Eat + Drink

Merlot, Not Mickey: Orlando’s Best Wine Spots for Local Sips

Quantum Leap Winery (Norman Yu Photography/Courtesy Quantum Leap Winery)

Wine aficionados, like their craft beer and cocktail counterparts, are a serious lot. You’ll find these refined sorts converging on Orlando wine bars to discuss everything from a particular grape’s characteristics to a certain vintage’s flavor profile — all the while sniffing, swishing, spitting and sipping. While it may all seem like pretense and affectation, there’s a genuine determination among these cognoscente to draw out the true essence of their wine of choice. After all, in vino veritas — “in wine, there is truth.”

Wine Room

While the comfy Tuscan trappings here are appealing, the self-serve wine dispensers at this Park Avenue wine bar are the real draw. Naturally, there’s a price to enjoying 1-, 2.5- and 5-ounce pours on this tony strip, but once you purchase a pre-paid card ($3) and load it with enough cash to start enjoying any of the 156 wines, financial matters get relegated to the realm of obscurity. Rare wines are also offered, like the Opus One 2004 proprietary blend — it will run you $19 for a one-ounce pour. For the peckish, flatbreads, sandwiches and assorted small plates are on offer, as well as desserts.

Wine Barn

Don’t let the name fool you. This isn’t some sort of discount warehouse for bargain bin wines. Oh, no. Owner Andres Montoya has crafted and cultivated quite a sanctuary for vino devotees, many of whom purchase a bottle to enjoy on premises without the annoyance of a corkage fee. Barn tables and stools fashioned from wine crates and boxes play up the rustic ambiance, as do the countless shelves and bins of bottles. More than 600 boutique and small-batch wines of every imaginable varietal can be had, and to not pair a glass or few with one of their from-scratch wood-fired pizzas would be an utter shame.

Quantum Leap Winery

When this winery opened up in Mills 50/Ivanhoe Village corridor, it turned a lot of heads at the thought of an actual winery opening in the urban core. But owners Jill Ramsier and David Forrester’s idea of shipping in sustainably grown wines from premier wine-growing regions around the world, then creating their own blends right here in Orlando to sell, seems to have gained traction. The winery opens to the public Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays — the three days in-the-know and eco-conscious oenophiles quietly set forth to this tucked-away spot. The roomy bar and lounge area makes for an inviting spot for sipping, but enjoying any of their varietals at the large table in the barrel room completes the experience.