Five Great Places to Wine in Miami

Sure, Miami is clogged with traffic and teeming with impossibly thin, tanned, trendily dressed people posing for selfies at an alarming clip. But it also has an expanding array of eclectic neighborhoods, a bunch of great restaurants, and a wine scene that’s getting more nuanced and exciting.

Not that long ago, it was hard to find anything to drink here besides overpriced cocktails and “prestige” wines – plenty of Veuve Clicquot, for example, but grower Champagne? Not so much.

Veuve is still ubiquitous, but if you know where to look, you can also find lots more interesting stuff. On visits over the past two years, I’ve had orange wine and natural wine, wine from Utah and wine from Japan, a nice bottle of Chablis in a gas station, and yes, even grower Champagne.

Where do you go for the good stuff? The best plan is to ask the locals. In my experience, Miami oenophiles are usually excited to find a kindred spirit, and I get new recommendations each time I visit. I’ve now collected enough great wine spots that I’ve put together this list of favorites for my fellow wine treasure hunters.

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Italy, Washington, & a Grand Opening!

Next week is a little quieter than last, but there’s still plenty of wine-ing to do.

Tuesday, importer Mediterraneo Italian Wine hosts a wine dinner at Francesco’s in Maitland with some fun wines from Italy.

Also Tuesday, another Tim’s location – this time Tim’s Avalon – gets cheesy with a wine and cheese pairing class.

Thursday, Tim’s Lake Mary offers a free tasting of wines from Washington state’s Kestrel Vineyards.

And Saturday is the opening night party for Louisa’s Cellars, a new wine bar in downtown Sanford.

As always, details for these events and more happenings in the coming weeks are on the Events Page.

Stay cool, and drink up, Central Florida!

 

Tim’s Avalon Park: First wine bar in the Tim’s Wine Market empire likely won’t be the last

If you’ve been an Orlando oenophile for any significant period of time, you’ve probably been to a Tim’s Wine Market.

Tim Varan is a cornerstone of Central Florida’s wine community. Since he opened his original bottle shop on Orange Avenue across from Lake Ivanhoe almost thirteen years ago, his empire has grown to six stores sprinkled around Central and North Florida.

Over the past few years, I’ve heard Tim hint at his desire to sell wine by the glass, but nothing came of it … until this spring.

The Wine Bar at Tim’s Wine Market in East Orlando’s Avalon Park celebrates its first-quarter anniversary on Saturday, three months after opening its doors in March.

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7 Tips for Wine Bar George Newbies; Miliotes dishes on his wine list, Orlando’s wine community, & more

George Miliotes hasn’t been spending much time at his home in Orlando’s College Park neighborhood recently.

The Master Sommelier told me he’s been sleeping at the Lake Buena Vista Hilton since last Saturday, the day his eponymous wine bar opened for business across the street at Disney Springs.

Actually, he says he hasn’t done much sleeping, what with the 17 hour days he’s been working to get the long-awaited Wine Bar George up and running.

Tips for First Timers

My husband and I dodged the raindrops last Sunday afternoon to visit the establishment on its first full day of operation (Saturday’s opening started at 5pm). Bottom line, this place is deliciously dangerous for wine geeks. If you are one, here are a few quick tips to make the most out of your experience:

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Wine Bar George Confirms Saturday Opening. Extensive Wine List Includes $500 Glass of Bordeaux.

Wine Bar George today confirmed what Orlando Wine Blog first reported a week ago — the long-awaited – and long-delayed – Disney Springs establishment will open this Saturday, May 19 with its full wine list and food menu ready to go. Doors will open at 5pm; regular opening hours (11am-2am) will kick off the following day.

Wine Bar George Exterior by Natasia Lynn
Photo credit: Natasia Lynn

The venue will be helmed by Master Sommelier and Disney alum George Miliotes. Back in the mid-90s, he helped open Disney’s California Grill; he returns to WDW with his eponymous wine bar, boasting what quite probably will be the most extensive by-the-glass wine list in metro Orlando.

Here’s your first look!

The bar-restaurant will offer more than 130 eclectic selections by the glass, representing over 40 grape varietals. Of those, thirty are high-end, rare, and vintage wines that will be available in one- and three-ounce pours too.

Glass prices range from $8 … to $500. Yes, you read that right. If you’re so inclined, you can pay $500 for a glass (or $84 for an ounce) of 1988 Chateau Margaux from Bordeaux. Most offerings, however, hover around the mid-high teens.

Appealing to Disparate Audiences

Miliotes had a fine line to walk when he created this list. He had to satisfy the tourists who’ll stumble in with screaming kids in tow, as well as the oenophiles, wine collectors, and wine industry folks for whom the establishment – Florida’s only Master Somm-led wine bar – will be a destination.

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Wine Bar George Tentative Opening Next Week

For those of you eagerly awaiting the delayed opening of Wine Bar George at Disney Springs, an anonymous source tells Orlando Wine Blog that the tentative opening date is a week from Saturday – May 19 – pending approval from Disney inspectors.

The establishment, helmed by Master Sommelier George Miliotes, will feature 140 wines by the glass (everything from obscure varietals to Caymus), flights, small plates, and more. Stay tuned.

Digress Wine flouts wine conventions with new concept in former Cavanaugh’s; Food service planned for later this year

Forget worrying about what wine pairs with fish or steak. Digress Wine in College Park is asking deeper questions:

What wine pairs with … a hard day at work?

A quiet evening by yourself?

Catching up with old friends?

A geek-out session with your wine buddies?

A first date – or a fifth? 

Former wine sales reps Brian Kerney and Rob Chase are in the process of transitioning the store, which they purchased last fall, into a combination wine bar and retail shop with a concept they hope will change the way Orlando thinks about wine.

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