Wine, Wine Everywhere!

Central Florida continues its slow sip through summer, with a diverse array of wine events in the coming week. A few highlights:

  • Vintage Vino continues its “Road to Ultimate Wine Knowledge” series tomorrow (Saturday) with a class focusing on French wines.
  • Tim’s Windermere repeats its popular Wagner Family tasting on Sunday, with barbecue to soak up the high ABV.
  • DoveCote hosts a four-course dinner paired with Halter Ranch wines on Wednesday – it’s a seriously good value.
  • Also on Wednesday, sample some of Austria’s great producers at Swirlery (maybe clone yourself and go to both?!)
  • Give your wallet a break and sip on budget bubbles at a free tasting Thursday at Tim’s Lake Mary … because all that bubbles doesn’t have to be Champagne!

Get all the details on the Events Page … and while you’re there, start populating your September wine calendar. Plenty of events are already in the works for the first month of “Autumn” in Central Florida. Cheers!

Happy 4th … and 14th!

Most of our local wine establishments seem to be taking their own July 4th holiday from hosting events next week! They’ve been busy, and I don’t blame them!

But there’s a great option next Saturday, after you’ve recovered from the festivities — a dinner paired with wines from Oregon’s Domaine Serene at Norman’s.

That kicks off a week of events dominated by the national holiday of perhaps the world’s most famous wine producer – France’s Bastille Day. Orlando does love to celebrate Le Quatorze Juillet!

But before those Champagne corks start popping, keep celebrating American wines a bit longer with a late-night party at Wine Bar George on the twelfth of July, featuring Napa winemaker Michael Honig of Honig Winery and local Master Somm George Miliotes.

On the 14th itself, you can start off quite appropriately by expanding your wine knowledge. Master of Wine Jean Reilly holds the first of a two-day WSET Level One course at Tim’s Orlando that morning.

After that, you have your pick of Bastille Day festivities across the region, from Swirlery in Orlando to Luisa’s Cellar in Sanford. And while it’s a Bastille Day event per se, I’m sure Provencals would approve of the PINKnic rosé extravaganza at Tim’s Windermere.

Details of these events and many more are on the Events Page.

Cheers and Santé!


NOTE: You won’t see an events post here next week, as I’ll be in the UK, tasting a bit of British bubbly (and perhaps some still wine too)! Follow my adventures on Instagram and Facebook!

Two Free Events & a Bordeaux Dinner

Whether you’re pinching pennies to save up for a big summer vacation or in the mood to splash out, you’re in luck with this week’s wine events.

For the savers, there are two free tastings on offer:

Tomorrow, Swirlery is offering complimentary tastes of Napa cab and sauvignon blanc.

Thursday, it’s a free rosé tasting at Tim’s Lake Mary.

For the big spenders, check out Norman’s five course Bordeaux dinner next Saturday, hosted by  Master Sommelier Laura DePasquale.

Check the Events Page for details on these events and many more tastings, dinners, and classes.


Orlando Celebrates the REAL Beaujolais

This coming Thursday is Beaujolais Nouveau Day – the first day the new vintage of light fruity red wine from the Beaujolais region can be released, according to French law.

This young, easy drinking wine made from the gamay grape has enjoyed immense popularity in the U.S.. That would be fine, except that it’s done to the reputation of Beaujolais what white zinfandel did to dry rosé. When people think of Beaujolais, they think of a simple wine to be gulped at holiday parties but not to be taken seriously.

What many people don’t realize is that there are high-quality producers making serious – and seriously good – Beaujolais in ten distinct Cru villages in the region. This is wine that’s meant to be savored and appreciated – and aged more than a few months.

Tim Varan of Central Florida’s Tim’s Wine Market chain says comparing Beaujolais Nouveau to cru Beaujolais is “as fair a comparison as Iberico jamon is to deli ham.”

Cru Beaujolais happens to be one of my favorite types of wine, and it’s been making a resurgence in recent years. It will be an uphill climb, just as it was when dry rosé began its comeback as a respected wine category.

But I think it’s a good sign that no fewer than three Orlando-area wine establishments are using Beaujolais Nouveau Day as an opportunity to showcase serious Beaujolais. Details are on the Events Calendar for November 16.

If you’ve never tried cru Beaujolais, do yourself a favor and swing by Swirlery or Tim’s in Orlando or Lake Mary Thursday. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Orlando’s Wine Scene is in a French Mood!

Today is Bastille Day, and if you’re a regular reader, you already know about the wine-centered celebrations going on today and tomorrow from last week’s post.

But the French fun doesn’t end there!

Santiago’s Bodega – Altamonte is highlighting the South of France at its monthly wine dinner Wednesday.

And Thursday, Swirlery takes a deep dive into one of the newest darlings of the wine geek world, France’s fun and funky Jura region.

Visit our Events Page for details on these and many other area wine events.

Happy sipping, Central Florida, and enjoy one more week of “Vive la France!”

Celebrate Bastille Day with WINE!

No longer does France have a monopoly on quality wine – that ship sailed with the “Judgement of Paris” over four decades ago. But in my humble opinion, French wine will never lose its place as the gold standard and sentimental home of the world’s best wines, from great value bottles to luxury cult selections.

Next week, France celebrates 228 years since the storming of the Bastille, a turning point in the French Revolution. What better way to celebrate than with France’s favorite libation?

You can toast the occasion on Bastille Day itself at Swirlery’s daylong celebration next Friday with French wines and food.

Saturday, indulge in another French favorite – cheese! – at Audubon Park Garden District’s 6th annual wine and cheese pairing, hosted by East End Market’s La Femme du Fromage.

Get details for these and lots more Central Florida wine events on our Events Page.

À votre santé!

Step Outside the Champagne Box: Six Unexpected Bottles of Bubbles for NYE!

Not much beats Champagne on New Year’s Eve, but if you’re looking for some out-of-the-box (and easier-on-the wallet) alternatives for the big night, you’re in luck! Champagne doesn’t have a lock on quality sparkling wine anymore. All six of these bottles should delight your palate, satisfy your enological curiosity, and enhance your celebratory mood as you welcome 2017. And only one of them is even from France!

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Two Stunners from Loire

As you probably know if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, I enjoy wines that are a little (sometimes a lot) unexpected, different, or surprising. I discovered a couple of new favorites that fit that description – one white and one red – at a tasting of wines from France’s Loire region last month.

“This Can’t Be Sauvignon Blanc … Can It?”

The first was a fascinating sauvignon blanc from Quincy (pronounced kan-SEE). I was surprised to learn that Quincy was the first AOC in the eastern Loire, beating out its more famous neighbor, Sancerre, by a few months.

The example we tried was the 2014 Domaine Trotereau “Vieilles Vignes,” chosen for import by the inimitable Kermit Lynch. I say this wine was fascinating because it was nothing like the sauvignon blancs I usually taste. And I mean that as a compliment!

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2008 Chapelle de Maillac

I don’t usually post wine reviews – I prefer to write about wine experiences. But tonight, I opened a wine that was an experience.

I bought this 2008 Roger Sabon Chapelle de Maillac, from Lirac in France’s southern Rhone, back in January during a sale at Tim’s Wine Market in Orlando. I tasted it in the store and knew I needed to drink it fairly soon. That’s how I rationalized opening an aged wine by myself, to enjoy on my porch on a beautiful summer Sunday evening in Florida.

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