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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Spotlight on South Africa, Bonny Doon is Back, Luxapalooza Tasting

If you love South African wine – or if you want to learn more about it – listen up and act fast! Over the next eleven days – including today – you’ll have the opportunity to meet and taste with five South African winemakers at two events right here in Orlando.

Tonight, South African distributor Pascal Schildt brings producers Tremayne Smith and Ginny Povall to Tim’s Orlando to pour their wines, including Black Smith, Three Foxes, Big Flower and Botanica.

A week from Monday (May 14), Swirlery hosts a South African Braai (aka barbecue) featuring Bruwer Raats from Raats Family Wines, Carl van der Merwe of DeMorgenzon, and Lars Maack from Bayten pouring their wines.

These are great opportunities to compare wines from different producers in this country that often flies under the radar and offers great values as a result, and to get invaluable insight from the people who make wine there.

Speaking of winemakers …. if, like me, you didn’t get to meet Randall Grahm of California’s Bonny Doon Vineyard when he was in town earlier this year, you’re in luck! He’s coming back to Orlando next week. He’ll be headlining a dinner at Swirlery on Wednesday, pairing his wines with five courses prepared by Orlando’s favorite chef-winemaker Jamie McFadden of Snowbirds Vintners and Cuisiniers Catering.

One more for the last minute category – tomorrow night, Vintage Vino in Kissimmee is holding a tasting it’s calling “Luxapalooza,” which is worth a mention for the clever naming alone. Napa wines from the Treasury collection are on the agenda, including bottles from BV, Sterling, and Etude.

Details for these and many more events are on the Events Page. Check it out and happy wine-ing, Orlando!

Bubbles, Chocolate, & Master Somms!

Are you seeking a little decadence as we slip into Florida’s sultry summer? You’re in luck!

  • If you act fast (registration ends today), you can still get in on unlimited bubbly and lunch at Cooper’s Hawk this Sunday with Central Florida Women for Winesense Sunday Funday.
  • Later in the week on Thursday, indulge with wine and chocolate pairings at Swirlery.

Also, an early heads-up about a wine dinner at 1921 with not one, not two, but THREE Master Sommeliers. It’s May 11, and I imagine it’ll be worth the trip to Mt. Dora.

Check out our events page for all the details on these and many other Central Florida wine happenings.

Cheers!

THIS WEEK: Spanish Wine & Food … and Sunday Funday!

Central Florida’s coming week in wine has a definite Spanish flavor, thanks to two Tim’s Wine Market locations.

  • Tim’s Sanford-Lake Mary kicks things off with an authentic Serrano ham carving and Rioja wines.
  • Later in the week, Tim’s Orlando hosts its second annual paella night with a big pan of the Spanish specialty and 20 Spanish & Portuguese wines.

If you’re still hungry and thirsty after all that, you can join Central Florida Women for Winesense for Sunday Funday at Cooper’s Hawk I-Drive with lunch and free-flowing bubbly.

As always, these events are subject to availability. Get details on the events page!

NEW Classes, Tastings, & Events

There’s an eclectic mix of offerings on Central Florida’s wine calendar in the coming week.

  • Compare Napa & Sonoma to the up-and-comers in the rest of the world at Tim’s
  • Pair Greek wine, food, and film at Swirlery
  • Take your pick of a couple of weekend charity events that promise better-than-your-average-charity-event wine selections.

Get details for these and more upcoming wine events on the events page!

NEW! Central Florida Wine Venue Listing

Central Florida is fortunate to have a growing number of wine-centered shops, bars, and tasting rooms – veritable playgrounds for oenophiles. They offer curated selections of wines by the glass and bottle, as well as offer tastings and classes to help wine lovers educate and expand their knowledge and their palates.

Not sure where to start? I’ve compiled a list of my favorites, organized by location. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but rather a work in progress. Check back for updates as I continue to explore the area’s wine locales. (I’ve got a couple on my list already.) Talk about a labor of love!

Is your favorite sipping spot on this list? If not, let me know where I should visit next. Cheers!

Colorado Wine – A Different Kind of Rocky Mountain High

Floridians travel to Colorado a lot. Only California and Texas send more tourists to this land of snow and yogis. If you find yourself heading to the Centennial State for some skiing or hiking or yoga (or, ummm, partaking of recreational substances) it’s worth checking out the local wine too.

In a state known – beverage-wise – for beer, and more recently for spirits, winemaking in Colorado has long played third fiddle. And it still does. But on a recent visit, I was pleased to find that the quality of Colorado’s wine is nothing to sneeze at. If you know where to look, you can find some lovely, cool-climate Old World-style wines, some of them even age-worthy.

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