Wednesday, November 20, 2019

 Among our many friends is a gentleman who lives in the United States of America.  He lives in a small town in Washington State. Therefore he has access to a number of American wines from California, Oregan and Washington at reasonable prices.

 Among his favourite wineries is Columbia Crest Estate Winery located Paterson overlooking the Columbia River in Eastern Washington. In the application known as Horse Heaven Hills. The winery opened in 1983.

In 1990 the named as one of the best value wineries in the world by Wine Advocate. The awards kept on coming. Their reputation is among the best of all Washington Wineries.

Last evening our friend joined a number of us for dinner. He brought along a couple of bottles of Columbia Crest  2016 Grand Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Everyone agreed that it was a very good wine. The bottles emptied quickly.

The bold wine is complex with good structure. Providing on the nose dark berry fruits especially plum followed by notes of chocolate and vanilla. Score one for Washington wines.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Grocery Store Wines

At a recent party I hosted in honour of my wife's birthday. One of our friends arrived with three bottles of wine. Greatly appreciated, as two were whites. I prefer a good white wine for these types of gathering. The other was a red wine called Contra Diction. It was a merlot.

I did not recognize the name or the label. On the back it said " Contradiction Montreal, Quebec". Oh good I thought an opportunity to try a Quebec wine.

However, a little research led to disappointment. This was a grocery store wine. Commonly know as a cellared in Canada wine. In March of 2018, the Cellared in Canada or CIC labelled wine is officially illegal. The deceptive packaging has been outlawed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) who announced the approval of new wine label designations to replace “Cellared in Canada”. Replacing the current label designation “Cellared in Canada from imported and/or domestic wines” is “international blend from imported and domestic wines”, for imported wines. For domestically-produced wines, the new term is “international blend from domestic and imported wines.” The Contra Diction was so marked in very small print on the back label.

These imported wines can actually be quite good. However, they can also be, shell we say no so good. The main purpose seems to be to produce a cheaper wine to fix most consumers budget" Since workers in Canada are paid higher than most other countries. These wines are cheaper to produce. Why are Cellared in Canada so popular? One reason is they have a lower price point than VQA wines. Another may be that the names are familiar to us dating back into the 70 and 80s such as Hochtaler and Bright's Wines.

Only in Quebec have I actually seen wines referred to as Grocery Store wines. However if you Google the term Contradiction Merlot and Bodacious pop up.

Be careful when searching for a good wine

A google search for Hidden Treasure winery produced no actual winery but

Hidden Treasure Argentinian red wine | Metro › ... › Wines, Cocktails & Coolers › Red Wine

Hidden Treasure South African red wine | Metro › ... › Wines, Cocktails & Coolers › Red Wine

Both links led to the same page lacking any information about the wine or country of origin.

A different website listed Hidden Treasure as wine from Spain.

I like Canada's true VQA wines!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Birthday Cake And Wine.

With my wife's birthday rapidly approaching I had to ask my self what wines go best with a birthday cake. The answer, of course, would not be an easy one. There are so many different styles of wine and so many different types of cake.

I decided to start with what wines we had in our home ready to serve our friends. It seems we have more reds, mostly Syrah than whites.

I now had a decision. I knew what cake would be best. Before proceeding I took a look at some other combinations.

Red Valet cake is very popular, with its smooth texture and cream cheese frosting, it's delicious. perhaps the best wine here would be Pinot Noir.

Funfetti cake with its complicated flavours means it has to be a sparkling wine.

A devil cake lets go with three selections Cabernet, Grenache, and Syrah, unless its all white devil cake or lemon then select a with like riesling or Petite Milo.

We can not forget the cheesecake. Once again their numerous flavours associated with cheesecakes but you can not go wrong with a dessert wine.

Lemon Meringue Cake is simply delicious. My personal choice here would be Bacchus, Ortega or dessert wine.

The very popular Black Forest cake. This one is hard to find the perfect pairing. Some resources say "just serve coffee" But let's give it a shot. How about a tawny port? A late harvest wine? Perhaps an Icewine!

So what cake will I be buying ( or perhaps make myself)? The best solution to this minor concern is "Ask the Wife"

However, chances are it will be a simple chocolate cake. Twenty-seven years ago we began boasting about Canada's wines and our passionate owners, vineyard managers and winemakers keep proving how right we were and how bright the future is..

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The correct etiquette for serving wines 

After ordering, the waiter/sommelier will retrieve your selection and then present it, label forward, to the person who selected the wine. This is merely to verify it is the correct wine. The cork is removed and placed on the table. Unless it is clearly tainted, (the waiter/sommelier should notice if it is) do not touch or smell it, as it means nothing.

A small amount will then be poured for the host. Swirl the wine in the glass, smell, then taste. This is to make sure the wine is not spoiled and is not an opportunity to send back a sound wine that you are not crazy about. After approval, the wine will be poured clockwise to the right, ladies first. The selector's glass will be topped last.

If the waiter/sommelier is extremely good he/she will compliment you on your selection. They will also continuously check your table adding to your glass at the appropriate moment. In higher-class restaurants it's the server's responsibility to refill your glass.

Wine tasting Manners

Wine tastings are events designed to give enthusiasts the opportunity to sample a range of wines. The events can be very much like classes (seated, seminar-like events), or they can be more like parties (tasters milling around informally). Compared to a wine class, the participants at a wine tasting are more likely to have various levels of knowledge. Tastings don't come in beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels — one size fits all.

Wine tastings are popular because they override the limitations of sampling wine alone, at home. How many wines can you taste on your own (unless you don't mind throwing away nine-tenths of every bottle)? How many wines are you willing to buy on your own? And how much can you learn by tasting wine in isolation — or with a friend whose expertise is no greater than yours?

At wine tastings, you can learn from your fellow tasters, as well as make new friends who share your interest in wine. Most importantly, you can taste wine in the company of some individuals who are more experienced than you, which is a real boon in training your palate.

When attending a wine tasting always be polite. Tastings can be packed with people, and if the lay out of the room is not the best, you will, without doubt, be feeling a bit like a sardine. Sharpen your elbows, taste the wine and move on. Don't linger around in front of the table unless you are deep in conversation with someone behind the table, make the conversation brief as others are waiting.

Once receiving your wine step back. I hate it when people start conversations with each other in front of the table with no regard for anyone who is behind them waiting to taste.

It is a good idea to turn your cell phone off. If you are expecting an important call them move away from the tasting area to chat.
Do not monopolize the time of the people pouring if you wish to discuss business with them make an appointment.

The people doing the pouring have a difficult task of handling a number of people crowded around a small pouring table or bar. They should always greet the taster and make a suggestion on how the tasting should begin. They too must be careful not to let one person take their entire attention.

Spitting is allowed but do some in the container provided. It is also a good idea to practice at home. Swallowing isn't really necessary in order to taste the wine fully. If you leave the wine in your mouth for eight to ten seconds, you'll be able to taste it thoroughly — without having to worry about the effects of the alcohol.

Allow other tasters the chance to form their own opinions. Wait until everyone has had a chance to taste a wine before making any comments. Don't interfere with other taster's sense of smell. This means no smoking or use of highly scented products such as after-shave, perfume or scented lotions.

When attending wine tastings at a winery be prepared to purchase at least one bottle of wine.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

 Charcuterie Boards
What beats visiting a winery and enjoy a tasting. The answer is relaxing on their patio with a cheese plate or Charcuterie Board along with a glass of wine or two.

Charcuterie is a branch of cooking involving prepared meats, such as ham, sausage, bacon, confit, or other pork products. The word originated in France, and it translates to "pork-butcher shop." While the original French translation refers to pork, modern Charcuterie boards can include other types of food, such as duck, goose, chicken, cheese, toast, fruit, or other options.

In French, the person that prepares the meat is called a Charcuterie. Additionally, the English pronunciation of Charcuterie varies slightly from the original French. The correct French pronunciation of Charcuterie is "shar-coo-tree."

Although the pure definition of a Charcuterie Board is enhanced by many wineries providing a board combining meat, cheese and other delightful items. Crackers or bread is often the main addition to the board, Olives and fruit are often added as well.

The Key to me is the wine. What is the best wine to have with the Charcuterie Board? I suggest you simply order your favourite wine. Another suggest would be (if offered by the winery) try a flight. A wine flight is a group of wines for you to taste.

Some of the best Charcuterie Board that I have experienced last summer would be Backyard Vineyards, Seaside Pear Farmgate Winery and Blackwood lane. Recommended vinAmite in Oliver. Okanagan Crush Pad in Peachland, Cedar Creek, Kelowna and Upper Bench, Naramata.

In Ontario, Ravine Vineyard Estate comes highly recommended. Between the Lines and Hidden Bench also have excellent boards.

In Nova Scotia, you must stop in at Jost Vineyards and Domaine de Grand Pre. In NS try the Tidal Bay wines.

Of course, you can always have your own wine party.

See our visit to Seaside Pearl and 40 Knots

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Who drinks Champagne!

In my world as small as it may be very few people drink Champagne. In fact, most people do not realize we have an international agreement with France that only sparkling wines produced in the champagne application region of France are entitled to label their product Champagne.

So perhaps the question is who drinks Sparkling wine. Once again in my world very few do.  Champagne is known around the world as an indulgence and expensive luxury.  You can buy cheap sparkling wines but if you want really good Champagne you have to pay for it.

In my world, I am more often served a Mimosa. Mimosa is a mixture of sparkling wine ( Champagne if you have it)  and Orange juice. It is best to use a dry wine.

In Canada, we have a number of wineries that specialize in Sparkling wines. Nova Scotia seems to be perfect for producing the right grapes. Benjamin Bridge has distinguished itself as one of Canada's top producers of sparkling wine and built a national following for its critically-acclaimed Nova 7, which has helped raise the profile of Nova Scotia's wine industry within Canada and abroad.

L'Acadie  Winery owned by Bruce and Pauline Ewert is another top producer of sparkling wines in Nova Scotia. Bruce and Pauline grow primarily L’Acadie Blanc grapes and craft them into a premium, traditionally bottle-fermented sparkling wines and still wines.

The award for Best Sparkling wine at the All Canadians went to Two Sisters Vineyards of Niagara-on-the Lake, Ontario for their Blanc de Franc.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna, BC is a well known and respect producer of Sparkling wines.

Canada has come along way in its product of Sparkling. Devote winemakers are producing wines that are considered to be just as good or perhaps even better than those coming from France.

The Bubbles in sparkling wine ( and soft drinks) comes from  Carbon Dioxide gas. It is this effervescence that I do not enjoy.  I even let my ginger ale fizzle out before drinking it.

Just one more note here when you watch the World Series and see the winning team celebrate in the locker room chances are its a cheap sparkling wine that gets spread around the room.

Remember Sparkling wine can be opened safely without sending a cork fly across the room. You may have noticed today that championship winners celebrate their Champagne ritual by first wearing safety glasses.  Thus another reason I do not care for sparkling wines I hate opening the bottle. So many of our friends say to me your the wine guy please open.... Thankfully most do not drink Champagne.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Rosé is a term describing the French technique for making wines ranging in colour from greyish pink to very dark pink. Rosé is a type of wine that incorporates some of the colour from the grape skins, but not enough to qualify it as a red wine. It may be the oldest known type of wine, as it is the most straightforward to make with the skin contact method.

Winemakers create a rosé wine by juicing red grapes and then allowing the juice to soak with the skins for a very short period, usually only two to three days. As soon as the juice begins to take on the beautiful pink colour the winemaker desires, the skins are removed and the juice is allowed to ferment, creating delicious rosé.

Rosés have exploded in popularity in the last few years. At a recent VQA fall release almost every time I came to taste a wineries wines they insisted I try their Rosé. Some very good, some were not.

Recently my wife and I hosted a dinner party. We began the evening by doing a blind Rosé tasting challenge. We featured two BC wines, two Washington State wines and one California wine.  Twelve guests took the challenge. Only two of the wines received a passing grade and were awarded a vote. Both were from BC. 

The final score was 8-4 with Castoro de Oro Pinot Duetto been the winner. The deep colour attracts one's attention. This Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc blend starts with a nice aroma, featuring an initial tart cherry softened by peppery tannins. It has a nice smooth finish. 

Castoro de Oro is a small family-operated winery in Oliver along the Golden Mile. Their friendly winery and fine cellar makes them a winery you should visit.