I can’t tell people enough that Disney isn’t just about the parks. There are so many extra activities outside of the Parks that is part of what makes Disney so special. On my last trip to Disney I attended one of those, a wine tasting at Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Read on to hear my review of the weekly wine tasting at Jiko.
This culinary ‘extra’ is held every Wednesday afternoon for a group of 12 individuals. Due to the small group size and limited occurrences, I recommend booking this event 180 days out. The cost of this experience is ~$31/person with tax. If you are staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, it is the perfect way to spend a resort day. If you are staying at another resort, it’s the perfect activity to take a break from the parks.
When I attended this tasting we arrived about 5 minutes prior to the start time of 3:00pm. Most of the couples were already there and waiting around the bar area of the restaurant. Once all of the couples arrived we were brought into the restaurant to a set table. Everyone was in couples, but this can be a great activity for a solo traveler or a smaller group. Each place setting had three glasses with a tasting of wine in each, along with three different cheeses.
The tasting began with the sommelier some of the history of South Africa and South African wine. Did you know that Jiko has one of the most extensive selections of South African wine outside of South Africa? After an understanding of the history, we moved on to some wine tasting basics – swirl, sniff, sip.
Then it was time for the moment we’d been waiting for, the tasting. The wines are selected by the sommelier based on what’s in season and what they choose for the day. This means this does not have to be a one time activity, it will be different each time you go. The three wines we tasted were Graham Beck Chenin Blanc The Game Reserve 2017, De Morgenzon DMZ Rose 2018, and The den, Pinotage 2018. A white, a rose, and a red so there was something for everyone. The wines were accompanied by three different cheeses with some jams, nuts, trail mix, and crackers.
The sommelier prompted us to taste the wine, and then the wine with each of the different cheeses. She guided us through a conversation by asking us what we tasted, what wines went well with each cheese, and why. Keep in mind, this is a wine tasting and not a wine class. While I did learn quite a bit, it was more an afternoon to enjoy some wine and cheese with some new, friendly faces.
After about an hour, the sommelier closed out the tasting with giving us some ‘homework’. She suggested that we begin to frequent a local wine shop, asking the employees to pick out a new wine for us each week in order to continue our exploration at home. She also suggested starting our own wine night parties where a group of couples get together, each bringing a new dish and a new bottle of wine. While I have not yet had time to try either of these things, they both sound delightful.
That ended our time at Jiko for the evening, because we had a reservation later on in the week. However, I think the perfect afternoon would consist of arriving at Animal Kingdom Lodge around 2:00pm, giving you time to explore the resort and see the animals prior to the tasting. After the tasting, at 4:15pm, Animal Kingdom Lodge hosts a free culinary tour which begins at Boma, the restaurant across from Jiko. Following the tour, enjoy some of the wine you just tasted at Victoria Falls, the lounge above Jiko and Boma, prior to your dinner reservation at Jiko.
There is so much to do at Animal Kingdom Lodge, you could spend the entire day just exploring the resort. While many of the resort activities or more geared for children, the wine tasting at Jiko is the perfect activity to start off an adults-only afternoon at AKL.