The Only Master Sommelier Owned Wine Bar in Florida is A Must Visit
It’s time for a toast! Wine Bar George is finally open in Disney Springs. To say this is the most eagerly anticipated local restaurant opening in Orlando is an understatement. Orlando locals have anxiously awaited the grand opening since the master sommelier led wine bar was announced in 2016. But if you think this is just a wine bar, you would be missing out.
I visited three times in one week and have a fourth visit planned. Each visit offered a different glimpse. The private media preview gave us an intimate taste and showcased the restaurant as a stunning private event venue. The grand opening on May 19th turned into a fun gathering with friends as we sat at a second floor table overlooking the hustle bustle of Disney Springs. During our third visit, my husband and I sat at the main bar for a relaxed bite. Chatted with the bartenders and tasted a variety of wines before heading to the movies. Each visit was a different experience, yet each left me planning a return to try more wines, more cocktails and more food. I would say that’s a really good sign for a new restaurant.
The staff impressed me with their knowledge and warm hospitality. This is not a stuffy, snobby wine place. It feels upscale yet totally laid back. The food, the cocktails and the wines delighted in every way. Inventive yet familiar. Relaxed and elevated. I rarely write about new restaurants as there are always opening kinks to work out. I made an exception for Wine Bar George. Whatever kinks they’ve had to work out, they’ve done so seamlessly. The staff is excited to welcome us and so are we to join them!
If you’re a wine aficionado or simply wine curious, a foodie, a bon-vivant looking for a good time while visiting the Walt Disney World Resort, here’s my 9 Reasons why you must visit Wine Bar George.
1.The Wine Tasting.
It’s obvious wine is going to be the number one reason to visit but this wine bar takes wine tasting to the next level. Whether you know every wine region and varietal in the world or you only know you like reds, with more than 130 wines to choose from by the ounce, everyone can create an enjoyable wine tasting experience. The staff expertly guides you to select a favorite, they will share a bit of wine knowledge if you want and even let you try a sip. The wine list is varied and full of surprises. Miliotes knows how to select wines that are hidden gems. You truly can’t go wrong with any selection.
They use the Coravin wine preservation system to pour from any bottle on the list so you can savor a 1oz, 3oz or 6oz pour from outstanding wines you may not get a chance to taste otherwise without buying the bottle. A 2014 tempranillo from Toro Spain for $4 an ounce shares the list with a 1988 Chateau Margaux at $84 an ounce. Diversity drives this wine list.
2. The Wines On Tap.
Not often can you say you enjoyed a nice wine from a bar tap. At Wine Bar George these wines on tap are fun and high quality. The tap pulls made to look like vines are a nice departure from the traditional beer pulls. Some of the standouts: a Barbera from Piedmont Italy and a Loureiro from Vinho Portugal share the list with a grenache blanc from Paso Robles California and a pinot noir from Willamette Oregon. (Argyle is one of my favorite Oregon wineries so they get extra points from this Oregon girl.)
3. George’s Finds.
Finding good expensive wine is easy. Where Miliotes shows his true expertise and why he is one of best in the world is finding rare, high quality wines at a very good value. He has been doing this his entire career at renowned restaurants like Disney’s California Grill, Capital Grille and Season’s 52. His current selections in “George’s Finds” feature a variety of Spanish wines which is jazzing me up as I just returned from Barcelona and San Sebastian. This country is full of great surprises. You can guarantee there is not a bad wine in the bunch. It’s all just a matter of what you feel like drinking that day. How about a “Tinta de Toro” Tempranillo, a Garnacha Rose or a Muscat from Malaga?
4. The Cocktails.
The mixology program does not take a supporting role to wine’s spotlight. Here cocktails are inventive, well-balanced and 100% satisfying. Every cocktail sampled was true to type, familiar yet surprising. The addition of a grape-based spirit adds to the fun.
The “New York Sour” a take on a Whiskey sour with Russell’s Reserve 10 yr Bourbon is topped with Venta Morales Tempranillo. The odd wine topper works to add a layer of interest in this classic cocktail.
The “American 75” a classic French 75 made with California’s St. George Terroir Gin, Roederer Estate bubbles and lavender syrup is a perfect celebratory way to start your night.
The “Wake Up Call” made with house espresso-infused Barsol Pisco, Caffe Borghetti Espresso Liqueur ends your night on the right note. It’s a coffee lover’s must drink!
The French Ginger Bramble with Domaine de Canton, Sobieski Vodka and Creme de Mure was a refreshing sipper. Summertime perfect!
If you thought the only cocktail made with wine is a sangria then think again. Wine Bar George shocks your taste buds. Here a classic Manhattan gets velvety richness from Croft Distinction Port. Frangelico and Black Walnut Bitters add a nutty touch to the Hazel & Rye Manhattan.
The Queen’s Margarita is truly elevated and sweetened with Ordonez Number 1 Muscat and Creme de Cassis.
5. The Small Plates.
A decidedly Mediterranean feel dominates the menu appropriately for this setting. Grilled Octopus had the right texture and touch of acidity and contrast from a lemon vinaigrette and olive salad mix.
The Crispy Mac & Cheese Bites are pure comfort food. The macaroni perfectly al dente rather than mushy and unexpected layers of flavors from the various cheeses and light tomato nage. Think of an awesome American take on risotto balls.
The Porchetta Spiced Pork Cheeks with triple cheese polenta and orange gremolata was fork tender and hearty enough to serve as dinner paired with the gorgeous Caymus Suisun Petit Sirah.
6. The Family Style Plates.
Wine Bar George is the perfect place for sharing great food and wine with friends but sometimes you want more than small plates for sharing. The boards of artisanal cheeses and charcuterie are to be expected in a wine bar. These do not disappoint.
The whole grilled Branzino blew us away. Perfectly cooked presented whole then deboned at the table. Four of us devoured the tender meat accompanied by hearty cannellini bean ragout and grilled asparagus. The type of fish is based on availability as the menu lists a Greek Sea Bass which sounds like another great option.
The Skirt Steak with chimichurri was full of flavor as you expect from this Argentinian staple. The Wine Braised Chicken sounds equally tempting and will be ordered next time.
7. The Sweets.
Leave room for dessert at Wine Bar George. Olive Oil Cake topped with lemon mascarpone and candied olives is a must! It’s a bit richer than the traditionally light cake most likely from the secret ingredient we discovered (butter! It makes everything better!)
Florida’s classic Key Lime Pie is not a perfunctory inclusion. It’s nicely done with that signature sweet tart flavor we all love. If a visit to Florida is not complete without Key Lime Pie, go for it! Next time I visit, I must try the Chocolate Experience pairing of three wines and chocolates. Sounds like heaven!
And don’t forget the dessert wines and ports. The Mas Amiel 20 year French Grenache was dessert all its own.
8. The Basket.
Wine and cheese to go? “Froze All Day” to sip as you walk around Disney Springs? Yes, please! Part of the fun of the foodie theme park we call Disney Springs is walking around from restaurant to restaurant, eating and drinking, shopping and enjoying live entertainment along the way. “The Basket” is Wine Bar George’s walk-up window where you can create the perfect picnic basket to dine outdoors. A prepared basket with olives, hummus, cheeses, charcuterie, fresh baguette and wines is available or you can create your own. Wines on tap by the glass or carafe, beer, cider and that magical frozen rose slushy will take care of your thirst, especially on a hot summer day.
9. The Only Master Sommelier Owned Wine Bar In Florida.
As you cleverly deduced, the “George” in “Wine Bar George” is owner George Miliotes. It’s exciting to see a local Orlandoan make his mark and take center stage in Disney’s foodie mecca. He’s one of only 10 Master Sommeliers in the state of Florida and only 249 in the world. Wine Bar George is the only wine bar owned by a master sommelier in the state. Opening in Walt Disney World Resort’s Disney Springs brings him full circle back to the WDW family fold. He began his sommelier career as one of the founders of The Contemporary Resort’s famed California Grill.
Miliotes is a passionate and approachable wine educator. I took a blind tasting class with him over 10 years ago and still apply what I learned to this day. I admire his belief in knowledge-sharing which has helped many wine professionals in Central Florida. He will be conducting special tastings and classes in the restaurant giving unprecedented access to a higher level of wine education for any aficionado.
Miliotes is also continuously studying wine, identifying the most interesting wines through annual trips to wine-growing regions around the world. He has even taken an active role in the winemaking process helping to create custom blends with various winemakers. A practice that will give Wine Bar George a unique advantage.
I always enjoy chatting with him and it was refreshing to see him dressed casually during my last visit. A departure from the typical formal suit Master Sommeliers are known for. But then again, George is not your typical Master Somm.
Cheers to George Miliotes for finally making his wine bar dreams happen!
Walk-ins are welcome in the 200 seat restaurant but reservations are definitely recommended, especially for larger parties. You’ll find a variety of seating options including a private board room, a lounge sitting area, communal tables and counter window seating perfect for people watching. Grab a seat at the bustling first floor bar or the more quaint second floor bar. Sit at a barrel table in the bright barrel room. Wine Bar George is open daily from 11am – 2am. For more information, visit WineBarGeorge.com
I hope you’re inspired to go visit Wine Bar George. Don’t put it off to “someday”. Make Someday Happen!
More Photos of Wine Bar George
Disclosure: I was an invited media guest during some visits. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own. As always, I only share with you experiences worth celebrating to inspire you to #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip and trip at a time. For more information about my guidelines, read my disclosure policy.