Indulgence, Gratitude, Film … and Wine

Happy almost-October!

Holiday decorations are showing up in stores, and Central Florida’s wine community is starting to kick into gear for high season. The calendar for next week – and for all of next month – is looking packed.

Local wine merchants are wholeheartedly embracing the start of the season of indulgence. Next week offers not one, not two, but four wine events centered around cheese, chocolate, or both.

Tuesday, The Wine Room on Park Ave. kicks off a three-night event series honoring American Cheese Month. Two of the three feature wine pairings.

Thursday, choose between a wine and chocolate tasting at Luisa’s Cellar and the latest Wine, Cheese & Chocolate – Perfectly Paired event at Quantum Leap Winery.

Fall is also the season of giving and gratitude.

Swirlery Wine Bar is teaming up with Uncommon Catering on Thursday to offer a seven-course “Gratitude” pairing dinner benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank.

Something else to be thankful for – Wine Bar George has announced two complimentary (yes, that means free) tastings in October. The first is Monday and features Sonoma’s Smoke Tree Wines with food pairings.

Finally, for those of you following the wine drenched documentary series Somm, the  third installment is out, and Wine Bar George will be hosting a screening next Saturday, complete with a blind tasting, of course.

This is by no means a full listing of all the events on offer next week, so check out the Events Page, and make your plan of attack.

Happy Season, Orlando!


Piedmont, New York … and a lesson on planning ahead

Plenty of fun wine events are on offer in Central Florida in the coming week.

Saturday’s Women for Winesense New York wines event is still welcoming registrations, as is the latest in Vintage Vino’s “Road to Ultimate Wine Knowledge” series, focusing on the wines of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany.

Tuesday, explore some of the lesser known grape varietals of Italy’s Piedmont region, with small plates to pair, at Bella Tuscany in Windermere.

There are a couple of events next week that you can’t attend unless you’ve already guaranteed your seat.

Thursday’s Cambria Wine & Cheese tasting at Tim’s Lake Mary-Sanford is sold out, as is a wine and cupcake tasting at Luisa’s Cellar the same day. I’d say it might be something about those uber-efficient Sanford oenophiles … but the fact is, there are many weeks when I don’t mention an event because it’s sold out.

It’s a good reminder to scroll down a little farther when you check the Events Page for details of all these events. If you see something you like, book ahead!

Cheers to fighting procrastination, Orlando!

De Toren all over town! Plus taste and learn with two Masters

What a week we have coming up in Central Florida!

First off, winemaker Albie Koch from South Africa’s celebrated De Toren winery will be in town, offering three opportunities to taste his boutique wines:

Wednesday at Swirlery

Thursday at Vintage Vino

Friday at Wine Bar George for a twelve vintage retrospective of the flagship Bordeaux blend, De Toren Fusion V.

But that’s not all!

Tuesday offers opportunities to learn from two of Central Florida’s resident wine masters:

Master Sommelier John Blazon will lead a tasting of Spire Collection wines at Bella Tuscany in Windermere.

Master of Wine Jean K. Reilly kicks off her latest WSET Level 2 certification course at Tim’s Orlando.

On top of all that, there are two Southern Italian tastings next week, as well as a tasting of New York wines led by three prominent women in that state’s growing wine industry, via Facebook Live.

Check out the Events Page for details of these events and other options for next week and beyond.

Get out and taste the wine, Orlando!

Big Tastings, Blind Tastings, & More

Orlando’s wine purveyors want you to expand your palate over the coming week, with two opportunities to try and compare a vast array of wines.

Tomorrow (Saturday, September 8), Swirlery is celebrating its third anniversary with a grand tasting of more than 30 wines. Light bites are included.

Next Saturday, September 15, Luisa’s Cellar in Sanford is celebrating harvest with a patio tasting, also featuring more than 30 wines.

Also coming up …

A blind tasting tomorrow with Master Sommelier George Miliotes at his eponymous Disney Springs wine bar;

A dinner with the winemaker from Silkwood Wines in California’s Central Valley on Wednesday at The Vineyard;

And a tasting of Spanish coastal wines at Luisa’s Cellar on Thursday.

Details are on the Events Page, where you’ll also find barrels of new entries for the rest of the month and into October.

Cheers to Almost Fall, Orlando!

The Inquisitor Wine Company: How two Orlando friends turned a “pipe dream” into a local importer of private label South African wines

On June 18, 2016, a small group of sommeliers from some of Orlando’s swankiest dining spots sat down for an invitation-only blind tasting. Hosts Laura Fletcher, then 29, and Christie Briscoe, then 23, were good friends and colleagues at Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton, where they worked in sales and marketing. But this event was about something completely different.

They poured tastes from a few well known, high end bottles alongside samples from a largely unknown South African winemaker, Christian Kuun. His wines got good reviews, sometimes beating out the big names.

“In that moment, I was like, ok it can happen,” said Christie, whose last name is now McLeod.

“We looked at each other,” Fletcher recalls, and thought, “let’s do this.”

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