Master Sommelier George Miliotes is the leader and mind behind the new Wine Bar George located in the Disney Springs at Walt Disney Resort. As one of less than 250 worldwide industry professionals certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, George hand-selects the wines that make up the list at Wine Bar George from acclaimed and well-known wineries as well as growing regions and wineries that are up-and-coming. With more than 140 selections by the ounce, glass and bottle, we sat down with George to learn more about his relationship with wine and process for selection.
How did you develop a love for wine?
I began working in my family’s gourmet food/wine shop in Orlando, Florida when I was 12-years-old, with my first job being cleaning the wine bottles. Mind you, Orlando in the early 70s was new to gourmet food and wine but my father was a great teacher and inspiration. His restaurant was one of the only places in Orlando with a wide selection of champagnes, German wines, and wine in general, so I learned how to describe the bottles to people who came specifically to learn about them. I was hired by Walt Disney World in the early 90s to run the California Grille and continued on to help to create Seasons 52. My wine knowledge and passion continued to grow, and I’ve now been a Master Sommelier for 12 years.
How have you seen Coravin benefit your customers at Wine Bar George?
Coravin allows people to taste the greatest wines of the world by the glass. Just the other night on a Tuesday, we were able to pour a little of everything to everyone. We welcomed people in their 20s who wanted to taste three different types, to more experienced wine drinkers who asked for half glasses of fine wine. I myself was on the floor all night with the Coravin systems, pouring and talking about wine.
The beautiful thing about Coravin is that it allows us to leverage discussions with guests and open them up to new experiences. It’s the ability to try things that you might normally shy away from at a wide range of price points.
What are a few characteristics you would use to describe the wine list at Bar George?
We like to cover the world of wine at all price points and styles. Some wines served on tap that are lower price point and the largest part of the list covers everything that is currently up-and-coming. Everyone is in a different place in their wine journey and that’s the beauty of it.
What are your recommendations or tips for new Somms?
For a new wine drinker, try a Beaujolais. It is one of the great wines of the world at a great price and quality.
For red wine drinkers, your red wine needs to be enjoyed at 65-68 degrees. Almost all red wine is served in the 70s and that is problematic for the flavor.
For white wine drinkers, it’s common for them to be refrigerated in the United States. Also problematic! Let the whites come into the mid-40s where they will show the beauty of their flavors and their richness, as opposed to chilling them out of the wine.
What is one wine you would advise to a particularly daring drinker?
I love to turn people on to Australian wine, as most people don’t consider this region to be a producer of high-quality wine. The Pinot Noir Macedon Ranges in Victoria are incredible and I recommend a bottle from there. Otherwise, I say it’s all relative. Ask yourself, does it taste good and am I enjoying it? That might be the only answer you really need.
What are a few of your favorite pairings?
If you’re interested in traditional, red meat is a good place to start. The more marbling in the steak, the more tannic your wine should be to complement it. A South African Fusion Five Bordeaux blend with an excellent cut of red meat is heaven.
If you’re looking for an adventure, I recommend trying braised pork cheeks – which can be very potent – with an Italian Grignolino or a Mediterranean seabass on the grill with German dry Riesling. Excellent pairing!
How has your taste in wine changed over the years? Have you noticed that your palate is ever-evolving, or have your favorites remained your favorites from the beginning?
There once was a day when I was only interested in big, powerful red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon. This is also the first place a lot of people go to when they begin drinking wine. As I’ve become more experienced, I’ve enjoyed many beautiful wines outside of Cabernet.
Nowadays, I go directly to the Merlot section with new guests, which may surprise some people as there’s a lot of misconceptions surrounding it. Many winemakers make Merlot in addition to the Cabernet, not as a consolation prize. Because Merlot is less expensive than Cabernet, I can get excellent Merlot at a far lower price than I can get an excellent Cabernet at a low price. I like to keep an open mind when tasting wine, as opposed to sticking with the classics.
Planning a trip to Disney World? Tell us in the comments below if you plan to – or have already – experienced the magic of Wine Bar George.