Virtual happy hours and dinners are a thing now. But I hadn't participated in one myself, until I was invited to a virtual wine dinner a couple of weeks ago by Dexter's New Standard and Tim's Wine Market. I didn't really know what to expect, and I'm not sure chef Ryan McLaughlin of Dexter's or Tim Varan of Tim's Wine Market did either.
I picked up the meal from the restaurant, along with prep instructions and two bottles of wine – a bright 2016 Chanzy Bouzeron Aligoté and a silky 2017 Chateau Laplagnotte Bellevue with its merlot-cab franc blend. The three-course meal consisted of charcuterie (highlighted by lomo, coppa, Humboldt Fog and some pickled veg), a deconstructed Greek salad with heirloom tomatoes, and braised short ribs served with a sunchoke puree.
After boarding the charcuterie and putting together the salad (the tomatoes from Waterkist Farms were unreal), we tuned into Instagram Live for the "virtual" segment of the dinner. Varan talked about the Aligoté, which paired incredibly well with the meats, cheeses and salad. The gathered chimed in with comments of approval, and a genuine sense of community formed quickly. This was, dare I say, fun.
McLaughlin entered the fray to say that the dinner afforded many of Dexter's furloughed employees the opportunity to work again. I set the short ribs I had just warmed into a swoosh of sunchoke puree as Varan came back to talk pairings. The Right Bank Bordeaux was a beaut – an "easy" pairing, someone said. And if you're considering taking part in their next wine dinner on May 8 (it's $135 per couple), the decision, much like the wine, should also be an easy one.
(Dexter's New Standard, 1035 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, newstandardwp.com. To RSVP for the May 8 Virtual Wine Dinner, call 407-895-9463 by May 6.)
This story appears in the April 29, 2020, print edition of Orlando Weekly. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida. Please consider supporting this free publication with a one-time or monthly donation. Every little bit helps.