Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin delivers on its Food & Wine Classic seminars
Although I often write about fun for families in Orlando, these next two blog posts are for adults. Parents need some time away from the kids to recharge, and we at AllEars.Net think the annual Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic is the perfect date night opportunity. Kids are welcome at the event, but it’s definitely the grown-ups who will have the most fun at it.
My husband and I attended the seventh annual Food & Wine Classic on Saturday night, and Deb Wills and Linda Eckwerth were there enjoying the offerings Friday night. There were 12 food stations, 42 beverage stops and three specialty areas. Plus, guests could choose to attend one of 10 food and beverage seminars before the main event opened. With so much to cover, I’m going to dedicate this first blog post to the amazing seminars the four of us attended. Then, I’ll move on to the causeway and specialty areas.
I had the opportunity to attend the Base to Bubbles champagne class with Deb, while Linda and my husband, Steven, went to the Craft Cocktails seminar.
Unlike Deb, I am a wine novice, so everything about the class was new to me. Our instructor was Olivier Zambaux, a certified sommelier, director of banquets at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, and a native of France, which is, of course, also the birthplace of champagne. So, clearly, Mr. Zambaux was well-qualified to teach our seminar, but he also was entertaining, so our time together did not become a dry history lesson.
He walked us through the steps of making champagne, which requires first making wine. We tasted three wines that are ideal and usually used for creating the best champagne:
Chardonnay: It provides a wine with floral and sometimes mineral aromas. Its slow development makes it ideal for aging.
Pinot Meunier: This variety is supple and fruity. Its bouquet is intense; it develops quickly over time and gives a certain roundness to a wine.
Pinot Noir: This noble variety imparts structure and power to the blend, as well as aromas of fruits.
And then we sipped three types of wine blends, otherwise known as champagne:
Pommery: This label was crisp and aged in steel tanks rather than barrels to create that flavor.
Veuve Clicquot, Rosé: Red grapes and sometimes their skins, which are left on for a short time, create this beautiful pink champagne that is sweet to taste.
Moet & Chandon, Nectar Imperial: This champagne is very sweet, smooth and bubbly.
The taste of champagne changes with the food that it is paired with, so we were given different kinds of bread with fancy cheeses and spreads, as well as a large strawberry dipped in chocolate and a sweet biscuit, to experiment with.
The Base to Bubbles seminar cost $50 per person, which included the instruction, three wine tastings, three champagne tastings, the food samples, a glass of champagne to enjoy while we waited for the presentation to start, and a bottle of water.
Deb, who has attended many such wine seminars and is very knowledgeable about wines, said, “This seminar was excellent and provided lots of information about both the grape varietals in champagne but also explained how champagne is produced. I had never tasted the Pinot Meunier before so I enjoyed that aspect. The class was well-done, and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about champagne.”
As a wine and champagne novice, I wondered if I would feel out of place among the connoisseurs at this class. I certainly did not. The instruction was appealing to attendees of all backgrounds, and I, too, would recommend this seminar if it is offered again next year.
While Deb and I were learning about champagne, Linda and Steven were shaking things up a bit in the popular Craft Cocktails seminar next door.
Craft Cocktails was led by Aaron Simmons, general manager of Cabana Bar and Beach Club and Splash Grill and Terrace, and Ariel Bruckner, general manager of Garden Grove. Both were dressed in costumes to create the feeling that participants were in a speakeasy.
“The seminar is designed to give the home bartender more confidence in creating cocktails at home and enjoying their home parties,” Linda said. “I enjoyed so much about this seminar: Getting to use the "gadgets" bartenders use to learning about bitters and how they enhance a cocktail and even the different forms of ice used in a drink. At the end we were handed a flyer that included the recipes for our cocktails and how to make our own bitters.
“We were greeted with a St. George Street Punch. While it was tasty, it is not something I would drink regularly. I enjoyed both of the cocktails we made, the Whiskey Sour and Cucumber Southside Fizz. The Fizz had a slight advantage for my favorite because it was light and refreshing."
The cocktails were served with traditional speakeasy snacks, such as cheese-flavored bread sticks, a deviled egg and a salmon-flavored cheese and cracker. The Craft Cocktails seminar also cost $50.
Linda and Steven both said the Craft Cocktails seminar was well worth the price. “This was a fun seminar and I would recommend it to anyone wanted to get a quick lesson on how easy it is to make a good cocktail at home,” Linda said.
DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin at its Food & Wine Classic events. This did not affect my review, and my opinions are my own. Deb and Linda purchased their own tickets to the events.