Review: Epcot After Hours Wind Down Event at La Cava del Tequila

Welcome to Epcot, After Hours! The Epcot After Hours Wind Down event kicked off on Thursday, April 17, at 9:20 pm (immediately following “IllumiNations”).

Illuminations Torch

Illuminations Torch

This 21-and-over event features small plates and drinks at the guest’s choice of four restaurants on select evenings: Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room, Spice Road Table, Tutto Gusto, and La Cava del Tequila.

When we announced this event a couple of weeks ago, we got a LOT of diverse points of view in the comments from our readers. Many were concerned that the price for the event ($35) was too high. Others were excited for the opportunity to stay in Epcot after hours, enjoying one of their favorite — often crowded — hot spots!

I attended the Wind Down at La Cava del Tequila in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion. Let’s see how it went!

Mexico Pavilion After Hours

Mexico Pavilion After Hours

I’ll start with a rundown of my food and beverage experience specific to La Cava, and then we’ll talk about the event itself — what’s good and what could use some improvement. There’s a lot to share, so let’s dive in.

La Cava del Tequila

La Cava del Tequila

La Cava del Tequila

A group of about 10-12 guests gathered for the evening. Walking into an adults-only situation was a refreshing experience — granted, that’s something you typically have at La Cava, but there was a bit of a different feel.

Some of that had to do with the settings in front of us: a tequila flight, a small vodka shot (to “open” our senses, as we learned later), and a Mezcal tequila shot, along with a small bottle of water.

Tequila Flight

Tequila Flight

The lights were up a bit, too, for what we were about to experience. With the covers over our glasses, we all knew to wait to begin (which gave us a nice opportunity to meet the folks around us).

Covered Glass of Tequila Blanco

Covered Glass of Tequila Blanco

We soon found out that we were going to experience something truly unique: a tequila tasting led by Hilda Castillo. This is similar to what was done during the first Food and Wine Festival tequila tasting events, for those of you who have been.

Hilda combines knowledge, passion, and fun to help you feel comfortable and appreciate more of what you’re tasting.

Hilda, Tequila Ambassador

Hilda, Tequila Ambassador

The walls of La Cava are a classroom of sorts, and Hilda showed us how the wall mural displays the tequila process.

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

La Cava Wall Mural

With her guidance, we experienced the characteristics of each tequila through color, aroma, and taste: an incredibly strong (I mean, WOW!) Blanco (White tequila), a Reposado (Rested tequila), and an Anejo (Aged tequila).

Because I am no Hilda (though I would like to be when I grow up!), I’ll offer these descriptions below that were provided at our settings.

Tequila Blanco description

Tequila Blanco description

Tequila Reposada description

Tequila Reposado description

Tequila Anejo description

Tequila Anejo description

With every visit to La Cava, I feel a little more comfortable with the world of tequila, because someone is always willing to share their knowledge with you. But I am [Read more…]

What Should I Do in Epcot on a Kid-Free Night?

Check out this great DFB reader question we received a while back!:

I am traveling to Orlando on business and will be in Epcot for one evening. What would you suggest that I do with this rare dining opportunity? Normally, my family accompanies me on this trip, but this year, I’m looking forward to a kid-free night in the park!

There are TONS of great options for a kid-free night in Epcot. I’ve got a couple in mind, but I can’t wait to hear what YOU would do!

Evening at Epcot is Extra Magical!

But also, as much as we all love our families, it’s fun sometimes to have a little grown up time in the parks.

And if you’re a parent who hasn’t had a chance to do that, we still bet that you’ve got a couple of great suggestions dreamed up just in case! So share your suggestions for a dream night in Epcot in the comments section below!

As for what I would do? After about six rides in a row on Maelstrom, Spaceship Earth, Soarin’, and Test Track in a row, here’s what I’m thinking food-wise…

Tutto Gusto for Dinner

For dinner, I would choose Tutto Gusto. The wine bar, one of the newer additions to World Showcase’s Italy Pavilion, features a wonderful menu of tempting small plates — and you don’t need a reservation to dine there! Also, it’s very solo-diner friendly.

You can see a recent Tutto Gusto review right here!

One of Tutto Gusto's Cheese Boards

The atmosphere is cozy, and the [Read more…]

Epcot’s World Showcase Wine Walk

WineWalkLogo

The Myth of the Wine Walk
For a long time, the World Showcase Wine Walk was a myth for me. I’d heard tell of a “pay-20-bucks-and-get-six-glasses-of-wine” type of thing, but I searched the web and found no specifics about this fantastic option in Epcot’s World Showcase.

Then, out of nowhere, the Wine Walk was mentioned in the 2009 Epcot Food and Wine Festival Guide. Finally, I had clarity!

So on my recent trip, I stopped into Italy’s Enoteca Castello shop and asked all about the Wine Walk. And while I wasn’t able to do the walk this trip, I’m really looking forward to getting it on the list for next time.

(If anyone out there has had the opportunity to do the Wine Walk, drop me an email or a comment and let me know what you thought! I’d love to hear reviews, both pro and con.)

Wine Walk Specs and Details
In the meantime, here are the details: $20 = 6 wine samples and a beautiful walk around World Showcase!

To begin, head to one of these three shops: the Weinkeller in Germany (the shop with all the wine)

Germany's Weinkeller

Germany's Weinkeller

Enoteca Castello in Italy (that’s the shop with all the wine — the masks are in the back)

Masks in Epcot's Italy

Masks in Epcot's Italy

or Aux Vins de France in France (there’s a lot of wine in there, too).

Aux Vins de France

Aux Vins de France

Request a Wine Walk Passport at any of these locations. From there, you simply flash your passport in each of the three countries and enjoy your samples! Like other Epcot passports, cast members in each pavilion will give you a stamp for each sample.

The Wines
The wines you get to try are the following:
Germany

  • Valekenberg Madonna Spatlese: Since my Food and Wine Festival R.A Pruem wine seminar earlier this year, Spatlese is the word I look for to find a wine I’ll like. Spatlese = sweet and smooth, in my opinion (all it really refers to is the grapes being picked during a late harvest, making the sweetness and flavor a bit more intense). According to Disney, this particular wine will pair well with crustaceans like crab, shrimp, and lobster.
  • Valekengerg Madonna Leibframilch, Castello: The passport bills this wine as having a “lush, seductive bouquet” backed by mild acidity. It pairs well with stronger flavored fish and meat dishes, and works well when sipped alone as a pre-dinner drink.

Italy

  • Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio, Tuscany IGT: This wine will go well with light dishes, and probably will be best as a pre-dinner drink. The clean, fresh taste is touted as being perfect for an aperitif.
  • Castello Banfi Rosa Regale, Piedmont DOCG: For those of you who have no idea what DOCG means (like me), it stands for “Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita,” which basically means it’s been quality-control tested by the Italian government. Translation: it’s high-quality. This is a sparkling wine, and word is that this is the wine to eat with chocolate!

France

  • Georges Duboeuf Pouilly Fuisse, Macon: A Chardonnay from Burgandy, Disney says try it with cheese…yum.
  • Fuisse and Chateau Tour de Segur Bordeaux, Lussac St. Emilion: This rich red is described as “structured” (word-lovers like me just gotta love these words — who would ever think to describe a liquid as “structured?”). The predominant grape is Merlot, and the main aroma is of dark fruits. Do this one with red meat.

The Passport
Here are a couple of photos of the actual passport, so you know what you’re looking for:

Epcot Wine Walk Passport Side 1

Epcot Wine Walk Passport Side 1

Epcot Wine Walk Passport Side 2

Epcot Wine Walk Passport Side 2

Finally, as far as I know, the Wine Walk has always been offered year-round. Its mention in this year’s Food and Wine Festival Guide makes me wonder if it’s been reduced to just an Autumnal experience. Fingers crossed they’ll keep it year-round so that everyone can enjoy this wonderful, and relatively inexpensive, way to sample some of the great wines from the World Showcase!

Salute, Sante, and Prosit!