Wine Dine and Play: About


Wine Dine And Play is a food, wine and travel blog with over 500 reviews from around the world.

“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)

Who am I?
I am based in Florida, and have worked in the food industry since 1993; from restaurants, catering, and contracting in Afghanistan, Iraq, + Antarctica. My education in foodservice is from the United States Army Food Service Program at Fort Lee, Virginia, 1994, and then on the job training after that. My love of food was passed down to me through my Grandmother Ruth, who worked as the head dietitian for Stouffer's Restaurants in Chicago in the 1950s. She planted the seed for my future culinary adventures plus a love of travel, and never got tired of my stories until she sadly passed away at 94 back in 2013. 

What is Wine Dine And Play?
Put simply, it is a restaurant critics blog with wine reviews and a few other misc articles. The idea for Wine Dine and Play started in 2012 after a visit to Jordan and sharing my stories with friends. A few people suggested I start up a blog and write it all down. Since then over 400+ articles have been written. There are reviews on wine, the vineyards, and Château's; recipes, ethnic cuisines, travel adventures, but main restaurants from 'Mom and Pop's' and a few fine dining establishments. Some of these fine dining restaurants also have accolades on the Michelin 1-3 star, the San Pellegrino, and Elite Travelers Guide top 100 restaurants in the world lists. 

The travel articles include visits to Petra, safaris and shark cage diving in South Africa and a working visit to Antarctica. There is also a Grand Food Dictionary/Encyclopedia still being worked on and added to, that will cover everything related to food and beverages from around the world all in one place. Wine Tasting articles include visits to Bordeaux, Napa Valley, Sonoma, Bourgogne, Yarra Valley, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and the greater Côtes du Rhône. Also not forgetting Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Constantia in South Africa, along with Willamette Valley in Oregon. There are also articles written on food and wine festivals from Key West, Florida to Sydney, Australia. The travels over the past decade have taken me to five different continents to write stories about, but 60% of the articles are stories from here my home in Florida with my wife.

Being a restaurant critic

First of all, this is a hobby, and I don't earn a single dime. I never let restaurants know that I'm going to review them so as to avoid special treatment from the management and chef's, which leads to a false representation of the restaurant. I enjoy the writing and dining out at many places, its lots of fun, and by no means does it pay the bills. Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writers' knowledge, even if it includes 'metaphors' the restaurant may not like to read about. I have referred to calamari at one restaurant as being the same texture as a Goodyear tire. The restaurant did not appreciate the comment, but that is a perfect metaphoric example of saying that their calamari was rubbery and undercooked. It is what it is.

How I score a restaurant

My ratings are by star numbers awarded similar to the Michelin 1-3 star rating system, except I award (from 0 to 5), for a total of six levels. The rating is calculated based on a point accumulation of separate factors that occur from my individual experience, not what everyone may experience if they visit. The scoring document for these points includes nearly one hundred questions on six-point factors which include: 

Wines with other beverage selections (+ non-alcoholic), 
Plate presentation
Customer service 
Restaurant or café ambiance 
Food quality
A bonus section that I call the 'wow factor'

To see more details of this rating list, and the history of restaurant critics, read this article:

 What Is A Restaurant Review, And Am I Any Different?

Here is an example of the grading chart of stars

awarded based on the factors listed above:

5 stars
 An Extraordinary Experience
Worthy of or has a Michelin rating
    94 - 100%          105% with full bonuses added
4 Stars
An Outstanding Experience 
(Top of its class)
87 - 93%
3 Stars
Exceeded All My Expectations
80 - 86%
2 Stars
Far Above the Average Experience
72 - 79%
1 Star
An Average Dining Experience
66 - 71%
0.5 Star
The Restaurant is a very Basic Experience
65 - 61%
0 Stars
ALERT: Poor, or Appalling Experience
(Do not waste your money or time)
60% or below

0 Stars: 

Very poor or appalling experience. This is a place that you do not want to waste your time going to. It would be dirty or smell bad, food tastes bad, dirty bathrooms, horrible customer service, etc.

0.5 Stars: 
A very basic restaurant experience. This can be a typical chain restaurant or small 'Mom and Pop'. Having this score doesn't mean it was bad, it just needs improvement.

1 Star: 
An average dining experience means that there is still room for improvement, but overall it was still an enjoyable experience. Most chain restaurants will fit into this rating level.

2 Stars: 
Being far above the average means that they focused on making your experience a special one instead of just treating you like a number. Food quality is better, service staff caters more to your needs, and the ambiance is more inviting. The wow factor score can increase in this section also.

3 Stars: 
Exceeds all my expectations in a dining experience. I set my standards high since I am in the industry, so this restaurant did impress me. These restaurants food quality ratings are also higher with the use of local, organic, and sustainable items versus the big corporate GMO that several restaurants use. This level would be with the same equivalent to a .5 or maybe a 1-star rating of Michelin.

4 Stars: 
An outstanding experience. From food, wine, service, ambiance, and more this restaurant is at the top of its class and would definitely be worthy of a 1 star from Michelin maybe even worth being looked at for a possible second Michelin star one day. A four-star experience rating by me may not also be a fine dining restaurant either, but most of the time it is. For this rating, they have to do more than score well on the individual factors, but there wow bonus needs to be at least 2/5 or more along with matching a solid 1-star rating of Michelin.

5 Stars:
An extraordinary experience. How is this defined? You will know when it happens. Customer service will be impeccable from detailed care, expert sommeliers, craft cocktails, outstanding ambiance, and mind-blowing plate presentations. The chef will send your palate on a culinary adventure using many sources of the finest local, organic, and sustainable products. Molecular gastronomy may be used as well. This is a restaurant that easily fits a 2-star rating with Michelin and maybe looked at for a prestigious 3rd star. This is a restaurant that also would be examined by Elite Traveler, and San Pellegrino for their top one hundred list by continent or even more prestigious at the top 100 of the world.

Below is an example of a factor scorecard sheet based on the answering of the 60-65 questions. Some questions do not apply to the restaurant or the experience, so the card does not give them a negative rating for it. Out of a total of 61 points in this example, the score is 47 from five categories giving them a rating of 77%. Add in the 'Wow Bonus' of two additional points and their score jumps to 80%. When you look at the grading chart above for total stars, you will see that this restaurant averaged 3 stars, which on my list is considered "exceeding all my expectations in a dining experience and far above the average dining experience of most restaurants."

The star rating chart on Wine Dine And Play is broken down by 55 questions in 6 categories based on the experience of the restaurant dining
About / Star rating chart

Top 100 on Wine Dine And Play:

My top 100 list page consists of a few 3 stars, but mainly 4 and all 5-star experiences based on the factor score chart above. This list does change as a new experience may add that contender, and take another one away. This list is based on restaurants in cities or countries around the world that my wife and I have traveled to and dined at. I do not add restaurants to the list that is on other companies just because I happened to read about it. I must experience it for myself. The list is updated on December 31st of each year.

Wine reviews:

20% of the articles on Wine, Dine, And Play are wines from tastings, to visits to wineries and Château's from Napa to Bordeaux, and beyond. I refer to myself as an oenophile though, oenophilia is defined as “a disciplined devotion to wine, accompanying strict traditions of consumption and appreciation.” In a general sense, oenophilia also refers to the enjoyment of wine, often by a layman - which I am, and not qualified as a professional. I just enjoy drinking it, so my rating is based on enjoyment and the overall experience, not the science of an expert, and thus subjective, not objective. Here is a chart example of the wine ratings:

5 stars
 An Extraordinary Tasting Experience
92 - 100 points

4 Stars
An Outstanding Tasting Experience 
86 - 91 points

3 Stars
Exceeded All My Expectations
80 - 85 points

2 Stars
Far Above the Average Wine
74 - 79 points

1 Star
An Average Wine
69 - 73 points

0.5 Star
A very Basic Wine
62 - 68 points

0 Stars
ALERT: Poor, or Appalling Wine
- Do not waste your money or time
61% or below

Floribbean Cuisine:
As a resident of Florida, my wife and I get to see first hand the new cooking styles that make Florida cuisine so unique and the style that is taking the rest of the United States by storm as California cuisine did with Wolfgang Puck in the early 1980s.

Floribbean cuisine, also known as new era cuisine, has emerged as one of America's new and most innovative regional cooking styles. The fresh flavors, combinations, and tastes of Floribbean cuisine are representative of the variety and quality of foods indigenous to Florida and the Caribbean Islands. Regional chefs often make a commitment to using locally grown foods and the fish and seafood of the abundant fresh and salt waters of the area. The cooking style and techniques used in Florida today are highly influenced by those of Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, but they are lighter, with less frying and fewer oils involved in the preparation. Examples of Florida staples that you will find on most restaurant menus include key lime pie from Key West, the Cuban Sandwich from Ybor City/Tampa, and smoked fish spread. When my wife and I dine out we try the different fish spreads and came up with a rating chart from bad to the best.

Fish Spread Rating Chart:

THE BEST - Top-notch quality, excellent flavor profiles, memorable presentation, rare ingredients, organic, non-GMO, sustainable, local, immense-colossal quality of fish, and extravagant smoke flavors
DAMN GOOD - Fantastic smoke, exceptional quality, eclectic flavor, nice display, dedicated local sourcing, beautiful quality fish, possibly sustainable, non-GMO
GOOD - delicate, Enhanced ingredients, nice flavor, fresh taste, great smoke, common arrangements, in-state local, superior quality fish
BETTER - Nice ingredients, higher-desirable quality, okay flavor and taste, good smoke content, maybe from in-state sources, but possibly a GMO 
OKAY - Nothing amazing, a regular spread, fair quality, highly probable GMO product, might be from the state, most likely not, fabricated or mainstream smoke products
BAD - Taste old, horrible seasoning, cheap smoke, manufactured, heavy GMO product, not local, bad smell

Welcome and thanks: I hope you enjoy reading the many articles published on this site, and I look forward to hearing your feedback. Please feel free to share any articles on your social media, and if you have any questions, please leave a comment. If you represent a restaurant or winery and wish to add any articles to your newsletters or accolades on web pages, please link the article back to this website.

Have a wonderful day. 

Sean Overpeck (CFE)
Glorified Cook
Father, Husband, Wine oenophile,
Restaurant nut, History, and 
Star Trek lover

Wine Dine And Play with actor James Gandolfini from the sopranos in Afghanistan 2010
About / James Gandolfini

The Polar Star is an ice-breaker ship from the US Coast Guard that goes to McMurdo Station, Antarctica every year to open the seaway
About / Polar star Ice-Breaker

A week after Nelson Mandela died, Wine Dine And Play visited Soweto, South Africa to see his home
About / Nelson Mandela's House

General James Mallory visits FOB Shank in Afghanistan, 2011
About / General James Mallory at FOB Shank, Afghanistan

Crab Daddy's restaurant in St Pete Beach, Florida is the backdrop with Wine Dine And Play with our dog
About / St. Pete Beach, Florida

At the Cafe Arabesque in Dubai where Wine Dine And Play met with the Chef's
About / Dubai Chef's

The Chef at the LE Gabriel restaurant and bistro in Bordeaux, France from a visiit in 2010
About / Le Gabriel Chef, Bordeaux, France

Meeting Pauli from the Soprano's in Afghanistan in 2010
About / Pauli from Soprano's

Who is John Galt?


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