Korean cuisine. The theme for this year’s congress is “”How to Feed the Planet in the Future.” Another favorite will be the Global Chefs Challenge, pitting chefs from Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, England, Canada and New Zealand against each other.

James Beard Foundation Awards
May 4 and  May 7
Lincoln Center
New York, NY, USA

The James Beard awards are often described as the ‘Oscars’ of the US food scene, crowning the best of the best. The awards cover publishing, restaurants and chefs, naming the best in categories like cookbooks, food writing, outstanding chef, outstanding restaurant and talent spots with Rising Star Chef of the Year. Last year’s winners included José Andrés, chef-owner of minibar in Washington DC, who took home the medal for Outstanding Chef while New York’s Eleven Madison Park took home the title of Outstanding Restaurant. The Book, Broadcast, and Journalism Awards winners will be announced May 4, while the restaurant and chef awards will be announced May 7.

93rd annual National Restaurant Association Show 
May 5-8
McCormick Place
Chicago, IL, USA

As one of the longest-running, most established food shows in the US, the NRA Show attracts more than 58,000 foodservice professionals from all 50 states and over 100 countries each year and pumps in an estimated $100 million dollars into the local economy. The NRA Show has been in Chicago since 1950. It’s a star-studded event with celebrity guests sharing their kitchen secrets at the World Culinary Showcase Theater, and industry insiders sharing their insight with fellow restaurateurs. It’s also a show grounds for the latest in cutting-edge kitchen and commercial equipment and a launching pad for innovative consumer products. The show also co-hosts the 5th annual International Wine, Spirits & Beer event this year, dedicated to all things beverage and bar-related.

13th Annual SIAL China
May 9-11
Shanghai New Int’l Expo Centre
Shanghai, China

SIAL China is part of the international SIAL Group, which was created in 1964 in Paris and puts on international trade shows annually in rotating locations each year.  SIAL CHINA 2012 will indulge inner foodies and wine aficionados from around the world and is expected to attract 40,000 visitors and more than 1,800 exhibitors. New this year will be Team Contest, Hospitality and Retail Forum and Coffee Trend areas. The always popular Wine & Gourmet World also returns.

4th annual Vinexpo Asia-Pacific 2012 
May 29-31
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Hong Kong

As one of the biggest and most important wine trade events, Vinexpo alternates locations between Hong Kong and France every year. In 2012, it’s Asia’s turn to host. Given the meteoric rise of the wine industry in Asia, interest is expected to be high. According to the latest Vinexpo/IWSR study, Asia will experience the strongest increase in its wine markets in the next five years with five percent annual growth compared to the world average, which is less than one percent. Retail sales of still light wines in Asia in 2009 were worth US$7.18 billion and are expected to increase by 27% by 2013. In 2010, the event attracted 12,620 visitors from 18 countries, and 882 exhibitors from 35 countries. Vinexpo is second to the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair in size and popularity.