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How Merlot Can You Go

Cheers

I’ve been on a real Merlot kick lately. I love Merlot.

Merlot is the #1 grape varietal in France and the #2 varietal in the world, behind Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot is a full-bodied grape but less aggressive than Cabernet Sauvignon, as it’s not as tannic. (A tannic wine will get your two jawlines singing) It’s smooth and lush, and great for pairing with food. Before I get into some of the new Merlot wines I have tried recently, I wanted to share this with you.

4 years ago yesterday

Yesterday marked 4 years since I became a Certified Sommelier.

I worked really hard for 5 years to get this Certification, so I was really proud. Hundreds of hours in a classroom and even more time spent studying. I always joke and say I loved the homework, but believe me, this was a lot of work and I’m incredibly proud of this accomplishment. Considering I do not work full time in the wine industry, one of the reasons I keep writing this blog is so that I don’t get rusty on wine. (Other than the drinking part) Doing this blog not only encourages me to continue trying new wines, it also has me reading up on what’s happening in the wine world & the latest trends.

I have it framed and proudly displayed

So let me share with you some of the new Merlot wines I have tried lately.

Ghost Pines Merlot

I’m not sure if this is being discontinued in Nova Scotia, but I believe it was originally around $27.99 and it was on sale for $21.99, and I think I may have bought the last one at my neighbourhood NSLC. I enjoyed this, it had a real smoky flavor to it, which paired wonderfully with the meat I had on the grill. You would be hard pressed to find a rating from a wine critic less than 90 Points on this wine, it’s that good. If you see it, and it’s on sale, I recommend you scoop it up.

Sterling California Merlot

This wine was so good! And for a week, it was on sale here. Still a great value at $17.99, I picked up a couple of bottles when it was $15.99. A note to my Newfoundland friends, this wine is available at the NLC as well. The Vintner Collection from Sterling represents a distinct quality, and Wine Spectator says it was plush and well spiced. And that’s what Merlot is all about!

Think Outside the Box

I like to think outside the box when it comes to my wines, so its always fun to try a Merlot (or your favorite wine) from a different country. Chile is producing some fantastic Merlot wines. Chile is producing some great wines period. Although Merlot was bought to South America in the 19th Century, it wasn’t until the Chile & Argentina wine boom of the 1990’s that people started appreciating the Merlot made there. This is a great Merlot for $18

And last, but certainly not least, the biggest treat in my two weeks of Merlot madness! It was amazing. Here’s what the winemaker had to say.

“Our 2017 Sandstone Merlot has inviting notes of ripe fig and pomegranate, with a hint of sandalwood. This delicious Merlot bursts with berry flavors from cranberry, grilled cherry and acai, finishing with a nice lingering acidity.”

Wente was named American Winery of the Year in 2011 and it started in 1883 with Carl Wente. 4th generation siblings, Eric, Phillip & Carolyn took it over in the late 70’s. This family has been making wine for a long time, and they know how to make it right. It’s a great price at under $24. Sandstone refers to the soil the Merlot grapes were grown in. Some of the great wine regions, like Bordeaux, have Sandstone. You’ll really notice it makes a difference in the wine.

Have a great weekend everyone. Till next week, Cheers

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Does Your Easter Bunny Bring Wine?

This is how my Easter weekend is going

I thought this cute little GIF perfectly describes how I am spending my relaxing Easter weekend. And yes, my Easter Bunny does bring wine, and I hope he does for you too.

I want to share something that happened to me this past week, it happens on a semi-regular basis. So this happened a few days back.

The wine was compromised

This picture may not show it well, but I opened a bottle of red wine, and the cork was all wet and red. I knew instantly the wine was compromised. One sip confirmed this with a strong vinegar taste. So I put the cork back in the bottle and returned the remaining wine back to the NSLC. They are excellent, and will return your wine if you bring it back. (not empty of course) Most people don’t know this but anywhere from 2% to 8% of wines are corked, with the lower number being synthetic closures. Which is why synthetic closures and screw caps are becoming more and more popular.

Cork, from trees mostly grown in Portugal, started becoming the favorite stopper, replacing glass stoppers, back in the 1600’s. Too many of the glass stoppers would break. But cork is a) becoming much more expensive and b) it reacts to temperature spikes, high temperatures and movement. A compromised wine can smell vinegary, like the one I had did, but mostly they smell like a wet dog. It’s that moldy, damp wet dog smell in reds, and in white wines it will smell like cooked fruit or also like pronounced vinegar.

Another way to tell if your wine has been affected is if the cork is protruding from the bottle top. However, just because it isn’t, doesn’t mean the wine inside hasn’t been compromised. Or, as in my case, the entire cork was soaking wet with wine, not just the very bottom of the cork. The best ways to tell is smell and taste.

Did you know most people didn’t realize you could bring back tainted wine? You can, and they will graciously exchange it for you. Too many people have tainted wine and thought “I don’t like this wine”, or they pour a bad wine down the sink. That’s what I used to do. But wine is expensive, and your liquor store knows a certain percentage of wine will be off.

I love a good feed

I’ve had to use up some remaining 2020 vacation days in March, as our year end is March 31st, so I’ve been doing some cooking. No surprise there. Yes, that’s a feed of ribs you see in that picture.

Can’t grill without wine

I did some kabobs. My sister Jackie, absolutely loves chicken kabobs, hands down her favorite BBQ food. So I’ve been trying new recipes, with new marinades. This tasty marinade, in front of the glass of wine, consisted of olive oil, lime juice, honey, garlic, cilantro, soy sauce and a touch of ginger. I’m very careful when cooking with ginger, I use it in a bottle. I find it can over-power the food, unless you are careful, or unless you love ginger. Again, I marinated my chicken in this combo for a couple of hours, and set aside some of the marinade to use while cooking.

Invest in a meat thermometer
A Nice steady temperature

These two pictures are very important for my cooking and grilling. A meat thermometer and a nice steady temperature. When I’m grilling, I try not to keep the lid open for long. Let the grill do the work. However, I open the grill at times to bring temperatures back down.

And my friend Sharon gave me this wonderful meat thermometer for Christmas, and it was one of my favorite gifts. You need a meat thermometer because the days of guessing if the meat is done is so 1980’s. Our moms did this. ‘Oh, it looks like it’s done, so I’ll leave it in the oven for another 20 minutes just to be sure’. I don’t know about you, but I grew up on overcooked meat. My mother was scared to death of meat that was done any way less than well done. We’ve all heard the horror stories.

But my biggest cooking accomplishment over the past few weeks has been scalloped potatoes. This is a favorite with my sister and all my nephews. My sister, who doesn’t generally cook as a rule, told me to ignore if the recipe says 60 minutes, you need 90 – 100 minutes to properly cook scalloped potatoes.

My trusty mandolin

You can buy a mandolin anywhere for less than $20. I love mine, and find it so handy.

It makes perfect potatoes for scalloped potatoes. Would you believe I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but the easy recipe I used is right here! Just so you know, I cooked them covered for 1 hour 25 minutes, and then uncovered and cooked for another 15 minutes. They were tender, cheesy and delicious. I also added some freshly grated parmesan in all the layers and a mozza/cheddar blend on top.

But enough about food, let’s talk some wine.

Ruffino Pinot Grigio from Italy

To our weekly games night, Joan bought this beautiful Pinot Grigio. Ruffino is a staple in Italy, making quality wine there for 140 years. Vibrant and fresh on the palate, this wine is under $15 and just a gorgeous white wine.

Avalon Cab is on sale here in NS

For the red this week, this wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon from Lodi California. Lodi, with its beautiful Mediterranean climate, is more known for Zinfandel, but the soil and climate of California, produces some spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon wines. This easy to drink Cab with its hints of vanilla, spice and chocolate, is a perfect pairing for whatever else the Easter Bunny brings this weekend. Priced under $20 normally, it’s on sale here in Nova Scotia right now at $17. My apologies for snapping this photo, above my cat food dishes. LOL.

Have a safe wonderful Easter weekend. Till next weekend, Cheers

Darlene

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A Wine Holiday For you

Isn’t Everyday National Wine Day?

Let me tell you Saturday is my favorite day of the week. Hands down. The day I can sleep in, and relax and do what I want. And Saturday night feels like a little holiday. You see I can sleep in on Sunday, but I always say ‘I’ll be going to bed early tonight, because I have to work tomorrow, so I better get up’. There’s none of that crap on Saturday. But as I was laying in bed this morning, I realized I had a little writers block. Which happens to me every once in a while. And as I lay there wondering what to write about, I thought, ‘there must a some kind of wine holiday today’. LOL. As it turns out there is a whole list of wine holidays I didn’t know about. I didn’t include the ones that were in January & February, I’ll include them early next year. I thought I would have a little fun with them.

Just so you know today is……

March 27: International Whisky Day (However, I am not a whiskey drinker at all, but Happy Day to all my Whiskey loving friends)

April 17: World Malbec Day

May 1: International Sauvignon Blanc Day

Carmen Reserve Premier Sauvignon Blanc

This line of wines from Carmen are excellent values, because they are so delicious and come at a great price. This Carmen Reserve Premier Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and dry with herbal notes & great acidity. A perfect pairing for shellfish, sushi and really any appetizers. Less than $15.

May 9: World Moscato Day

May 13: World Cocktail Day (My cocktail of choice, happens to be wine)

It’s how I feel about Wine Wednesday

May 15: World Whisky Day (Wait, what? Isn’t today International Whisky Day?)

May 2: International Chardonnay Day

Trinity Oaks Chardonnay

I had the chance to try a new Chardonnay this past week with my friend Angie and I said to her “this is my new favorite Chardonnay”. I can’t tell you how much I loved this wine. Why? Because it wasn’t overly oaked, it wasn’t ‘buttery’, the Chardonnay grape was allowed to shine with gorgeous pear and citrus flavors. Plus, as an added bonus, they have partnered with Trees for the Future, a nonprofit that’s planted over 180 million trees, Trinity Oaks plants one tree per bottle purchased.  Win-Win! You get a great wine and a tree gets planted. $22.99 here in Nova Scotia.

May 25: National Wine Day – (Please, any day can be National Wine Day! In My opinion, anyway.)

June 4: International Cognac Day

June 11: World Lambrusco Day (Remember Riunite wine from the 80’s? It was a Lambrusco wine)

June 25: International Rosé Day

July 22: Shiraz Day (Also happens to be my birthday!)

It’s always Wine O’clock somewhere

August 1-5: International Albariño Days (It’s a white grape varietal out of Portugal. Totally unfair that this wine gets 5 days.)

August 4: White Wine Day

August 18: International Pinot Noir Day

Meomi Pinot Noir

Meomi Pinot Noir is one of the best value Pinot Noir wines in the wine store for two reasons. 1. It’s under $25, which is unusual for a spectacular Pinot Noir. 2. It truly is a spectacular Pint Noir. Priding themselves on fantastic coastal California wines, when I visited the Napa region in 2001, many winemakers will tell you the coastal California breezes add a special terroir to the grapes like no other region.

September 2: International Cabernet Day

September 17: International Grenache Day

October 9: International Pinotage Day (Buy a good one from South Africa, not the ‘coffee flavored’ pinotages.

October 15: Champagne Day (Don’t feel compelled to wait this long.)

Cheers!

October 28: Carignan Day (Known for being used in blends, if you are not familiar with this grape, it really adds a beautiful touch to red blends)

November 7: International Merlot Day (I don’t know about Paul Giamatti, but I’ll be drinking me some Merlot on this day, I’ve recently founds a few new ones, which I will share with you next week)

November 11: International Tempranillo Day

November 17: National Zinfandel Day (It’s an American celebration, but don’t tell anyone.)

November 18: Beaujolais Nouveau Day (a.k.a. The worst Gamay Noir you will taste this year)

November 24: Carmenère Day

December 4: Cabernet Franc Day  (If you haven’t tried Cabernet Franc on it’s own, outside of a Bordeaux blend, you don’t know what you’ve been missing)

December 20: Sangria Day (In other words, take all that leftover red or white wine from those previous days and mix it with a bunch of chopped fruit.)

And now for my wine of the week…..

Trinity Oak Cabernet Sauvignon

A little earlier in the blog I wrote about the Trinity Oaks Chardonnay, and it truly is one of my favorite Chardonnay wines because of the complexity, which sometimes gets lost in a Chardonnay. The complexity can also be found in the Trinity Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon, and it too, will plant a tree for every bottle purchased. The grapes come from both Coastal California and Lodi (known more for its Zinfandel, but features beautiful grape-growing weather). Try this beautiful Cabernet with your next meal featuring beef, you’ll love it. It too is $22.99.

Wine pairing is easy!

That’s it for me for this week. Thank you for reading

Darlene

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What’s Your Wine Name

Deep Moon Merlot

It’s Saturday morning, and let’s have a bit of fun. I saw this chart this past week, and chuckled, and thought “I have to pass it on to you”. Let me know in the comments below what your wine name is. Mine is Deep Moon Merlot.

I have to share with you what else this week bought. Meet Maggie

Maggie is a Bernadoodle that belongs to my sister Jackie. Her son, Riley is going to St. FX University here in Nova Scotia. He picked up the dog, and I met him at the half way mark to get this little doggie on a plane to his new forever home.

Cuteness overload

I got to visit with my nephew Riley this past week. Saw him briefly on Tuesday in Truro, and of course when I saw him Tuesday, I had to bring him a load of food. That’s what an Aunt Dar does! He’s coming up again this coming Friday so I guess I’ll be cooking Thursday night, I’ll share any new recipes.

Fajitas, Rice, Homemade cookies

This week I also completed my latest puzzle, my 18th since the pandemic started. A gorgeous puzzle of St. John’s Newfoundland.

St. John’s Newfoundland

I did some cooking, this probably comes as no surprise to anyone.

Brown rice, a salad with beets, almonds, parmesan and a homemade vinaigrette. The chicken is done by sautéing onions and garlic, orange juice, and some fresh herbs. Here’s my homemade vinaigrette, and the one suggestion I would use is to buy a decent olive oil. It is estimated 80% of olive oil is not ‘virgin’ or ‘extra virgin’ or even olive oil in some cases. There is no regulation when it comes to olive oil, which means you can put olive oil on a label, and it doesn’t have to be in the bottle. Here’s a great way to test it. If you can’t drink it from a spoon, it’s probably fake. I have a couple of different olive oils.

This is my everyday oil

If I’m cooking, I don’t use the super expensive one from a wonderful place here in H.R.M. called Liquid Gold. I use this organic one I buy at Costco. If the olive oil is the star of the show, like it is when you make homemade salad dressing, this is the one I use.

Please don’t spend $4 on olive oil, I would be willing to bet it is not olive oil. The one on the top is a great buy at $15 for two bottles at Costco, and the Liquid Gold is the best, and is about $20 for a bottle.

Here’s my homemade salad dressing, combine ingredients & whisk

  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Grainy mustard
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Brown sugar

Easy and delicous.

Let’s talk some wine.

An Italian Classic

If there’s one thing Italian winemakers excel at, is making food-friendly wine. They are the king of the world, the largest wine producer in the world. Even when I visited there in 2017, where ever you ate, they would bring out a carafe of wine. You had no idea of the grapes, or if they made it in a back room. But it was delicious, and whether you drank white or red, you could be guaranteed it was going to compliment the food. It had been a long long time since I’ve had the Campfiorni red Rosso. Made with 3 grapes that are indigenous to Italy, Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. Whenever you see Rosso on a bottle of Italian wine, although the word means ‘red’ in Italian, they tend to be blends. This wine, I had the 2017, it is medium-bodied, easy to drink and very food friendly. Masi is famed for its Amarone, and they use that method to make this wine, called Appassimento. It’s the process of drying the grapes to enhance flavor. It makes for a beautiful wine that feels like its been aging forever. A spectacular wine for $22.

For my white loving friends, they make the Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio

Again they use an Appassimento method, drying Verduzzo grapes to add to the Pinot Grigio to add a unique complexity to the wine. This one is only $17. My friend Jakke, who works at the NSLC up the street from me, told me she found some great videos on YouTube of Sommeliers talking about wines under $20. They are fantastic, and it’s a great idea to give you some new ideas about wines. Here’s the thing that will kick you in the pants, what Americans and Europeans pay for wine, we pay double and sometimes more. The first video I watched, they were talking about the beautiful Bogle wine, and the first thing that hit me was the host said she had paid $14 for it, but the average price was $12. That wine is $25.99 here. Our friends South of the border have a huge selection of great wines under $20, us, sadly not so much! That’s why I’m here.

Don’t believe it!

Well that’s it for me for this week. As much as I love wine, do not believe it when it tells you you can dance!! LOL Learn from my mistakes.

Have a great week

Darlene

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Losing An Hour of Wine This Weekend

This would be me during an upcoming election

This is the weekend the clocks go ahead. Personally I never understood why they do this on the Saturday night / Sunday morning, and we lose an hour of our weekend. I’m all for changing it to 4 p.m. on the Friday. Who’s with me? Yesterday it was 15°C here in Halifax, this morning it is 0° with a windchill of -7°C, that’s Atlantic Canada for you!

It’s a great time for red, white or sparkling

Like you, I am looking forward to longer and warmer evenings. As most of you know, I grill all year round, but let’s face it, grilling is best when the weather is warmer. Speaking of the grill, I have a new recipe for chicken skewers. Do not ask me why I seem to be obsessed with food on a stick lately. Now don’t get me wrong, for people with kids, it’s a great way to get them to eat vegetables. I must still have some kid in me, because I love them. I love how fast they grill up and how great they look on a plate. I’m having a big of an issue finding the length of skewer I want.

There is a mid-size range

These are the two size skewers I have in my pantry. The shorter one is a little more ideal than the really long one. (That thing is a weapon, you probably don’t want to give that one to kids) There is a size in the middle though, I’ve had them before. I just can’t seem to find them in Halifax. I have an awesome new recipe for Grilled Honey Chili Lime Chicken Skewers. However, you don’t need the skewer. You can make this recipe for any cut of chicken you wish, and it can be done on the grill or in the oven. I have a new grill and I love using it, but many times I’m using it like an oven.

2 chicken breasts = 10 small skewers

So I cut up the chicken in bite size pieces, and marinated it in this recipe. I cut up 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, but I also love boneless skinless thighs. Like I said, you can use any cut of chicken you like. You can even do this recipe on a full roasted chicken. Here’s the marinade:

  • fresh lime juice
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • honey
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of brown sugar (I’ll tell you why shortly)
  • red chili flakes
  • a splash of orange juice or chicken broth

Boneless skinless chicken, like boneless pork, is a blank canvas and they will absorb all the flavors you want to throw at them. Which is why marinating is so important with these two meats. Why the brown sugar? Not only does brown sugar contain molasses, which is a whole new flavor level, it also carmelizes on the grill and adds a gorgeous flavor.

My basting sauce is simple

On my skewers, along with the chicken, I cut up red onion, cherry tomatoes, and some peppers. It gives the skewer big pops of color. Then while grilling, I kept brushing with this simple sauce.

Don’t they look awesome!

What I was brushing them with was a little olive oil, a little orange juice, and fresh cilantro chopped up. That’s it, the oil ensured it would get golden brown, the juice adds some acidity, and the cilantro just added a good swift kick in the chicken bits! I eat them over rice, over salad, and sometimes if I’m hungry enough I eat them like a popsicle! LOL

I’ve got 2 wines for us this week, a white and a red. Let’s start with the white.

Blu Giovello

Every Tuesday evening myself and 3 friends get together for a games night, we play a game called Rummikub. Every week Angie and I alternate bringing a red wine, and Joan and Elaine alternate bringing the white wine. This is the wine Joan bought this past Tuesday, and it was one of the most unique Pinot Grigio wines I have ever tasted. It was very dry, with very little acidity, but it had beautiful flavors of lemon-lime and stone fruit. I can’t eat fish, but if I could, this would be the perfect wine for an oilier fish. This wine is $19 here in Nova Scotia and $12.90 in Ontario. How’s that for a price swing in Canada. Each week I am noticing new readers from the U.S., and Alison from Oklahoma told me she comes on to my blog to check the price of the wines I’m featuring, because it makes her feel good when she goes to buy them.

I tried a brand new red this past week, and it was spectacular

My friend Maggie and I were having coffee last weekend and she was telling me she was discovering some fantastic wines out of Chile. Chile is still one of the great values in the wine store, and I’ve been wanting to try this one. The Valle Del Maipo, which means Maipo Valley is home to the most prestigious wines that come out of Chile. It is known as the “Bordeaux of South America”, but let me tell you, the wines are a fraction of the price. I paid $20 for this Merlot and it was stunning. This was so well balanced, and still very young, as you can see I enjoyed the 2018 vintage. Full-bodied, rich and supple, this was a beautiful treat.

Enjoy the weekend, I personally think that any weekend where they take an hour away, should be an automatic holiday on the Monday. But that’s just me.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Moving Forward

Hope you like the new look

All I can say is WOW! And thank you. The feedback was amazing. I appreciated every comment on the blog, on Facebook, Twitter and in personal emails and texts. I hope you like the new look. Several people commented that the black background with white print was a little hard to read. I would also like to take a moment to welcome all our new readers. This blog originates out of Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada. So it was nice to see all the new readers from the United States this week, in addition to Ireland, Turkey, Venezuela, Norway and India. Welcome one and all.

Welcome to the new readers

My good friend GK who set up my original blog 12 years ago, called and told me I needed to update the style. As a matter of fact, I think his exact words were ‘For the love of God girl, that blog style needs to be updated, make it cleaner, more modern.’ One of my friends who gave me feedback, FM, said I should share some of the comments. He was curious as to what the other readers had to say. So I will, protecting their identity, using just their initials. Long time reader of my blog RS, & his wife M, who lives in Newfoundland gave this feedback.

Good afternoon Darlene, I look forward to your blog each Saturday. Maxine and I are wine people as well, we were white wine drinkers at the beginning, but now it’s red and almost all red. We do buy a bottle of white every now and then. You know I like to cook, and I do enjoy your recipes. Some of the wines you feature you can’t get here on the rock, and the wine here is a little more expensive than in Nova Scotia. In my opinion just keep it going as it is. Cheers.”

The recipes will be staying

One of the constant themes with the feedback, was ‘Keep the recipes’. I had a friend tell me this past week, we are always struggling to find new recipes that are delicious and easy, so keep them up.

JL from Alberta had this say to say

Love your blog, Darlene. I think adding some recipes is a great idea …..in my opinion! 😄😄🤗

I have a couple of friends with the initials A.M. and here they are with their thoughts.

Love all the recipes!”

Would certainly welcome new recipes, along with your wine reviews, Darlene. Have enjoyed both in the past!👍

The recipes are staying

So the recipes are going to become a part of the blog, which I’m super happy about. I’m even practicing short 2 minute videos on preparing and seasoning my dishes. This comment from KT bought a smile to my face

Someone wants to know what is your suggested wine pairing for a BBQ deboned turkey, injected with white wine and sage and rubbed with apricot jam?😁. Just so you know, I recommended a Riesling!

Crispy outside, fluffy inside

This week, I want to share the easy way to make crispy potatoes in your oven or on your BBQ. I use these aluminum pans a lot when I BBQ. They help keep your BBQ cleaner and are perfect for grill cooking. You can buy them at the grocery store or the dollar store, but Costco sells 30 for $6.

I did these on my BBQ

One of the things I have learned this year is how to master the art of crispy potatoes without a deep fryer.

  1. Peel and slice the potatoes in whatever size you like. I’ve made them to look like fries, but I’ve also done this with bigger chunks.
  2. Put the potatoes in a bath of cold water and let them sit for at least 30 minutes
  3. Pat dry on a dishtowel
  4. Rub cornstarch on your hands and lightly coat the potatoes with the cornstarch
  5. Add vegetable oil, and cook in an oven of 400-degrees or on your BBQ until they are done. Times will vary depending on grills and ovens, but 25-minutes is a good average.
  6. Hold the salt till the towards the end, as putting the salt on raw potatoes will take some of the moisture out, and your potatoes won’t be as fluffy on the inside.
  7. Salt is mandatory though, when it comes to potatoes.
Delicious and crispy

Another reader suggested not doing a ‘grocery list’ of wines, just do one per week. With the recipes and everything else, one wine per week is great. So that’s what I’m going to do, and the wines will vary from red, white, sparkling, rose, and even a scattered dessert wine.

This week’s wine is from Cupcake.

Cupcake Cabernet

This week this wine was $3 off and priced under $14 here in Nova Scotia. Regular price is around $16 so it’s still a great value. I’ve had the Cupcake Red Velvet before, and because it contains Zinfandel, there is a tinge of sweetness there. My friend Angie, who I shared this with, said when she saw the name Cupcake, she thought it might be a sweetened red wine, but it isn’t. We both enjoyed it. One thing this vineyard does is pick the grapes when they are very ripe, which adds richness and a velvety palate. Great news, they make a wide variety of wine styles. Winemaker Jessica Tomei believes wine pairs best with good friends and family and great food. There is something for everyone, including Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Sparkling and Rose. Which Cupcake wines are available in your area?

Who’s with me

Well, that’s it for this week. Thank you again so much for the feedback. Keep it coming, I’m always looking for ways to improve.

Enjoy the weekend, Cheers

Darlene

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Food For Thought

Looking for advice

This week’s blog is a little different, as I am reaching out for feedback from the people that regularly read my blog. A penny for your thoughts, if you will.

Don’t see these any more in Canada

I would like to share a little history on this blog. I started this blog, and bought my name dot com, in 2009. Believe me, it wasn’t a bidding war, no one else wanted it LOL!! Back then I wrote about whatever was on my mind. The blog was called ‘In My Opinion’. I wrote about movies, current events, news, food, wine and anything else that crossed my mind.

Then in 2012, I started my 5-year journey into becoming a Certified Sommelier. Just so you know, it doesn’t take everyone 5 years. I moved to a different province, which interrupted my studies, and also took a trip one Spring with my sister, that had me passing on a particular course for that year. So, in 2012, my blog became entirely focused on wine, and I renamed the blog ‘Wine, In My Opinion” and since then “Wine, It’s Just My Opinion”. And the reason I did that, is that I have met many wonderful people who have totally different palates than mine. And they are not wrong, I’m not wrong. No one is wrong when it comes to which wines you love, that’s the beauty of winelovers everywhere.

Learning how to make homemade pizza

Then, back when the pandemic started, and I started learning new recipe ideas, learning how to make homemade bread, and learning a whole bunch of easy delicious recipes that I wanted to share, the blog went from being just wine, to wine and food. Those that know me, know I absolutely love to cook. My friend Angie says there is total joy on my face when I start talking about food and recipes. And back in May I learned how to make homemade pizza dough, and shared it with you, my readers. People went wild. Hundreds of new readers, lots of feedback, and people really enjoyed it. So I started experimenting with adding food to my wine blogs. Because after all, what goes better with food, than wine.

I shared pasta dishes.

Pasta with chicken & spiniach

I shared recipes for marinades, sauces & aiolis.

Sweet Thai Chili Aioli

I shared recipes for meats done on the grill.

Ribs, still my favorite protein

And this recipe for garlic parmesan potatoes took on a life all it’s own, with almost a thousand comments, questions, & requests for the recipe on Facebook and Twitter.

Garlic Parmesan Potatoes

This past week, I decided to do some meal prep, and shared this picture from my kitchen on Facebook and Twitter. It was +4-degrees here in Halifax and a perfect evening for grilling. And I love to grill. People went crazy again. LOL. Lots of comments and feedback.

Meal prep

Pictured are a new potato medley, pork chops, chicken skewers, garlic glazed carrots and I’ve been trying new recipes for cauliflower including a maple buffalo sauce and a homemade honey mustard glaze. I found cauliflower on sale at a Farmer’s market here in Halifax so I decided to buy a couple and try some new recipes. And I shared with my friend Angie, who really doesn’t like to cook. But she’s a great taste-tester and gives me feedback on new recipes.

So here’s where you come in!!

I need your honest feedback on the direction of this blog. I’m going to be honest, sometimes it’s tough getting up every Saturday morning and writing a wine blog. I get writer’s block, and I sometimes struggle to write about wine topics that appeals to people. That’s where the food starting coming in. It’s a perfect compliment to wine, and everyone has to eat. And let’s face it, we are always looking for new simple cooking ideas, so we are not eating the same food again and again. This is a struggle for people, which is why food companies like Hello Fresh, Chef’s Plate and Good Food are doing booming business. We’ve all seen this meme, and there is a lot of truth to it.

I’m also thinking about doing a short video in the blog. From my kitchen, showing how easy it is to prepare some of these recipes. So I’m asking for the reader’s opinion. Please be honest, please be kind. But whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or the comments below, I really would like to have your thoughts on what you would like to see in my blog. Just wine, keep with the food, expand into other areas but still include wine? I really really need your feedback. For a while, I felt it kind of turned into a grocery list of wine, and readership did start to drop. Then when I introduced food, boom!! Readership quadrupled some weeks. Thank you in advance.

I do have a new wine of the week…

A great Italian Rosso

Had a steak last night, with wings, onion rings and potatoes. I got home late, so I was starving, and ate it before I could take a picture. And I tried this new wine with it. Delicious. It’s from Tuscany and it’s 70% Sangiovese and 30% other grapes. The reason they don’t name the other grapes, is because they change up the 30% from year to year. Other red wine grapes grown in this region of Italy include Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. This was an easy to drink tasty Tuscan red wine, that is on sale right now for $15.99. It’s a great value and a great wine, and I highly recommend it.

Till next week, Cheers. And thank you for the feedback.

Darlene

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The Pandemic’s Most Popular Wines

2020 was an interesting year, and the only reason I’m looking back, I was curious about the most popular wines. This information was compiled by Mast of Wine Dr. Liz Thach, a wine writer, educator and a consultant. And although it’s an American study, I’m pretty confident the numbers will be quite similar here in Canada as well.

Not surprising, Cabernet Sauvignon was #1. Here’s a great example of why!

Chateau Souverain was my #1 top pick last year for it’s great taste and great value. Under $20 a bottle, In 1943 Lee Stewart was miserable as a Sales Executive in San Francisco and bought a winery and 30-acres in Napa Valley. In 1944 he named the winery Chateau Souverain because his daughter liked the name, as it sounded like Soverign. In 1973 the winery moved to the Sonoma region of the Napa Valley and they have been making great wine for many decades. How can they do it at the price they charge, I don’t know, but I am grateful. A great full-bodied food friendly wine.

Wine Tours sure changed in 2020

So #2 on the list, might surprise many people, but it doesn’t surprise me…. Chardonnay. Chardonnay is still the most planted white wine varietal in the world, so its not surprising that it’s the #1 white wine and the #2 overall wine in sales from 2020. Chardonnay comes in many different styles, from rich and buttery, to crisp and clean. Some are heavily oaked, while others don’t see oak at all.

Bread & Butter Chardonnay

I am going to provide a better picture of one of my favorite Chardonnay wines.

Discovered this Chardonnay at the 2019 Wine Show

This wine is also based in Napa Valley. A gorgeous full-bodied hearty white wine, I loved both this Chardonnay and its sister wine the Bread & Butter Pinot Noir from the 2019 Wine Show, and they actually made the top of my list that year. There’s richness in the vanilla and almond flavors with a slight minerality that make it perfect for your next dinner. Sadly, you can no longer get this wine here in Nova Scotia, but you can in other parts of Canada and around the U.S. I’m really looking forward to having it again once we are allowed to travel. It’s still available in Newfoundland, so now I’m really looking forward to that trip home.

Don’t embarrass yourself at the Wine store

Red Blends have made huge leaps in the hearts and palates of wine lovers, jumping to #3 on the list for 2020. Red blends are gorgeous, getting the best qualities of 2 or more grapes. They are fairly inexpensive and appeal to a large group of people. And not all are sweet. I know some people think red blend wines are sweet, especially after tasting wines like the Apothic wines. But Bordeaux wines are all blends, and they are not sweet at all. Like this one for example.

Menage a Trois Red Wine Blend

This is a great example of a non-expensive great tasting wine blend. Menage a Trois Red wine blend is made up of, you guessed it, 3 grape varietals. Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are the 3 grapes that make up this blend. Hearty, juicy, and tasty with structure from the Cabernet, the founders of this winery wanted to experiment ‘threely’. They created 3-grape blends that have become iconic, but only because of the name of the wine, but because of the great wine in the bottle.

Would love to know

And now for my wine of the week…

It was no surprise to me to see Pinot Grigio make its way to #4. It’s surprising that a couple of years ago, this delicious crisp light wine didn’t even make the Top 10. Pinot Grigio is winning hearts all over North America with its crisp light flavors and fantastic price tags. You can get a fabulous Italian Pinot Grigio for under $15, and you can choose from a wide variety at that price range. This one pictured, was shared with me by my friend Arla, who loves Pinot Grigio, and who has shared her love with this wine with her friends. This is a great wine and I believe she told me she paid around $11 for it.

Before I sign off, I have some news to share.

Because of Covid-19 and the numbers being what they are in Ontario and Quebec, our June trip to the Niagara region, which included a stop-over in old Quebec city, has been moved to October 2nd. Yes, we will still be staying at the Hilton in Niagara Falls, pictured above. And October is going to be such a pretty time of the year to go.

Richard Arnold of Atlantic Tours

My friend Richard Arnold, co-owner of Atlantic Tours, and I chatted yesterday afternoon, and we both agreed the trip had to be moved. I’m excited about the October date. We are travelling by Motor Coach through Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario. The leaves are going to be gorgeous, and the company is going to be fun. Come join us. Only a $50 deposit will hold your space. That’s not a typo. A $50 fully refundable deposit will hold your spot on this fun trip. Check out the details here.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions about our upcoming trip. We all need something to look forward to, so why not make it this awesome 8-day trip.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Love Is In The Air (Nope, that’s Wine)

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I’m here to help with gift giving ideas for the special person in your life. Wine! If that special someone in your life is a wine-lover, like myself, here are some great suggestions.

Roses, romance, dinner, Champagne? Champagne can sometimes be hard on the wallet, with prices aiming towards $100 per bottle. Try an Italian Prosecco or a Spanish Cava.

Hola Spanish Cava

Hola is how people greet each other in Spain, and that was the reasoning behind the name. It’s crisp and dry, which means not sweet. Made with the Traditional method, just like Champagne, it’s a show-stopper at just $21.99.

However, if it is Champagne you’ve been craving…. here’s a beautiful one.

Top Chef Canada Winner Renee LaValee

Renee LaVallee is a winner of Top Chef Canada and the acclaimed chef and owner of the Canteen in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. She teamed up with Duval Leroy Champagne House in the Cotes des Blancs region of Champagne France, to partner and create this beautiful Champagne.

A better picture of the bottle

They have been making Champagne for 160 years, and I was thrilled to meet Renee at 2019’s Port of Wines Show at the Casino Nova Scotia. She said this Champagne is in harmony with her style of cuisine. I loved it, it woke my palate up, when I tasted it. A beautiful treat for that special someone, or a gorgeous gift. Renee LaVallee’s Champagnes from Duval Leroy sells for $69.99, and in my opinion, that’s an excellent deal for this great Champagne.

If the person in your life is a white wine lover, you can’t go wrong with Pinot Grigio or a Pinot Gris, it’s the same grape variety.

Kim Crawford Pinot Gris

As a matter of fact, the gris means ‘gray’ in French, because it’s a white grape with a grayish tint to it. True story. And if you see the word ‘Grauburgundur on the label, it’s a Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio from Germany. (Spatburgundur is German Pinot Noir) This wine hails from New Zealand, and although New Zealand is better known for it’s Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir, they do grow a wide variety of grapes. With its gorgeous flavors of peach and honey, if fish is on the menu, this is the wine for you.

Truth!

Before I tell you a great wine for the red wine lover on your list. Let me share what I had last night. A steak. And I do my steak very simply. Melted butter, I did put some fresh herbs in the melted butter last night to try it. I saw it on the Food Network. But you don’t need them, not for a steak. Sea salt and ground pepper. That’s it.

Then I heat up the Sear Zone on my grill, and put a beautiful char on the steak. 1 minute, turn, 1 minute flip, 1 minute turn again.

My Sear Zone
Isn’t that a beautiful sight

So, here’s a great red wine to serve on Valentine’s Day, especially if you are celebrating with a good hearty protein.

Last week I was telling you about the fantastic wines that are coming out of Paso Robles California, and here’s another one. Paso Robles is now on my bucket list as places I would like to travel to. Like the Napa Valley, I think it would be like wine heaven, gorgeous scenery and great wine. At least that’s what I hope Heaven is like. This wine is racking up great wine reviews, I even read one from a guy who said he hadn’t had a great Merlot in a while, until he had this one. It’s under $2 a bottle.

Happy Valentine’s Day weekend to all my readers. Happy long weekend here in Nova Scotia, it’s the Family Day weekend.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Great Wines Under $25

Great wines under $25

So many times, especially since the pandemic hit, I’ve been really focusing on great value wines. When I started this wine blog 10 years ago, I wanted to let people know that there were great wines under $25. Also, that is the same year, I started my studies to become a Certified Sommelier. (Always loved the homework.)

Many people have been impacted financially by Covid-19, including myself, so I’ve really been highlighting wines in my wine blogs around the $15 – $17 price range. However there are so many fantastic wines between that $17 and $25 price range, I really wanted to share some of those wines.

Conundrum White

I am going to start with my Mom’s favorite wine, Conundrum white. I really like it as well, and I actually like the white Conundrum better than the red version. Chardonnay is the main grape, with Sauvignon Blanc & Semillion, it checks all the boxes for full-body and balance. Winemaker Jon Bolta says this is a great pairing with fajitas, Thai food, and Vietnamese food. My mother likes it with everything, and I’m pretty sure you will too. It’s a great wine for $24.99.

Me when someone asks ‘Who drank all the wine?”
I love me some Merlot

Regular readers of this blog know how much I love Merlot. Full-bodied, plump and juicy, much like myself! (Got those Covid curves happening!! LOL) This is a fantastic Merlot for $23. Small lot wine-making and careful barrel aging, makes this a fantastic wine, at a fantastic price. Paso Creek, centrally located between Los Angeles and San Francisco, is known for producing great wines because of the swing in the temperatures from day and night. Days are warm and nights are cool, making for perfectly balanced wines. More than 60 grape varieties are grown in this region, and Merlot is one they do very well. We’ve been having some pretty warm weather in February, and if you’re kick-starting the grill, this wine will pair well with any protein you put on the grill.

It’s back!

Speaking of grills, if you’re thinking of doing ribs, here’s the wine for you. I get together Tuesday evenings with 3 other ladies in my bubble, and we play a game called Rummikub. It’s like Rummy 500, but with tiles. We have a lot of fun, play for a little money and have a sip of wine. Two of the ladies drink white wine and they alternate bringing the wine each week, and my friend Angie and I drink red. And we alternate weeks as well. This past Tuesday, she bought one of my favorites. I wasn’t even aware that the NSLC had bought it back. The Pepperwood Grove Old Vine Zinfandel. It’s not always available so I was thrilled to see it was back. Old vines tend to produce a lower quantity of grapes, but a higher quality grape. It’s only $17 a bottle and definitely a great wine for under $25.

All women know this to be true

And last but not least, my wine of the week…

My favorite wine under $25

When this wine was first introduced here in Nova Scotia, Meiomi Pinot Noir was priced at $30. I featured it back then because it was one of the richest full-bodied Pinot Noir wines I had tasted. Today, that price tag is $24.99 and right now it’s $22.99 here in Nova Scotia. If you haven’t tried this wine, this is the time to do it. Pinot Noir is a think skinned grape, very much vulnerable to the elements, which is why it’s called the heartbreak grape. Pinot Noir, when not done properly, can also be thin on the palate. This is not one of those wines. One of my favorite things about the Meomi Pinot Noir is the lasting finish. The wine will also go with anything you serve at dinner. I always tell people ‘when in doubt, serve Pinot Noir’.

This meme made me smile

That’s it for me for this week. Take care

Darlene

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Little Known Wine Facts

Did you know that a glass of wine was actually enjoyed in space? It was 1969 and astronaut Buzz Aldrin bought a vial of wine with him. A small vial of wine boldly goes were no beverage has gone before. Just before stepping onto the moon, feeling a little anxious, Buzz Aldrin took communion.

i’m always reading about wine, and I love finding interesting little titbits like the one above .

People are surprised to hear white wine contains more sulphites

Benjamin Franklin has been quoted as saying wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy. Here are a few more interesting things

  • Wine Flavored Kit Kat bars are actually a thing
  • There is a free wine fountain in Italy. It recently opened. Believe me, it wasn’t there when I was in Italy almost 4 years ago, I’d still be there. It’s located in the Abruzzo region of Italy just outside of Rome.
  • Not all wines are vegan, some use a filatration process that uses animal byproducts like gelatin.
Lots of benefits of red wine
  • Drinking to one’s health, actually started in Greece. The host took the first sip to prove to his guests he wasn’t trying to poison them.
  • How many grapes are in a glass of wine? A glass of wine typically contains one cluster of grapes which is approximately 75.
  • Women tend to be better winetasters, only because their sense of smell is a little better, especially in their reproductive years. Those years may be far behind me, but a glass of wine still smells pretty good.
Had a feast going on the grill.

So as you can see, I was in a bit of a mood to cook and try some new recipes last night. On the menu for last night and today were homemade chicken fingers, chicken skewers, chicken fajitas, crispy roasting potatoes just to name a few. But would you like to know my favourite thing I made last night?

Mint Cilantro Chutney

It’s a mint cilantro chutney, it is SO easy and so delicious. I used it as a dipping sauce for my chicken skewers, and all through the night I couldn’t stop dipping different foods in it, it’s that good. A store in my area had all kinds of fresh herbs on sale this past week, including mint & cilantro as well as parsley. This recipe contains plain yogurt, chopped mint, chopped cilantro, some fresh lemon juice, a little bit of garlic and a dab of sugar. I found a recipe online but I didn’t include the ginger or the cloves that it called for. Its here.

And now for my Wine of the week…..

Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon

When I visited California and the Napa Valley region 20 years ago, one of my favourite places was Francis Ford Coppola‘s winery and wine tasting room. I actually went back an additional 2 times. Upstairs was a display where he showed a piece of paraphernalia from every movie he directed, and even had his Oscars on display. My friend Richard texted me a picture of this wine 2 weeks ago, saying how much he enjoyed it with friends, and I decided to feature it again as my wine of the week. Francis Ford Coppola, being Italian, has a long history with wine. His grandfather used to make it in the New York apartment using vats he made himself. Francis Ford Coppola doesn’t make wine in his basement, he has perfected the art of making wine. This Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied, decadent, delicious and priced under $24 a bottle.

True friends

Have a great week. Till next weekend, Cheers

Darlene

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Frequently Asked Questions

Every time people find out I am a Certified Sommelier, they always have lots of questions. Today I figured I would answer some of those questions.

  1. How long does wine last?

First, let me pass along some advice, a screw cap will not keep wine fresh. Once you break the seal on the screw cap, it may screw back on easily, but it won’t keep your wine fresh. As a matter of fact, if you are keeping the wine, toss the screw cap. Buy yourself a wine stopper. Actually the plainest one I have keeps wine the freshest. I have several wine stoppers, here are a couple.

This wine stopper was given to me at a trade show event. I opened a bottle of Prosecco before Christmas, and this stopper kept the bubbles alive and fresh in that wine for a week. Which is unheard of for a sparkling wine.

I have this rubber green one which I find good for red wine.

And I have this pretty one I bought in Italy. A wine stopper will keep your wine fresher longer, and the better the seal on the stopper, the better job it will do. Oxidation is the enemy of the wine. Putting it in the refrigerator will also slow down the oxidation process. Without a wine stopper, your wine will last about 2 days. With a wine stopper, a white wine will last 3 – 5 days, with wines on lighter side, up to 7 days. Fortified wines can last up to 28 days once opened. Going back to the screw cap, a friend of mine opened a bottle of wine, had a glass, put the screw cap back on and 3 days later, the wine tasted like vinegar. Wine Stopper!

Keeps the wine fresh

2. Are all sparkling wines sweet?

No. This never ceases to amaze me. I always bring a sparkling wine to a wine tasting. Great sparkling wines do not have to a) cost a lot of money and b) be sweet. If you would like to try some sparkling wines may I suggest an Italian Prosecco or a Spanish Cava. High quality sparkling wines without the high price tag. If you see the word ‘Brut’ on a label, that is the driest sparkling wine. It is crisp, and there is not one bit of sweetness in a sparkling wine marked ‘Brut’.

Great dry crisp sparkling wine

Here’s a great example. Mionetto Sparkling Prosecco Brut is a beautiful sparkling wine. Dry and crisp, with a price tag under $20.

3. What’s the simple rule to pairing wine

There was a time, many many years ago, restaurants would recommend a wine based on your food choice. Some high end restaurants do hire Sommeliers to do these recommendations. But if you don’t have a Sommelier at home, what are some of the basics.

Here’s the basic rule. Lighter white wines pair well with chicken, fish, vegetables. Red wines, big bold proteins. Sparkling wine, it’s a palate cleanser, great for appetizers, or dishes with lots of garlic. Here’s a chart that may help you. As you can see, there are many wines that go with many different foods.

Wine pairing made easy

And now for my wine of the week… Actually there are 2, each in a different price range.

Fronterra Cabernet Sauvignon

Here’s one smooth operator. And I don’t mean my friend Angie who is holding the bottle. The Fronterra Cabernet Sauvignon out of Chile is a great value wine, trying it this week for the first time. While the rest of Canada pays between $8 – $9 for this wine, it’s still a good value at $10.99 here.

My second wine of the week is a little more of a treat

Lodi California is located between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the San Francisco Bay in California, and it is known for great Zinfandel. Many Old Vine Zinfandel vineyards in Lodi feature un-grafted, un-trellised 100-year old vines, which can give more concentrated wine. And concentrated Zinfandel is a good thing. Full-bodied deliciousness, smooth, with smoky chocolate flavors. This makes it the perfect wine for ribs done on the BBQ.

That’s it for me for this week. Heading to Antigonish to get my nephew set back up at St. FX University.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Wining About January

Does anyone else feel like this is the 76th of January? I don’t usually start my blog with something on the negative side, but I have to say, I’m feeling some of the January blahs. It feels like weeks since I took my Christmas decorations down and in reality, I only took them down the 3rd of January. It’s the 16th of January and honestly, it feels like the 76th of January. And this is a little strange for me. I don’t normally mind January, especially when the weather has been as mild as it has been. May I have to stop watching so much news about the Looney Tunes down South, and his Vice Poodle, and doing more things that make me smile. Exercise, reading, puzzles and cooking! Here’s the book I’m reading now, and it is excellent.

I love Harlan Coben

Excellent, can’t put it down, I can clean that tomorrow kind of book! I also just finished this puzzle that I got for Christmas.

And my friend Sharon gave me this awesome meat thermometer as a Christmas gift

I’ve needed one so bad

One of the things I’m doing to help blast away the January blahs is walk with my friend Beth, and eat better. Remember the chicken skewer recipe I told you about last week, one of my new favorite all time recipes. Well it goes with salad too.

The salad dressing is made right here in Halifax. It’s one of only salad dressing I don’t make myself. This is made by an awesome group of kids here in Halifax called ‘Hope Blooms’. If that name seems familier, you may have seen them on the Dragon’s Den.

Hope Blooms Lemon Smoked Caesar

The Hope Blooms Lemon Smoked Caesar is one of my favorites, and they also carry a Maple Balsamic, a Basil Pesto and many more. This is an amazing organization and you can check them out at www.hopeblooms.ca

I have a couple of friends that do Dry January every year, and my friend Anthony posted the other day saying ‘If you think you’re January seems long, try doing Dry January’. So, there’s that. Let’s talk some wine.

January is all about trying something new. And why not extend that to your wine palate. One of the things we do really well in Canada – Ice! Why not try an ice wine. Canada produces some of the finest Ice wines in the world, because if anyone can produce a frozen grape, it’s us here in Canada. As a matter of fact, Peller Estates, who have been producing wine here in Canada for 50 years, has an ice wine tasting room.

How cool is that

Peller Estates makes a beautiful Ice wine from the Vidal grape, and guess who else has the cooler weather to grow the Vidal grape and make a great Ice wine? You guessed it, Nova Scotia.

Grand Pre Vidal Icewine

This is the Grand Pre Vidal Ice Wine from right here in Nova Scotia, and it’s a gorgeous dessert wine, with the excellent price tag of $24.99 Most of them start at about $50 a bottle. Ice Wines are beautiful after you’ve had a big meal, you would like something sweet, but don’t want a heavy dessert. They are served ice ice cold, and in a small sipping glass. It is a delicious satisfying way to end a great meal.

Looking forward to wine tastings again

And now for my wine of the week.

I’ve been craving a steak. It’s not something I have often, so when I do, I really really enjoy it. So, I’m seeing one in my future. Because I don’t have steak that often, I do tend to treat myself to a nice cut of meat. Here’s the wine I think I will go and buy to have with it. I love Kenwood Estates. They make a fantastic Zinfandel, and they don’t disappoint with this Cabernet Sauvignon. The Sonoma County, which stretches from the Pacific Coast to the Mayacamas Mountains, plays a huge role in the terroir and the unique taste of this wine. Full-bodied and firm, this beautiful wine has gorgeous rich flavors of black currant and fig. Please excuse the wine stain on the picture, I spilled a little and then took the picture.

That’s it for this week. Let’s take a moment to wish Betty White a Happy 99th Birthday. You Go Girl!

Till next week, Cheers

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Wine Trends for 2021

2020 was an interesting year

For many many people, 2020 was a challenging year, me included. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. I re-discovered my love of cooking, new recipes and new wines. I also read some great books, rediscovered a love of jigsaw puzzles and appreciated every minute I got to spend with family and friends in my bubble. But there is hope, with the introduction of 2 vaccines and more on the way, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. While we are in the tunnel, it’s a great opportunity to catch up on some reading, including some things to watch out for in the wine world for 2021. The first of the year, I tend to do a wine blog on the upcoming wine trends. Here we go!

  1. Rose Wine continues to be hotter than ever.
Mionetto Rose Prosecco

Last year I read that you will see a Rose Prosecco in 2020, however Covid slowed that down. But Food and Wine magazine says it’s coming in 2021. I have had Mionetto Prosecco several times, it’s a great sparkling wine to take to wine tastings. Mionetto has produced a DOC certified Rose Prosecco, unfortunately, it’s not available here yet. Once it is, you have my word, I will buy a bottle and try it. Rose wine sales increased 43% in the Summer of 2020 over the previous Summer. 43%! Wow. Keep in mind, more people were staying close to home this past Summer worldwide, drinking on their patios, and from the looks of it, many were enjoying Rosé wine.

2. Online Sales of wine will continue

More and more people started buying wine online in 2020. This statement probably comes as no surprise to anyone. Most people I know started buying online for the first time, thanks to the lockdown provided by a global pandemic. Bloomberg says we are going to see this trend continue, people liked the convenience and the delivery. Wine stores, who started doing deliveries in 2020, will probably need to continue with that trend.

How I ended 2020 and started 2021

3. Hard Seltzers will continue to gain popularity

East Coast Lifestyle Rum Soda
White Claw Mango Seltzer

Many local brewers from Nova Scotia and around the world are producing these sparkling water based drinks. Sparkling water with a boost of alcohol, and many food and wine magazines are calling them hard seltzers. Many wine lovers are not huge fans from the reviews I’ve read, but I really like them. They are refreshing and tasty and they are perfect for Summer. The top picture is the East Coast Lifestyle Rum Soda from right here in Nova Scotia, and the bottom is the White Claw mango hard seltzer from the U.S.. I have a palate that likes many different kinds of drinks, and I love these drinks, especially the low sugar ones.

Before I tell you about my wine of the week, I have to share my new favorite recipe. I love a show on television called Watt’s On The Grill, featuring Chef Spencer Watts. It’s filmed right here in Canada. He also has a show ‘Watt’s Cooking At The Cottage’. On one episode he made these chicken skewers. Oh. My. God. They are so good, and easy.

First I cut up the chicken breasts and marinated it for 8 hours. Over night works well, even 3 or 4 hours. You really should marinate.

Brown Sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, & Worcestershire sauce.

5 easy ingredients for the marinade. Then I grilled them on my BBQ. About 3 – 4 minutes per side for me.

Set some marinade aside to baste with

I set aside about 1/4 of the marinade to baste while they cooking. Flip, baste and repeat. Then he recommended this sweet thai chili mayo sauce that I have made twice and have even used this mayo on a sandwich and it’s heavenly.

1st night I basted with the mayo sauce
It’s also great on pork

The mayo sauce has equal parts Mayo & Sweet Thai Chili sauce, garlic, and cilantro. He calls for fish sauce, but I’m allergic so I used Hoisin sauce, which is like molasses meeting soy sauce. You can use any green fresh herb you like, I happen to have cilantro, because I make my own salsa. It’s awesome. His recipe is here.

And now for my wine of the week..

Silvia Cellars Three Barrels blend

I’m going to start this description by telling you that this wine is $7 off right now at the NSLC on my street. It’s a great wine for $23, it’s spectacular for $16, which is what I paid for this wine yesterday. Sylvia three barrel blend is a blended wine of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel. Beautiful and full-bodied.

I have the 2011 vintage last night, and I will give this tip. Either let it sit, or decant it. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah , and Zinfandel tend to be higher alcohol wines all on their own, around 14%. This wine has been sitting in its bottle for almost 10 years, so the first thing you may taste if you open and try it right away, like I did, would be alcohol. Once I decanted it, it was amazing. Full-bodied with flavors of toasted oak and candied orange peel’s, I’m going up today to buy another one or two!

Priorities

Have a wonderful week. Thank you for reading

Darlene

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My Top 10 of 2020!

Bye Bye!

Revised! Welcome to the first Saturday of 2021! This blog almost didn’t get written today, because I forgot what day of the week it was LOL. A common occurrence I’m sure this time of the year. I know that many people are looking forward to seeing 2020 in the rearview mirror. It was not an easy year for sure, and this Christmas I am in Halifax, not with my family, as travel was not recommended. Some good did come out of this year though. Personally, I slowed down a bit, I rediscovered the joys of puzzles and good books, I learned how to make homemade bread, and I found some great new wines. Let’s have a look at some of them.

10. Canyon Road Cabernet Sauvignon

Canyon Road Cabernet

For the most part my wine blogs are all about finding good wine at reasonable prices. I always say, good wine doesn’t have to be expensive. This is a prime example, of a wine of the week. Canyon Road Cabernet Sauvignon is a surprising $10.99 and has become a staple in my wine rack, and in the wine rack of several of my friends. This is a smooth easy to drink medium bodied Cabernet. It’s not oaky and the tannins are not over-powering.

9. Rhone To The Bone

It was back in the Summer when I found this delightful Rose wine from the Cotes du Rhone region of France. Rhone to the Bone is made from the Grenache grape, which is the same grape used in making Chateauneuf du Pape and Syrah. As a matter of fact it is 80% Grenache & 20% Syrah. Two full-bodied red grapes, with limited skin contact, because that’s where all the color in red wine comes from. This fresh crisp rose was a favorite of mine this Summer and comes in at under $18.

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I was ready for 2020

8. Caliterra Tributo Chrdonnay

2020 started out like any other year. Winter months, comfort food and great new discoveries that go with our favorite comfort food. The Caliterra Tributo Chardonnay was one of those great finds. A delicious Chardonnay from Chile, that was priced suprisingly under $18 and a great compliment with roast chicken.

7.

This puzzle of classic games revived my love of puzzles

7. Unconditional Pinot Noir

You’re probably not surprised there’s a Pinot Noir on the list

Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised there is a Pinot Noir on the list, and Oregon is one of my favorite places for Pinot Noir. And you can’t have a Top 10 without having a couple of treat wines on the list. This is a Pinot Noir from one of my favorite regions for Pinot – Oregon. Given 93 Points, it’s actually quite surprising this wine is just $33 a bottle. It’s incredibly smooth and the 2016, which I had, produced low yields that year, which meant more intense fruit. I loved it.

6. Stemmari Grillo

Stemmari Grillo

I don’t believe you can get this wine in Nova Scotia, but you can get it in other parts of Canada like Ontario. My friend Arla bought this back from the U.S. when she returned in March, and it’s a Sicilian white made with the Grillo grape. Although Grillo might not be well known in Canada, it is actually the most important white grape in Sicily. It also received a Gold Medal at the Berliner Wine Tasting. I think she said she paid $9 for this in the States, however, here in Canada it’s about $14, which is still a great price for a great wine.

I learned how to make homemade pizza

5. Ava Grace Merlot

I love Merlot. It’s a plump juicy full-bodied Grape and this one from Ava Grace, which I discovered in Newfoundland, was a favorite. Mocha, vanilla and spice flavors, and to all my Newfoundland friends and wine-lovers, this wine is on for $15.28 at the moment. Go out and buy a couple.

4. Zonin Prosecco

Zonin Prosecco

Two years ago, my #1 wine of 2018 was a Zonin Ripoasso that was given 96 Points, and it cost under $20. I think that’s the first time I saw that high of a rating at that price point. This year I bought its sister wine, the Zonin Prosecco a few times. It’s a great sparkling wine with New Year’s Eve just around the corner. It’s even fun in a holiday cocktail.

Prosecco, Cranberry & Lime Flavored Sparkling Water

3. La Vielle Ferme Blanc

This wine is also made in red, but the white has become one of my favorite white wines. La Vielle Ferme was bought to a small dinner party of people in my bubble, back when we were allowed to have 10 people. My friend Arla introduced us to this one, and we were all trying it for the first time. I was absolutely blown away by the wonderful tropical flavors in this wine. At $14.49 a bottle, you can see why it’s one of my favorites.

2.

Beef Bourguignon

When the pandemic put us in lockdown in March, many of us tried new recipes for the first time. And why not, restaurants were closed and we had a lot of time on our hands. I tried some new recipes including this Beef Bourguignon recipe.

2. Argyle Pinot Noir

Before the pandemic hit, I had the opportunity to do a couple of wine tastings in the beginning of 2020. In previous years I probably did 30 a year. I loved meeting new people and introducing them to some new wines. When I do a tasting, I always bring a treat wine, and this was my favorite treat wine of 2020. Argyle Pinot Noir from Oregon This is a perfectly balanced Pinot Noir with wonderful aromatics and a nice lingering finish. It’s $52, but worth the treat.

  1. Chateau Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon

This was my wine of the year because it’s a $20 Cabernet Sauvignon that tastes like a $75 bottle of wine. This wine was a pioneer in the success of Napa Valley wines back in the 60’s. This big bold Cabernet Sauvignon from Chateau Souverain delivers with mocha and vanilla flavors balancing tannins with easy drinkability. It was my favorite new find of 2020.

I want to thank each and every one of you who have joined me on wine journey of discovering great wines at affordable prices. I wish you and your family a happy healthy 2021. Thank you and Happy New Year.

Darlene

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I’m Dreaming of.. Travel!

Looking forward to travelling again

I know what you were thinking…. you thought I was going to say, I’m dreaming of a White Christmas. We got that on Thursday, when you live in Canada, we don’t have to dream about White Christmas, they happen most years! I’m pretty confident I’m not the only one looking forward to taking a trip again. I didn’t take one in 2019, so I haven’t gone anywhere, other than Newfoundland, since 2018. Hopefully in 2021, definitely in 2022. I’ve been very blessed, as I have seen many beautiful parts of the world. Here are a couple of my favorite destinations and the wines I enjoyed while there.

  1. Hawaii
My sister Jackie & I at Pearl Harbour

A few years back, I took a trip to Hawaii with my sister Jackie and her family in Hawaii. I loved it. 11 days was not nearly long enough. I loved the beaches, I loved the sights, I loved how relaxed people were, and of course, the great prices on American wines.

Jackie & Her Husband Craig

We had rented condos in Waikiki, and we would go out to dinner most nights, but on a few nights we stayed in. We used to buy wine from the Convenience store on the corner, and I was amazed at the great prices. People think you pay high prices for wine in Hawaii, but like the other states, you really don’t. We pay high prices here in Canada, unfortunately. We drank a lot of Robert Mondavi Cabernet in Hawaii.

Not exactly as shown

At this Convenience store, very close to Waikiki Beach, and about 20 steps from our condo, we used to buy bottles of Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon for $10 American, and the wine sold in Newfoundland for $25 at the time. The wine, not the label as shown, I couldn’t find a picture of the reserve Cabernet Sauvignon we used to buy. Keep in mind this was 2008. Labels change all the time.

2. Italy

Enjoying the Wine of Tuscany

In 2017, when I became a Certified Sommelier, I had the pleasure of going to Italy with three other amazing women. We had a wonderful time, we ate some spectacular food, and we drank some amazing wines! One of my favorite wine tours was at the Banfi winery.

In the wine cellars of Banfi

Banfi is located in the Brunello region of Tuscany and is a family owned winery, wines that we can buy here in Nova Scotia and Canada. This was probably my favorite.

Banfi Rosso di Montalcino

And although we paid about €12 for this wine in Italy, and it sells for $29.99 here in Nova Scotia, it’s still worth every penny. Known as a Baby Brunello, because it Sangiovese grapes made from younger vines in the same vineyards that make the Brunello di Montalcino. By the way, Brunello di Montalcino is Italy’s highest DOCG Classification, so this is great wine, grown and made extremely well. Delicious, full-bodied and a perfect pairing with steak, or pasta. Yes, steak. It’s that good.

3. Aruba

Aruba

The first time I visited Aruba, I was on a cruise ship. The second time, I was with my sister Jackie, my favorite travelling companion. She would put Aruba as #1 on her list, I put Hawaii. I did love Aruba though and would love to return one day.

Beautiful beaches in Aruba
Jackie enjoying a Cosmopolitan
Can’t go wrong with Merlot

One of my favourite wines that I enjoyed at the resort that year was this Merlot from Chile, Vina Maipo. Unfortunately, I can’t find this wine in Nova Scotia, but it was a delicious full body Merlot with notes of cherry and plum. And you can’t go wrong with Merlot.

Speaking of Cosmopolitans, I picked up a beautiful Prosecco and did a take on a Christmas Cosmopolitan.

I took Prosecco, unsweetened Cranberry juice, I added a little sugar, which I wouldn’t have done if the cranberry juice wasn’t unsweetened, a splash of sparkling water and a few cranberries. Put a lime wedge on the glass, a squeeze of lime juice in the cocktail and voila. Had a couple of friends in for dinner last weekend, from my bubble, and we enjoyed this holiday delight before dinner. Everyone really enjoyed it, and it was super easy to make.

And now for my wine of the week….

Cuvee Saint Pierre

Although I am from Newfoundland and Saint Pierre Miquelon is off the coast, this wine hails from France. And yes, if it looks a little big, it’s because it’s a Magnum, which is two bottles in one. So, if you’re having a group in, this is a perfect wine in the perfect size. Fresh, light and fruity, this wine is under $22 for the Magnum, so it’s a great way to serve a group.

Many people ask me how to sign up for my wine blog to get it in their Inbox.

Look for the Follow button

On the right hand side of the blog, there is a Follow button, and a place to put your email address. Then, once I hit publish, you will get it in your email.

Well Christmas is less than a week away. And I know it’s going to look very different this year. I can’t home to Newfoundland this year, and I know most people can’t travel to see loved ones. I hope you stay safe, and I hope you find some joy in this year.

Next week, is my Top 10 finds of 2020. Merry Christmas.

Darlene

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Twas The Wine Before Christmas

Christmas chuckle

Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the cellar,

The bottles were resting, the tannins becoming mellower

The wine glasses were hung by the fireplace with care

In hopes Santa & a corkscrew, would soon be there

The bottles were nestled snug in the rack,

Waiting for a guy holding a red sack

Papa with his white, me with my red,

Enjoying a glass before we headed to bed

When out on the lawn, arose such a clatter

I spilled my wine, to see what was the matter

I ran to the window, I flew like a flash

In time to see Santa in quite the mad dash

The Moon on the face of a newly poured wine Gave the luster of Merlot a beautiful shine

Gave the luster of Merlot a beautiful shine

When what to my eyes, should suddenly appear

But a miniature sleight and 8 reindeer

With a Jolly driver, so lively and quick

I knew in a moment, it must be Saint Nick

I ran to get a glass, so happy he came

When one by one, he called them by name.

Now Dancer, Now Dasher, Now Prancer and Vixen

On Comet, On Cupid, On Donner, On Blitzen

Out to the porch, I gave him a call

Red or white I called out, you can have it all

I’ll be happy

It looked as if this wasn’t his first stop of the night,

His purple stain teeth proved I was right

He came in and headed directly to the glass,

And asked if I had anything from Alsace

He filled all the stockings, and turned with a jerk,

He gave a big smile and returned back to work

And I heard him explain as he drove out of sight

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night

A little bit of fun with a classic. And now it’s time for my Wine of the Week…

Bouchard Aine & Fils Beaujolais Superiore

Last week I told you about an easy to drink great-priced Pinot Noir from Bouchard, Aine & Fils. This week, I had the opportunity to try its sister wine, the Beaujolais Superiore. My small bubble of 3 other friends get together Tuesday evenings for a games night. Because my friend Angie & I both drink red, so we take turns bringing the wine. This is the wine Angie bought this week, and it’s so funny, because I have a friend Nancy who gave me a bottle as well, that’s still in my wine rack.

This is a great wine for Christmas, because it’s so food friendly. This wine pairs well with charcuterie boards, cheese, cold cuts, fish dishes like salmon and chicken and turkey as well. Bouchard Aine & Fils have been part of the wine trade in Burgundy and Beaujolais for over 200 years, so you know they make a good Beaujolais. Beaujolais is a medium-bodied easy to drink wine with notes of cherry and candied bananas. The Superiore means the grapes were picked at the height of ripeness, thus making it ‘superior’. This wine is also an amazing deal. Are you sitting down? It’s $16.99 a bottle here in Nova Scotia. A reminder this is not a wine that is meant to be aged. Drink it within 2 years for best results.

A friend of mine Sandra, has a kitty cat, Bidou, who will only drink his water out of a wine glass. I have the proof on video, and was hoping to share it. However, the file size was too big, the blog wouldn’t accept it. It is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.

That’s it for me for this week, till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Wine – Gift Giving Made Easy!

I’m easy to shop for

I’ve always said, I’m the easiest person in the world to shop for. Head to the closest place that sells wine, and you’re my new best friend. Don’t think for a minute that wine lovers look at a gift of wine wine as an ‘easy’ gift. For me, it’s a great gift, of which I am very appreciative. And when I’m enjoying that particular wine, I always think fond memories of the person who gave it to me. 2020 has been has been stressful enough. So I’m going to give you some great gift-giving ideas for the wine lover in your life.

When I became a Certified Sommelier in April of 2017, I started doing a lot of wine tastings. I did them for small and larger groups, and I always bought a sparkling wine. Did you know there are still so many people that believe sparkling wines are sweet. This Mionetto Prosecco was a crowd favorite.

Mionetto Prosecco

It is such a great time to buy Prosecco right now. I was at the NSLC the other day (surprise surprise!) and so many are on sale, including this one from Mionetto. Prosecco makes a great gift because even if you don’t feel like drinking a sparkling wine, there are so many cocktails you can make with Prosecco. Mionetto has been making Prosecco since 1887, when Francesco Mionetto opened a winery just north of Venice, Italy. It’s a great wine, a great gift, and it’s under $18 right now.

Another great wine for the white wine lover on your list.

Gianmaria Cesari

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of meeting Italian winemaker Gianmaria Cesari, the son of Umberto Cesari, when he spoke in Halifax a couple of years ago. He introduced me to one of my favorite white wines and I have been bringing it to wine tastings ever since.

Moma White

Moma white is made from the Trebbiano grape, with Sauvignon Blanc and some Chardonnay, and comes from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, known more for Balsamic Vinegar and Parmesan cheese. This winery is also making some spectacular wine. This delicious elegant white wine features flavors of apple and pear, and is priced under $18. A perfect party pleaser.

Here’s a fun side dish for any holiday entertaining you are thinking of doing.

Roasted Garlic Butter Parmesan Potatoes

So I posted this recipe on my Facebook page, saying I was going to make the potatoes last Sunday. The potatoes I had in my pantry had gone a little wonky, so I decided not to make them. I had almost 100 people reach out to see how they turned out. So I made them mid-week. I did mine on the BBQ, but you know you can use your BBQ like a hot oven as well.

My finished version

I have to say, they turned out pretty darn good. One difference, the recipe calls for 6 cloves of garlic, I used 3 cloves of fresh garlic, and they were lots garlicky! You may want to be careful with this recipe if you’re planning a passionate evening, unless both of you are eating the potatoes. You can get the recipe for the Roasted Garlic Parmesan Potatoes here.

Melted butter, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt & Pepper

I parboiled them at first and then coated them in this marinade of goodness. Cooked them, and in the final minutes melted more butter, added chopped up bacon, and more parmesan. A delicious and different side dish. God I love potatoes, they are so versatile and you can have them so many different way. Let’s get back to the wine. I’m so excited to tell you about the new wine I tried this week.

My Wine of the Week….

Pinot Noir Perfect

You know me, I love Pinot Noir, it’s probably my favorite grape. And I love finding great wines at great prices. This one hit the jackpot. The Bouchard Aine & Fils might be a mouthful to say, but its also a mouthful of flavor. It’s a French Pinot Noir from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, which is known more for GSM’s, Grenache Syrah & Mourvedre wines, but this Pinot Noir is delightful.

Bouchard, Aine & Fils Pinot Noir

It’s a great light to medium-bodied easy to drink wine. This is a great wine for white wine drinkers, who want to dip their toe in the red wine world. And it’s so affordable right now. It’s on sale here in Nova Scoita for $13.99, which makes it an unbelievable value. This wine is also a perfect pairing for food this holiday season. From appetizer snacks like cheese, fruit and crackers, to your main meal of ham, chicken or fish. At this price, don’t walk to the liquor store, run!

A trip to Bordeaux, France

I want to invite all of you to join us for a free webinar on Wednesday, December 9th. You’ll learn about River cruising and the trip to Bordeaux in 2022. We all need something to look forward to after this year. We’re going to have a sip of wine (of course), talk about a wonderful trip, and did I mention it’s free. You can sign up here.

A big welcome to all the new followers this week of this blog. Welcome to the wine journey.

Darlene

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Better Late Than Never

Money well spent

I had a few technical difficulties yesterday morning, and wasn’t able to get my blog done. Thank you for your patience, and for this week, hopefully you’ll enjoy this Sunday read. Again this morning I am having trouble doing my blog on WordPress, between yesterday and today it’s taking me between four and five hours to get this blog out. I can’t be doing that every week, so if anybody has any suggestions for blog sites, could you pass them along. The site keeps producing an error message on my laptop, and it’s more difficult on my iPad because I can’t edit pictures or link in any way. Let’s talk some wine!

December is almost upon us, and with December comes a ton of opportunities to enjoy some wine. Christmas cooking, putting up the lights, putting up the tree, or gathering with friends, (only 5), wine can bring joy to many of these occasions and chores. A friendly reminder to not to drink and drive.. please! This is for the chores at home, when you know you are home for the evening. And let’s face it, with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic hitting us here in Nova Scotia and across Canada, most of us are staying very close to home.

At least 14 times

Do you have any Christmas cooking to do this year? Well, have I got a Riesling for you? And it’s made right here in Nova Scotia!

Gasperau Vineyards Riesling

I’m a big fan of Riesling’s, even though I don’t tend to imbibe in many German Rieslings, which is the country many people think of when they think of Riesling. I love Canadian and American Riesling wines, they don’t tend to be as sweet, and I really enjoy the crisp acidity. This medium dry beautiful Riesling comes from Gasperau Vineyards right here in the Anapolis Valley of Nova Scotia and it’s delicious. In my opinion, this is a true classic Riesling, beautiful apple and floral flavours, and the grapes are grown in 3 different regions right here in Nova Scotia.

Red or White, great holiday colors

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, even though it gets dark early everything is lit up with a pretty Christmas lights . Inside, everything is so warm and cosy. I normally have my Christmas decorations up by December 1, but because it’s 2020, I had them up a few days early.

I love greeting this guy as I come in the door

And a great wine to enjoy while doing your inside Christmas decorating? Every year I do a wine blog that features my Top 10 finds of that year. In 2018, a Ripasso from Zonin was the number one spot and you can read about it here

Zonin Prosecco

Zonin has an easy to drink Prosecco that is perfect for holiday entertaining. It’s on sale right now here in Nova Scotia, and hopefully where you live too. From Veneto in Italy and featuring the Glera grape, it’s crisp and light and perfect for any nibbles you are putting out.

And now for my wine of the week…..

A new wine my friend Angie and I discovered this past week . I have never seen it before at the liquor store so I picked it up for our game tonight. If you think Australia is only known for Shiraz, let me introduce you to the Magic Box Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a full body, a beautiful deep purple color, with fantastic flavours of smoke, plum, and rich fruit. If you’re like us here on the East Coast of Canada, and enjoying some unusually mild weather for this time of year, it’s a great time to get that barbeque going and here’s your wine for it. And the only thing better than the taste, is the price tag, because right now it’s on sale for $14.99.

Essentials

Well that’s it for mr for this week, till next week’s blog, Cheers and stay safe.

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New to Wine (Part 2)

Lots to choose from

There was such an overwhelming response to my wine blog last week, New to Wine, Maybe I can Help, that I decided to expand on that. One of the things I always try to do with my wine blog and with my wine tastings, is take the intimidation out of buying and trying wine. Most people who read this blog already like wine on some level, but if you know someone wanting to dip their toe into the wine world, pass along this blog. If you are just getting started, here are a few wines to start your wine journey. And for those readers who love wine already, if you haven’t already tried these 5 wines, you should give them a try.

Bolla Prosecco – $17.99
  1. Prosecco

Prosecco has done such an amazing job of winning the Sparkling wine world over. It’s a beautiful crisp dry sparkling wine (not sweet) that is not expensive. It is delicious all on it’s own, perfect with appetizers and hors d’oeuvres, or you can turn it into a holiday cocktail.

Cranberry Pomegranate Cocktail

Check out this Cranberry Pomegranate holiday cocktail, you can get the recipe here.

The remaining 4 wines that critics and wine lovers feel you should try, are 2. Chardonnay

3. Pinot Grigio

4. Pinot Noir and

5. Cabernet Sauvignon.

Personally I recommend you try something lighter than a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Shiraz, if you are just starting out in the wine world. Here’s the wine I always get people to try when they want to try red wine, or are white wine drinkers but would like to try red, or even new to wine. I present ‘Beaujolais’.

Beaujolais

It’s not only fun to say, it’s fun to drink. On the 3rd Thursday in November, considered World Beaujolais Day, the year’s wine crop is released to the world. Beaujolais is consumed as new and fresh as possible to keep those candied fruit flavors. There are 5 regions of Burgundy (Bourgogne) and Beaujolais is the southern most tip. It also produces more wine than all the other 4 regions combined. Wine expert Karen McNeil says Beaujolais is ‘the only white wine that is red in color’. You also serve this wine very chilled, and it goes great with salads, picnics and appetizers. The Bel Air Beaujolais I have here is one I haven’t tried yet, but bought it yesterday and I’m looking forward to it. Beaujolais is not expensive and tends to be under $20 a bottle.

And now for my wine of the week…

But first, I have to tell you about my new BBQ.. yes the knobs light up for BBQing in the evenings when its dark (Yay!)

I love the fact the knobs light up
It has a rotisserie
Had both the BBQ & the Traeger Grill going

And yes, that is a glass of red wine between the two. You can’t be barbecuing and grilling without a beverage to keep you company.

And what was in that glass?

It’s on sale right now

Whenever I see this wine on sale, I absolutely have to have one. And its on sale this week! Meomi Pinot Noir is one of the richest Pinot Noir wines I have ever tried, and it’s complex flavors of mocha and cherries from winemaker Jason Becker gives it this week’s wine of the week. If you don’t think Pinot Noir can stand up to big grilled meats, you have not tried Meomi. The grapes come from 3 regions, Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara, and you’ll be bringing all the classic and dramatical flavors from the California coast, without the price tag that usually accompanies that.

This is why I’m single

Well, that’s it for me for this week. Have a great week, and thanks for reading.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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New to Wine? Maybe I Can Help

Wine is always the answer

One of the things I have missed about 2020, were the wine tastings I was doing. I loved doing the wine tastings for a couple of different reasons. I really loved meeting new people, and fellow wine lovers, One of my most favorite parts were getting people to try new wines. Wine is not cheap, so most of us are not too adventurous in the wine store. It’s way too expensive to take the chance on something you may not like. At the wine tastings, I’ve also met several spouses that ‘weren’t into wine’ but sipped along. These were fun, because most times they would end up finding a wine they really liked. Are you fairly new to wine? Let me help take away some of the mystery and hopefully make it a little easier to enjoy my favorite beverage.

This is true

When I do a wine tasting, I tend to bring 6 wines, in different styles. I always bring a sparkling wine. Did you know that most people think sparkling wine is sweet. It seems here in Canada, our first introduction to sparkling wine was Baby Duck.

Baby Duck

I don’t know about your house, but in my house, it wasn’t Christmas Dinner unless Mom & Dad bought out the Baby Duck. How many of us had this as our first taste of wine? Launched in the 1970’s, it once dominated the sparkling wine market. Not any more. Sparkling wine doesn’t have to be an expensive Champagne, it can be a crisp, food-friendly foray into deliciousness. Take this one for example.

A Spanish Cava

When starting out with Sparkling wine, start with an Italian Prosecco or a Spanish Cava, like this Hola wine. You never tend to pay more than $20 for a bottle of this wine, which is made in the same method as traditional Champagne. These delicious wines are a great way to start any get together or dinner party. They are perfect with appetizers, whether you are serving, cheese, oysters or a salad. You would have a hard time finding an appetizer that doesn’t pair well with a good dry sparkling wine.

A great white wine

Most people dip their toe in the wine world by starting with white wine. Great wine doesn’t have to be expensive and this wine is proof of that. This is one of my favorite white wines, La Vielle Ferme is a French white wine that comes in under $15. I know buying French wine can be a little intimidating, because they don’t always put the grape varietal on the label. For whites, Chardonnay is a big heavy wine, tends to be aged in oak. Something like a Pinot Grigio is lighter, crisper and hasn’t seen oak.

Going from White to Red?

So many people I meet, who drink white wine, would also love to expand into red wine. Here’s the biggest complaint I receive about red wine from white wine drinkers. The temperature. People tend to serve their red wines at ‘room temperature’. Well, in the Summer, the room temperature in my house tends to be about 26 degrees, and that is way to warm for any wine. On average, our rooms temperatures tend to be in the 20’s. Still way to warm for any wine. Room temperature was designated as the room temperature of the underground wine cellars, which were about 55-degrees Fahrenheit, which is about 13 – 15 degrees Celsious. Put your red wine in the refrigerator. And if it’s there a little long, take it out 20 or 30 minutes before serving. You’ll be amazed at how many of your friends will ‘love’ red wine once its served at the proper temperature, or even a little chilled. Start light with a Pinot Noir, or a Beaujolais (Gamay grape) or a Valpolicella and then work your way to the heavier reds of Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz.

My wine of the week was a big bold Shiraz. So, a cute story to start

Loves her I do!

My sister Jackie and her husband came for a visit this past week. We had such a great time. She lives in my hometown of Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Her son is going to St. FX University here in Nova Scotia, so I am getting to see her more often. Her husband Craig, did some chores for me.

I had lots of projects for him

My brother in law Craig was kept very busy, so on Wednesday evening, we were going to do a big feed, and Craig wanted a glass of red wine. I was saving this wine to share with someone special, and couldn’t have picked a better person.

Wolf Blass Gold Label 2008 Shiraz
Signed by the man himself!

In 2012, just before I was transferred to Halifax, I had the opportunity to meet Wolf Blass, as he was visiting St. John’s, Newfoundland. I bought a couple of bottles of 2008 Gold Label Shiraz, two I gave away as gifts, and two I kept for a special occasion. I had opened one not long after this. It was very good. And I saved the other one. This was worth the wait! I was waiting for an opportunity to open it and share, and this seemed like the perfect day. So, this wine had a screw cap, had been bought 8 years ago, and was actually bottled 12 years ago. Living proof a screw cap can age a wine, some say as good as a cork does. The wine was aged in both new and seasoned French oak, and because of the high tannin content in Shiraz, that is a wine that ages very very well. This was spectacular, and if critics gave this wine 93-points after a couple of years, aging it turned it into a 95 or 96 point wine. Spectacular. If you see a Gold Label in the wine store, buy one or two, and keep one for a few years. You’ll love it.

Happens all the time

Have a great week. Cheers

Darlene

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Cruise With Me to Bordeaux France

A Taste of Bordeaux River Cruise

Join your hosts, Richard Arnold of Atlantic Tours & Travel and Sommelier Darlene Myers for your Taste of Bordeaux cruise adventure. 
*Book before December 30, 2020 and receive Complementary Onboard Gratuities, an Early Booking Savings, in addition to “Travel Waiver Plus Protection” valued at $175 per person , there are free gratuities right now and an early booking bonus. Total combined Savings of almost $800 per person*

I’m taking a trip to Bordeaux, France in 2022, would you like to come with me? In a previous blog, I had mentioned I have partnered with Atlantic Tours and AMA Waterways for a River Cruise through the spectacular region of Bordeaux in April of 2022. I had met one of the owners of Atlantic Tours at a wine tasting in 2019 and we became friends. He came up with the wonderful idea of working together on some wine trips. YAY! Who doesn’t love a good wine trip. And after 2020, we all need something to look forward to.

Richard Arnold of Atlantic Tours

We are still hoping to do a wine trip to the Niagara region of Ontario in June of 2021, but we will have to see how things are with the global pandemic. I am still hoping this wine tour goes ahead, because it would be spectacular. Check out the details here.

And here’s a snap shot of where we are staying at Niagara Falls. I mean, you know you want to come with us!! We are doing a stop in Old Quebec City, we are doing a tasting at Caves Du Chateau Montmagny Winery, and the 1000 Islands Dinner Cruise, all part of this trip. Wineries we will be visiting include Wayne Gretzky’s & Trius, just to name two. Fingers crossed it’s a go.

HILTON NIAGARA FALLS/FALLSVIEW HOTEL & SUITES $64 ($̶1̶2̶8̶) - Updated 2020  Prices & Reviews - Ontario - Tripadvisor
The Hilton Niagara Falls

But back to Bordeaux, we are having a sip and sail Webinar. It’s free to register and you can register here. You’ll find out about River Cruising, which I have never done before. You’ll also find out about this particular River Cruise to Bordeaux. And we will probably enjoy a sip of wine in the process. What have you got to lose? It’s a free webinar, it will be informative and fun, and we’ll drink some wine, all at the same time.

Let’s talk some wine!!

A great Italian value

I tried this wine a few weeks back, but never got a chance to include it in a previous blog. I really want to, because it’s not often you can find enjoyable wines under $11. The La Baldoria Sangiovese from Puglia, known as the bread basket of Italy, also known for its Olive Oil, is 100% Sangiovese grapes and a great match for anything tomato sauce. Whether its pizza or pasta, if you are serving up some Italian food that features a tomato sauce, this wine is definitely worth trying.

Speaking of bread…

I’m making homemade bread

I grew up in Newfoundland, and my Mom made the best homemade bread in the world. We always had homemade bread, and being kids, thought store bought bread was a treat. Years after moving away, one of my biggest regrets was not learning how to make homemade bread from my Mom. So, there’s nothing like a pandemic to change all that. I started making bread, and consulting with my Mom over the phone. The first couple of loaves were a little crumbly, but bit by bit, I’m happy with the results. There really is nothing like the taste of homemade bread

My bread with beef barley soup

If I get home for Christmas though, I will take a lesson from the master! She will be 86 years old in January and doesn’t make bread anymore. But she does buy it from a wonderful local bakery. Yes, that’s my bread with a batch of beef barley soup I made in the slow cooker for the first time. That recipe is here. Cost efficient delicious soup, perfect for the cooler weather.

Now for my wine of the week…

Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon

I was watching the election results from the U.S. with some friends Tuesday evening, and we opened this wine. I have had the Smoking Loon Zinfandel, and I love it, but tried the Cabernet Sauvignon for the first time. We really enjoyed it. Usually it’s $17 a bottle, but right now it’s $15 a bottle, and as my friend Maggie said “This is really good wine”. And that’s what most people like in a wine. A really good wine at a really affordable price. That’s what makes me happy.

Smoking Loon Pinot Grigio

Here in Nova Scotia, we just carry the two reds, but for my white wine loving readers, they do make several white wines as well. Including a Pinot Grigio, a Sauvignon Blanc and an unoaked Chardonnay. The company slogan is ‘Why fly when you can soar’! These wines are based out of California, and if I had access to more of them, I would try them all.

Well that’s it for this week. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Happy Hallowine!

A great day to drink some wine

I would like to thank everyone who reached out last week, disappointed because I couldn’t do a wine blog because of Internet issues. I am really appreciative to everyone who takes time to read my blogs each week about wine and food. It warms a girl’s heart. You know what else warms a girl’s heart… Wine! Let’s talk some food & wine.

My friends Fred & Arla left Thursday to head to Alberta to take care of their grandson for 3 months. And the best news I received this week, is that they are letting me babysit their Traeger Grill!

Traeger Grill

I can’t tell you how much I am loving cooking on this grill. The other night I had my BBQ going to do the potatoes, I had chicken wings and a steak on the Traeger.

Before
After

I had a glass of wine on the go, I had some tunes going, and I was grilling and smoking my steak and wings on the Traeger. As they say on the website, Welcome to the Traeger-hood! I love adding smoke flavor to my wings, chicken, steak and I did the ultimate last night,,,, ribs

OMG! Smoked ribs

They were so good. And while some guys might love a beer while they are grilling, I love a glass of red while cooking outdoors. Here’s what I enjoyed last night while grilling and eating!

Burnt Ship Bay Cabernet Merlot

From the Niagara region in Ontario, a big thank you to my friends Fred & Arla for bringing me this wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot blend. Burnt Ship Bay Winery is named after a small bay that lies in the heart of the Niagara River, where these grapes are grown. The bay is known for being the final resting place for treasure-laden French ships. This blend, which also contains some Cabernet Franc, is about $13.50 right now. Sadly, you can’t buy this wine where I live, so my friends had it shipped in, because the winery is offering free shipping on a case of wine right now. It says right on their website to pair this wine with grilled meats, so I did! A match made in heaven.

Burnt Ship Pinot Grigio

I’ve also had the opportunity to try the Pinot Grigio. Arla loves the Pinot Grigio, so a few weeks back I got to try this gorgeous white as well. It was a great Pint Grigio with tasty citrus and tropical notes. This wine is priced under $14 as well, and is really a steal of a deal.

Want to know the really funny part?

Fall is so pretty in Halifax

I live in an apartment building in Halifax, in an area that has a lot of apartment buildings. And every once in a while, the Traeger will release this plume of smoke. It smells awesome, but I was worried one of my neighbours was going to call the fire department last night! LOL I had the ribs on the smoker for almost 3 hours, and they came out amazing. I was so anxious to eat them, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. But no worries, it won’t be my last time doing ribs on this grill. Best I’ve ever made.

Time for my wine of the week…

Portillo Pinot Noir

There used to be a saying ‘Never trust a Pinot Noir under $20’! That rule no longer applies. Pinot Noir was traditionally a more expensive red, because its known as the ‘heartbreak grape’. The skin of a Pinot Noir grape is so thin, its easy for an entire crop to be wiped out. This wine is just $14.49 a bottle and it’s a very light, fruity and easy to drink Pinot Noir. It hails from Argentina, and a warm climate Pinot Noir can taste a little jammy, because the consistently warm weather allows a red grape to fully ripen. Some people would miss the acidity that comes with a cool climate Pinot. Try a Pinot Noir from Canada and you’ll know what I mean. It’s a great wine at a great price and definitely worth the try.

Stay safe tonight

So tonight its Halloween, the clocks go back an hour, and it’s a full moon. 2020 continues to be interesting! Stay safe everyone. I’m going to stay in and enjoy some wine.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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The Judgement of Paris

The Judgement of Paris

Interesting story (if you’re a wine lover like me). Last night I had a wine from Chateau Souverain. A great Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley in California, that is priced under $20 at my local NSLC. It was a great Cabernet Sauvignon, that went deliciously with the Beef I had.

Chateau Soverain Cabernet Sauvignon

The interesting part is that this vineyard in Napa Valley hired winemaker Mike Grgich, a Croatian born winemaker, in his very first wine-making job. Mike Grgich would later go on and become quite famous. He would produce one of the Chardonnay wines that won the famous Judgement of Paris Wine Tasting. This Paris Wine tasting, which took place on May 24th, 1976, put the wine world on its ass. It upset the wine world, not only because 11 judges picked a California Chardonnay over a French Chardonnay, but because California beat France in a blind tasting of red wines as well. A California Cabernet beat out the most famous Red wines in France, including Chateau Lafitte Rothschild. So while that wine starts at $1000 and goes up from there, check out this one at our local NSLC that has a $3063 price tag. Yep, it’s over $3000.

Chateau Lafitte Rothschild $3063

And I know wine experts will probably blast me for comparing the two, but I love finding the story behind the wine, and I thought this one was pretty cool. Imagine, a California wine rated best in each category, which caused much surprise as France was generally regarded as being the foremost producer of the world’s best wines. As I enjoyed the Château Souverain, I really felt like I was drinking a winner.

Bottle Shock (2008)
Bottle Shock, the movie

There was a movie made about The Judgement of Paris in 2008. The movie was called ‘Bottle Shock’ and starred Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman, who starred as Steven Spurrier, the real life guy who organized the event, never dreaming in a million years that French wines would lose. It was a great movie, there are some love scenes, so you may want to watch it after the kids go to bed. Sit back, enjoy the movie, with your favorite California white or red wine.

And now for my wine of the week… The Judgement of Darlene if you will!

LaMura Rosso

I was thinking, how do I touch a wine, from a winery, where the first winemaker was one of the winners of the Judgement of Paris? And the wine is priced under $20, that is literally the epitome of a wine of the week! Let me tell you, last week was a great week for wine LOL! Because I found this beauty on Thanksgiving Monday and it is now my new favourite wine priced under $15. Thanksgiving Monday you ask? We are very lucky here in Halifax to have a few independent wine stores and they are open most holidays. And at one of those stores I found this amazing Italian wine. Grapes for this wine, Nero D’Avola, are grown on the slopes of the Marsala and Salemi regions of Sicily. This wine is fully organic, however that does not take away from the taste in any way. It’s a bold red, that in my opinion just sits beautifully on the palate and has a great lingering flavour. Did I tell you it’s $14.49 a bottle?

Chuckle of the Day

That’s it for me for this week. Have a great week, and I hope you discover an amazing wine.

Darlene

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Thankful

Who would have thought, last Thanksgiving, (here in Canada) that a year later Thanksgiving might looks quite different. I know with 2020 being an absolute wonky year with a Global pandemic, some people may find it hard this Thanksgiving. I hope you can find something to be grateful for, and I hope you are safe and healthy. I am thankful for so many wonderful things in my life.

Riley

I have my family, who are all healthy, and my nephew Riley, who is going to St. FX this year. He is up for a turkey dinner and a visit with his Aunt Dar. We’re having it earlier than most people, but that’s OK! So grateful he is living in Nova Scotia.

Road trip to Liverpool

I have amazing friends, I am so very grateful for.

My stuffed Turkey

I am grateful to have food on my table, coffee in my cup and wine in my glass.

Let’s talk about some wine, and even pair it with your Thanksgiving dinner. You can’t talk turkey without talking about the white wine.

Wine of the Week last week

The Wine of the Week last week would be a great wine for turkey. Flavorful, but not over-powering, it would be a great compliment for the gobble gobble. And at $14.49 a bottle, you can afford to feed it to your family.

Pinot Grigio is another great turkey wine

Pinot Grigio is another great turkey wine. With its crisp acidity, in my opinion, it’s the perfect pairing for a turkey. But here’s the thing about wine, if you like the wine with turkey, it’s a great wine to go with turkey. Wine is a very personal choice, and I’m only here to give a couple of suggestions, if needed.

If you’re a die hard red wine person, here’s the wine I had last night with my turkey dinner with Riley.

Pepperwood Grove Zinfandel

I shouldn’t tease you with this wine because I’m pretty sure the NSLC is sold out of it. But where ever you live in Canada or the U.S., if you see this wine, it’s really really good. We found out through the website Yarmouth, Nova Scotia had 6 bottles, and my good friend Angie has a daughter that lives in Yarmouth.

My friend Angie and I

So low and behold, we bought them out, and was able to enjoy the delicious Pepperwood Grove Old Vine Zinfandel. Any Zinfandel would go great, or if you love Italian wine, try a Primitivo. They are not expensive and it’s the same grape as Zinfandel. You would never know if you tried an American Zinfandel and an Italian Primitivo side by side. Even though they are the same grape, the Americans and the Italians have different ways of working with the grape, but both are delicious.

And now for my Wine of the Week

Montes Cabernet Sauvignon

The Colchagua region of Chile are putting out spectacular Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Chilean winemakers have had help from skilled winemakers all over the world, including the Napa Valley and France. The great thing about a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon is that you are not paying the same price tag. This Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon is under $19 a bottle and goes perfect with all your favorite Fall comfort foods. Don’t you find as the weather gets cooler, you are drinking more Cabernet Sauvignon?

In 1987, Aurelio Montes and Douglas Murray, both highly experienced wine professionals in Chile, wanted to produce Chilean wines a quantum-leap higher in quality than the standards of the time. In 1988, they joined up with the other two founders, Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand, who brought their own complementary skills and expertise to the venture. Thus Montes was born. And now you too can enjoy a fantastic Cabernet at a wonderful price. Enjoy!

To all my readers, I am especially grateful for you as you come with me on this wine journey I am so very much enjoying. Have a wonderful long weekend, and stay safe!

Darlene

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A Taste of French Food &Wine

6 of the 7 Muskateers

This past weekend, my friend Angie (she took the above picture) hosted a French dinner party. Everything from the food, to our outfits, to the wine, were all French themed. She even provided us all with little French moustaches. And when we peeled them off, it took off any trace of a moustache we did have, LOL! Women going through menopause will get that joke!

We had some great food, a few great laughs, and some great French wine. We started the evening with a ‘welcome’ wine of a French rose, called Arrogant Frog. My friend Angie is seen holding the bottle of wine.

Angie holding the Arrogant Frog

There is an Arrogant Frog Sparkling rose, but that’s not the one we had, we enjoyed the dry Rose. It was crisp, light and delicious. The winemaker, Jean-Claude Mas is a 4th generation winemaker, who started assisting his father and grandfather in the vineyard when he was 3 years old. Our local NSLC also carries a Chardonnay Viognier white blend and a Cabernet Merlot red blend. I’ll have to try them. Made with the Syrah grape, this was a wonderful wine that we enjoyed with a delicious appetizer of spinach and artichoke dip on a baguette, made by Arla.

Not my picture, but you get the picture of how tasty it was

Our first course was a salad, which I made, and it had a base of spinach and arugula. I then added beets, mandarin oranges, bacon (of course), almonds, and grated parmesan cheese. I made my salad dressing with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, pepper, soy sauce and some brown sugar. With that course we enjoyed this French sparkling beauty.

Cremant De Bourgogne Brut

The Cremant De Bourgogne hails from the Maconnais region of Burgundy, Franch and Cremant is made in the exact say way as Champagne, what is commonly known as the traditional method. You know that you cannot call a Sparkling wine Champagne, unless it comes from the Champagne region of France and follows a whole list of strict guidelines. This was wonderful, made from Chardonnay grapes, and a steal of a deal at just $25. It was dry, and elegant with a lovely mousse (the foam and bubbles after a sparkling wine has been poured is called the mousse.) This is another great example of a sparkling wine that is made identical to Champagne, but is so much more affordable.

cafedelites.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Beef...
Not the actual picture of the Beef Bourguinon Elaine made

Would you believe I did not get a picture of the main course. I’m so sad, because our friend Elaine made an amazing Beef Bourguignon. It was so delicious, and we paired it with mashed potatoes and French green beans. We served a variety of wines, both white and red, with the main course. We drank Pinot Noir, a GSM (Grenache, Syrah & Merlot) as well as Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.

Dave & Fred, the brave two men who hang with us 5 women.

Dave, pictured above, made a wonderful french fluffy dessert with a custard and a homemade caramel sauce. It was a divine evening of food, wine and fun, but I can’t wait to tell you about the my Wine of the Week!

La Vielle Ferme

After last weekend, every single one of us will have this wine as a staple in our wine racks. Meet my new favorite white wine. This wine was recently written up in the Wall Street Journal for being a spectacular wine at a great price. This wine is just $14.49 a bottle here in Nova Scotia, and is a 4 grape blend. Bourboulenc, Grenache blanc, Ugni blanc & Vermentino, which are harvested at optimum maturity, which is the key to a flavorful full-bodied white wine. Gorgeous fruity flavors of apples and citrus with some tropical notes, this wine blew me away. I just loved it.

Words of a Wino – Love this

Well that’s it for me today. Thank you for coming along on my food & wine journey. I love it when people share their wine and food stories with me as well.

Till next weekend, Cheers

Darlene

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Fall in Love with Great Wines

5 Fun Things To Do in Halifax This Fall – Discover Halifax
Nova Scotia is beautiful in Fall

Autumn, my absolute favorite time of the year. I ran into someone in the elevator of my apartment building, who said I was looking happy. Well, today is sunny, a comfortable 22-degrees, and I had a great night sleep last night because it was nice and cool. What’s not to be happy about. Nova Scotia is just gorgeous in the Fall, with stunning colors and for the most part great weather.

Speaking of Nova Scotia, friends (only 7) got together and we did a bit of a wine tasting with some of the white wines from Avondale Sky Winery. Known as the home of the church that walked on water!! I’m not kidding, they moved this church by land and water, and you can see the journey of the church through photos at the Winery. But let’s talk some wine.

Here was the first one.

Avondale Sky Chevrie

The Chevrie from Avondale Sky is most (89%) L’Acadie with small amounts of Muscat, Vidal & Geisenhelm, a true Nova Scotia blend. And it was delicious, my favorite of all 3. The winemaker says the Muscat is added to lift aromatics, and Vidal and Geisenhelm is added for acidity, which adds a vibrancy to the wine. Gorgeous hints of peach and melon, and it’s a great wine for any appetizer.

Avondale Sky Tennycape
Avondale Sky Ortega

The other two we tried was the Tennycape and the Ortega. I thought the Ortega might have had some Gewurtztraminer in it, because the aromatics were quite strong, but it doesn’t. It was the most full-bodied of them all, and the vineyard recommends Indian cuisine, chicken, pork and seafood. This is your main course white. The Tennycape, was a little lighter. I really enjoyed this wine. I liked the brightness of the wine, and the blend of Vidal and L’Acadie Blanc makes for a true Nova Scotia experience. A great wine for the Nova Scotia seafood, and it’s so bright it would pair well wtih spicy food as well.

Top 30 Spilled Wine GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat
Everyone wants wine

The next wine I want to tell you about, my wine of the week, is over the top delicious.

The Santodeno Sangiovese Appassimento is a rich full-bodied wine that I had this past week. Appassimento is the process of letting the grapes dry first, which adds depth and flavor. For this particular wine, the grapes are hand picked, and then left in small crates to dry.

Delicious Italian red wine

It creates a delicious wine, full of flavor, with hints of nutmeg, that is a perfect pairing for all your favorite comfort foods. So what’s the problem?

Wax covers drive me crazy

You need a degree of some kind to get into the wine. More and more I’m seeing winemakers use these hard wax coverings, instead of a foil. This looks jagged because I had to take a knife to it, and put my life and limbs at risk, trying to get it open. Winemakers say it helps keep the wine fresh. No oxygen is getting into the wine. Makes sense. One thing you should never do, is try to put your corkscrew through the wax. I did that once. Learn from my mistake.

Got it off with my fingers in tact

The wine was fantastic, the price point the same. It’s only $18 a bottle. But my recommendation to wine makers, don’t make it so hard for me to get into the bottle. Thankfully, it was the first bottle of the evening, because I would hate to try and get into this wine with a few glasses under my belt.

Red or White?

Well, that’s it for me for this week. Have a great week, till next Saturday, Cheers

Darlene

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Bordeaux Wine Tour, Anyone?

Official Announcement

I have exciting news. In April, 2022, I will be joining forces with Atlantic Tours and AMA Waterways to participate in a river cruise called ‘A Taste of Bordeaux’. I met the owner of Atlantic Tours, Richard Arnold, during several wine tastings I did in 2019. We hit it off and talked about the possibility of working together on a wine related trip. Well we currently have 2 we are working on. 2021 to the Niagara region of Canada, and 2022 to Bordeaux France.

Richard & Sandra
Richard has a tremendous amount of experience doing first class tours.

For any wine lover, Bordeaux France is the capital of great wine. Filled with Chateaus and vineyards, this is going to be an epic adventure in the land of food and wine. (2 of my favorite things in the world.) Travelling the Garonne & Dordogne rivers in first class style, this is a dream trip for any wine lover. I’ll have more details later, but right now we are planned for April of 2022. And in case you didn’t know, Bordeaux is just not for the red wine lover, Bordeaux produces some amazing white wines as well. Bordeaux white is mostly blended wines and tends to consist of 3 grapes, Semillion, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. Bordeaux white can be light and fruity (Sauvignon Blanc heavy) or rich and creamy (Semillion heavy). It is also home to some of the most expensive wines in the world.

2005 Chateau D’yquem

Like this 2005 Chateau D’yquem priced at $1112.00

Chateau Margeaux

Or this Chateaux Margeaux priced at a cool $1448.00. But you can enjoy good wine from Bordeaux without having to take out a second mortgage. So….Let’s talk some food & wine.

Puyfromage White

Take this Chateau Puyfromage White Bordeaux for example. It is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion and it is tropical, light and fruity, and every wine tasting I’ve ever bought it to, it’s a hit. It’s only $22 a bottle, it’s medium-bodied, with some acidity from the Sauvignon Blanc and very food friendly. Chateau Puyfromage also comes in a red blend, with 60% of the wine being Merlot and the other 40% being comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. So a really good meaty red at about the same price point.

Rayell holding a Sauternes
Chateau Coutet Sauternes

One of my favorite white wines to come out of Bordeaux is Sauternes. I know many people say they don’t like sweet wines, but if you have a dessert wine, in a small sherry glass, and have it as a dessert, it can be heavenly. Sauternes comes from the Barsac region of Bordeaux and the grapes are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion and Muscadelle. Sauternes takes these 3 grapes and applies a process called Botrytis Cinerea, or more commonly known as noble rot.  This causes the grapes to become partially raisined, resulting in concentrated and distinctively flavored wines. These wines are delicious dessert wines, served chilled, and those flavors of honey and apricot make for one of my favorite desserts.

New pork chop marinade
Bobby Flay’s homemade honey mustard sauce

I would really like to tell you about my new food discovery. I made Bobby Flay’s homemade honey mustard sauce and used it on grilled pork chops. Here’s one change I have made to the recipe. (Sorry Bobby) It calls for equal parts grainy mustard and Dijon mustard. I started cutting the grainy mustard in half. If I used 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, I used 1/2 a tablespoon of the grainy. I feel the grainy mustard can overpower the sauce. Here’s the grainy mustard I used.

Maille Mustard

Even on the website, it says it packs a powerful punch. And it does. So I’m using half. Then I added honey, salt & pepper. Delicious on pork.

Now, for my wine of the week… Believe me, this one is very affordable

I hope all my readers have someone in their life that looks at them like I look at this wine. LOL. I love a Ripasso, regular readers of my blog will know that. It’s Valpolicella wine poured over the skins and must of Amarone, while they are still warm. It takes on those beautiful Amarone flavors without taking on the heaviness of an Amarone. This is probably my favorite Italian wine. And last night was my first time trying this one by Folinari. It is a medium-bodied wine full of flavor, beautiful hints of balsamic, cherry and mocha spice. I did ribs on the grill, and it was amazing.

Have a wonderful week everyone. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Wining For A Long Weekend

Me last night!

I wasn’t just pining for a long weekend, I was wining for the long weekend. The Labor Day weekend, is the last official weekend of Summer for most people. For me, (don’t hate me) it’s ‘Bye Bye Summer – Hello Fall’. I am all about cooler temperatures, the pretty colours on the trees, and the availability of local fresh fruits and vegetables. I’m taking some holidays this coming week, my Mom, Sister, Brother-in-Law & Nephew are all coming for a visit this week, as we get Riley settled into SFX University in Antigonish, NS. I know I’ve been sharing some recipes lately, just wait until I start cooking for this handsome growing guy!

Riley at his High School Graduation
Me saying goodbye to Riley at the airport after 2 weeks in Barbados

This kid can eat, trust me. I’ll be cooking up a storm once he starts University here. They are all coming Wednesday for a visit and shopping, and then next Saturday morning we are off to Antigonish to set up his dorm room. There probably won’t be a wine blog next Saturday, but I’ll have lots to share in 2 weeks time. I’m also going to be doing a BIG travel announcement in 2022 for a wine tour you are not going to want to miss. Oui, Oui. That’s yes in French. A little hint of something special to come.

Let’s talk some wine…. and food!!

A great chicken marinade was discovered this week

Our Summer weather continued this past week, so since there was a lot of sunshine, I grilled one or two evenings. I have come up with the a fantastic chicken marinade. Start with olive oil, add a grainy mustard, or any mustard you have on hand, salt, pepper, a splash of lemon juice, splash of Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and the most important ingredient, brown sugar. Do you know why? I’ve discovered this week if you are grilling chicken or pork, brown sugar will be the secret to carmelization and a nice char on the outside. And a nice char on the outside will keep everything tender and juicy on the inside. It was delicious. I marinated it for about 4 hours. Overnight would be best. So what wine goes with this delicious grilled chicken? Red or white, pick your choice.

Saints & Sinners Pinot Grigio

This Saints & Sinners Pinot Grigio is from Canada, and is priced under $11 a bottle. Who doesn’t love a great deal over a long weekend. It’s not as dry as most Italian Pinot Grigio’s, it’s 75% Pinot Grigio, and 25% other fruit including Gewürztraminer, so expect a little sweeter Pinot Grigio. Most Pinot Grigio wines are a 1 on the sweetness level (the lowest), this one is a 2. If you love red with your chicken, try this wine.

Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel

This is the wine I enjoyed with it, and I’ll be heading out to buy more. This wine is $2 off right now in Nova Scotia, so it’s under $15 a bottle. Even on their website, the one and only food they have listed to try it with, is BBQ grilled chicken. A match made in heaven. Old vine is a symbol of quality in American wine. In France you see words like Grand Cru, in Italy it’s Superiore or Riserva, and in California it tends to be Old Vine, especially when talking about Zinfandel. Old vines make better wine, it’s as simple as that. At $14.48 a bottle right now, don’t make the same mistake I did, pick up more than one!!

Pork tenderloin

I also grilled a small pork tenderloin this week, and it came out great, after resting for 10 minutes in Aluminum foil. Resting your meat is very important when grilling, it lets the juices settle. It’s especially important in pork tenderloin, because you don’t want a dry pork tenderloin. I used brown sugar as the base of this marinade as well, because I just love the char it provides on the outside and it stays juicy on the inside.

And now for my wine of the week…

A 90 Point wine for $12.99

Run, don’t walk, if this wine is on sale at your liquor store, like it is mine. This wine is just $12.99 a bottle right now, while it’s available, and yes, that is a 90-Point designation you see on the label. World famous wine critic James Suckling gave this Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon 90 Points, and friends, right now this wine is less than $13 a bottle. This full-bodied beauty is from the Central Valley in Chile and is the #1 seller for Caillero del Diablo. Medium to full-bodied and not overly oaked, this Cabernet Sauvignon is the perfect wine for a long weekend grill-fest. Enjoy.

I need this t-shirt

To all my readers, thank you so much for joining me for another week. If I don’t touch base next week, I’ll see you in 2 weeks time.

Stay safe and take care

Darlene

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National Red Wine Day

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National Red Wine Day

Yesterday, August 28th was National Red Wine Day, and if you were listening to one of our local Radio Station’s, 96-5 The Breeze, the Morning Show featured an interview with me from a couple of years back, talking about some of my favorite reds. So here’s this weeks wine blog, let’s talk some red wine… and of course some food.

Great evening for a BBQ

I do really good ribs

Yesterday evening was a beautiful evening for a barbecue, and I have friends in the building who don’t have a barbeque but they told me they were craving a feed of ribs. So I texted her and said “I’ll do a feed of ribs and bring them down”. It takes me roughly five hours to do my ribs, I slow cook them in a 250-degree oven for 3 1/2 hours in the marinade, and then finish them on the grill with a sweet and sticky barbeque sauce. They were fall off the bone delicious. And I had a brand new wine while I was cooking, and enjoying the feast.

Paso Creek 2015 Merlot

OMG, this wine was awesome! I loved the slogan on the bottom, “bold character derived from stubborn patience”. Paso Robles is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and is emerging as a top quality wine region, not only in California but worldwide. This is no wimpy Merlot, this is bold and flavourful without being overpowered by oak. I loved it, and I thought it was a great wine for $23.
So, one of the issues I had this pandemic, as regular readers will know, I was doing a lot of cooking, and a lot of testing new recipes. And I have the Covid curves to prove it LOL. Two weeks ago, I decided to do something about it, and I’ve been eating better for most of the week and even getting out and exercising. Virtual High-5 👏! It’s not easy.

I’m trying to eat healthier

I made this grilled chicken salad, with mandarin oranges, freshly grated Parmesan (because every meal deserves some joy), and I made my own salad dressing. Easy, and delicious. Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pinches of garlic, black pepper, Dijon mustard and brown sugar. This was lunch, so no wine for me. If it was dinner, here’s a great wine for that salad.

Caliterra Tributo Chardonnay

You could do a nice crisp Pinot Grigio, or even Prosecco, but the grilled chicken in this salad would also allow for a nice Chardonnay. The Caliterra Chardonnay is from Chile, not overly oaked, delicious apple flavours and priced under $18. It’s one of my favorite Chardonnay wines.

And now for my wine of the week….

Gauchezco Reserve Cabernet Franc

It’s been only the past year or two, that I’ve been discovering Cabernet Franc on its own. Previously, it was more known to me as the third grape in a Bordeaux blend. There are several winemakers making Cabernet Franc the star. In a recent 2020 special report on wine from Argentina, this wine was given 91 Points. It’s very good, it’s smooth and has lovely pepper notes. Another great wine for a BBQ. This wine is a Reserve and is priced just under $23.

Your chuckle for today

So I would like to take a moment in closing to tell you about a wine tour I am going to be involved in for next year. June 19th, 2021 (Fingers crossed) my friend Richard, who owns Atlantic Tours, will be bringing a group to the Niagara Wine Region and I’m coming to host the wine tours. There will also be a stop in old Quebec City. I can’t wait. Check out all the upcoming tours at http://www.atlantictours.com. Richard and his staff have been doing worry-free tours for many years. Mark your calendar for this fabulous wine tour as we experience some great wine and take in the stunning views of Niagara Falls. I’ll tell you more about it soon. Hope you can join us.

Niagara Falls, Ontario - Wikipedia
Niagara Falls

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Grape Balls of Fire

Spicy Food Wine Pairing Tips – Kwaf | The Best of Ontario Wine
Spicy Food & Wine can be great together

As my regular readers know, most Saturday mornings I sit with a great cup of coffee and write a wine blog. Since the pandemic started, I’ve started introducing some of my favorite recipes. Although I’ve always loved to cook, I really haven’t introduced recipes and my attempts at new recipes until recently. I’m getting lots of positive feedback, and I really appreciate all the comments. I mean what goes better with food than wine, except for great friends. I don’t know if you guessed it from the title this week, but we are talking spice this week, because my brand new adventure in cooking was making my first homemade salsa.

My 1st homemade salsa

My first attempt, even though I felt I used less jalapeno, still had some kick to it. It was awesome on nachos. The chips and cheese tend to curb some of the spiciness. I loved it, and will be regularly making it because it was so easy!

My late night Nachos

I always thought you had to chop up your tomatoes. No!! This recipe calls for canned diced tomatoes. I used the ones with garlic and olive oil. And for my first attempt, I used 1/2 a tin.

Aylmer® Accents® Garlic & Olive Oil Petite Cut Stewed Tomatoes ...
All the hard work is done

Here’s what I did:

1/2 a Jalapeno, with most of the seeds taken out. (that’s where all the heat is)

1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic

1/4 cup of cilantro

The juice of 1/2 a lime

1/4 teaspoon salt (& I added some pepper)

Tip of a teaspoon of sugar. (This is optional)

I put it in my mini-food processor. I use mine so much I keep it on the counter at all times.

Mini Food Processor

A few pulses, and fresh salsa, with no preservatives, will last for a week in a sealed container. It took 5 minutes.

Some people in the food and wine beverage industry think the best thing to go with spicy food would be a nice cold beer. you’re not wrong, but for my wine loving friends, I love wine with spicy food. We’re going to talk about some spicy food, and we’re going to talk to some wine.

A selection of Nova Scotia Tidal Bay Wines

One of my favourite wines to have is one of the many unique Tidal Bay wines offered by wineries here in Nova Scotia. Tidal Bay is an appellation blend Created by the wineries in Nova Scotia, as well as the Wine Association of Nova Scotia. Initially released in 2012, these wineries have to make a title page from 100% Nova Scotia growing grapes in a strict if standards that make for some beautifully made wine. I don’t have a favorite, but I will tell you, I’ve never had a bad one.

My spicy wines

My spicy wings, which I do in my air fryer, the sauce is simple. 1 part Frank’s Hot Sauce, 1/2 part maple syrup and 1/4 cup BBQ sauce. Delicious

I think my all-time favourite wine to have with spicy food is an icy cold Riesling. I don’t like full on sweet Riesling, but I do like a tinge of sweetness in my Riesling to take the edge off that spicy food.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling U.S.A.

I love this Kung Fu Girl Riesling from Washington State in the U.S.A. This is a dry Riesling with just a hint of sweetness. The wine was inspired by the winemaker enjoying Chinese food one evening, watching a movie. So he created Kung Fu Girl, and as he puts it ‘it’s been kicking ass ever since’. And it’s priced under $20 a bottle. Win-Win!

And now my Wine of the Week

The Cleaver

I can drink red with spicy food, and my favorite red grape to do that is Zinfandel. The Cleaver blend is 74% Zinfandel, 15% Syrah & 11% Petite Sirah. This is a super interesting red blend that not only goes with spicy food, you should try it with anything on the BBQ. The label says ‘It’s a Must for Meat’. It’s a $30 bottle of wine and worth every sip.

Stay safe

Well that’s it for me for this week. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Too Hot To Wine?

True Story

Here in Nova Scotia we have been having a relentless heat wave. My hat goes off to all my friends that love it, enjoy it while you can. Me? 38-degrees is a tad uncomfortable, and everyone knows my favorite season is Autumn. So, it being too hot to put the stove on, I did enjoy a glass while working the BBQ.

Enjoying a sip while working the Q

Did you know this heat wave is not good for your favorite wine? This is not the room temperature any wine should be served at. I always say wine, especially reds, should never see 25-degrees (77 F), as some people like their homes very warm. Anything warmer than that and your wine is in trouble. It will ‘cook’. Yes, that’s right. At that temperature your white and red wine will cook and taste a little nutty. Your reds, if it sees over 26-degrees Celsius, you run the risk of the cork coming out. So even if you are loving this hot weather, your wine is whining! Pardon the pun!

Pelee Island Pinot Noir

So what was in the glass next to my BBQ? A soft Pinot Noir Reserve from the Pelee Island Winery, which is located on Pelee Island in Lake Eerie, Ontario. Part of the Ontario VQA, which is the Vintner’s Quality Alliance, which ensures all grapes used in the wine are from Ontario, and a host of other quality requirements. As I have mentioned, in 2021, I am going to be part of a group that is heading to the Niagara region of Ontario for some wine tours, with Atlantic Tours, so you’ll see me trying more and more Ontario wines. I really want to get a taste for the region. This wine is a very soft Pinot Noir, with delicate flavors of cherry and vanilla, and it’s not oaky at all. A little too soft for BBQ meats, but a Pinot Noir can be served colder than some other reds, and I felt it was a good one to enjoy that evening. Pinot Noir can be served between 11 – 13 degrees Celsius, whereas your bigger, heavier reds, are between 16 – 18 degrees. No wine, no matter which color or which grape, should ever be served above 18-degrees Celsius. So if your home is warmer than that, put the wine in the fridge for a bit, no matter if it’s red or white.

Lola Rose

Pelee Island also makes a Blush Sparkling Rose wine that we can get here in Nova Scotia. I can’t wait to try it, because it’s a strawberry frizzante wine which would be super refreshing. The Pinot Noir was just $16.99 a bottle here, and this Rose is $18.99 here. Picture yourself on your patio with a charcuterie board and a glass of this chilled sparkler. Perfection.

This made me laugh

You know when you enter the websites of some wineries, they make you put in your birth date to verify you are of age. I was doing this recently and they had one of those rolling birth years. And it felt just like I was spinning the big wheel on the Price is Right or Wheel of Fortune. Then I saw this meme, and I laughed out loud, and thought I would share it.

And now for my wine of the week… It’s actually 2 wines, a white and a red!

Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon
Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc

I love the fact I have friends that are as adventurous as I am when it comes to trying new wines. And if you’re going to be adventurous, Chile is a great place to start. Chile is putting out some amazing wines at fantastic price points. So my friend Angie bought the Santa Carolina Cabernet wine to my place and if you’re looking for a great BBQ wine, look no further. And at less than $14 a bottle, you can BBQ and enjoy this wine 7 nights a week. The Santa Carolina Sauvignon Blanc is also under $14 a bottle and I’ve had this wine many times. Both wines made the wine of the week because they are exceptional value wines, and taste very delicious. The red is full-bodied and fruit forward, and the white is crisp and vibrant. If you’re doing grilled fish on the BBQ, this Sauvignon Blanc would hit the spot.

Smile, it’s Saturday

Thank you for reading my weekly wine blog and sharing it with your friends, I really appreciate it. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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5 Months In

My favororite pour

Would you believe this coming Thursday, August 13th will mark 5 months since I’ve worked in my office. My friends know the story. When we got the email on Sunday March 15th to come in the next day and get our computers and other work things, I said to everyone “See you in 2 weeks”. True story. Never in a million years did I imagine the global scale of this pandemic, and the effect it would have on every one. But here we are, I’m very grateful to have a job that I love very much and we are making it work. It was tough at first, getting used to working from home, but now I’ve gotten in a groove, and I’m enjoying it. But enough pandemic talk….

Let’s talk some wine…. and food!! My two favorite things from all this.

Rhone To The Bone

I had a couple of friends in for dinner last Saturday night and this was how we started the evening. We are still in the middle of our heat wave, so I opened this new Rose wine, and all I can say is ‘Wow!’. This Rose wine is (you guessed it) from the Cote du Rhone region of France and is a blend of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. Two full bodied, high alcohol content grapes, Grenache is used in making Chateauneuf du Pape and this particular Rose wine has some impressive people behind it. In house oenologist Pierre Viellescazes (I won’t even try to pronounce that name) and Vallee du Rhone specialist Phillipe Cambie, who was named ‘Best Oenologist of 2010’ by Robert Parker, together, they have made a specitacular rose wine. An Oenologist is an expert in the field of viticulture, which is grape-growing and the fields, and wine-making. Gorgeous citrus and watermelon flavors and priced under $18, this almost made my wine of the week. A great compliment if you are serving up a charcuterie board or as an evening kick-starter.

Last night’s dinner

Last night I made my first ‘one pot’ pasta dish, ever. And it turned out delicious. I have always boiled the pasta in a separate pot in salted water. This recipe called for cooking the pasta in broth, right in the sauce. OMG! This is my new favorite way to cook pasta, right in the sauce. I had some spinach in my refrigerator that was going to go bad soon, so I made a chicken and spinach penne pasta. The recipe is here. The only addition I made, I added some bacon. A creamy chicken pasta loves bacon! And as you can see from the picture above, the wine I had with it, is my Wine of the Week.

Canyon Road Cabernet Sauvignon

You know how I love finding good deals. Well, this one may have taken the cake… and the pasta… and what else did I have with it, oh yes, ribs. My friend Angie bought this down last week and I really enjoyed it. So I bought a couple more, after all, this wine is only $10.99 a bottle. That is very unusual here in Nova Scotia, to pay under $11 for a California Cabernet. And it was good. So good that I went out and bought several more and enjoyed it with a wide variety of dishes this past week. Hailing from California’s Alexander Valley, this wine is a delicious easy to drink Cabernet Sauvignon. Not overly oaky, this wine has been given 4 out of 5 stars by many wine reviewers. For $11 a bottle, you have to give this a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Enjoying Summer

Well, that’s it for me for this week. Till next week, Enjoy the Summer, Cheers

Darlene

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Heat Wave Favorites

Wine Tip of the Day

We are in the middle of a heat wave here in Halifax, where the humidex actually hit 40-degrees one day last week. I’m not a fan of hot humid weather, I’m counting down the days until Autumn. Sorry Summer lovers, I’m into cooler temperatures, pretty leaves, comfort food and being able to enjoy a glass of wine at a decent temperature. However, there are some wine varieties that make this heat wave more bearable. Let’s talk some wine. And some food!

Learning how to make pizza dough from scratch

Do you know what I did last Saturday night? A group of friends got together and we learned how to make pizza from scratch, including the pizza dough. Taught by Fred, pictured with me, and photo-bombed by Dave, the best sous chef in the world, together we made 3 hearty pizzas and 1 dessert pizza. They featured prosciutto, tomatoes, fresh basil, mozzarella, pepperoni, balsamic glazes, just to name a few ingredients. I mean, we went all out!

Pondsview Pinot Grigio

Fred’s wife, my good friend Arla, bought a Canadian Pinot Grigio to the party, which I had the opportunity to try. It was a Pinot Grigio from Canadian Winery Pondsview, located in the Niagara region. I am planning a trip with Richard Arnold and Atlantic Tours in June of 2021 to the Niagara Wine region, so it was great to try one I had never had before. This was a delicious light and crisp Pinot Grigio with lovely citrus flavors. Perfect for a hot Summer evening, served nice and cold.

Fresh Basil

Did I mention there were fresh herbs. My friend Joan grew all the herbs we used last Saturday night in making the pizza. However, this pandemic has inspired me to branch out and try a few new things. My basil is coming along nicely and this past week I added parsley to my list of herbs I’m trying to grow. Wish me luck, there are no green thumbs on either of my hand. Another thing I’ve discovered are puzzles. This was #8 for me since the pandemic started.

My latest puzzle
The Puzzle that started it all
Much more fun with a glass of wine

And last but not least, I have continued my love of cooking and watching cooking shows on the Food Network. This past week has been Grilling Week on the Food Network, so I’ve been recording a lot of the shows. One of the shows I recorded was the Grill Master Napa. This was recorded at Beringer Wine Estate in the Napa Valley and featured 16 grilling chefs competing for $50,000. When they would finish, all the chefs would toast with a glass of red wine. And what a thrill it was to go to my friend Angie’s place, and she had the wine there.

Beringer Founder’s Estate Cabernet

The Beringer Founder’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine I would definitely have again. Made with grapes grown in Lodi California, as well as the California Delta, these two regions have ideal climates for ripening Cabernet Sauvignon. So you get a juicy red wine with lots of body that is a perfect compliment to any grill master. I loved it, and it’s only $20 a bottle here. If there was a perfect Summer time red, this would be it.

I love good food, great friends and wonderful get-togethers. It’s a long weekend for many provinces here in Canada, I hope you enjoy it safely.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Birthday Shenanigans!

This past week, I celebrated my birthday! Some friends came down and surprised me, and we drank some wine…. Actually we drank a lot of wine! LOL One of the bottles I opened was a special gift given to me by a good friend for Christmas in 2013. He passed away suddenly three years ago and I’ve been waiting for a special occasion to open this bottle. Since this was my first birthday since my dad passed away, and I was hoping he and Ron were having a cold beer somewhere, I decided to open and enjoy the special bottle of wine with a couple of special friends.

My friend always wrote the year he bought the wine
2006 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon

The wine I opened was a 2006 Étude Cabernet Sauvignon from California. As you can see, every time he gave me a bottle of wine, he signed the bottle. I’ve done some research on this particular bottle of wine, and found some interesting information. Etude was started in 1982 by Tony Soter, and although he was never formally trained as a winemaker, he was sole winemaker until he sold in 2000. Although Tony stayed on for an additional 7 years in a consultant role, Jon Priest became the winemaker at Étude, and he is making widely-acclaimed wine. He says, in 2006, ideal weather conditions and low yield made for a great well structured Cabernet Sauvignon. It was very good but it comes with a heft price tag of $90.

MJ Mas Janeil Le Petite Pas
Syrah, Grenache, Carignan & Mourvedre

Another bottle we opened birthday night was this wine, I had never tried before. Both ladies who came to visit for my birthday like really full-bodied heavy wines. And I’ll be honest, I really thought this wine was going to deliver that. Syrah (Shiraz) is a thick-skinned grape which normally is very dark in color, and heavy. However, this blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvedre was medium-bodied, light and fruity. After some research I found they used carbonic maceration as a way to ferment the grapes. This is the same process they use for Beaujolais, which means it releases very little tannins and gives wine a very fruity, light feel. It was very tasty and it’s on sale right now, less than $17. But if you’re looking for a light, easy to drink wine, this is the wine for you. It’s a great wine for charcuterie boards and even pork tenderloin.

And now for my wine of the week…

Ava Grace Rose

Last week, my wine of the week was the Ava Grace Merlot, a wine I discovered while being in Newfoundland. This week, I discovered its sister wine, and it hails from California, but is sold right here in Nova Scotia. This Rose wine was given 93 Points in the Ultimate Wine Challenge and it’s less than $20 a bottle. It’s fresh, crisp and delicate with beautiful apricot flavors the wine and has a wonderful palate.

Summer sipping on the patio

That’s it for me for this week. Thanks for reading. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Under $20

You can buy great wine for under $20

I wanted to let everyone know why I was away for 3 weeks. My Dad passed away in the early morning hours of Saturday July 4th. I took a couple of weeks off and spent those weeks with family. He was almost 90 years old and lived a great life We are very grateful he wasn’t suffering for long. Now I’m back. And on a mission!

Covid-19 has affected the finances of many households, including mine. So now, more than ever, people are looking for great wines at an affordable price tag. So I’m dedicating this wine blog for great wines under $20.

Let’s start with Pinot Grigio. Always a great value, and so many great options to choose from.

Bodacious Pinot Grigio

When many people think Pinot Grigio, they think Italian. You can find many great Italian and Sicilian Pinot Grigio wines. But I’m going off the beaten track today and I’m going to share a great little cost-efficient wine from Canada. The Bodacious wine is made by Arterra wines, which have been in business since 1874. This delicious refreshing wine with its tropical and citrus flavors sells for only $12.99 here in Nova Scotia, and even less in other parts of Canada.

Murta is from Portugal

I also want to share another great value white wine, this time the wine hails from Portugal. Murta is made from a grape you’ve probably never heard of, Arinto, or also known as Arinto de Buccelas or Pederna in other parts of Portugal. Native to Portugal, the grape is known for its apple, lemon and other citrus flavors. If you’re feeling adventurous give it a try, it comes in at around $17 and is a very good wine.

One of my favorite wine memes
Farmers of Wine

Back in 2016 this wine made my Top 10 of the year, for a couple of reasons. One, it was very good wine and two, I loved the story. It’s also a great price point. It comes with a very interesting story on why and how it came to be. In an industrialized world where family farming is disappearing, Farmers of Wine is a visionary project by men who have been growing grapes for years, to focus on local farming, family viticulture and wines with a local identity. And it’s fully organic. It’s a delicious blend of 50% Primitivo (Zinfandel) and 50% Negroarmaro, a grape that is native to Southern Italy. It’s plush and rich, perfect for a meal done on the barbecue, and at just $16.99 a bottle, you don’t feel guilty opening more than one.

And now for my wine of the week…

A delicious new discovery!

Ava Grace Vineyards out of California is inspired by the beauty of nature. It’s all about passion and living your best life and their mission is to make wines for those that know the journey is more important than the destination. I discovered this beauty at the NLC, (Newfoundland Liquor Corp.) and at $17 a bottle, earns my wine of the week. I made a new pasta recipe, and although I forgot to take a picture, I will definitely be making it again, and I will share it. Delicious, and it went heavenly with this wine. I tried this and immediately went back and bought 2 more. It’s rich with flavor, and such a good deal at just $17 a bottle. Sadly, I don’t think we can buy it in Nova Scotia, but you can get it pretty well everywhere else in Canada, so our loss. The bottle is very pretty and the wine is very good.

Me, when someone asks why I have so many empties

That’s it for me for this week. A big shout-out to everyone who takes the time to read my wine blog. Thank you, and I hope you all have a spectacular Summer.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Summer Wine Time

10 Summer Wines Perfect for the Season
Summer is here

Nothing says Summer quite like the Canada Day holiday here in Canada and the 4th of July for our neighbours in the U.S. And as many parts of Canada and the U.S. are experiencing extremely high temperatures, there is a wine for that.

When I think the hot days of Summer, I think Rose. And I can’t remember if I discovered this particular one last Summer or the Summer before.

Arrogant Frog Rose

One of the great things about Rose wine, other than the taste, is that it doesn’t have to break the bank. This beautiful fresh Arrogant Frog Rose is just $15.99 a bottle here. From France, this Rose is made from the Syrah grape (think Shiraz), but of course limited contact with the skins. Harvested at night to avoid increased sugar levels, this wonderful wine is perfect for the patio or that Summer picnic.

Me too!

Between wild weather throughout much of Canada this Spring, (it snowed in Halifax May 13th) and Covid-19, people are ready to get out and enjoy Summer. Safely of course!

I’m also going to share a couple of beverages I love in the Summer that isn’t wine.

Sandpiper Pomegranate - We Can So You Can Take It Outside - Hike ...

Locally made in Nova Scotia, I love these refreshing Vodka soda coolers. Fun to drink with no added sugar, these are not the sweet coolers of past years. The top one is made by local brewer Nine Locks and is the delicious Pomegranate and the bottom one is the Blue Lobster Lemon Lime by the Nova Scotia Spirit Company. Fabulous delicious drinks for Summer, that are only about 5% or 6% alcohol content, so you can have more than 1.

Back to the wine

Last year on my Canada Day blog I wrote about a great Canadian red wine from the See Ya Later Ranch. Check it out here.

See Ya Later Ranch Riesling

This year I want to tell you about the Riesling from that same vineyard. Located in the Okanagan Valley in beautiful British Columbia, the See Ya Later Ranch gets its name from how the owner, Major Hugh Fraser, signed off on all his letters. He didn’t want to say Good-bye, so he said ‘See Ya Later’. And a vineyard was born. The Riesling is a great wine for under $20 and is light and refreshing. Another great wine for sipping on the patio or served with your favorite meal. Riesling is actually one of my favorite white wines to pair with food. I love it.

And now for my wine of the week…..

Conviction Pinot Noir

I love an interesting label on a wine bottle, and since I’m very adventurous when it comes to trying new wine, I will admit I’m a bit of a sucker for a great label. I am in Newfoundland. My father is not well and I’m on Day 11 of self-isolating, before I help get my Mom ready to go into a home, and hopefully see my Dad come out of the hospital. So while I’m in Newfoundland, I sent my brother-in-law to the liquor store for me and ask him to get me a Pinot Noir. I loved what he bought home. The great news is you can also get this wine at the NSLC in Nova Scotia, but I had never tried it before. Another great wine from British Columbia, it’s vibrant and delicious and went great with the chicken kabobs I did that evening on the BBQ. A decent price as well, coming in at around the $26 mark.

The extreme heat is a little much for me

That’s it for me for this week. Stay cool. This past weekend in Newfoundland it was in the mid-30’s and that’s very unusual temperatures for June. Enjoy the weekend everyone.

Darlene

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I Miss Wine Tastings

You never know!

I am in Newfoundland. In self-isolation. My parents are quite elderly and I drove to Newfoundland Tuesday (18 hours including a ferry) and started self-isolating for 14 days in the basement apartment in my sisters home. It’s given me some time to think, and I was thinking this week I really miss doing wine tastings. As a Certified Sommelier, I get asked a lot to do at home wine tastings for people. I go to their homes, or to the Common room of their apartment building, and I guide people through a wine tasting. I did one in January and one in February this year, and that was it. Normally March, April & May are quite busy with wine tastings, but then Coronavirus happened.

My favorite part is meeting new people and getting them to enjoy new wines. We all know wine is expensive, especially here in Canada, so we don’t want to waste it. Some people tend to buy the same wine over and over, and a wine tasting is a chance for people to step outside their comfort zones and try some new wines.

Here are some of my favorites from previous wine tastings.

It’s always a great time when friends gather
Image result for villa de conchi cava
Villa Conchi Brut

I always bring a sparkling wine to a wine tasting for two reasons. 1. Many people think all sparkling wines are sweet, ie Baby Duck or Reunite. Sparkling wine has come such a long way since those days. You can now buy Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava at a fraction of the price of a ‘Champagne’ and get a great quality dry sparkling wine. One of my favorites to bring to a wine tasting is the Villa di Conchi Spanish Cava. Such a pretty bottle, such a great price. Just $19 for this sparkling wine that is made in same method as Champagne from France. A perfect way to welcome a guest, it made my Top 10 Wines of 2018. Hint: This is on sale in Nova Scotia right now for $17 a bottle, run out and buy more than 1.

There’s always a wide variety
Elouan Pinot Noir

Another wine I love bringing to wine tastings because of the misconceptions around it, is a good Pinot Noir. And we all know Oregon state, sandwiched between California to its South and Washington State to its North, is making spectacular Pinot Noir wines. I have bought them in all price ranges, but this is a fan favorite. The Elouan Pinot Noir is not the most expensive Pinot, just $33 a bottle, but it’s one of the tastiest. Many people tend to think Pinot is ‘wimpy’, I’ve been told that a dozen times. Because the skin of the grape is so thin, it doesn’t have the dark color of a Merlot or a Cabernet, but it packs a ton of full-bodied flavor. And so food friendly. I love Pinot Noir.

Botter Primitivo is Organic

Last but not least, I always love bringing a surprise wine. A wine that is such a good value, to drive home the point good wine does not have to be expensive. Primitivo, which is the same grape as Zinfandel in Italy, is another grape that can be a little higher priced. Not this Botter Primitivo. It’s under $15 a bottle and with Summer here, it’s the perfect BBQ wine. By the way, it was 33-degrees in Halifax yesterday, a heat wave. Here on the West Coast of Newfoundland, it was 10-degrees.

This was taken at 12 Noon
25+ Best Wine Tasting Memes | the Memes, Finish Memes, When Memes

Well that’s it for this week. Cheers

Darlene

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How Coronavirus has changed The Wine Industry

The new normal

At the beginning of every year since I started writing wine blogs, I do a blog on upcoming trends in the wine industry. You can read my January 2020 wine blog here. This past January I predicted Italian wines would continue to do well, Rose Prosecco was coming, and we could see a price increase in European wines. Never in a million years would I have predicted a global pandemic that saw wine tastings and social events come to a complete halt, and the sale of wine surpass those at Christmas time.

Who could have predicted a toilet paper shortage

We have witnessed the obliteration of public wine tastings and on-premise wine drinking of any kind. Wine industry experts expect this at-home wine drinking to continue. Even as the world starts to open up, people are still hesitant to eat out, and heaven knows when the next public wine tasting will be. Even as we start to open up, older adults especially are continuing their attention to catching an infection, and continuing to dine at home. Experts are saying the retail sale of wine will continue to be strong for a while yet.

My new mask

Next to toilet paper and hand sanitizer, the best selling product across Canada during the Coronavirus pandemic, was booze. There has been an unprecedented demand, and the industry has adjusted, with curbside pick-up and home delivery on the rise. Where as companies have seen lost sales from cancelled events, the retail sector has done just fine. Here in Nova Scotia, on the Eastern Coast of Canada, the NSLC reported the sale of alcohol increased by 14.4% in March alone, and we were only in lockdown for 2 weeks that month.

Ok, let’s talk some wine.

Another wonderful Italian Pinot Grigio, this time from the mountainous northern region of Italy. Given a ‘Best Buy’ designation from Wine Enthusiast and the #1 Italian wine sold in America, you can’t go wrong this crisp Pinot Grigio with its gorgeous citrus and green apple flavors. Here in Nova Scotia, it’s just $14.95 a bottle.

And now for my wine of the week…

Cavit Red Blend

It’s the sister wine to the Pinot Grigio, Cavit Red Blend. Another award winner, and a 92 Point Wine that is under $15, because this wine is also $14.95 a bottle. It’s a very interesting blend of 40% Teroldego, 35% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah.  Teroldego is a deeply colored red wine grape variety grown mostly in the Trentino wine region of northern Italy where it is the main dark-skinned variety. Combined with the traditional grape varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, this is a winner.

That’s it for me for this week, till next week Cheers

Darlene

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Merlot is Back!

After the movie Sideways won an Academy Award for best Adapted Screenplay, Pinot Noir became a shining star in the wine world, and has stayed there. It is a mainstay in the California wine world, and winemakers attribute the film, calling it ‘The Sideways Effect’.

Doctor’s orders

Another grape didn’t fare as well, one of my all time favorites, Merlot. After Paul Giamatti, playing Miles Raymond, issued the famous line ‘ “No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any f****** Merlot!”. for 5 years following the films release, Merlot sales dropped 2% each year while Pinot Noir sales rose 16% each year. That is ‘The Sideways Effect’.

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I love Merlot

But in a recent poll in the U.S. from YouGov, Merlot has become the #1 drinking red wine at 19%, inching out Cabernet Sauvignon at 18%. You can read that article here. My friends, Merlot is back!

Grenache, Syrah & Merlot makes a great blend

So let’s start the blog off with a Grenache, Syrah & Merlot blend that is so easy to drink and so affordable. Normally a GSM is Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Patisserie’s aim is to offer simple, approachable and well-made French wines that are fruitier in style and reminiscent of some of the most popular French cakes usually found in pâtisserie shops. This blend offers flavours of black cherries and spicy vanilla, similar to a Clafoutis (a traditional French flan like cherry cake). And here in Nova Scotia, it’s $18 a bottle. That’s what I call Win-Win!

Jacob’s Creek Moscato

A little bit of a surprise, the poll showed that Moscato is the #1 drinking white wine. I know Moscato has been on the rise in popularity, because I’m hearing more and more people say they love it. And you are going to love this Moscato from one of the leading winemakers in the Barossa Valley in Australia, Jacob’s Creek. This Moscato is only $14 a bottle here, so everyone can afford to try it. Moscato has a tinge of sweetness and is known for tropical fruit flavors. It’s delicous served chilled, and goes very well with appetizers and charcuterie boards. The light bubbly wine can really cut through the salt of meats and cheeses on a charcuterie board. It goes well with Thai food as well, like my homemade Chicken Pad Thai and Sweet Thai Chili wings. I assure you, I eat very well.

Homemade Chicken Pad Thai & Thai wings

And now for my wine of the week..

Steak with butter in cast iron
I normally like mine a little pinker

I did a steak last night for the first time in a long time. I will tell you, I do a mean steak in a cast iron frying pan. Simple and easy to remember, butter, salt & pepper are the only 3 ingredients. I melt a lot of butter in a pan, get it hot, and put in my steak. Last night I had two smaller pieces of thick beef tenderloin. Sear it on both sides, and then I put it in the oven for 12 minutes. I will be honest, it was a little too long, I like my steak a little pinker. But it was tasty, as I kept basting the steak with the melted butter. It was good. Very good. here’s the wine I had with it.

A good full-bodied Bordeaux. Bordeaux is a always a blend, and consists of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and another grape variety approved for the region. This blend is 40% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc. In a meeting of Wine Cellar Masters from Bordeaux during a blind tasting, this was one of the favorites picked. I had the 2018 vintage, which is still really new, but it wasn’t overly heavy. A great wine at a great price, under $17 a bottle.

That’s it for me for this week, till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Another Week of Wine & Food

Does anyone else feel they are getting used to the Quarantine lifestyle. I am happy restrictions are starting to lift, however, I do find it strange we can’t get my 85 and 90 year old parents into an old age home, but we can get them a tattoo! True story! As I’ve said in the past, unprecedented times.

I’ve gotten into somewhat of a comfortable routine here at home. It’s like for the first couple of weeks I didn’t know how to work from home. Now I have a groove going. I get up, shower, dress, put on coffee and sit down at my computer and get going. It’s very busy but I still like the freedom of being able to put on a load of wash in between calls, emails and Zoom meetings. And if I had to be honest, I’m not missing the commute.

And the fun continues with new recipes. Like Caprese chicken


Chicken done with Bocconcini cheese (you can use Mozzarella) and some Cheddar with sweet grape tomatoes and Basil

And crispy sweet and spicy wings done in my air fryer. The sauce is a mixture of Frank’s Hot Sauce, Maple Syrup, and a dash of Bulls Eye Sweet & Sticky BBQ sauce. Delicious.

And of course I’m always discovering new wines. I have a new white and a new red to share with you, but first the red.

Embrazen Red wine

I love the slogan on the website “Bold Wines Trailblazing Women”. They also make a Chardonnay which features Celia Cruz on the label, the most successful Latin artist, and a Cabernet Sauvignon that features Journalist & Explorer Nellie Bly. Then there is this red blend which features Josephine Baker, Entertainer & Undercover spy. There’s a movie that dates back to 1991 called The Josephine Baker Story starring Lynn Whitfield and Lou Gossett Jr, and it’s fabulous. Watch the trailer here. This wine is a blend of mostly Merlot & some Syrah and it is full-bodied and rich with a hint of mocha on the tongue. Delicious, and $10 off right now here in Nova Scotia. Normally, $26.98 it is on for $16.98. I bought several more since tasting it.

And now for my wine of the week…

Alluria Pinot Grigio

My wine of the week is a fantastic white wine. My friend Arla and I have the same taste in Pinot Grigio, we like them clean, crisp and with a hint of tropical notes. Arla & her husband are in my bubble and we shared a lot of wine last Saturday night, and this was one of them. Fantastic. And it’s under $14 a bottle.

Well, that’s it for this week. Enjoy the week, and till next weekend, Cheers

Darlene

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Great Women Wine Writers

Are Wine Blogs Considered the Ugly Stepsister of Wine Writing ...

I really appreciate everyone that reads by wine blogs every week. I’ve been doing this for over 9 years, and I love it. I started doing this when I just couldn’t read enough about wine, and wanted to share some basics. Then I took my readers along on my journey to become a Sommelier. Every once in a while I get a bit of writer’s block. And this is one of those weeks. So, I was reading a wine blog this past week, from one of my favorite wine writers. Her blog is called ‘The Wine Folly’ and I was thinking there are so many fantastic women writing wine blogs, that I thought I would share some of my favorites with you. So this blog is about some of my favorite wine writers, and of course there will be my Wine of the Week!

The Wine Folly

Wine Folly: Reading a Wine Label (Ep. 4) - YouTube

This is Madeline Puckett and she is one of the co-founders of The Wine Folly. She is such a knowledgeable woman when it comes to wine, who has a great easy-to-read style of blogging about wine. She is a certified Sommelier with the Court of Masters Sommelier and author of the New York Times Bestselling book: Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine. 

Natalie MacLean

CBC.ca | Mainstreet Cape Breton | Wine on a budgetNatalie MacLean

Probably the best known wine writer in Canada would be Natalie MacLean out of Ottawa. She is a writer and wine reviewer. You’ve probably seen her on CTV Mornings on television. She also wrote a couple of great books including ‘UnQuenchable’ and my favorite Red, White and Drunk All Over.

Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape ...

Andrea Robinson

Andrea Robinson | Penguin Random House

The first time I ever saw a woman Sommelier was this lady. It was on a cooking show with Emeril Lagasse, and I thought she had the coolest job in the world. She is a world-renown Master Sommelier, which is the highest and most prestigious title awarded to Sommeliers around the world. There are only 269 Master Sommeliers in the world, only 28 of them are women. I mean ‘Wow!’ She has also been named the best Sommelier in the United States. This lady knows her stuff.

Jancis Robinson

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Probably one of the most famous wine writers in the world is this lady, Jancis Robinson. She is a British wine critic, journalist and wine writer, who started her career in 1975, which I can only guess was very male dominated at the time. Decanter Wine Magazine has called her the most respected wine critic and journalist in the world.

So, there you have some of the people I go to, when reading about wine.

And now, my Wine of the Week..

I had this beauty last night, and this Cabernet Franc from Argentina, which sells for under $18, tastes like a $30 bottle of wine. It is 100% Cabernet Franc, which in the past has been known as one of the grapes in a Bordeaux blend. Cabernet Franc, or Cab Franc as it is usually called, is not quite as a heavy as a Cabernet Sauvignon, but it is still full-bodied. It is, after all, a relative of Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a delicous wine that would pair very well with any meat dish.

KEEP CALM Good News Is Coming!! - Keep Calm and Posters Generator ...

As the world starts to open up, stay safe and keep well. We will get through this difficult time together.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Wining (I mean Working) From Home

Welcome Letter 2019-2020 – Canadian International School of Egypt

First, welcome to all the new readers.  I really appreciate every one who takes time out of their day to read my wine blogs.  It’s something I started doing about 9 years ago, and somehow it became a weekly event.  It’s around the same time I started my studies to become a Certified Sommelier.  I thought it would be a good idea to chart my course.  Sometimes I get writer’s block, and sometimes the words just flow.  I’m just a girl from Newfoundland who lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada that loves wine and food.  I saw a big spike last week in visitors, and I have to be honest, my heart swells.  I really appreciate people who enjoy this blog enough to share it with their family and friends.  So thank you.  Here’s this week’s ramblings!

Zoom meeting 1

Every week I do a handful of Zoom meetings, and in recent blogs have posted pictures of me and some of my colleagues, with their permission of course.  When I saw this I chuckled, because anyone who has been on a Zoom conference call is reminded of this scene from the Muppets.

Let’s talk some wine… and maybe some food.

I just finished my 9th week working from home.  For those of you don’t know, I am an Advertising Salesperson with 2 Radio stations here in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

working from home

I thought that was a cute meme to feature in my blog this week.  Let’s talk some wine.

I am a huge fan of Riesling.  I had Thai food recently and was disappointed that I didn’t have a bottle of Riesling in my wine rack.  I need to fix that.  Riesling does not have to be sweet.  As a matter of fact, this one, from Trius, is called Riesling Dry.  A great Canadian wine, priced at just $15.99 here in Nova Scotia, it’s light and crisp and has beautiful tropical flavors.  A great wine for all the white wine lovers to try, and it won’t break the bank.

Bourbon chicken

So the new recipe this week is Bourbon chicken, but without Bourbon.  Actually, if you look at some recipes on the internet for Bourbon chicken, not all of them contain bourbon.  I didn’t have any bourbon in the house, so I used a little rum.  Made this in the slow cooker, and it was so good. You don’t have to use a slow cooker, but it was a busy week work-wise for me, so the slow cooker made it super convenient.

I cut up boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs into bite size pieces.  Poured in the sauce which was 1) orange juice (many recipes call for apple juice, I didn’t have any, so I used orange juice)  2) soy sauce 3)olive oil 4) red wine vinegar 5) ketchup 6) garlic 7) a splash of rum 8) a cornstarch slue (equal parts cornstarch and water to thicken the sauce).  Put it over rice and voila, delicious meal.  

Here’s a great wine to go with that Bourbon Chicken, and it’s my wine of the week.

Anciano Garnacha

For the new readers, my wine blog does talk about ‘treat’ wines but for the most part, it’s a wine blog about find good wine at great prices.   Good wine does not have to be expensive.  And every week, I feature a new wine that I’ve discovered that fits those perimeters.  This week, the Anciano Garnacha (Spanish for Grenache, the same grape used in making Chateauneuf du Pape) is my wine of the week.  On sale right now for $13.99 and its a steal of a deal.  Regular readers know the Anciano Tempranillo aged 7 years, priced at $15 is a staple in my wine rack, well I may have to pick up a few more of these.  What a great wine at a great price.  The grapes are picked at the point of perfect ripeness, which means there is nothing bitter about this wine.  Easy to drink and food friendly, for under $14.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

Starbucks

A shout out to all the people who work at the Starbucks on my street in Halifax, Larry Uteck.  I was a regular and stopped in every day for a coffee, and chatting with the people who work there, you get to know and love them.  Well, since working from home has started, I’ve been making my coffee at home.  But yesterday I had some errands to run, so I grabbed a coffee, and this was the wonderful note that was on my coffee.  I’m so blessed to have many kind wonderful people in my life.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

 

 

 

 

 

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Wining During A Pandemic

Your pandemic alcohol bill is how much? I'm not even mad, I'm ...

Here in Nova Scotia Canada, we just completed eight weeks of working from home, and I’m reading news reports of alcohol and wine sales being on the rise.  No surprise there.  Hopefully, like me, you’ve had a chance to discover some new wines during this interesting time.

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Following proper protocols and sitting 6-feet apart, I shared a glass of wine with my friend Arla.  This is a wine she bought back from the States.  A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about its sister wine, the Stemmari Grillo.

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This past Sunday I got to try the crisp and delicious Pinot Grigio, sustainably-made in Sicily Italy.  A lot of work goes in to making this wine, including the fact the grapes are picked at night during the month of August, to maintain its fragrance.  It’s hard to believe this wine sells for $8 in the U.S.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we pay way too much for wine here in Canada.  If you can get this wine where you live, I highly recommend it.  I loved it.

As you know, I’ve been trying out some  new recipes while in isolation.  This chicken breast was a winner that I will do again in a heartbeat.  Boneless skinless chicken breasts can be dull and boring, but here’s what I did.  Stuffed it with feta cheese and bacon, and then I put butter in my small cast iron frying pan and browned it on all sides.  Then I added a bit of orange juice to the pan and let it finish cooking in the oven.  Delicious.  Easy and tasty.

And now for my wine of the week…

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I’ve been writing this wine blog for about 9 years, and if you’ve been reading it that long, this wine might look familiar.  Years ago I fell in love with this Merlot from Candor, so imagine my delight when I noticed it was back and $5 off.  Regular $25.00, it was on for $20 and what a steal of a deal.  Candor means ‘the art of being open and honest in expression’, and I loved how Hope Wines, the makers of Candor wines, express this Merlot.  You’ll notice in the left hand corner, you can see the words ‘Lot 3’.  Instead of doing a yearly vintage, they are able to bring quality wines to the table with Lot numbers, that represent whatever ‘years’ the grapes were harvested.  For example, Lot 3 Merlot is known to have grapes from a 2008 and a 2009 vintage.  It’s smooth, delicious and a great price.  This went beautiful with the pizza I had last night.

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Another Zoom conference call to wrap up the week.  Stay safe everyone, till next week, Cheers

Darlene