When most people think of Walt Disney World, images of Mickey Mouse, rollercoasters, and crowds probably float to the top of their minds: Few ever think about what a culinary playground it is.
Of course, Disney World is teeming with incredible fare that’s often as imaginative as the rest of the park, but did you know that it’s also home to one of the world’s best wine bars?
One of the best places to enjoy some time away from the bustling theme park is Wine Bar George, a restaurant and bar at Disney Springs. Because the wine bar is at Disney, it often gets overlooked by serious wine connoisseurs, though this is a huge mistake. In fact, The World of Fine Wine just awarded Wine Bar George the number one spot in 2023 for having the Best Wine Bar List in the world.
Where exactly is Wine Bar George and what’s it like?
Wine Bar George is located in The Landing section of Disney Springs between Gideon's Bakehouse and The BOATHOUSE. Disney Springs — a themed retail, dining, and entertainment center that looks like a charming waterfront village — is at the edge of the Walt Disney World property near Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and the Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels.
The rustic-chic restaurant, with exposed brick, dark woods, and wine barrels-turned-tables feels plucked right out of Napa Valley. It’s bright and airy thanks to huge, wraparound windows, and boasts two bars, one on each floor, plus three main dining rooms and one private dining room.
What’s the wine-tasting experience like?
Wine Bar George offers over 200 wines by the ounce, glass, and bottle, meaning you can try a few things or even create your own flight. That can get overwhelming to some, which is why I recommend signing up for one of the frequent wine-tasting experiences, which I recently attended.
Led by the wine bar’s namesake, Master Sommelier George Miliotes — one of only 273 people worldwide that can boast the prestigious title — the $110 blind-wine tasting included six wines, three white and three red. All are hand-selected by Miliotes. Around 30 people usually round out a tasting, though, due to the time of year, mine was more intimate. With our small group of about 10 people, Miliotes was able to dive deeper into the intricacies of each wine, guiding us through a series of questions to determine where the wine was from, what type of wine it was, and when it may have been bottled.
Throughout the hour-and-a-half session, I learned a great deal about how wine is made, how climate and climate change impact growing seasons and harvests, and how to determine a good wine from a great wine. Out of the six wines we tasted, the styles ranged from a $15 bottle of Zuccardi Serie A Torrontes to an exclusive bottle of Caroline Parent Les Charms Meursault Premier Cru, France, where the 2020 vintage sells for upwards of $600 a bottle (Wine Bar George’s wine list is studded with famous and expensive wines).
Between sips and snacking on the included charcuterie and cheese board, guests asked Miliotes their burning questions about wine and learned what it takes to be a Master Sommelier as well as what wineries to visit in California and France. The insights that Miliotes shares with wine lovers, whether you’re a novice or a self-proclaimed expert, are invaluable but approachable.
One of the best lessons I learned from Miliotes from visiting Wine Bar George multiple times is that it doesn’t matter what type of wine you drink, as long as you enjoy it. And that sentiment rang true during the blind wine tasting. I enjoyed both the least expensive and the most expensive wine offered, so the money spent on a bottle doesn’t always matter.
As our blind tasting came to an end, I found myself wanting to do another one, not just because it was fun, but because I learned so much. A great part about this experience is that it’s repeatable, not only because Miliotes likely has an endless amount of stories he could share, but because with each tasting the wines chosen are different.
Was it worth it?
Those who are interested in wine or who want to participate in a unique activity at Walt Disney World will enjoy these tastings. Overall, it was worth the price, especially since learning from Master Sommeliers is rare, and to have access to one right next to the Magic Kingdom is even more special.
Most days, George can be found at the restaurant greeting guests and sharing his knowledge and passion about wine. But there’s just something extra special about having a small group setting where wine is hand-selected and paired with a dose of education from an elite wine expert.
What about my kids?
For people traveling to Disney World who have kids and can’t leave them behind for an hour and a half, don’t fret. You can still get the Wine Bar George experience by making a brunch, lunch, or dinner reservation at the restaurant. The menu — designed to complement the wine — features mostly small plates like house-made meatballs and burrata, but also entrees such as skirt steak and family-style dishes that serve four. And yes, kids are more than welcome to dine with you at a table.
Expert tip: Order the macaroni and cheese bites to share. It’s a kid-friendly appetizer that adults will love equally.
How to get there:
To get to Wine Bar George if you're staying at a Disney hotel, simply hop onto one of the complimentary buses headed there from outside of the resort. If you're staying at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa, Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside, Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter, or Disney's Old Key West Resort, you can even hop on a complimentary boat to Disney Springs.