A Taste of Wine Riffs

Guest post by Eric Jenkins, Assistant Director of Food and Beverage at Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando

Do you have a favorite wine? You know, that go-to bottle for special occasions or the perfect glass to unwind with after a long day? How about a favorite song? One you could listen to on repeat and belt out every word with ease? If you do (and I know you do), chances are you’ve created an emotional connection to that wine or song through a special event or important life experience.

At Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, music is what sets us apart. So when we had the idea of creating a unique dining experience, we wanted to use that differentiator to create those emotional connections for our guests. That’s how Wine Riffs was born. It’s the Hard Rock wine dinner, where we carefully select the right wines, create exquisite food pairings, and then tie each course together with its own lighting and soundtrack. Here’s a peek into what goes on to put Wine Riffs together….

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

Wine Partner, Stag’s Leap

Finding the Right Wines
Our process starts by identifying the right vineyard to partner with. We look for a vineyard that has a compelling story, an impressive lineup of juice, and a winemaker that is an engaging fan of music. Wine Riffs is sort of the anti-wine dinner, really. It’s loud and unconventional, so we make sure our wine maker is telling stories and sharing inspiration and not spouting pH levels in soil and harvest temperatures.

The Set-up

The Set-up

Creating the Menu
Once we select our wines, we turn the creative process over to our amazing culinary team. They use current culinary trends, locally fresh produce, and wildly creative minds to create an impressive lineup of dishes. Each dish is not only developed and made by our Executive Chef and team to pair beautifully with its accompanying wine, but also tells a story of its own through color, presentation, and style.

Food and wine pairing

Food and wine pairing

Curating a Soundtrack
Having a specially designed five-course wine dinner created is just the beginning. We then draw on the stories and emotions of the wines, and the ingredients and origins of the food to create a unique soundtrack for every course. That’s where Vibe Manager Molly Ford comes in. She selects every artist and every song that accompanies each course…and it’s a tall order to fill! But she does it every time. It’s the combination of food, wine, lighting, and music that helps create this unique dining experience. We believe the music can influence the flavors of the dinner and, in turn, create an emotional response from a total sensory immersion.

Molly Ford, Hard Rock Hotel Vibe Manager

Molly Ford, Hard Rock Hotel Vibe Manager

All sounds delicious, right? The next Wine Riffs dinner is taking place Friday, July 17th. If you’ll be visiting then or you’re a local looking for something new to do, come check it out. To grab your spot for the next dinner or for more information, call 407-503-2405 or e-mail Molly Ford at mford@loewshotels.com.

Maybe when all is said-and-done you’ll leave with a new go-to wine and a brand new favorite song.

Rock on!


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