The wine connoisseurs at the independently owned Cork & Olive Lake Mary franchise introduce visitors to international wines, most of which originate from small, family-owned vineyards. In addition to pouring samples at a broad, wooden table, Cork & Olive’s team hosts events that range from in-home tastings to the monthly Sip&Dip, where wines come paired with select appetizers. Besides the many bottles of wines, the shelves also display craft beers, sake, chocolates, and cheeses, as well as gourmet olive oils and spices. Specialty services include custom wine-bottle labels for events, special orders for hard-to-find wines, and gifts such as wine aprons and holders and memoirs from picked-over grapes.
Towering oak trees cast their shade across the 3,600 acres of plantation land that surround Florida Estates Winery, but the precious grapes can be found hanging from trellised vines that sprout in their own sunnier patches of soil. Refreshing and approachable, the wine selection includes the soft-bodied Plantation Red as well as the Plantation Blush, which balances its notes of ripe fruit with a gripping core of zesty acidity.
A German and a Puerto Rican walk into a tapas bar. It's the setup not for a joke but for an intensely multicultural cafe: Vineyards of the World. Owner Sascha has a working knowledge of more than 300 beers, to which co-owner Yellymary adds a Latin love of tapas. And then there are the wines—more than 30 by the glass. At least one of the partners is always behind the bar if guests need a little guidance sorting through the tapas menu, perhaps in order to decide which flavor of goat cheese goes with a glass of chardonnay or what kind of dip works best if you accidentally spill a doppelbock into it.
Diners appreciate the pairings in a space designed to be maximally welcoming. Live music is featured every Wednesday-Saturday starting at 8 p.m., and the hand-painted sign hanging from the stucco facade presages an eclectic spirit that continues through the rustic murals and fancy-but-cushy armchairs leaning together under the chandelier inside.
Equipped with in-depth product knowledge and bottles from all over the world, the consultants of PRP Wine International waltz into homes ready to answer nearly any question a novice oenophile may have. As they pour samples for small groups, they explain everything from the intricacies of flavor profiles and the correct pronunciation of “pinot noir” to the most dramatic way to throw a glass of red at a mortal enemy. After tastings, guests can select any of the wine varietals sampled, all of which are chosen by PRP consultants after thorough scrutiny.
With its exposed bricks, arched doorways, and dim lighting, The Wine Room on Park Avenue evokes a medieval monastery. That may be why the sleek, Italian-made Enomatic wine dispenser, which controls bottle temperature and prevents oxidation, looks so much like a Star Trek–era gadget within the pleasantly rustic walls. With the push of a button, the metallic nozzles pour out precise 1-ounce sample-size, half-glass, or full-glass portions. To ensure spouts remain untainted from customer to customer, it cleans itself after every pour.
The Enomatic is one reason The Wine Room earned the title of Orlando's best wine bar from Orlando Magazine. The recently remodeled space now boasts additional seating, a new menu, and a new lineup of machines. Though the technology is impressive, the shop backs up their gadgetry with a staff of actual human wine connoisseurs. These friendly staffers help customers navigate the selection of 156 wines, and offer wine classes throughout the year. They can also recommend bottles to pair with The Wine Room's selection of cheeses, flatbreads, and yachts in need of christening.
For Bradley and Jennifer Ferguson, winemaking was initially just a hobby. They fermented their first wine in their kitchen using blueberries plucked from bushes on the grounds of their family's farm. Proud of their creation, they shared the wine with friends and continued to make a new batch each year during blueberry season. Years of practice made the wine tastier and tastier. They decided to make their hobby into a profession, naming their company Bluefield Estate Winery.
Today, they brew two versions of blueberry wine—one sweet, one dry—as well as wines derived from fruits such as peaches, mandarin oranges, or snozberries. Visitors to the vineyard can sample the libations, staining their fingers indigo as a reminder of a day spent picking blueberries and grapes straight from vines and bushes.
Lined with mahogany-colored shelves, Wine Bank's walls display bottles upon bottles of wines, suggesting that its name is no misrepresentation. But unlike most wine shops, Wine Bank isn't just about wine. Here, beers, fine wines, and cigars complement an in-house menu of upscale starters and gourmet entrees, ranging from pork filet mignon to shrimp mac 'n' cheese. And for those who would rather drink wine than spend thousands building vineyards in their basement, Wine Bank offers memberships with discounts and invitations to private tastings and events.