Franciacorta Consortium chooses Orlando for first Florida masterclass

Franciacorta is a baby, as Italian wine regions go. It wasn’t officially recognized until the 1960s, and its DOCG status was granted just over two decades ago.

But sparkling wine from this region near Milan is starting to turn heads, and its producers are getting more savvy in their efforts to raise its profile around the world.

Franciacorta Rashmi
Rashmi Primlani, Franciacorta’s new brand ambassador

Earlier this year, the Franciacorta Consortium hired Orlando sommelier Rashmi Primlani as a brand ambassador. Last week, she hosted a small group of local journalists and wine professionals at Orlando Chef Kevin Fonzo‘s “La Tavola” in College Park for the Consortium’s first Florida masterclass.

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Wine Safari Saturday, Empanada Pairings & More Orlando Wine Events

“Wine Safari Saturday” is not an official wine event (as far as I know!), but this Saturday, you can make your own oenophile adventure out of the plethora of wine events on tap up and down the I-4 corridor.

The four happenings are spread across time and geography in such a way that it would be physically possible to hit three of the four on a north-to-south safari — provided, of course, that you have a very patient designated driver (or a hefty ride share budget) and that you’re disciplined enough to spit!

The day starts at Cress Restaurant in DeLand with a late morning class on the influence of oak in wines, led by sommelier Jenneffer Pulapaka.

Next, it’s down to Vintages in Baldwin Park for an Argentinian tasting featuring Bodega Lanzarini.

For your final and southernmost event of the day, you have a choice to make:

— attend the Paul Hobbs pairing dinner at Norman’s

or …

— return to Italian wines at Vintage Vino‘s Zonin tasting in Kissimmee.

If you decide to skip the safari – or if you really are disciplined enough to spit – there are plenty of fun events next week too.

The most unusual comes from the folks at Swirlery Wine Bar, where creative pairings are the name of the game. Most recently, they paired wines with music; this coming Wednesday they’ll offer wine with … empanadas! Uncommon Catering is stuffing the Latin delicacies with five different fillings; Swirlery somm Melissa McAvoy is pairing each one with a different wine.

For the more conventional, Bites & Bubbles is hosting a wine-paired dinner to celebrate Julia Child’s birthday on Thursday.

Friday, it’s back to the garden with another edition of K Restaurant‘s Wine Flight Friday, this time featuring wines of Argentina.

There’s no shortage of options on this Back-to-School week in Central Florida. Check the Events Page for details of these and many more. Here’s to new wine adventures!

Aromatized Wines: Where wine and cocktails meet

You may have never heard of “aromatized wines,” but if you’ve ever had a martini or a Negroni, you’ve enjoyed them. You’ve also experienced this ancient beverage category if you’ve ever ordered a craft cocktail with “Cardamaro” or “Cocchi Americano” buried in its long list of ingredients.

By definition, aromatized wines are fortified wines (think Port and Sherry) flavored with herbs, spices, bark, flowers, or just about anything else you can find in a forest.

Cardamaro and Cocchi Americano are both aromatized wines, as are the vermouth in your martini and the Campari in your Negroni. (Campari is a brand of amaro, which falls within the broader aromatized wine family.) Seriously, this stuff is like science class … but studying it is a lot more fun!

Orlando’s Master of Wine Jean K. Reilly, who runs Slate Wine & Spirits Academy, hosted a class on aromatized wines last week at Norman’s at the Ritz Carlton. The presenter, Rob McCaughey, is a jovial Brit now based in Charleston, SC, who works on the spirits side of the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust).

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Back to School, Back to WINE!

Orange County Schools start back in just over a week, and as our students get ready to start burning the midnight oil again, it’s as though Orlando’s wine sellers thought we could all use a glass or three to prepare.

The calendar is suddenly full of events!

BevFly has its August tasting event tomorrow (Saturday), and as I mentioned last week, Tim’s in Sanford-Lake Mary celebrates an anniversary with a free event the same day.

Sunday, there are still a few tickets available for The Wine Room’s Italian Wine & Cheese Festival.

Next week, there’s a lot of red wine going on at a couple of Tim’s Wine Market locations – check out their Wednesday and Thursday events. (Are Tim and the gang anxious for autumn maybe?)

Meanwhile, summer is still in full swing at Luisa’s Cellar in Sanford, where wines for “grill outs” are on the tasting menu at an event next Friday.

Next Saturday is when things really heat up. There are already four events that day, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more pop up! Here are a couple you’ll need to plan ahead for:

  • In the morning, sommelier Jenneffer Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant in DeLand leads an intermediate level class on the influence of oak, exploring oaked versus unoaked wines from the old and new world, with food pairing tips.
  • That evening, Normans at the Ritz hosts a five-course dinner paired with Paul Hobbs‘ Napa and Sonoma wines.

Details for all these events and many more are on the Events Page. Happy sipping and back-to-school shopping, Orlando!

Two Anniversary Parties, a Rosé Fest, & More Cool Wine Stuff!

Two Orlando wine institutions are turning four years old, and they want you to help them celebrate!

In the “Other Cool Stuff” category …

There are many more events coming up, so check out the Events Page for all the details. Happy celebrating, Orlando!



Cycling, Cheese, & Spain on Tap at Next Week’s Wine Events

I’ve been on a whirlwind tour of Texas this week, hitting some great wine spots – check out my Instagram and Facebook feeds for all the details!

I’m back in the City Beautiful now, though, and as always, I’ve got you covered for everything you need to know about Orlando’s upcoming week in wine. No theme this time – next week’s events are all over the map!

All the details are on the Events Page, along with a great lineup  of events for the coming month.

Happy wine-ing, Central Florida!

England’s Camel Valley Vineyards Pulling Back from US Market

On a stone terrace in the county of Cornwall, overlooking rolling hills blanketed with vines and fields, Camel Valley Vineyards founder Bob Lindo beams with pride as he shows off award after award to visitors sipping on the tasty fruits of his labor.

This winery is one of England’s most decorated, at the forefront of the country’s surging wine business. Producers here are winning plenty of awards, particularly for their bubbly, which has come out ahead of Champagne on enough occasions to make a Frenchman blush.

Founder Bob Lindo welcomes guests on the terrace at Camel Valley Vineyards in Cornwall.

In 2016, the UK wine industry made a collective commitment to a tenfold increase in exports over five years, and American wine lovers are starting to reap the benefits. Just under two years ago, Camel Valley wines were part of the first full shipping container of English wine ever sent to a foreign shore; they were bound for the US.

Here in Orlando, though, you still have to look hard to find British bubbly. Wine Bar George serves a brut from producer Digby Fine English; Tim’s Wine Market Orlando has Ridgeview in stock.

But Camel Valley is not available in Florida, and sadly, that’s not likely to change. Bob Lindo says he’s pulling back from the US market.

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