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A Wine Enthusiast’s Guide To Walt Disney World

Wine is an international favorite and so is Disney. With the popularity of these two things it’s a no brainer that Disney put some effort into making sure its guests can enjoy both simultaneously.  There are so many restaurants with award winning wine lists, in fact 8 of them were named Wine Spectator 2017 award winners. If you are just starting your wine journey don’t let that intimidate you. They offer so many other selections at both in park and resort locations that there is truly something for everyone. Whether you consider yourself an expert Oenophile, or if you just enjoy wine and want to explore some new options Disney World has you covered.

Below is a list of locations on property with some truly reputable wine lists. Some are award winners, and some are great for other reasons. In no particular order here are some places you should go to expand your wine profile or just enjoy sipping on a good glass….

Victoria and Albert’s at The Grand Floridian:

While there is no surprise that this super exclusive and expensive restaurant would boast a top- notch wine list, the amount of above average options that they offer is beyond impressive. In 2017 this restaurant was honored with Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence”. The diverse list offers more than 600 selections and 4,200 bottles in the cellar, including rare and valuable vintages such as 1961 Château Margaux and a world-class collection of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Most of the list relies heavily on French wines but they do offer selections from California, Spain, South Africa, and others as well. Selections are based on the rarity of the wine, winemaker and vintage, and staff sommeliers are well versed in the regions and stories behind the wine. With the prices that you will pay at this restaurant it’s probably best reserved for a special occasion.

Le Vins de France in EPCOT World Showcase:

Located in the France Pavillion of World Showcase lies the cutest little wine shop that makes you feel like you wandered in there while strolling a Parisian side street. This is a great place for guests to try different French wines and see what pleases their palate. While it is a counter service tasting type spot, they also have an adorable wine shop offering some of their country’s finer and more popular selections. The people serving you are more than skilled in wine knowledge and will be able to help guide you towards a varietal you will love. If you are looking for a wine on the sweeter side then I would suggest the Sauternes, which has hints of both peach and a slight note of caramel. If you prefer something more dry, then I would suggest the Miraval Rose from the Provence region. If it’s bubbles that you are looking for then spend a few extra bucks and treat yourself to the Moet & Chandon Rose Champagne. It’s like tasting a bit of heaven.

Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar at Animal Kingdom Lodge:

Located near Jiko, this intimate watering hole features some of South Africa’s finest wines. This small quiet setting will not only impress you with its beautifully exotic setting but guests can also order some of Jiko’s food items at this bar as well. Their wine list which sprawls over several pages will acquaint wine enthusiasts with the fine wines that South Africa has to offer, try a Chenin Blanc or a Pinotage while enjoying some appetizers from its neighboring restaurant.  Cape Town is great because you can enjoy a great wine selection without paying the hefty price of a full- service restaurant. The wall of wine bottles towering over this often-overlooked location adds to the ambiance as well. So, if you are in the Animal Kingdom area and fancy a relaxed atmosphere to sip on some great wine then stop by for a drink or two.

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Shula’s Steakhouse at The Dolphin Hotel:

Shula’s is one of three Walt Disney World restaurants that were honored with the “Best of Award of Excellence.” That title means that they “take their commitment a step further, wine lists that display excellent breadth across multiple regions and/or significant vertical depth of top wines, along with superior presentation.” That’s pretty impressive for a steakhouse owned by a former NFL coach. Don Shula has dedicated as much passion into his steakhouse as he did into coaching the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only team in NFL history to finish a season undefeated. If you are not in the mood for a sit- down dinner than you should visit Shula’s Lounge located toward the front of this venue. The same wines are available but in a more casual atmosphere. I have to add that I have visited Shula’s several times and I enjoy it more than I thought I would. Don Shula has put together the perfect combo, it has an heir of masculinity but not too much, a wine list that is nationally accredited, and some of the best steaks I’ve ever tasted. Kudos to expanding your horizons Don, you nailed it.

Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom:

Be Our Guest Restaurant which is located in the Beast’s Castle in Magic Kingdom will captivate its guests from the moment they walk down the stone walkway to the grand entrance. While it may not have earned an award on any 2017 wine list it still boasts the best selection by far in what was previously an alcohol- free park.  That shouldn’t be taken as a conciliation statement, it’s an honor based on the wine list that they have created as pioneers in this area for this park. Be Our Guest is also still one of the most highly coveted reservations in all of Walt Disney World. Relying heavily on French wine they offer choices from the most basic (but still good) house selections to some truly fine bubbly selections. Why not try the Be Our Guest Private Label Wine Sampler which includes; Enchantee Rose, L’ombre de la Bete Chardonnay, and L’ombre de la Bete Vin Rouge? Sample the best of what they have to offer in what is considered the best dinner venue in Magin Kingdom.

Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in EPCOT World Showcase:

What would the Italy Pavillion be without a cozy little wine bar? Tutto Gusto is just that. When you enter this establishment you immediately feel like you are in an authentic Italian wine cellar. It’s dark and intimate atmosphere temporarily takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the parks and allows you to sip fine Italian wine in a quiet setting.  They offer over 200 selections by the bottle and a large assortment of wines by the glass as well. Feeling hungry? Their small plates menu has authentic Italian fare and will make the perfect snack for a midday break. They also offer a large number of wine flights so that you can see what you like and you can try different pairings with your small plates. So, raise your glass and say “Salute” to a little piece of Italy in Orlando.

Citrico’s at The Grand Floridian:

There is another restaurant with an award- winning wine list at The Grand Floridian and with this hotel’s level of elegance we are not surprised. They truly set the bar for fine dining on property. Serving up mostly Mediterranean inspired cuisine Citrico’s has some of the best food and wine in all of Disney. The award-winning wine list includes a host of epic wines and sommeliers are on hand to suggest wine pairings. They have some of the most amazing selections but be advised you are certainly going to pay for it. Their bottles range anywhere from about $37 to over $3000. If you are looking for a remarkable splurge worthy wine than I would suggest the Penfold’s Grange Shiraz from 2009 which is $273 a glass or $1260 for the bottle. It’s a mildly spicy South Australia wine and goes great with leaner red meats. However, if you are looking to celebrate a memorable life event such as an engagement or anniversary but don’t want to splurge that hard their wines by the glass list is spectacular. This restaurant also offers a minimally obstructed view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks at night so if you time your reservation right then you are in for a show.

Whether you are looking for an $8 glass to taste something new or you are looking for an $800 bottle to celebrate a milestone, Walt Disney World has you covered. So, go ahead and explore, no matter what your wine palate is there is no doubt that you will enjoy the selections at the happiest place on earth. What wines are your favorites at Disney World and what would you suggest to those just learning?

About Kelly Osterman

Kelly has been obsessed with all things Disney since her first trip at 4 years old. It’s been over 30 years now and that passion has only grown. Kelly is an accomplished liquor industry employee for 13 years including things such as bartending, promotions, consulting in new openings and is also a published recipe writer. She lives on the Jersey shore and while she’s not local she still visits several times a year because she wants her family to “grow up Disney” as she has herself. After 60 plus trips to Walt Disney World she always tries to make each experience different both for her children and herself. Her motto is “it’s for the kids but the adults should have a little fun too”.