Sunday, August 18, 2019

Steak and Wine

The majority of us would agree that the best wines to go with red meat is red wine. Even I a devoted white wine fan agree. Having a steak it must be red. Maybe!

What is the best red to enhance the experience of a perfectly grilled steak? Well, not everyone agrees.  The most common answer among the average wine drinker is Merlot. However, most so-called experts who write about wine often go with Cabernet Sauvignon. Malbec is often chosen as the best wine for a rare steak.

The experts, of course, have a wine for every which way you wish to cook your steak or the type of steak or the amount of fat in the steak. Let's not get carried away. If you pile on the sauces or BBQ sauce you, of course, have changed the game. A softer lighter, perhaps even sweeter wine is best.

After the Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon a Syrah makes a good choice. 
Some wine drinkers actually like a Zinfandel  Okay that is their choice.

When it comes right done to it why not just select your favourite wine. 
I have once or twice even been so bold as to order a Bacchus wine with my filet magnon. Maggie Hoffman Managing editor os Serious Eats calls drinking only reds with steak an old and Antiquated way of looking at food pairing.

Many believe the best wine of all is Champagne or sparkling wine.

Please report errors and visit us at

Friday, August 9, 2019

Wow! You Want to Own a Winery

Wait not so fast owning a winery may sound exciting and luxurious but It is a great deal of work. The major of winery owners are hard-working farmers.. they till the land, grow grapes, harvest the grapes and struggle to make money. If you want to be a successful wine owner its best to start rich and many do.

It also helps to hire an experienced winemaker, even a consultant with a great reputation and vineyard manager is also required. You also require the help of other wineries, especially if you plan on doing all the jobs by yourself.

Then, how are you going to sell your wines where is your market. Most likely its only the province your located in. But even getting your wine beyond your own gate is not easy. There are so many wineries out there.

To become VQA certified you have to pay for this honour. Getting restaurants, pubs ,and liquor stores to carry your wine, a most difficult task. Canadian restaurants don't have a passion for listing Canadian wines on their wine list. Is that the consumer fault?

So what are you left with, selling your wines on site. Can you afford a tasting room? Can you afford to staff it. You cannot sell, your wines outside of your own winery and tend to your tasting bar at the same time.

Winery owners are finding the industry is much more difficult than they anticipated

In the last few year we have seen the number of new wineries triple if not more. However numerous wineries are for sale and some have even declared bankruptcy

So let's support our local Wineries. But wait the majority of the population does not live in Wine Country. In Ontario its only 2 hours to the Niagara Peninsula In BC its five hours ( those of you who say you can do it four your away over the speed limit) from Vancouver to the Okanagan. To the Island wineries a rather expensive Ferry ride.

Also, there is the cost factors, wines in Canada are over taxed and cost too much
You can buy good wine in the USA for $5.00 in Canada finding one under $12.00 good luck. If you wish to bring box wines into the picture and other cellared in Canada wines remember those grapes are not grown in Canada It is economically challenging for Canadian vineyards to grow grapes at the price and quality needed to compete with the low priced imports that are flooding our wine market. Check it out for your self what are people buying in your local store. The big bottles from foreign markets I bet.

Many wineries sell limited quantity wines selling for $35.00 and up. Great but they better be way beyond good. Even if they are you need to find a way to let the consumer know and once again find a way to sell them

For over twenty-seven years now we have promoted the wineries of Canada her wines. Yet many wineries totally ignore our request for information.

AVAs like the Okanagan relay deeply heavily on tourist to purchase wines directly from the winery. That is one reason our website features a tourist section. We also believe we live in a great country and wish to bragg a little.

Icewine is Canadians biggest selling wine product Thanks to a very strong Chinese market. However, only a few wineries have access to this rich market. Due to the high price Icewines do not sell well in Liquor stores. In fact, I could find only three bottles of Icewine in our Local store. Some wineries in Canada produce only icewine. That's a gamble. If the weather is too warm there is no harvest.

Do you still want to own a winery?

and then you have California

California wines continue to grow in popularity with both trade and consumers in the Canadian market," according to Rick Slomka, Wine Institute Trade Director for Canada. "Some of the recent growth comes from new brands with eye-catching labels and clever names. Also contributing to this growth is the ongoing strength of the Canadian dollar which has made California wines more competitive compared to wines from other major wine regions. Our continued success with premium wines in the Quebec market and in LCBO VINTAGES, indicates that Canadian consumers see good value in California at all price points," said Slomka.

Canadian wines are world class yet consumers still flock to the wines of California and the old world.

We would like the hear your thoughts

February 2012

Saturday, August 3, 2019


Love my icewine. 

There I was roaming around the big mall in Tsawwassen trying to kill time. My lovely wife was attending a function with one of her Women's Organizations. I am not good at killing time.

It was getting late when the text message to come on over. I did so!  The event was almost over when I arrived and many of the ladies were on there way home. It was a very pleasant night and I found my wife sipping wine in the garden.

I knew that Mary the chef and co-host at the event would offer me wine, I decided that been tired I would forgo the wine as we had a long ride home. As expected Mary came carrying a bottle. " Bob would you like some Icewine" I immediately perked up, a smile appeared on my face, there was no way I was refusing Icewine.

I was immediately impressed by the wine. It was smooth and full of flavours The perfect sweetness.
It was a Vidal Icewine from G Marquis in the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario. Oh boy! It was good!!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Tip Outrageous

On a not so pleasant summer evening, this July my wife and I and five of our closest friends were taking in a Theatre Under the Stars performance, an annual outing for us. To start the evening off we gathered at Stanley's Park and Grill restaurant located next to the theatre in Vancouver's famous Stanley Park.

Parking was pricey at $13.65 with a 5-minute walk that leads to the rear of the restaurant.  Following the signs we went up to the back entrance onto the patio, there was a reception desk but no one in attendance. We were forced to dodge waiters and make our way to the front of the building to the outside deck where we did find a hostess.

While the rest of the group were being seated I made use of the washroom facility, there was only one, which was surprising with the size of the restaurant, what a mess it was! It beats me how a place that serves food can get away with such a dirty washroom.

Once seated, it was a few minutes before the waiter arrived. He was a very nice young man but English was not his first language. He struggled to take our drink order apparently pinot grigio was not in his vocabulary. When he returned with the wines he had trouble remembering who ordered what and again had trouble identifying the wines.  I mention this only to show why the tip was outrageous.

The restaurant features a very short menu of five entres, the wine list is extremely short. The waiter again struggled with English when taking our food order. We did not have long to wait until he returned carrying three dishes, we all thought, wow that was fast! He placed my order of a sirloin burger ($22) down first, I immediately went for the french fries, turns out it was not our order at all, but because I had touched the food it became mine! There were errors on a couple of the other orders that had to be corrected but all in all, the food was great, everyone enjoyed their meal.

The waiter also blew the dessert order. Only one of us ordered dessert Placing it in front of the wrong and later asking a different member of our group if they enjoyed the dessert.

On to the finale, the arrival of the bills! There was confusion as to whose bill was who's. I received ours and noticed the suggested tip amounts, 15% 18% or 20% wow. I am a senior living on a pension wow again.

Then I noticed that 18% had been automatically added to the bill. If one of the tip suggestions was added to the 18% the tip would have come to more than the meal itself, give me a break! Makes me wonder how many customers miss the mandatory tip charge and add more.
The service did not come close to us subsidizing staff wages. We estimated that approximately 90.00 was added to the tip jar from our table alone.
In preparation of writing the blog I took a closer look at our receipt and noticed we had been charged for two speciality coffees when we only ordered one, an extra 4.00 added

In fairness to the Stanley's Grill, auto-tipping is standard practice. It may work well for the working class of but for seniors on a fixed income based on the cost of living from days gone by it's far too much! We are not against tipping for good service but it would be nice if there were a seniors rate.

The restaurant at this time as not responded to our e-mail

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Not all Wines are Good!

Back in Spring, I attained Bloom  the BC VQA Spring release. Its a wonderful event providing an opportunity to taste wines from over 100 wineries. I was quite excited. In fact, I went to the event even thou I was enduring the pain of three kidney stones.

As I toured the event I spotted one of the Okanagan's newest winery. I had not tasted their wines nor had they responded to my information requests. Opportunity knocks.

I approached the table and said hello receiving the most uninterested look and a mumbled response. It was if they were bored and just wanted to go home. I tasted a few of their wines.
The whites all tasted the same, like an over sweet Gew├╝rztraminer.

Was it just me? Were those kidney stones affecting my tasting ability? Did their lack of hospitality affect my judgement? It was time for some water and a quick snack.

Now fast forward to a few weeks ago when friends came over for dinner. They just happened to bring along a bottle (a white blend) from this same winery.

Once again an opportunity to reflect upon a winery that was most noted by me for frequent Facebook postings. Surely the wine would taste better now than at Bloom. Bloom just had to have been an off day for me.

However despite being a blend that did not include Gew├╝rztraminer, the wine taste like a very sweet pop. Reminding me of Baby Duck. Needless to say, the wine went down the drain.

Not the first time wines in our home have been poured down the drain. It is extremely rare!

If your looking for a little assistance in selecting a good wine please see Robert's Selections

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

July2 2019

There is a hidden gem on the Golden Mile of Oliver. British Columbia.

If you were a tourist driving through Oliver and the Okanagan you will spot some pretty impressive looking wineries. Such as Tinhorn Creek and Burrowing Owl. You might even have heard of some of the wineries that have made their reputation of the years such as Gehringer Brothers and Hester Creek Estate Winery setting your sights on visiting them.

If you are paying attention and driving the speed limit you may notice a small rather unimpressive winery by the roadside. You ignore them,  they are not as big or fancy as those other wineries but what a mistake you will make.

My wife and I have been following  Castoro de Oro Estate winery since Bruno Kelle and Stella Schmidt purchased the winery. Bruno and Stella believe they found a diamond in the rough when they located their winery on the Golden Mile south of Oliver. The couple fell in love with the wine region while touring the area in 2005.

The winery known as the Golden Beaver back then was not anywhere close to been a diamond. But with passion, dedication and hard work Castoro de Oro (renamed in 2011) now produces some of Okanagans best wines.

Their Viognier 2016 won a peoples choice award in 2018. Their Radiant Rhapsody highly rated by wine writers across the nation. The Crimson Red Rhapsody 2014 winner of 2017 Lieutenant Governor Award of Excellence.

Their 2014,15,16 and 2017 Merlot has collected numerous awards in a number of events. Barbara who loves Merlot rank their 2016 and 2017 among the very best BC has to offer.

A true family winery, their son helps with making unique wines. They produce 14-16 small batch handcrafted wines per year.

Do not pass this winery by! That would be a mistake!

A comfortable patio with picnic tables provides a spectacular view of the Okanagan Valley.

You can see how I reviewed their wines in Robert's Selections.  In the next few weeks, Barbara and I will be looking forward to  tasting additional wines from Castoro de Ore

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Buying Wines in a Grocery Store

When it comes to buying wines in British Columbia where I live my wife and I never think about buying our wines at the Grocery store. It has happened but its a rare occasion.

I do like the idea. We have done it quite often in the USA. In fact that when we "think " about buying wines in us we look at Costco or Fred Meyers.

Back home we are more likely to buy our wines directly from the winery. I love visiting our local wineries. Great hospitality great wines.

In British Columbia, only a handful of grocery stores have obtained a license. Most obtained their licence by buying one from the now-defunct VQA stores. The store is restricted to selling only wines produced in BC and VQA certified.  Not all provincial wineries are willing to pay the fees required to get VQA certification, but that is another story

When it comes to our local grocery stores I am more of the observer than a buyer.   Although it is not a grocery store I often browse through the wines at various independent liquor stores such as Everything Wine. Here the number one observation is that most people are buying the lower priced wines from Europe. New Zealand or Chile.  Very few people venture into the BC wine section.

I also wander through the grocery store wine shelves, sometimes doing a tasting. Here too I like to observe what people are purchasing.

On a recent visit, a woman went up to a display sign pushed it aside and reached down to the very bottom corner to obtain two bottles of her desired wine. She knew exactly where the wine she wanted was stored. Funny the wine was a major producer  Inniskillin. My first thought was how did such a major brand get such a poor shelf location.

My observations told me that most people know what wine they want and where it is located.  Although you can find two to three people working the wine section they seldom offer assistance or even acknowledge the customer.

I also observed the wine tasting table often has no one there to pour the wine.   What!! Why!!

As for the staffs' knowledge of wine and ability to help  I give the grocery stores a D

What the grocery story offers is convenience. You're there to buy groceries first wine second.
My wife belongs to the Red Hats,  this club requires you bring flowers for the birthday events So if we are short wine at home my wife buys the flowers and purchases wine for the event at the grocery store.

Here where I some times it annoyed. They have to call someone to wrap the flowers and may have to call some someone who is illegal able to ring in the wine.