Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Rising Popularity of Wine.

It was 1992 when I started my website The inspiration came when my wife and I honeymooned in the Napa Valley. It was a special time. In 1992 you could walk into a winery in Napa and be the only one in the tasting room.

We returned to the valley in 2011. The wineries have gotten crowed you could not even find a spot at the tasting bar. The same is basically true around the world. In the old European countries like France and Italy wines were a mainstay. In North America, it is a new habit!

Back in the nineties when you visited your friend they would most likely offer you a beer, rum and coke or coffee.  Today the choice is wine.

Across Canada back in the 90s, there were less than 70 wineries (give or take). Today we are looking at 800 wineries with the numbers growing. In fact, there are wineries in all ten provinces.

In the USA there are wineries in every state. Every major grocery chain has a wine section.

Is the popularity of wine a fade like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Will wine have its day and be replaced by some other exotic beverage. The way they are pulling out fruit trees and ploughing the land to grow grapes one would think not!

One exciting featuring about the wine culture today is the luxury of visiting the wineries. They range from the Mum and Pop operation to the massive million-dollar destination wineries.

In my first year of running my website, I thought breaking 100 visitors a week was amazing. Today less than a 1000 visitors a day is a disappointment.

When I started on the internet I became the third site dealing with Candian wines. I quickly became two. Today there are hundreds perhaps thousands of bloggers.  There are TV and radio shows devoted to wine.

Winery owners, vineyard managers are exploring new areas where no one ever thought of growing grapes. The recycling locations deal with as many wine bottles as they do beer cans.

In a fancy restaurant, you can be presented with a wine list of over 300 bottles to choose from. Your local fish and chip shop might just have a wine list.

Wine is the centre of happiness that’s why in every type of celebration and party we saw wine is on the table. Wine is so popular that even scientists are studying its health benefits. Image!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

BBQ Season has Arrived

BBQ Season has Arrived

Yes, the season is here, roll out the grill. Visit the store and purchase those steaks, hamburgers, chicken and corn on the cob. We also tend to buy BBQ sauces.

BBQ sauces come in all kinds of flavours.. There is original, white, sweet, honey , Asian, mustard, smokey, Jalapeno, tangy and ....

Have we selected our wine for the this wonderful summer event. We all know reds for steak and white for chicken. We know our favourite red and our favourite whites. We know what goes best with each meat selections but wait a minute. We have added something here! We have introduced new flavours by adding BBQ sauce.

The flavours of the sauce have a big impact on what wine you should choose.

Remember never serve foods sweeter than your wine. The sweet the sauce the sweeter the wine should be. Dry rubs and vinegar-based sauces need drier wines.

When it comes to hamburgers  I like a original light non-sweat BBQ sauce lightly spread over the burger. Try merlot, cab Sauvignon or Zinfandel. I can also go with Bacchus. Those who insist upon a red may like Syrah.

With steak going with a little heavier sauce Pinot Noir is very good.
Chardonnay works well with many of the over flavoured BBS sauces on today market.

Although we think we have the right wine remember the sauce changes the flavours of those meats. One hint that I have to admit we have not yet tried. chilling the reds.

Stay healthy enjoy the summer!

Monday, June 8, 2020

My wife was reading her Facebook page when she noticed a posting for Gracie's Next Door (a restaurant in Tsawwassen) celebrating the opening of their new patio and return of their Sunday Brunch this was exciting news, as restaurants had been closed for 3 months during the pandemic. We weren't quite ready for indoor dining, but a sunny patio was definitely a plus!  Barb contacted friends who agreed that brunch on a patio would work, so four seniors were gungho for a good time!   

The posting recommended reservations. Barb called the restaurant, a voice message indicated that all reservations were done online, no problem we are used to that format.  Gracie's and Mario's located side by side (same owners) share an online reservation service run by . The system requires you to sign up for an account (what!) before you can confirm a reservation. Why would you make your customers go through this to make a simple reservation?

After numerous questions plus coming up with a password, she was successful in getting a reservation for the next day at 1:00 pm on the patio. An e-mail was received to confirm patio seating for four.

We arrived at Gracie's as planned, parking was easy. The patio looked attractive we were looking forward to our meal. However, our host did not give an owls hoot that we had a reservation.  He tried to get us to sit inside or wait for the next empty table. Walk-ups were being seated regardless of our reservation. Remember, they recommended reservations "Reservations available from the website as walk-in space is very limited." is what the voice message suggested and is printed on their website. 

After a reasonable wait, we were seated, however,  it was quite a while before menus were provided and even a longer wait for the waitress to appear. Thankfully she was quite charming.

Two of us were to be disappointed with no French Toast and Strawberries (their feature) they "ran out". I have managed restaurants and owned a restaurant. Never, and I repeat never, would I  not have the advertised item available. It is a complete and absolute no-no. Especially when you are trying to reclaim your business.

French Toast is a very simple item not having it available makes me think they were using pre-made french toast. I mean you have bread, you have eggs if you run out dash to the store, it's right next door.

 To start Barbara and I ordered a Mimosa which was very good!  Ken ordered the Cornbread Benny and Barbara had the Frittata Patata they both gave their dish 5 stars. Jane and I settled for the traditional two-egg breakfast. It might also be pointed out no silverware was provided the waitress had to fetch and return with napkins and silverware as we waited.

Forgetting about the reservations hassle we enjoyed our meals, the service and each other's company.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Wonderful Labels of Seaside Pearl!

The little winery that could. From simple beginnings to an award-winning very popular winery, Seaside Pearl Farmgate Winery is a true success story. Located in the beautiful countryside just north of Abbotsford it is owned by Allison and David Zimmerman.  They operate the winery with the help of their daughter and two sons.

Besides having a beautiful location, perfect hospitality, and great wines they have the most interesting wine labels for their bottles.

The labels reflect the history and charm of the Mt Lehman region of the Fraser Valley. The Zimmermans consulted with local historians when creating the names and designs.

Landing Road refers to a series of roads or pathways built by an early settler in the region by the of Sam Lehman. The label Charlotte is the name of an English Horticulturist's wife. They settled in the Bradner area and began what became an annual flower show,

If you are lucky enough to be at the winery when Allison is holding tastings she will happily take you through the history of each and every wine. Barbara and I have experienced interesting stories numerous times since they opened we never tire of them.

Seaside Pearl

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Wearing Gloves for Protection:

You may think this is a good idea BUT!

Gloves are worn to prevent cross-contamination. Wearing the same pair of gloves as you move about only transmits germs. If you are wearing the same pair of gloves when you enter a grocery store and touch the grocery cart to when you leave you may have spread germs from the cart to every product you touch.

A friend posted a gif. on Facebook, the other day explaining why wearing gloves is for professional use (nurses) not for you to wear around town. It reminded me of an incident in Tim Horton's a few years ago.

My wife and were enjoying a cup of coffee when I noticed the manager come out of his office and send the sandwich girl on her break. He did not wash his hands but put on a pair of gloves. He then proceeded to clean his area. Upon receiving an order he made that sandwich and then made a second one.

Once completing his sandwiches he came into the seating area cleaning tables and removing dirty dishes. He returned to the food prep area and proceeded to make a sandwich. He completed his entire shift of thirty minutes wearing the same gloves. A total and complete violation of numerous health laws.

I reported this to Tim Horton's head office. They did not respond.

Another example of wrong behaviour in the food industry, occurring in wineries. The employee hands should never touch the rim of the glass. Next time you get the opportunity, watch it happens frequently.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The English Like their tea. Apparently they like their Schönburger too.
Schönburger, also spelled Schoenburger, or Schonburger is a variety of grape, formally designated Geisenheim 15-114, a crossing developed at Geisenheim Institute for Grape Breeding in Germany, and released in 1979, of Pinot noir x (Chasselas x Muscat Hamburg).

It is grown now in Germany, as well as in England where it is gaining popularity in the early 2000s and is "authorized". It can also be found in British Columbia Canada, and in western Washington state, western Oregon state, USA. A common feature of these areas is a cool climate, often maritime influenced.

This is a reliable early-ripening grape, though is susceptible to powdery mildew well suited to England climate.

Schönburger was developed in 1939 at the Geisenheim Research Station in Germany. The plant breeder crossed Pinot Noir with something called Pirovano I. This in turn is a cross of Chasselas Rose and Muscat of Hamburg; the latter explains the spicy notes.

Perhaps th number one producer of Schönburger wine in British Columbia is Black Widow Estate winery by owner/winemaker Dick Lancaster. The wine is excellent! It starts with a nice floral aroma followed by notes of honeysuckle & tropical fruit. 

Their signature blend Oasis is another fine wine Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Schönburger. A delicious blend of aromatic varieties resulting in a balanced wine with tropical fruit notes. 

Roche Wines also produces a very good Schönburger called ARÔME.

Many wines use Schönburger in blends such as Gehringer Bros Gewürztraminer - Schönburger

Monday, May 4, 2020

Imported and Domestic Wines

Remember the term "Cellared in Canada" wines. Cellared in Canada is a category of Canadian wine that is produced with varying quantities of foreign bulk wine and Canadian wine. These wines are often sold in government-run liquor stores in sections designated as "Canadian wine". The prices is usually below average.

On March 13th 2018 wine writer Anthony Gismondi wrote the following

After grabbing hundreds of millions of dollars in income for producers while causing even more damage to the image of Canadian wine, the wine that never had anything to do with authentic Canadian wine will no longer be able to use the highly deceptive, and frankly fraudulent Cellared in Canada phrase, on its label. The concept was spawned during the original NAFTA agreements when Canadian wineries, read the large commercial producers, complained that levelling the tax playing field would put them out of business. They negotiated a number of temporary agreements in 1994 (CiC was one of them) to soften the blow and, as it turns out, prevent the field from ever being levelled. Nearly a quarter-century later the temporary agreement establishing the CiC category has been killed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

Beginning April 1, no fooling, blended wines bottled in Canada from both domestic and international product will be required by the CFIA to replace “Cellared in Canada” with two possible monikers. For primarily imported wines it will be labelled as “International blend from imported and domestic wines.” For primarily domestic wines, it will be labelled as “International blend from domestic and imported wines.”

What is the main concern with these wines? Well the key component of all wines is the grape and where it is grown. If the grapes are not grown in Canada how can it be a Canadian wine? Also, it takes away from the local, Canadian grape grower, who can not, due to costs such as labour grow and sell the grapes at a competitive price with imports from counties who pay their workers so little.

In the world today you are asked to support your local business buying International blend from domestic and imported wines.” does not do this. The smaller wineries need your support.

It is companies like Andrew Peller Ltd, Arterra Wines Canada and Iconic Wines that import the grapes into Canada. Common best selling wines like Hochtaler, Domaine D'Or, Schloss Laderheim, Royal and Sommet. Cooper Moon, XoXO, Sawmill Creek, Brights and many others are produced using imported grapes.

If you go to Andrew Peller Ltd and Arterra Wines Canada they do not even list these wines. Are they embarrassed to?

Funny if you go to the websites for the government liquor stores in British Columbia and Ontario they list all “International blend from domestic and imported wines.” as Canada. Wrong!