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You Gotta Love a Long Weekend

Who doesn’t love a long weekend? A day late, but I hope everyone had a wonderful Canada Day yesterday.

This is the 155th year that we celebrate Canada Day, which honors the anniversary of Confederation, when Canada became a country separate from the British Empire.   It was known as Dominion Day until 1982, which is why my home province of Newfoundland had a beer called Dominion Ale. And it wouldn’t be from Newfoundland without a picture of a moose on the bottle.

Dominion Ale

But today we are here to talk about wine!   Are you grilling this Canada Day?  It was a beautiful day here yesterday in Halifax so I fired up the grill last night. Did some ribs which I’m going to finish this evening. My favorite wine to go with ribs? Regular readers know what a huge fan I am of Zinfandel with ribs. Whether it’s a 100% Zinfandel, or Zinfandel is part of the blend, I’m a fan.

Cline Ancient Vine

Cline makes a beautiful smooth Zinfandel. Natalie Maclean, Canada’s most prolific wine writer, gave this wine 92 Points. From Contra Costa County close to the San Francisco Bay area, this rich wine has notes of plum and black pepper, which makes it perfect for anything on the grill.

Robert Mondavi said it best “Wine, Food & Art – incorporating these three things will enhance your life”.  No wonder he was a legend.

Robert Mondavi

Here’s my recipe for BBQ ribs.

  • Take the membrane off the back of the ribs. It adds nothing to the ribs.
  • I like to marinate my ribs. Brown Sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, liquid smoke, hot sauce, and some BBQ sauce.
  • I also slow cook them first in a 275-degree oven for 2 – 3 hours.
  • Then I finish them on the grill, adding more BBQ sauce. I like Bulls Eye Sweet & Sticky.
  • They are fall off the bone delicious.

For my white wine drinking friends, a good hearty white wine goes great grilled food, like this one from Trinity Oaks.

With flavors of apple and pears, and delicately used oak, this is a great Chardonnay.

That’s it for me for today. Have a wonderful and safe long weekend.

Sorry, not sorry, Kale

Darlene

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A France Reunion

Last Saturday night, the group of us who went to France, plus some other friends, got together for a wine tasting.

The Gang

We sure did miss Ed & Juanita, who live in PEI and wasn’t able to make it over. But we had a fabulous evening of amazing food and some good wine. First of all, I have to say Wow at the food we had that night. Cathy put out an unbelievable spread. Appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, and a charcuterie board that would put a professional chef to shame.

A work of art

It was a wonderful night of stories and some good laughs. We featured some great white wines.

Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc

From the Marlborough region of New Zealand, Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc is a family owned winery and Peter Jackson is the head winemaker. Gorgeous structure and bright acidity, Richard guessed the grape immediately because of it’s tropical fruit notes on the nose. If you are a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, like I am, this one is definitely worth trying.

Centerstone Chardonnay

I’ve bought Chardonnay to wine tastings from all over the world. One of the things many people don’t like about Chardonnay is how oaky it is. Well, this one from the Willamette Valley in Oregon is unoaked and very tasty. Apple and pineapple flavors shine, and is not over-powered by any oak.

We also had a Rose, one of my favorites, Gerard Bertrand Rose. I’ve written about this one before. I love this rose wine.

We also had a local Nova Scotia wine, Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay.

Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay

Representing the terroir of Nova Scotia, this crisp wine was perfect with the charcuterie board, but ultimately was designed for seafood.

You know it is impossible for me to write a wine blog without featuring a red. And what a red wine I have to feature.

Bear with me while I tell you a short story. On Tuesday, it was my friend Angie’s birthday. We were getting together Wednesday to have a sip, I bought this special bottle of wine to celebrate my friend’s birthday. But when I got there, she had another one opened. So I never got to try it that night. Last night, I went downstairs to our Common Room for Happy Hour, and one of the ladies had bought this bottle of wine and offered me a glass. Wow! I have had the J. Lohr Merlot, the Red Blend, the Zinfandel and now I’ve had the Cabernet Sauvignon. I love J Lohr wines and this Cabernet has been named one of the best Cabernet Sauvignon wines in the United States in 2021. Full-bodied and rich, this wine, perfect beef wine, is a treat bottle at $32 a bottle. But so worth it.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. One of our red wines was skunky last weekend, so we didn’t drink it. I’ll have some new wines for next weekend as well. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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A Weekend of Celebration

Well this is turning out to be a busy weekend of celebrations. First of all, it is Father’s Day weekend, so many people are celebrating. Today also happens to be my Brother-in-law’s birthday. Craig is one of my favorite people on the planet, so kind and so sweet. And he is so good to my Mom, so I hope you have a wonderful birthday Craig.

Jackie’s Husband Craig

Yesterday also saw the arrival of a friend I met last year, and a huge fan of this wine blog, that lives in Ottawa, Jeanne.

Jeanne & Judy

Jeanne has 2 sisters that live here in Halifax, so she is down visiting. And the get together was also an opportunity to celebrate one of my very good friends, who is having a birthday on Tuesday, June 21st.

Angie

I’ve never met anyone who loves to celebrate like my friend Angie. It was a wonderful night last night. Many many bottles of vino were consumed. And we had a spectacular meal hosted by our friends Sue and Larry in their beautiful home.

Sue & Larry

We sat around a table with fabulous food and great friends, and laughed and told stories. It’s my favorite kind of meal. I am getting to know new friends through Angie, like her son Mike and his partner Darlene. So I’m new to this group of wonderful people, and they call this Darlene ‘Dar’ too. My family and friends have been calling me Dar for years, so this will be fun. Any time someone calls out ‘Dar’, both of us will probably answer.

Angie’s son Michael & Darlene

Last week also saw my first attempt of making Coq au Vin. You might remember I had it on my recent trip to France for the very first time.

Coq au Vin in France

So I’ve been wanting to make it since I got back. And here’s an interesting note. The Coq au Vin I had in France was made with drumsticks, dark meat. I don’t normally eat dark meat chicken, but I loved it. So I used both chicken breast and drumsticks again in my slow cooker.

My Coq au Vin

I have to be honest, I preferred the dark meat in this dish. It is slow cooked for 7 hours, and the chicken falls off the bone. I had it with garlic cheesy mashed potatoes and it was heavenly. I not only shared some with the birthday girl, I also had enough for 2 meals. Chicken slow cooked with carrots, mushrooms, onions in a red wine sauce / broth. Very yummy.

My Sunday meal

I will definitely be making it again. And it was easy. I didn’t have any brandy in the house, I bet that adds a nice flavor. You’ll see some recipes add a splash of brandy, and I will probably try that next time. The recipe I used is here. I used Merlot instead of Cabernet, and some recipes call for Pinot Noir. I think any red will do.

Speaking of wine, let’s check out some wines.

Picpoul

If you are looking for a new refreshing white wine this Summer, check out Picpoul. Picpoul, also known as Folle Blanche, is a vibrant white wine that originates from the Rhone region in southern France. It’s a beautiful wine, and every time I bring it to a wine tasting, people love it. And it’s priced under $20, so it’s affordable. (I’m not bringing it tonight BTW)

ED267B66-7AC5-49B5-A840-FDCF795F864D
Kenwood Zinfandel

It’s BBQ season, and that brings out the Zinfandel. Kenwood from Sonoma County is a gorgeous deep and delicious red wine. Rich and flavorful, it goes with anything you put on the grill this Father’s Day weekend.

My Group in France

I have a wine tasting tonight with the people I went to France with, with some new wines I look forward to sharing next week.

Have a great weekend. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Wine Trivia

In my wine tastings I always include a little trivia. Fun facts about wine that most people find surprising and cute. Like did you know most people don’t know that authentic champagne uses both red and white grapes. The 3 grapes used are Chardonnay (white), Pinot Noir (red) and Pinot Meunier (also red). The color comes from the skins, so there is limited contact with the skins.

Do you know what the primary grape in Chianti Classico is? Or even just Chianti? Years ago before I studied wine, I’ll be honest, I thought Chianti was the grape varietal. But it’s a region in Tuscany Italy, where Sangiovese reigns dominant. I’ve heard people say they find Chianti dry, I think because the tannins in the Sangiovese grapes are so high. I really like the Super Tuscan wines, where Sangiovese is paired with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or other non-Italian grapes. Like this wine.

Monte Antico – 90 Points

I almost bought this again last evening. It’s a great Italian Super Tuscan wine. Made with Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s priced around the $20 mark. Another piece of trivia, Monte Antico means ‘ancient mountain’ and the husband & wife team of Neil & Maria Empson have put 40 years of passion and experience in this wine. Look for it in the Italian section of your closest liquor store.

I googled it, and discovered some mouthwash contains an alcohol level of anywhere between 14% and 26.9%.  Wine, unless it’s a port, on the higher end would be 14.5% for some reds while some white wines can contain as little as 6%.  Plus it’s no fun to swallow mouthwash and even less fun spitting wine.

Speaking of wines with a lower alcohol content, here’s a very popular one

Jacob’s Creek Moscato

Jacob’s Creek Moscato has an alcohol content of about 8%, and is affordably priced under $15. Remember, in the wine making process, yeast turns sugar to alcohol, so some low alcohol wines can be on the sweeter side, including this one.

I had the opportunity to visit the Napa Valley region in California in 2001, and I really really want to go back. It was amazing. I still love California wine and drink it on a regular basis. One winery I visited twice was Francis Ford Coppola’s winery, and here is a fantastic wine that my nephew gave me for Christmas this past year.

Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon

I’m sad we can’t get Director’s Cut wine here anymore. Both the Zinfandel and this Cabernet Sauvignon were spectacular. My nephew lives in Labrador City and got this in Fermont Quebec, which is about 25 minutes away. We are both going to be home in October, and I’m going to ask him to bring me another one. Another bit of wine trivia, upstairs at the tasting room of his winery, Francis Ford Coppola has a display with something from each movie he’s made. And he has one of his Oscar statuettes on display. Plus he grows olive trees and produces and sells his own olive oil.

That’s it for me for this week. Have a wonderful weekend, Cheers

Darlene

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Summer is Almost Here

Hello June. June can be a busy month for me. First day of Summer is in June. Also, some special Anniversaries in the month of June for my family.

Mom & Dad

Tomorrow, June 5th, would have marked Mom & Dad’s 64th wedding Anniversary. My Dad passed away in 2020, 3 months shy of his 90th birthday. My Mom is celebrating with a special dinner with my sister and her husband.

Jackie & Craig 35 years ago

Happy 35th Anniversary to one of my favorite couples on the planet. My sister Jackie, and her husband Craig celebrates 35 years of marriage tomorrow, June 5th .

Jackie & Craig more recently

These two people are two of the kindest, most giving people you could ever meet. When they got married Jackie was a nurse and Craig worked for Newfoundland Light & Power. Since then, they have built a very successful business, Simms Financia,l and they are always giving back to their family and to their community. Most of it anonymously. They are also some of the funniest people you’ll ever meet, and I can’t wait to see them in July, because I know it will mean a good side-stitching laugh. Happy Anniversary Jackie & Craig! I miss you both so much.

La Vielle Ferme White

On a warm sunny day, I love a nice white wine with tropical fruit flavors, reminds me of being down South. This wine fits the bill, and affordably priced under $16. It’s less than that in other parts of Canada, we tend to pay a little more for wine than in other parts of Canada. Still a great value.

Ribs in the air fryer

I’m having fun discovering new ways to use my air fryer. Most people I work with have one, and apparently hot dogs are awesome, done in the air fryer I haven’t had hot dogs yet, but last night I tried ribs for the first time, using the air fryer for the finishing touches. So, last night I had my favorite meal. Ribs and wings. I know it’s hard to believe, but I wasn’t in the mood to start the BBQ last night, so I tried a new way. I’m a bit of a rib purist, I’m very picky when it comes to ribs.

I slow cooked a small rack of baby back ribs in the oven, 250-degrees for two and a half hours. To crisp them up I put them in the air fryer. Came out great. 10 minutes on each side. It may have beat the BBQ for timing and convenience, but not in taste. After slow cooking my ribs for a while, I put them on bbq, top rack, and continue to slow cook them. And put them on the flame at the very last minute for the grill marks and crispy char bits. When it comes to ribs, nothing beats slow and low.

Here’s the wine I had with it.

Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon

I’ve written about the Kenwood Zindandel previously and last night I had the Cabernet Sauvignon. On clearance for about $19, it’s still under $25 regular priced. Making great wine from the Sonoma Valley in California since 1970. Sonoma is located in the perfect location, between the Pacific Ocean and the Mayacamas Mountains. In my opinion, the effects of both the ocean and the mountains, provide the perfect environment for wine grapes.

That’s it for me for this week

Have a great week.

Darlene

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More Great Wines Under $20

I had a bit of a scare this morning. When I first got up this morning, I decided to do a few housekeeping things before getting my first coffee. Then, when I was just about to get my first coffee of the day, when Bam! The power went out. Then I read a notice on my phone that my friend Cassandra sent me said it was going to be out all day. Well, there was almost no wine blog, as I had no internet for a while. But luckily it came on a short while later, just as I was getting dressed to go out for coffee. I wasn’t taking any chances, I made two. A quick Nespresso while my other coffee was brewing.

Last Friday night I went out to dinner with some friends, and they were surprised when I took an ice cube and put it in my red wine. They were shocked. I know regular readers of the blog know how I feel about ‘room temperature’, but I’ve added a lot of new readers recently, and I thought I would share it again.

The room temperature of wine is the temperature of the wine cellars where winemakers store the wine. This is usually 55-degrees Fahrenheit or 13 – 16-degrees Celsius. Some big bold reds can be served at 18-degrees Celsius. The lighter fruitier wines should be served a little cooler. When I was recently in France, I encouraged everyone I went with to touch the bottles of wine in the cellars we toured. Most were underground and the bottles were very cool to the touch. Wine was never meant to be served at 24-degrees Celsius. And wishing my friends Judy & Gary a very Happy 50th Anniversary.

I have always promoted this blog as being about great wine at affordable prices. Today, I’m going to focus on some wines that are under the $20 mark that you and your friends will love.

It’s Rose Season!

Here’s a great one from the Niagara region and to my Newfoundland friends and readers, you can get it there as well. The Lola Cabernet Franc rose from Pelee Island is priced under $20 and perfect for patio sipping.

To my white wine loving readers, here’s a new white. Last week I told you about the Burnt Ship Sauvignon Blanc, I’m still on that kick. Here’s a great value, the Canyon Road Sauvignon Blanc.

Priced at $12, you read that right, $12. They make a Chardonnay as well, but I love the Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and fresh with tropical fruit notes. Very good.

And last but not least, a new red I’ve tried that is under $20.

Malbec is not normally a go-to wine for me, but did I ever enjoy this Argentinian one from Gauchezco. To my friends in Newfoundland, it has a different label, but you can get this brand there. It looks like this

Priced in the $17 range, this rich deep Malbec is was perfect with my favorite meal.

BBQ baby back ribs, crispy wings, corn on the cob and rice.

Great wine doesn’t have to expensive. Be adventurous, you might be surprised, like I was with this wonderful Malbec.

That’s it for me for this week. Thank you for reading. And a big hello to our new readers over seas.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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I Love Long Weekends

Who doesn’t love a long weekend. Especially the May long weekend, it’s like the unofficial kick off to Summer.

Me 5 p.m. Yesterday

I’m sitting here, writing this blog, and I have my patio doors open and the sun is shining. Perfect. My apologies for no blog last weekend. After working all week, the Covid fatigue really got to me, and I just didn’t have it in me.

As you all know, the price of gas is over the top atrocious here in Canada. And the price is not changing once a week, sometimes it’s a couple of times per week. Well, I have the perfect picture my boss sent to me yesterday. So for this weekend, I’ll save gas and drink wine. It’s much cheaper and makes me feel better than gassing up my vehicle.

I pick wine

Remember the wine salt I told you about last week, the combination of wine and salt I bought in Bordeaux. Wishing I bought more!!

Wine salt combines sea salt, super-reduced wine, citrus zest and fresh herbs, adding a fruity tang and also making a great salt substitute for all sorts of things. I’ve been having fun using it on meats of all kinds. If you find it online, buy it and try it.

Yum
That’s mango chicken

I love it on pork chops, I also used it in the top picture in my au jus gravy for my mashed potatoes. It adds a really interesting taste and I’m kicking myself I didn’t buy more.

Ok, let’s talk some wine. With one of those meals above, this is the wine I had with it.

Burnt Ship Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite white wines, and this one from Canada was fantastic. My friend Arla gave me this last week and it was delicious with my pork chop and mango chicken. Now that Summer is almost here, I am definitely going to add more Sauvignon Blanc to my wine rack. It’s such a food friendly wine. It goes with just about everything. The Burnt Ship Sauvignon Blanc sells for about $19 here in Nova Scotia at the NSLC, and it’s a beautiful wine with notes of citrus and tropical fruit. I loved it.

And for the red wine this week, this is my wine of the week.

Leaping Horse

Before I went to France, I went down to a locally owned independent wine store in Halifax, and picked up this beauty. The Leaping Horse Cabernet Sauvignon is 80% Cabernet, 10% Cabernet Franc and 10% Syrah (Shiraz). What an interesting wine, and priced at just $19 a bottle. It’s made by Ironstone Vineyards in Lodi California, reflecting their love of horses. It was so good, I was sad I only bought one.

That’s it for me for this week. Enjoy your long weekend, stay safe.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Bordeaux Part 2 – My Journey Home

Last night was my first time in a week having a glass of wine!

I know right? Well, I arrived home from France last Thursday night and woke up Saturday morning with a headache, sore throat, cough and run down feeling. Booked a PCR test, and the next morning it confirmed what I already knew, I had Covid-19. Although France is in Level Alert 3, they don’t have mask mandates. There were only 63 passengers in total on the river cruise, and we wore masks everywhere, so I’m thinking it was the airport in Paris. Shoulder to shoulder and most people weren’t wearing masks.

So, I guess you could say I had lots of time to recuperate from the 23-hour journey home and boy did I sleep lots. I definitely feel 10,000 times better than I did earlier in the week, and after having wine for lunch and dinner for a full week, my body didn’t object from taking time off from the vino.

Chateau Lafitte Rothschild

I had a wonderful trip before hit by Covid. One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting to see the winery of Chateau Lafitte Rothschild. We didn’t get to go in, but check your local liquor store and check out the prices of the wine from this winery. Here in Nova Scotia they start at $1000 per bottle and go up from there.

Although most people think all Bordeaux wines are red, they do make some mighty fine white wines as well. The grapes are Sauvignon Blanc and/or Semillion or a blend of both.

Bordeaux Blanc

White wines in Bordeaux cannot be labelled to a specific regions or appellations, for example Saint Emilion or Margaux, or Pomerol. White wines in Bordeaux are labelled as Bordeaux, like the above Bordeaux Blanc.

Saint Emilion = luscious Merlot

We enjoyed some fantastic wine, and fantastic foo.

Amazing Food

But my favorite part of the entire trip, were the people I went with. I met some great new people and we had so much fun.

Mark & Janet
Ed & Juanita
Our last night
Richard & Cathy
Gary & I
Gerard & I
Cathy & I

I didn’t do a lot of shopping while there, I really soaked up the area and the culture and enjoyed time spent with these fun & fabulous people. I did however, buy one item very unique to the area.

Wine salt! It’s a real thing

Wine Salt

It came to by an accident. Salt was a very valuable commodity and a wine barrel tipped over and coated the salt. They couldn’t afford to throw away the salt and wine salt was born. It’s delicious on meats and vegggies. I had it on a steak and it was so flavorful.

So what was the wine I had last night?

Gran Passione Rosso

Gran Passione Rosso is an Italian blend made of Merlot and Corvina. It hails from the Veneto region around Venice and is priced at $20 a bottle here. Delicious, full-bided and fruity, it’s a great wine at a great price.

That’s it for me for this week. This is Day 8 and I’m feeling much better. Staying put for today. Stay safe everyone, and till next week, Cheers.

Darlene

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Bordeaux Part 1

Our fun & friendly group

Where do I start? I just got back from the trip of a lifetime. A River Cruise aboard the Ama Waterways ship Amadolce. The river cruise definitely made the experience, with the amazing staff and spectacular food and wine. But I can’t go any further without thanking Richard, Gary, Duane and the staff of Atlantic Tours & Travel. We ran into some difficulties getting over there, with a delay from the start in Halifax, but Richard made it all stress free for all the guests. I cannot say enough about Atlantic Tours. I am living proof that when it comes to their slogan of ‘Worry Free World Travel’, that they not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk. If you are thinking of travelling anywhere, I recommend you check out the website or give them a call.

Richard Arnold & my friend Cathy

If this lady looks familiar, it’s because I went to Italy with Cathy 5 years ago, and she was on this trip. I love travelling with Cathy, and she has the most courageous palate of anyone I’ve ever met. She inspires me to try new things. Thanks to Cathy, I tried Carpaccio for the first time, which is an Italian appetizer that has thinly sliced raw beef and herbs tomatoes.

Carpaccio

And Duck

And I finished both dishes. I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about all the wines I tried, as we can’t get them here. I did enjoy many reds

As well as white wine. I liked most, there were a couple that weren’t my favorite. But that’s to be expected.

France is gorgeous, and the city of Bordeaux is beautiful, day and night. I could do a full vacation in the city of Bordeaux.

France is beautiful
At the airport in Bordeaux

Now I’ll tell you about a wine we can get here.

Il Padrino Rosso

This was an easy to drink wine. It’s Il Padrino Rosso from Italy. Less than $20 per bottle, and if you can’t get this particular brand, try a different brand. Rosso is a red fruity wine from the village of Montalcino in Tuscany, the same village I stayed at when I visited Italy 5 years ago. They are Sangiovese based and sometimes can be blended with other grapes. Give one a try, it’s so food friendly.

That’s it for me for this week. It’s a bit short, still have some jet lag.

Till next week, Cheers

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Easter Wine Pairings

It’s not only Easter Weekend, this will be my last wine blog for a couple of weeks. In case you weren’t aware, on Wednesday, I am heading to Bordeaux France to taste some of the world’s finest wines. I’m doing a full tour of Bordeaux, which includes the regions Saint-Emilion, Bourg, Paulliac and Libourne, to name a few.

Now, I know this is a weekend of sweets. I am not a fan of sugary candy and wine, however, I did fine this wine pairing chart for you courageous few who would like to try.

A wine for every candy

So for my last blog in a couple of weeks, I have a great wine for you. I also did a stuffed pork tenderloin and had wings and asparagus. I know, not a meal medley that you’ll see on any menu, but I thought it was tasty. Different textures and flavors, some spicy, some savory, it worked.

Didn’t use the BBQ this time, I used a cast iron frying pan. And I have to admit, I think it’s my new favorite way to do pork tenderloin. Finishing it in the oven. Stuffed it, sealed it with toothpicks, seared on both sides in a hot pan, and put the entire pan in the oven. It took about 15 minutes.

What wine did I enjoy with this meal? I’m so happy you asked. I had a new wine, and it was out of this world delicious.

Three Thieves Cabernet Sauvignon

From the Monterey and Lodi regions of California, this medium to full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon didn’t disappoint. And it’s priced under $21. I loved every sip. The Three Thieves are 3 long time friends, winemakers Joel Gott, yes, this Joel Gott.

The group of 3 also includes Charles Bieler from the Bieler Family Wines, which has a really diverse portfolio, and I’ve enjoyed The Show Cabernet in the past.

The Show Cabernet Sauvignon

The 3rd member of the Three Thieves is Roger Scommegna, who has many titles in addition to winemaker.

These guys also make a Pinot Grigio, a Chardonnay, a Rose, a Pinot Noir and a Red Blend. I will be keeping my eye out for more of the Three Thieves line. Fantastic wines at great prices.

That’s it for me for this week. Happy Easter. Stay well, I will share details of my trip when I return.

Cheers

Darlene

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Spring Has Finally Arrived

I don’t want to jinx anything, but I’m sitting here on this Saturday with my patio door open, and birds have been chirping since 6:30 this morning. It would appear Spring has finally arrived. It’s soon time for drinking outside.

I hope to do some of that when I head to France later this month. But in the meantime, let’s look at some affordable wines for Spring.

If you walk into your favorite wine store, you’ll probably see a display for Rose wine. It’s that time.

Rose is a favorite of mine, especially for food pairings. It’s perfect for a lunch / brunch wine or to have with your salad or appetizer of choice.

Gerard Bertrand Rose

I like a dry Rose wine, and this is my favorite Rose wine that I discovered last Summer. Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses is made with mostly red grapes, with limited skin contact. Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah sounds like a favorite Cote du Rhone, and this rose version does not disappoint. It’s round $22 and just a gorgeous rose wine, in a gorgeous bottle, that also makes it a wonderful gift.

Balsamic tomatoes with basil

Food wise I don’t have much for you this week. I made burgers for my work colleagues, and one of the condiments I bought were these tomatoes. One of my work peeps called it the best condiment he’s ever tasted, and started naming other foods these could be used with. They are grape tomatoes, sliced thin, with salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze and fresh basil. I have a basil plant that is doing very well this Spring. Then I cooked it down a bit, just put it in the corner of my BBQ. I have to say, it was pretty tasty.

And now I’m going to tell you about the wine I had last night, that is one of my new favorites.

Wee Angus Merlot

I have to be honest, I don’t spend a lot of time in the Australian section of the wine store. I find many of the wines over-oaked. However, I took a stroll down that lane because I wanted to try a new wine and I didn’t know what I wanted.

My love affair with Angus the Bull wines started with this one.

Angus the Bull Cabernet

My first experience with this vineyard was Angus the Bull Cabernet Sauvignon. Marketed as ‘red meat’s perfect partner’, it really is. A great steak wine, priced around the $26 mark here.

Then I got introduced to Wee Angus.

Back when I was living in Newfoundland, I was introduced to Wee Angus Cabernet Merlot. Loved it. Priced around the $20 mark.

And now there is Wee Angus Merlot

Wee Angus Merlot

Love love love this wine. I’m going back to buy more today. Priced around $20, this yummy delicious Merlot tastes like a much more expensive wine. Not overly oaky, it’s smooth and juicy and I just loved it. I had it with my supper (pork) and I can’t wait to have it with ribs, or a steak.

True!

That’s it for me for this week. Stay safe. Till next week, Cheers

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The Patio Will Have to Wait

As I sit here on the first Saturday in April, I just finished reading a Special Weather Statement from Environment Canada calling for a snow storm on Monday. Halifax could receive up to 25cms. (insert eye roll here). It’s April, it’s time for flowers and rain showers. Well, April for me, brings a trip to Bordeaux France. I leave on Wednesday April 20th, and after 2 cancellations last year of our trip to the Niagara region of Ontario, this trip to Bordeaux France, which was planned 2 years ago, is going ahead.

Bordeaux Wine Region

Bordeaux is known as the Wine Capital of the World. Some of the most expensive wines in the world come from the Bordeaux region of France, including Chateau Lafitte. We are doing the tour of Bordeaux on a riverboat cruise, my first one. I’m very much looking forward to cruising the two rivers of Bordeaux on the Ama Dolce.

Our first stop is in my favorite wine region of France, Saint Emilion. Bordeaux grapes are limited, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and a couple of others. The region is divided into ‘Left Bank’ & ‘Right Bank’, with the Left Bank being Cabernet Sauvignon dominant and the Right Bank being Merlot dominant. Saint Emilion is on the Right Bank, and feature full-bodied juicy Merlot dominant wines. Saint Emilion wines can be expensive but this past week I found a great one at a great price.

Chateau De Courtillac

This is the Chateau De Courteillac is available everywhere in Canada, and is a Merlot Cabernet Franc blend. Delicious. My friend Angie left for a month in Florida yesterday and on Wine Wednesday we got together for a sip. This is the wine we enjoyed. Although we had the 2020, which is young, 2020 is still listed as one of the vineyards greatest vintages. There is still room for aging here. Well structured and full-bodied with lots of fruit, and priced under $18. Not a typo. It’s under $18 a bottle. Try it, I think you’ll really enjoy it.

The other wine I want to tell you about was recommended by my friend Joan Decker Hilton. I was writing about the Bread & Butter Merlot, and she said her husband loved the Cab.

Bread & Butter Cabernet Sauvignon

So last night I had this wine, for the first time, and I loved it. Again, it was a 2020, with lots of time for aging, it was still delicious last night. California has gained a world-class reputation for great Cabernet Sauvignon, and this is a prime example of that. Full-bodied with toasty notes of black pepper and ripe fruit, a great wine to pair with red meat.

That’s it for me for this week. Here’s to a mild April for all my readers. Thank you for reading!

Truth
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My New Crush

I have a new crush. It’s crushed grapes, but still. I’m also crushing on these two wonderful people, who I am very blessed to call friends. Friends that are like family.

Angie & Shane

Regular readers have met my friends Shane and Angie in previous blogs. Last night we all got together at my place for dinner. What a great night, friends that are like family, some good food and some great wines.

I was given this gorgeous bottle of Sartori Ripasso by the great group at Univin Wines and my friend Nancy. It was amazing.

My favorite meal

I’ve had this wine previously with my one of my favoite meals. I love baby back ribs, and I really love them when they’re accompanied by crispy hot wings and some chicken fried rice that I made myself. An epic meal like this deserves an epic wine. The Sartori Ripasso is that wine. The 2015 vintage, which we had, is perfectly aged and full of complex notes and flavours. It’s a treat at around $35, but who doesn’t love a good treat.

We consumed a few bottles last night, including this one my friend Shane bought.

2014 La Brutta Cabernet Sangiovese

When I first see a Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese blend, I think of a Super Tuscan wine from Italy. However this wine hails from Australia. When I was doing some research on this wine today, I discovered that the 2014 vintage is the highest rated vintage in this wine, and it was fantastic. my friend Shane, when he retired from the banking industry, found he was a little bored so worked part time at the NSLC for 3 years. He says we don’t carry this wine anymore here, and it’s too bad because it was really really good. This red wine goes through a very unique process of being made, I won’t get into all of it here, but you can read about it by clicking here.

I didn’t take any pictures of the food last night. I was busy consuming some great wine. LOL. I served glazed carrots, rice, a salad and my caprese chicken. Easy and elegant. Here’s the recipe.

Chicken cutlets

I started with chicken cutlets. I buy them, and I love how they are pounded out and the same thickness. It makes cooking them so much easier. I browned them in butter and olive oil in a cast iron frying pan till they were brown on both sides. Then I added mozzarella cheese and grape tomatoes that were soaking in balsamic vinegar and some salt. Put the cast iron frying pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Sprinkled with fresh basil leaves and a balsamic glaze once it came out of the oven. Easy and delicious.

And last but not least, I would like to feature a gift that Shane bought me.

Villa Conchi Cava

Anyone who has been at one of my wine tastings has probably tried this wine. This is my favorite example of a delicious sparkling wine at a fantastic price point. It’s from Spain and it’s bright and vibrant with nutty and citrus notes. It’s nice and dry and not at all sweet.

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

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Ciao! Hello to Italy

I’m not sure if you know this but when I got my Certified Sommelier Certification in 2017, I celebrated by taking a trip to Italy. It was amazing. I went with amazing people, the food was spectacular and the wine… well, the wine was out of this world. A lot of it was consumed.

Enjoying a glass of wine at the Villa in Tuscany

We stayed in the Villa at the Carpazo winery in Montalcino, in the province of Sienna in Tuscany. The views were spectacular and we enjoyed amazing wine every night.

Well, I would like to introduce you to a special lady, and I’m very blessed to call her a friend. This is Nancy, who is a wine rep with the company Univins.

My friend Nancy

This past week Nancy gave me some Italian wines to try. Oh My God, I’ve only had two of them so far, but they were amazing. I’ve never had them before, and I love trying new wines. I am so grateful for her sharing these wines with me, because so far, they’ve been unbelievably good.

Amazing Italian Reds

When we met up on Tuesday, I had planned to make pasta that evening. I love trying new wines, and regular readers of this blog know how much I love Ripasso. Nancy gave me 2 Ripasso wines and an Amarone, the king of Italian wines. I’ll tell you about that one in a bit.

My mid week treat

The story of Sartori dates back 120 years. They are located in Valpolicella, a region known for wine, olive and cherry trees. This wine, a spectacular value at $25, is made with 4 Italian grape varietals, Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Croatina. Ripasso means ‘to pass again’ and is a technique that’s been used for centuries in Valpollicella. The grape juice is ‘passed over’ Amarone must and skins to give it a more complex flavor. Sometimes called ‘Baby Amarone’ or ‘Poor Man’s Amarone’, I absolutely loved this wine. It was complex and interesting, with gorgeous flavours of dried fruits and spice. Which is why I had to enjoy it with my pasta mid week, but everyone deserves a treat mid week, right?

I always save really special wines to enjoy with special friends, and the Amarone Univins provided me was no exception.

My friend Angie

Regular readers of this wine blog know my friend Angie. We both share a love of red wine, so I wanted to share the special Amarone with her. It was her first time ever having Amarone, so what a treat that evening turned out to be. We enjoyed the 2016 vintage, and this wine still had lots of room for aging, if you wanted to keep it for a while.

Look at that gorgeous color. Amarone has been called the King of Italian wines for good reason. It gets its richness from the drying process, which lasts 3-4 months. This process is called appassimento or rasinate (to dry and shrivel) in Italian. This really accentuates flavor. Once the Amarone is pressed, the remaining pomace is used in the production of Ripasso Valpolicellas.

Sartori Amarone 2016

Amarone is a treat wine, but well worth the treat. It’s also a great wine for food. My co-worker Rick asked me this past week what would be a great wine to go with game meat, and this is perfect. It would have also been perfect with my meal from last Sunday.

Stuffed pork tenerloin

As a person who lives alone, I love it when grocery stores sell smaller pork tenderloins. Last Sunday I stuffed one and grilled to sear. Then finished it by using the BBQ as an oven. It turned out perfect, for me, I like my pork medium, so it’s perfect when I see pink. I sauteed onions, celery, carrots and apples in butter for a few minutes on the stove and then added it to bread crumbs with a bit of parmesan cheese. Yum!

Truth

With the price of gas all over Canada, it’s true, wine is cheaper than fuel. Even the treat wines. Also, restrictions here in Nova Scotia are lifting on Monday, and I’m hoping to get back to doing some wine tastings. Reach out if you are looking at a wine tasting this upcoming year and live in the Halifax area.

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

Darlene

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Daylight Savings Time

Seriously, though?

I do not like time changes. It messes with my sleep, with Gabriel’s feedings, and I just don’t get it. But if we are going to have time changes, why do they happen 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning? Who decided this? 4 p.m. on a Friday, now that’s something I can get behind.

So we lose an hour of our weekend, but on a very bright note, the evenings are getting longer. People tend to think of sitting on their patios, enjoying a glass of wine. Not this weekend, however. We are in for this

Rain & Wind for the weekend

You know the weekend is here when they are calling for another storm. For us here it’s rain and strong winds. For my friends in parts of Newfoundland they are calling for blizzard like conditions with high winds and snow. Either way it’s a great day to stay inside and drink some wine.

I would love to hear what’s on your wine menu and food menu this weekend. You know how some people don’t like seeing food pictures on social media. I’m the exact opposite. I love seeing food pictures on Facebook and Twitter. And I’m always curious on how they made it and how it turned out. Keep the food and wine pictures coming!

First, I want to share a food picture. I don’t eat much steak because the prices of groceries has gotten atrocious and red meat has become a treat.

But I did get a steak on sale this past week and because the weather was bad, decided to do it in the cast iron frying pan. I love that method. I also decided to try a red wine reduction for my steak for the first time. Decided to go simple for my first time and used this recipe here.

I didn’t have shallots so I used onions. Shallots are a milder form of onion and really delicious. But I simmered the red wine and beef broth till it reduced and then added butter and herbs.

It turned out delicious and I will be doing that again. I didn’t have fresh rosemary, so I used the spice. Fresh herbs are not the easiest to get in winter months here in Eastern Canada. It still worked for me. And I made these baby potatoes with maple butter seasoning, added some bacon and fresh parsley and some balsamic glazed mushrooms. Yum

This kind of meal calls for a big bold red. And this fit the bill.

Chilean Merlot

I know most people would go for a Cabernet Sauvignon, but I do love me a good full-bodied Merlot. This is a great deal when it’s not on sale, and last week it was on sale here $2 off, making it a spectacular deal. Casillero del Diablo translates to ‘The Devil’s Cellar’. And Concha Y Tor’s Don Melchor spread the rumor that the devil lived in the cellar to protect his top quality wine. To my readers and friends in Newfoundland, you can get it there as well.

For my white wine loving friends, it comes in two white varietals.

They make a Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Grigio, and they are just great wines at fantastic prices.

And now for my new wine of the week…

Longshot Cabernet Sauvignon

Last night for dinner I did a stuffed pork tenderloin. With it, I had a great new Cabernet Sauvignon. Longshot Cabernet Sauvignon originates from Modesto California and is a bold red wine with notes of plum, nutmeg and chocolate.

This wine is on sale right now here, priced under $16, and is a great wine to try, especially with the weather starting to warm and more people are grilling. To my friends in Newfoundland, you can get this wine there, and you can also get the Longshot Red Blend. It’s a blend of Shiraz, Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. Doesn’t that sound interesting? I can guarantee that red blend is a must on my list, the next time I go home to Newfoundland for a visit. (psst, it’s on sale for $14 there now)

Well, that’s it for me for this week. Have a great weekend. Stay safe, and enjoy the wine

Darlene

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For The Love of God, Stop Snowing!

We had a wacky week of weather here in Halifax this past week. I saw a chart the other day that said we had over 400 mm of rain and over 100 cm of snow. Not exact numbers, but it seems we have had at least one storm per week since January came in. Whether it was a rain, wind or snowstorm, we’ve had a challenging winter to say the least. This week we had 10 on Wednesday, and they called for 10 cms on Thursday, but we got 15.

Lots of snow this week

The sun did come out yesterday but the temperature plummeted to -16 with a windchill of -24. So let’s stay inside and get cozy with some wine and comfort food.

Remember the blue cheese I told you about last week? It’s Bleu D’Auvergne, and I not only used it in a cheese sauce for pasta, I also made blue cheese burgers this week. Twice!

I bought the President brand

The cheese is that good. It’s named for its place of origin in Auvergne, in Southeastern France. It has less salt than most blue cheese, and is creamier, which makes it excellent for cooking.

I put the blue cheese right in

Here are the burgers I made, with blue cheese right in meat, along with salt, pepper, garlic powder and worcestershire sauce. I realize it looks like a lot of blue cheese, but it melts, and it’s very mild, so it didn’t overpower the burger. Then I carmelized some onions with butter, brown sugar and a bit of balsamic glaze. And then added bacon (duh!) and smoked gouda.

Yum

It not only looks tasty, it was delicious . Top with your favorite toppings.

A great wine to go with that? I’m glad you asked!

Sterling Vintner Collection Merlot

This is the wine I enjoyed with my burger last night. Sterling Vintners Collection Merlot from 2018. This full bodied supple Merlot with fresh fruit jam notes is on sale here in Nova Scotia right now for $15.99, which is a fabulous price. it’s normally around the $18 mark, which is what this wine costs for my friends in Newfoundland. Some wine critics have given this wine 90 points. it’s a great wine at a very affordable price.

And my wine of the week this week, is a white wine.

Amaral Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite white wines and it’s so distinct in its flavors. It was the very first wine I had on the final exam for my first wine course. It was a blind tasting and the fact it was Sauvignon Blanc was unmistakable. Some are grassy with notes of green pepper, but my favorite Sauvignon Blanc wines are those with tropical fruit flavors, and this one fits the bill. A friend bought it to my place last Saturday night and I loved it’s crisp and tropical fruit flavors. And it’s priced under $19.

Truth

That’s it for me for this week. I had a Twitter friend from Newfoundland send me a note last night saying he was looking forward to my wine blog. Thank you, that was very kind, and it made my day.

Till next week, cheers

Darlene

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We All Deserve A Treat

We are almost 2 full years into a pandemic that has crippled society. There have been lockdowns, restrictions, and loneliness for so many people. If anyone deserves a treat, it’s us. Am I right?

Last Friday, February 18, was National Drink Wine Day. And although it was a long weekend I didn’t get a wine blog out, because it was a fun filled weekend with family and friends. Like every Friday since January came in, we had a storm. A wind storm. Last evening we had a snowstorm. I’m not kidding when I say there’s been a storm every Friday. My nephew Riley’s flight got cancelled so we had a great evening Friday evening together.

And then on Sunday, I got together with an old friend, Shane, and a new friend, his husband Ken.

Shane & Ken

And boy oh boy, did they bring some great wine to the party. Normally this blog is about great wine at great value. Today we are going to cover a couple of treat wines. Like I said, we all deserve a treat.

The first wine we had that evening was a wine I’ve been dying to try for a few years. Total treat wine!

2018 Caymus Zinfandel

The Wagner family has been making great wine in Napa Valley for decades. The winery was started in 1906 when Carl Wagner bought land in Napa Valley and today is run by Chuck, Charlie and Jenny Wagner. Generations of great wine-makers. This wine retails for anywhere from $60 to $70 in Canada and it was spectacular. The Wagner family who has the Caymus label, also has Mer Soleil, Connundrum and Emmolo, just to name a few. Josh Wagner, from this Wagner family, has Belle Glos Vineyards and makes great Pinot Noir. This wine is the ultimate food wine. Shane had put out an amazing cheeseboard, and the combination was awesome.

Austin Hope Cabernet

So my friends have an amazing wine collection. And my apologies for the blurry picture, this was the 3rd bottle we opened, after a martini! My mistake was suggesting we open the Italian Ripasso that I bought before this one. This was another spectacular treat. I couldn’t find it anywhere in Nova Scotia, but elsewhere in Canada it sells for about $80 a bottle. Paso Robles in California is putting out extraordinary wine, and this one definitely tops the list. I love how they age this wine in oak. Lots of grapes are aged separately for a minimum of 11 months in a combo of 10% new oak, 25% once used oak and 65% in 2 – 3 times used French oak. Then as a whole, the blended wine is aged an additional 3 months in 75% new and 25% once used French oak. Wow. I’ve never heard that before. This creates a gorgeous complex wine on the palate, and the proof is in the glass.

Spinach Chicken & Bacon Penne

Before I go, I wanted to share an awesome recipe for Penne pasta. I had made a similar pasta a few weeks back that just didn’t have a lot of flavor. So I decided to make a roux for the sauce and add in more cheese and seasonings. Normally in the Summer, I have lots of fresh herbs, but they are all gone. And because this was a spur of the moment decision, I didn’t run up to the grocery store to buy some herbs. So I will definitely make it again, but adding some fresh basil is necessary, and chives or parsley, I feel, would really add a bit of zest as well. Here’s the recipe I started with, but tweaked along the way. Cook the pasta al dente, and set aside, including the pasta water. That is flavor that can thin your sauce, because it can get thick. Cook the bacon. Then use the bacon drippings to cook chicken and onions. I also marinated my cherry tomatoes in balsamic, salt and basil. They can handle a lot of flavor thrown at them. This recipe doesn’t call for a roux, but after I took out the chicken, I added butter and flour, made a roux, added both cream and chicken broth, and a couple of different types of cheeses, including parmesan, mozzarella and smoked gouda. It was very good, and I’ll definitely make it again. You can add your favorite cheese to make it a little different each time.

On the cheese board last weekend my friend Shane served the best blue cheese I’ve ever had. Blue cheese can be a love or hate thing with many people. And I’ve had some that is over-powering. This was mild and beautiful, and I can’t remember the brand name, but I’ll find out and share it with you. That would even go well in this pasta.

Loved this wine last night

Last night it was back to reality for me and wine. I did enjoy this beauty, a Primitivo made by Tommassi, called Surani Hercules Primitivo. Full-bodied, delicious, and $20 a bottle.

Before I go, I have to share some cuteness.

You all know Maggie

I was Facetiming with my sister Jackie, and Maggie, who you all know, seems to think she’s 10 lbs. She is a real lap dog, who doesn’t believe in personal space. Can’t wait to see her in March.

That’s it for me for this week. I hope you have a wonderful week, and let’s take a moment and pray for the people in Ukraine.

Darlene

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Making Valentine’s Day Sparkle

If you’re looking for love advice, I am definitely not the person to come to for Valentine’s Day. However if you would like to add some spark to your Valentines day meal, then I’m your girl. Because if there’s one thing I know, it’s wine! And nothing adds spark to a great meal more than wine.

Since we are talking about adding sparkle to a meal, let’s start with a sparkling wine

Villa Francesca Prosecco

You can’t go wrong with Prosecco, the Italian favourite. The majority of these wines are priced under $20 and it’s a super cost efficient way to enjoy a delicious sparkling wine. Crisp, light and tasty all on its own, it’s also a great pairing with shellfish, vegetables, sushi and cured meats. Prosecco is a great way to enjoy a sparkling wine without blowing the budget.

Instead of roses, try rose wine!

Rose wines have become so popular over the past few years, and with good reason. They are reasonably priced and delicious to drink. As a matter of fact, it’s made a huge surge in ‘day drinking’. There is no better wine to have with lunch or brunch.

Angie with the Arrogant Frog

My friends and I found this delicious rose wine, made from Shiraz (Syrah) grapes. Arrogant Frog is a wine packed with flavor, and priced under $15. It is a little heavier on the alcohol side than many rose wines, coming in at 13%. But it’s so delicious, and food friendly as well.

Ribs with a dry rub

Normally when I make ribs, I marinate for several hours and then slow cook them for a few hours, before finishing them on the grill. Everyone knows I am a huge fan of the Food Network and Bobby Flay and Michael Symon hosted a show called BBQ Brawl. Susie Bulloch was the underdog and ended up coming in 2nd place. She has a website called Hey Grill, Hey! I love it, she is a barbecue Queen1 And this is where I got the recipe for the dry rub. It’s Suzie’s Dry Rub recipe and you’ll find it here. I still slow cooked them and finished them off on the grill with sauce, and they were soooo good!

Have I made you hungry for ribs on Valentine’s Day? Here’s your wine!

7 Deadly Zins

7 Deadly Zins is a delicious full-bodied wine that is so food friendly. I love the ‘peppery’ flavor of a Zinfandel and this one really highlights that. If the $28 – $30 price tag is a bit more than you wanted to spend, here’s another option.

Cupcake Red Blend

It’s been a while since I’ve had this, so I had to use a stock photo. But this blend of Merlot, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah is so rich and decadent, it’s sinful. And this one is priced under $18 in most places. Juicy ribs deserve a juicy wine, and this fits the bill.

That’s it for me this week. Enjoy the Super Bowl tomorrow and Valentine’s Day on Monday. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Another Weekend, Another Storm

The view outside my window

2022 seems to be the year of the weekend storm, this time it’s a freezing rain storm. It’s hard to see in my pictures, but the trees outside my apartment are heavily laden with ice.

Branches are bending

As of Saturday morning, over 57,000 households in the province are without power. I’m amazed but grateful we have power. Fingers crossed it stays that way. I was living in Moncton in the winter of 2003 when we had a major ice storm. New Brunswick had a bad one in 1998, 2003 was worse. I was without power for days. It was awful. I know what the omicron variant, people are encouraged to stay home, this weather is making it very easy. So we’re going to stay home, let’s enjoy some good food and some good wine.

Bread & Butter Merlot

Regular readers of my blog know I love the Bread & Butter Pinot Noir. Well did you know, we are now able to get the Bread & Butter Cabernet Savignon here? And very new to Nova Scotia is the Bread & Butter Merlot. Because my family lives in Newfoundland, except for Riley who arrived back at St. FX this week, I have a very small bubble here. It includes 3 other ladies from my apartment building who I get together with every Saturday night to play a game of Rummikub!

This is such a fun game. The ladies and I throw a little wager in, which just adds to the fun and makes for a cheap night of entertainment. Anyway, I digress. Angie and I drink red, so we enjoyed this gorgeous Merlot which she brought to the party. Gorgeous and decadent, it is around the $23 mark, but it was a really nice treat. Rich plum fruits and warm baking spice notes, we savored every sip. It’s really good.

For my white wine loving friends, here’s a great white to go with all your favorite comfort foods.

Canyon Road Chardonnay

Canyon Road is one of the best deals here in Nova Scotia. The Cabernet Sauvignon is a staple in my wine rack. I discovered it about a year and a half ago, and both the red and the white are available not only here, but to my friends and readers in Newfoundland.

And although we are provinces next to each other, there is a $4 price difference in both wines. Both of these wines are $11 a bottle here in Nova Scotia, and the wine is very easy to drink at that price. In my home province of Newfoundland, both wines are $15 a bottle. Still a good price point, but I was surprised to discover that when I was home for Christmas.

The Chardonnay is rich and buttery with hints of caramel. Try it out.

Before I get into my wine of the week, I have to tell you about a new recipe that I tried this week.

Vegetable Medley

Leave it to me to make vegetables not quite as healthy as they should be, yes, that is bacon you see in this dish. I started with carrots, sweet potato, red onions and yes, bacon.

I roasted the carrots all the way, but you could par boil them for 5 – 10 minutes, as they take the longest. Once these were cooked I added a bag of frozen Asian medley vegetables and toasted some pecans and almonds to add a little texture. Then I added a little balsamic and maple syrup and these veggies were delicious.

Soak your pecans

I didn’t know this prior to this week but apparently we should soak our pecans before adding them to a recipe. It removes some of the bitterness.

And now for the wine of the week..

Run, don’t walk, to the liquor store, as this wine is on sale. It’s around the $16 mark, and such a great value. The Louis Bernard Cotes Du Rhone is 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah (Shiraz) and such a delicious and elegant blend. This was my Friday night treat and I enjoyed every sip.

I’m the cool Aunt

Well, that will do it for me this week. As always, thank you for taking some time this week to read my wine blog, it is very much appreciated. Till next week, Cheers.

Darlene

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Wining Away January Blues

Grumpy nails it

January has never been my favorite month. The one holiday day is the very first day and your next long weekend is not till mid-February. All your Christmas decorations are down, so your home looks a little empty, and the weather tends to suck. I’m sitting here right now looking out at a snow storm.

This meme is so true

This weekend is the last weekend of January and we are getting hit with another storm, the third weekend this month that we’ve been hit. Lots of snow followed by 4 – 8 hours of freezing rain. Fun times in the Maritimes. So, here’s my advice. Stay in, make your favorite meal and enjoy a glass of wine. I went to the liquor store yesterday and it was busy! The man in front of me says ‘a storm must be coming’.

But first, I want to tell you about a cooking win. In last week’s wine blog I told you about the Orange chicken recipe that didn’t turn out so good, the breading was falling off. So I tried again, but this time learned from my mistake and dried the chicken before the flour and egg mixture. And I did it in General Tso sauce that was so easy to make. Doesn’t it look good?

General Tso Chicken

I made the chicken the exact same way. I cut up the chicken breast in bite size pieces, dried it off, and then put salt, pepper, garlic powder and Chinese 5-spice in the flour. I put the chicken in the flour, then the egg wash (egg & water) and back in the flour. It cooked perfectly. In the sauce is Soy sauce, rice wine vinegar (you can use white vinegar), hoisin sauce, sugar, cornstarch and water. You can get the recipe here.

I also tried a couple of new wines recently, and they are great values.

I shared this with my friend Angie on Wine Wednesday and we really enjoyed it. It’s not an overly heavy Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s definitely medium bodied, with very little tannins. It’s from Chile and is priced at $13, and is definitely a wine I would buy again.

With the crappy and cold weather we’ve been having, I love doing jigsaw puzzles. I finished this one last Saturday and started a new one on Friday.

But I digress. My wine of the week this week is another great value.

Granatello Rosso

I love an Italian Rosso because I really enjoy red wine blends. This is a blend of Merlot, Nero D’Avalo and Sangiovese. Nero D’Avalo is the most important grape from Sicily, and has gorgeous plum and pepper flavors. This was a great blend, and is priced at $14 here. Nothing drives away the January blues than finding a great wine at a great price point.

Mom, Jackie & Maggie

My Mom turned 87 on January 5th and my super sweet sister had her over for supper and cake. I had to share this picture of my Mom, Jackie and of course Miss Maggie herself. Full grown now, Maggie turned 1 year old in January.

Have a great week. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Cheers to Betty White

On Monday, January 17, Betty White would’ve turned 100 years old. Sadly, she was taken away from us on December 31st, the very last day of a challenging year, 2021. A global movement started to mark her 100th birthday, asking people to give as little as $5 to their favorite animal charity, because Betty White was such an advocate for animals. Imagine passing away 17 days before you turn 100, and people saying she ‘left us to soon’.

I participated in the challenge, donating money to the Halifax Cat Rescue Society. I chose this particular charity because of this fella.

Gabriel

Gabriel is my second forever foster from the Halifax Cat Rescue Society. They look for forever foster homes for cats that still have lots of life left, but have an illness that makes them unadoptable. Gabriel is FIV+, so I provide a loving home and all his food, they pay all his vet bills. I’ve had Gabriel for almost 4 years, so there is lots of love to be had by these kitties.

Leo

Leo was my first foster from HCRS, and sadly he died just before I had him 2 years from Feline Leukemia. But he was so sweet and I loved taking care of him for his final years. As you can see Leo loved his life here.

Betty White’s show business career spanned 8 decades, and her love of animals even longer than that. She was an activist and supported many organizations to make lives better for cats, dogs, and all kinds of critters.

So let’s raise a glass to Betty White. Betty also loved her wine. She has been quoted as saying “A glass of wine a day will help you live longer, let’s live forever”.

She was living proof!!

My friend Angie and I shared a wine Tuesday evening that was definitely a treat celebratory wine.

Francis Ford Coppola Directors Cut Cabernet

My nephew Brady wanted to give me a bottle of wine at Christmas and I told him I loved Zinfandel. So when I opened the gift and saw the label, I thought it was the Director’s Cut Zinfandel, which I have had several times, as you used to be able to get it in Halifax. When I opened the wine and tasted it, I did a second take, and realized it was Cabernet Sauvignon. Oh My God! It was delicious. Hands down the most full-bodied wine I have ever had. It was so full and heavy on the palate, I wish I had one to have with a steak LOL. You can’t get it here in Atlantic Canada, but starting in Quebec and heading West you can. If you see it, pick it up, it’s a great wine.

Regular readers know I love to cook, I love to eat, and I like to share recipes. Sometimes I try recipes that don’t work out as well as I would have liked. Case in point – Orange Chicken. It didn’t turn out horrendous, I ate it, but the sauce was a little sweet for me.

Orange chicken

I love Chinese Food and I’m always trying the recipes at home. So, I wasn’t sure where I was going with this piece of chicken first, so I always marinade boneless skinless chicken breast.

So I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, so I started with a marinade of salt, pepper, Chinese 5-spice, balsamic vinegar and orange juice. A site I use a lot for recipes is ‘Rock Recipes’, originating in Newfoundland, and let me tell you, this man can cook. Check it out at www.rockrecipes.com I love this site, but I’m not as talented as Barry is.

Check out his Orange chicken recipe or his double crunch honey garlic chicken. I did the flour with the spices and the egg wash. In the flour I had salt, pepper, garlic powder, Chinese 5-spice and a little ginger. However, the mistake I made, I didn’t dry off my chicken pieces before adding the coating. Why is that important? The breading won’t stick to the chicken. You can see the breading falling off as it’s cooking.

I used a cast iron frying pan, and the chicken turned out delicious, just not as pretty as the recipe. I also found the Orange Chicken sauce a little sweet, so I only used half the chicken with that sauce, and used the offer half in a sweet Thai chili sauce. I’ll definitely do the process again, learning from my mistakes. That’s the fun thing about trying new things in the kitchen, they don’t always turn out, but you still have to try.

Last but not least, my wine of the week..

Monte Antico Toscana

I have many friends and readers in Newfoundland, so this wine is available both here and in Newfoundland. A fantastic Tuscan wine that costs under $20. This is a Super Tuscan wine, consisting of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, an absolute perfect blend. This is a great food wine, because of the 3 grapes, it will go with anything you serve for dinner.

A big thank you to everyone who donated to their favorite animal charity this past week. I hope everyone is doing OK in January, it can be a long month.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Storm Wine & Burgers

For the second Friday night in a row, all of Nova Scotia including Halifax was hit by a whopper storm. This one started with sideways rain and strong winds, and then the temperature plummeted and it turned into hail. As you can see by my BBQ this morning, you can’t even call it a snowfall, it was a hailstorm.

I lost my television service, I guess the winds knocked something out. So for the rest of the weekend, I have no tv. That’s Ok, I have a great book and a challenging puzzle on the go. It is a chilly day with temperatures right now -13-degrees with a wind chill of -26. It’s a great day to stay inside and drink some wine.

Before the storm started, I did use my BBQ. Not only did I rotisserie a chicken to make a pot of homemade soup, I did some burgers.

Some ‘Oh My Jesus’ Burgers. This is a burger with cheddar, mozzarella and provolone cheese, with bacon, carmelized onions, balsamic glazed tomatoes, jalapenos and more bacon. Probably one of the best burgers I have ever made

I sliced cherry tomatoes and put salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar, with a little brown sugar and cooked that down. In the next dish are sliced red onions, jalapenos, some bacon chopped up finely, butter and brown sugar. That cooked down until the onions carmelized, which is about 20 minutes.

It was pretty delicious.

Anciano Garnacha

This wine is fantastic and it’s on sale right now. Under $13 a bottle. That’s not a typo, it’s on for $12.99. I’ve written about it before, it may not look familiar because it has a new label. It used to look like this.

Garnacha, the Spanish word for Grenache, is the grape, which is the same grape used in Cote du Rhone and Chateauneuf du Pape. These grapes, however, are fully ripe when picked so it’s not as boozy and it’s very smooth. From Valencia Spain it’s a spectacular wine for the price point. Fruity with notes of fig. Not oaky, not bitter or boozy, just smooth and delicious. Definitely worth picking up and trying.

When I was training to become a Sommelier, Alsace became one of my favorite regions for white wines. I found the history really interesting, it’s in Northeastern France, bordering with Germany, and over the years it has alternated over who controls it, France or Germany. Wines from Alsace can be pricey, but this is a great example of a wine from Alsace, and it comes in at the $20 price range, so it’s affordable. Wines from Alsace have some sweetness to them, unlike it’s cousins, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.

And last but not least, my first new wine of 2022

Enfant Terrible Cote du Rhone

Don’t let the name fool you, there’s nothing terrible about this wine. EnfantOCTerrible Rouge Aoc Cotes Du Rhone is in limited quantities, and for a limited time, at the moment. It’s a Cotes du Rhone at a great price point, $16.99. It’s a beautiful complex wine with several grape varieties, Grenache, Syrah, Grenache Noir, Cinsault, and Mourvedre. The wine growers for Enfant Terrible are not harvesting their grapes when everyone else is, they wait for full maturity. What this means for the wine is it’s smooth and fruity with a full round feel on the palate. I had to check my receipt again, just to make sure I only paid $16.99 for this fantastic wine.

I hope everyone made out ok in the storm. Stay safe out there.

Darlene

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Wine Trends of 2022

Every year, I take one of my first wine blogs of a New Year and talk about upcoming trends in the wine world. I’m always reading about wine and so I find it interesting when they come to fruition. In the past, I have written about wine in cans, Rose becoming even more popular and online wine sales growing. Here’s a few trends to look for this year.

  1. Chilling Red Wines

Putting light and fruity red wines into an ice bucket, just like you would white wines, has been a practice of Sommeliers in culinary hot spots like New York and San Francisco for years now. This trend has taken off everywhere. It’s no longer taboo to chill red wines, and people were once embarrassed for putting ice in red wine, but our room temperatures are too warm for red wine. This is a topic that comes up in every wine tasting. People admitting to chilling red wine. Well, I do too. I try to bring it down to 15-degrees Celsius. And your lighter fruitier wines like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel taste much better when chilled. Here’s a wine you can try chilling and let me know what you think.

Bread & Butter Pinot Noir

This wine has made a bit of a comeback in my wine rack. I’ve had it the last few Friday nights and I just love it. Smooth, easy to drink and much better when chilled. It’s $23 a bottle and available in just about every province in Canada. I enjoyed it while home for Christmas as well.

2. Low Alcohol Wines

People are choosing a healthier lifestyle and many people can be conflicted with choosing healthy and still enjoying their favorite beverage, whether it be with a meal or all on its own. Wine makers are listening, and more are coming out with low alcohol or zero alcohol wines.

Nova Scotia’s award winning winery Benjamin Bridge has come out with a non-alcohol version called Piquette Zero.

I haven’t tried it yet, but their website describes it as

“Piquette Zero is a lively and delicious alcohol-free wine-style beverage, offering a creative and unprecedented craft option to industrially dealcoholized wines that are so often stripped of their character.”

3. Cocktails will be popular and simple

One of my favorite cocktails

I made this cocktail for guests last Christmas and have served it several times since. Easy. Cranberry juice, Prosecco, lime juice and fresh cranberries in the glass to give it a festive look, and a lime wedge. You could take it a step further by adding a liquor like Grand Marnier.

Beauty of Chaos Cabernet

I have tried this beauty recently, and it’s appropriately called Beauty of Chaos. On sale right now, it’s under $17 a bottle. From the Columbia Valley in Washington State, this big juicy Cabernet is a great wine at a great price. Gorgeous berry flavors.

Well, the Omicron variant has hit Atlantic Canada hard. I did get to Newfoundland for Christmas, which was awesome. As the sign says, wine is the glue that is holding this shitshow together.

Stay safe everyone. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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The First Day of 2022

The 1st Day of 2022

I think many people were expecting to kick 2021 in the ass, and celebrate 2022 in style. Unfortunately, Omicron said ‘hold my beer’. I think this is how many of us are approaching 2022. Very cautiously!

If you’re nervous, you’re not alone

I apologize for the absence, but I just got back yesterday from 12 days in Newfoundland. It was a great Christmas, albeit very quiet. Sadly, I didn’t get to visit any friends, but I did have a great time with family. My Mom turns 87 January 5th and we were being super careful.

Happy New Year to all my readers. Thank you for joining me in another year of discovering great wine at affordable prices. I’m not sure how you celebrated New Year’s Eve, but I was in PJ’s by 5 p.m. and in bed by 9 p.m. But I crossed over on the Newfoundland ferry the night before and didn’t get a lot of sleep. I did, however, BBQ on New Year’s Eve.

Preparing the spice mixture

This might look like a wonky omelet in the making, but it’s the starter of my meatballs. In this bowl, bread crumbs, milk, 1 egg, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian season, hot sauce, & a little BBQ sauce.

Flavor
Love these aluminum pans

This is what the finished product looks like.

My sauce recipe is very simple

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour or cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ cup ketchup

And I used a little curly parsley as a garnish. Delicious, and you can freeze them, and have them any time you need a quick meal.

Ok. Let’s talk some wine. Normally the first wine blog of the year talks about upcoming wine trends. But I’ll do that next week. I want to share a couple of gifts I received.

I’ve been blessed

To say my family went a little overboard on the gifts, would be an understatement. I did very well.

My friend Sandra gave me this Prosecco.

I love Prosecco

I love Prosecco, it’s so festive. I haven’t had this Villa Francesca yet, but I am willing to bet it’s delicious. It’s so affordable, this particular one is $18 a bottle, and Prosecco is crisp and refreshing and goes with everything.

My nephew Brady, who I stayed home longer than planned so I could see him, gave me this beauty.

Francis Ford Coppola Zinfandel

I’ve had this wine before, and it’s a gorgeous treat wine. It’s about $50 a bottle and I had bought this one year before to watch the Oscar’s. It is after all, Francis Ford Coppola’s Director’s Cut Zinfandel. You used to be able to buy it here, but apparently the one store that carried it, is not carrying it anymore. That makes this gift all the more special. From Sonoma County in California, this is a rich and full-bodied wine, that I’ll be saving for my next feed of baby back ribs or a steak.

Maggie’s 1st Christmas

On a closing note, this was Maggie’s first Christmas with our family and what a fun time she had. The gorgeous scarf she is wearing was a gift from me, and made by my friend Angie. It has her name on it and looks so cute on her. She also received lots of toys.

I hope all of you had a Christmas as wonderful as Maggie. Till next week, Cheers. And Happy New Year

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A Few of My Favorite Wines from 2021

2021 is almost over

Today is my first day of holidays for just over 2 weeks, and tomorrow I’m heading to Newfoundland for Christmas. I didn’t get home last year because we were on another Covid lockdown, so I’m really looking forward to this year. 2021 proved to be another interesting year to say the least, but it went surprisingly fast, for me anyway. I was really happy to do a couple of wine tastings this year, I got home to Newfoundland in July, my first visit in a year. And I’ve had some great wines. I’d like to share a few of my favorites from this past year.

Back in March I had this wonderful new white wine. A great priced Chardonnay out of California, Trinity Oaks. The grapes come from sustainably vineyards and they plant a tree for every bottle they sell. This Chardonnay was wonderful with pear and citrus flavors and priced around the $22 mark.

Last March I also introduced you to the newest member of our family.

Maggie at 8 weeks

Riley picked up Maggie, the addition to our family, at Coastal Breezes in Antigonish and we took her to the airport. She still has her tongue out for most pictures. This is Riley with Maggie in his arms.

Maggie & Riley

Maggie is a bit too big to be in Riley’s arms now. And I just spent last weekend with her, and she’s grown more.

More Beautiful every day
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A fantastic Rose wine

This past Summer I had a wine tasting and I bought this Rose. The Gerard Betrand Cote des Rose was excellent. I think it was the best one I’ve had this year. A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, it is not sweet in any way and priced under $20. The bottle is exceptionally pretty but not as good as the wine inside. It’s crisp and vibrant and I absolutely love this rose wine.

This past year also saw me making new friends, one being a wonderful lady who reads my blog every week.

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Jean

This past year also had me reconnecting with childhood friends.

Me & Shane

Shane and I have been friends since early teens, and although we have both lived in different parts of the country, we saw each other when we could. Well, now we both live in Nova Scotia, and I’m over the moon happy to see him when I’m in Antigonish or when he comes to Halifax. Here’s to seeing a lot more of Shane in 2022. He loves wine, just like me! Shane also introduced me to one of my favorite wines of 2021.

Bolla Le Poiane Ripasso

Ripasso reds are such interesting wines. The Valpolicella grape juice is poured over the must and skins of Amarone, giving it a complexity that is delicious. And it’s not often the price of wines go down, but I saw Shane last weekend and he pointed out that the price of this wine dropped $3 permanently. Even a better deal.

It’s been a challenging 2 years, 22 months with Covid, and my family lives in Newfoundland. Thankfully I have been able to see them. But I have to say a big thank you to my friends. I have been blessed with wonderful friends and they got me through many tough times in 2021. Here’s to more great times in 2022.

You may remember my sister Jackie gave me a gorgeous BBQ for Christmas last year.

It has the steak sear zone.

Which cooks an amazing steak.

I’ve tried and shared many recipes.

I do a lot of cooking.

But I digress. Let’s talk some more wine.

Dogajolo

I discovered this Italian red this past week, and will definitely be buying it again. Under $20, the Dogajolo Toscano red is a Super Tuscan, Sangiovese blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. A gorgeous medium bodied wine that makes a great addition to any Christmas get together.

Well, that’s it for me for today. I would like to take a moment to wish every reader of my wine blog a very Merry Christmas, and here’s to a great 2022. Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Darlene

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Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Hello December! At work on Wednesday, I couldn’t believe it was already December 1st. This Fall just flew by, even November where it seemed it rained every day

This is what my BBQ looked like for most of November. It was a windy and wet one. Today it’s sunny and we have a wind chill of -12-degrees. Hello December!

Grumpy Xmas
I miss Grumpy Cat

My sister and my brother-in-law are coming this week on Tuesday. Yay! She is one of my favorite people on the planet. And I love him, he is the brother I never had. I’m so excited.

They are crossing over the ferry tonight, heading to Antigonish, where their son Riley is going to St. FX University. So, while she is here, I may make this dessert. Jackie loves chocolate, and I know she would love this Chocolate Lasagna.

Chocolate Lasagna

You can find the easy to make recipe here. Oh, and Maggie is coming too.

So Maggie is going to stay with Riley and Jackie and Craig are coming to Halifax on Tuesday to do some Christmas shopping. I took a couple of days off this week to spend with her, and then on Friday evening I’m heading to Antigonish to spend the weekend with all of them. So, there won’t be a wine blog next weekend.

Let’s talk some wine. Well, first, let’s talk when wine and beer meet.

A local craft beer company, North Brewing, has teamed up with Benjamin Bridge, the award winning winery in the Annapolis Valley, to create Blanc Grisette conditioned on the skins of Sauvignon Blanc. It was so delicious. Crisp and light, I enjoyed this after work yesterday evening. I loved it.

I booked my trip home yesterday, going home for Christmas for 10 days. Because of a Covid lockdown, I couldn’t get home last Christmas, and it was our first Christmas without my Dad. So I’m really looking forward to getting home for Christmas this year. My mom drinks white wine, and this is one of her favorites.

Apothic White

Although I find the Apothic red wines OK, I really like the white. It is available in every province and it’s priced at around the $20 mark. It’s a delicious blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Grigio, and it’s a great addition to any Christmas party. It’s a wonderful food wine, because Chardonnay will bring the body and the texture, Riesling and Pinot Grigio will bring acidity and provide a perfect balance. If you try this wine, I would love to know what you think.

Esteban Martin

I decided to try this new wine from Spain a little while ago. It’s a Garnacha – Syrah blend. Garnacha is Grenache, so it’s comparable to a Cote du Rhone from France. This is a great wine, normally priced under $17, and now on sale. So a great time to try it. Great peppery notes and wine critic James Suckling gave this wine, which is under $15, 92 Points.

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

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Wine Tastings Are Fun

Some they tasted blind

Last Saturday evening I did a wine tasting. It was my 4th tasting in this building. We had some first-timers and some familiar faces. We had a lot of fun, some great laughs and we tried some great wines. My challenge for this wine tasting was two fold. It was important I didn’t bring any repeat wines, and I wanted to mix it up a bit.

A fun group of people

Some of you might feel intimidated at the thought of going to or attending a wine tasting. Don’t be! I’ve done wine tastings for as few as 6 people and as many as 30. Although last Saturday’s wine tasting was in the Common Room of an apartment building, I’ve done most in people’s homes. Get a group of friends together in your home, bring someone in that knows wine, and it will be fun and informative. Food is always a nice touch. Most people do a charcuterie board style with cheese, crackers and some meats.

So let’s talk some wine.

Grand Pre Sparkling

We kicked off the evening with a locally made Sparkling wine, from Grand Pre Vineyard in Nova Scotia. Champlain Sparkling Brut was named after Samuel de Champlain, the person credited with mapping Nova Scotia. This wine was made in the traditional method and is a gorgeous dry Sparkling wine.

Then we did comparisons, in both a white and a red. Let’s start with the white wine that won the evening.

Vinho Verde

Hands down the winner of the evening. Vinho Verde is a region in Portugal that is putting out some great wines at even greater prices. It is not a grape variety, it is a region. Most have some effervescence, this one had very little. Vinho Verde means green wine or young wine. Beautiful wine with great acidity and priced at $13.99. Pick one up this season to enjoy with family or friends. Great food wine.

As I mentioned earlier, we did a comparison of a couple of expensive wines, with reasonable priced wines, to show people that great wine doesn’t have to be expensive. We tasted them blindly, I had the wines in paper bags and we tasted them side by side. The lower priced wines won both times.

The top photo is the Heritage Chateauneuf du Pape, priced at $55. Almost 3 times the amount of the Cote du Rhone in the bottom picture. Most people liked the bottom wine more. Both from France, both from the same region, Cote du Rhone, and both made with the Grenache grape. The Cote du Rhone on the bottom also has Syrah added. It’s less than $18 at $17.78 and what a deal. Spectacular wine. And a great wine to have with your favorite comfort foods, now that the temperatures are dropping.

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

Darlene

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Making November A Little Less Dreary

November in Halifax

We had a fabulous September and October weather-wise here in Halifax, but we’ve seen our fair share of rain in November. There’s a special weather statement in effect for Monday Tuesday and Wednesday, we could get over 150 mm of rain with high winds.

People have asked why I’m putting up some Christmas lights a little early, well it makes things look less dreary. Plus, they bring me joy, and we could all use joy.

My foyer

This is what outside my apartment door looks like right now. The lights in the holiday swag are battery operated and so pretty.

Gabriel

Here Gabriel is checking out the Christmas decorations in my entrance way. Not sure what to think, although this is our 4th Christmas together.

You know what also brings me joy? Probably not too hard to guess, since you’re reading a wine blog. Wine. And food. I get a lot of joy from food as well.

Wings & Potatoes on the BBQ

I do love grilling all year round, and experimenting with new recipes. I normally do wings in the air fryer, but I tried a dry rub, grilled them, and finished them in the air fryer for crispiness. They came out pretty good!

Let’s talk some wine. I have a wine tasting tonight, where we are doing some comparisons between grapes in different price ranges. I’m really looking forward to it, as there are a couple of new wines I’ll be featuring tonight. I’ll tell you all about it next week.

Many new wines have arrived at the NSLC recently. I tried one last night.

I love the label and had to try the wine. Plus it had a great price point, $12.49. Love the lips, and how they call it ‘easy going red’. To my friends in Newfoundland, it’s available there as well, and it’s on sale there right now. It’s a fun and easy to drink red blend. I looked everywhere on the Internet and on the bottle, and no where could I find the grapes used in this wine. But it’s tasty and definitely worth the purchase.

Bu Vivere Sangiovese

This is another new wine I’ve tried in the past couple of weeks, a Sangiovese out of Italy. This is another great value that will only be at our liquor stores for a limited time, it’s $14.99 a bottle, and it’s fresh and fruity with some spicy notes. It’s a great bottle of wine to bring if you’re invited somewhere for dinner.

I know I didn’t do a wine blog last weekend, I had company all weekend, and just didn’t get the chance. i’m really looking forward to my wine tasting tonight, and sharing some of the new wines I’ll be introducing tonight.

I’ll tell you all about them next weeki’ll tell you all about them next week
Cheers

Darlene

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International Merlot Day

International Merlot Day

Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog, knows I’m a huge Merlot fan. It’s luscious and sexy, easy to drink and very food friendly. Merlot is known as a chameleon because it adapts to many climates, taking on the character of both its location and winemaking techniques. Which makes Merlot so interesting. Depending on where its grown, and who the winemaker is, it can have subtle nuances. I find it a super interesting wine. Here are some of my favorites.

Carta Vieja Merlot from Chile

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.

This one is fantastic as well, also from Chile at just $20 a bottle.

Santa Ema Gran Reserve Merlot

Merlot is also a big grape in a Bordeaux blend. Bordeaux labels its wine by region, so it’s a little more hard to determine which has more Merlot, and which has more Cabernet Sauvignon. A Bordeaux is always a blend, and If you buy a wine from the Left Bank, regions like Haut-Medoc, Margaux or Paulliac, they will contain Merlot, but be Cabernet Sauvignon dominant. The Right Bank of Bordeaux is Merlot dominant. Regions like Saint Emilion and Pomerol. These tend to pricier Merlot wines.

Chateau Le Puy

This Chateau le Puy is a spectacular wine, and is a blend. 85% of this wine is Merlot with some Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. Bordeaux wines age extremely well so at $36, this is a great value.
A wine from next-door to this region, is the Château Puyfromage

This wine is also from Bordeaux, it’s also a blend, and comes frm right next-door to the region of Saint Emilion. Merlot is still the dominant grape but it’s a little more affordable at $22.79 a bottle.

Another French Merlot

This Merlot is also from France, but much more affordable, I tried it last night for the first time. Baron Philip De Rothschild Merlot is on sale in my area right now for less than $15 a bottle. I found this to be a softer Merlot, some notes of raspberry, coffee and spice. Tasty, but definitely a softer medium bodied Merlot, whereas most Merlot wines are more on the full-bodied side.

Candor Merlot

And last but not least, one of my favourite Merlot wines. California can make some beautiful Merlot wine, and this one from Paso Robles is so very good. This wine is luscious and plummy on the palate. (Plummy is a word, right?) I just love it, and it comes in that around the $25 price range.

That’s it for me for this week. Have a fun weekend. Don’t forget to put your clocks back and enjoy the extra hour sleep. and our trip to Bordeaux France is going ahead in April 2022, check out all the details here. I would love to see you on the trip.

Darlene

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Fun Facts About Wine

I must be a Genius

If this statement is true, I must be a freaking genius! I know wine can be responsible for some witty come-backs and awesome dance moves. We are going to have a bit of fun in this week’s wine blog with some fun facts about wine and I’ll tell you about a couple of new wines I tried this past week.

Did you know grapes are the most planted fruit in the world.

Now, grapes are used in making more than just wine. Some people eat them as is (boring!), they can also be used to makes jams, jellies, and juice. My favorite way to consume a grape, happens to be in a glass. A tonne of grapes can also produce 720 bottles of wine, so here’s to a tons of grapes.

Wine is mentioned in the Bible

There are all kinds of references to wine in the bible. The Bible also speaks of wine in general terms as a bringer and concomitant of joy, particularly in the context of nourishment and feasting. One of my favorite quotes “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart”

During the early Roman times, it was forbidden for women to drink wine.

I’m a Champion

Officially, by Roman law, drinking wine by a woman was a crime and even the death penalty was sentenced. In addition, at Roman “parties”, the closest ones could kiss the girl on the lips to see if she had not been drinking before. Thankfully I wasn’t born back then. Whew! Hey, if you’re kissing my lips, there’s going to wine on them. Just a heads up.

 “Aroma” is the term for the fragrance of young wine, while “Mellow” is for old wine.

When I was studying to become a Sommelier, I learned the importance of smelling wine. Smelling your wine, is an important part of the tasting ritual. Wine tasters will stick their noses deep into a glass (an important reason not to fill it too high) and inhale deeply, then angle the glass this way and that as they continue to assess the wine’s aromas. In blind wine tastings, the aroma was very important in identifying a grape variety. My instructor used to say, you identify by your nose and confirm by tasting. And swirling the wine helps release the aromas. As a matter of fact, you’ll see me smell the wine first, swirl and smell it again. We learn the different aromas that are released by swirling.

Spitting wine can be acceptable.

But honestly, why spit. When I was studying to become a Sommelier, we tasted many wines each evening. One night it was up to 50. In a case like that you have to spit. At a wine-tasting event, it is also acceptable to spit the wine out. It is OK to take a sip of wine and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds and then decide to swallow or spit it out. This allows people to taste many different wines without getting drunk.

Fred, Angie, Joan & Me

My friends Fred & Arla got home from Alberta recently and we got together to have a glass of wine with Angie and Joan. We shared a wine that was given to me by my niece and her husband, when I had them over for dinner last Sunday.

Doug Gilmour 93 Red

I met Doug Gilmour briefly at the Radio Station I work at, when he was in for an interview while visiting Halifax. He was such a gentleman, kind and gracious to the staff. At the time, I had no idea he was such a wine lover. Apparently, wine has long been a passion of the Maple Leafs legend. I definitely would have chatted about that if I had known. Doug Gilmour 93 comes in both a white and red, and we enjoyed the red the other evening. It was a very interesting wine. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir, and I can honestly say, it’s the first time I have had Pinot Noir mixed in with a traditional Bordeaux type of blend.

That’s it for me for this week. Happy Halloween!

Darlene

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Re-connecting with Friends

I had the most wonderful week this week, and I wanted to share. The person in this picture was one of my best friends growing up, we met when we were in our early teens and hung out together. I also learned to skateboard because of this guy, he was excellent on a skateboard when we were younger. We grew up in Corner Brook Newfoundland together and as we turned into adults, we moved to different parts of the country. The last time I saw him was 15 years ago, when I lived at home for a few years and he was home visiting from Toronto. Now he and his husband have retired in Antigonish and I live in Halifax, and he was coming to town. We reconnected over several wonderful bottles of wine. How’s this for a blast from the past.

We were kids, all dressed up for a fancy night out at the Glynmill Inn in Corner Brook. Somewhere I have a picture of myself and Shane, when I went to Shane’s high school graduation with him in 1978. We’ve been friends for a long time, and I think I have met the person who loves red wine as much as I do. Before dinner we shared a bottle of awesome wine. A Ripasso.

Everyone who is a regular reader of this blog knows how much I love Ripasso. Valpolicella Ripasso and Amarone wines are indeed special and unique. Shane had a great name for Ripasso, he called it Baby Amarone. Amarone is produced with grapes dried for 3 months, Valpolicella Ripasso is made with 2 fermentations, the first one with fresh Valpolicella grapes and the second one in contact with Amarone skins. This La Poiane Valpolicella Ripasso was spectacular. A great price at just $25.99, we enjoyed it while catching up, but it would also be fantastic with food.

As a matter of fact, we continued with the Ripasso theme over dinner. We went to Amano, an Italian Ristorante in downtown Halifax. It was my first time there and it was fabulous. I had the most delicious roasted beet and arugula salad to start, and then I had the Penne alla Boscaiola. I couldn’t tell you how to pronounce it, but it was penne sauteed with roasted chicken, bacon, caramelized onions, mushrooms, parmigiano and a demi-glace.

The picture is a little dark because the restaurant was a little dark. Shane had the Margherita pizza, which he let me try, and it was delicious. Very much like the Margherita pizza I had in Rome. And the wine we had while enjoying our fantastic food? This Ripasso

This isn’t my picture

The Zenato Ripasso is only available at Bishops Cellar here in Halifax, a privately owned gorgeous wine store next to the restaurant we went to. But it is available at most provincial liquor stores across Canada. This too was a wonderful treat. It was lush and had a gorgeous lingering finish. I would definitely buy this wine again.

We finished the meal with coffee. Shane had an espresso and I pulled a rookie wine drinking move. I had a coffee and Bailey’s topped with lots of whipped cream. It was tasty, however, as I said, a rookie move on my part. Every experienced red wine drinker knows not to mix creamy stuff with red wine. Tip for my readers. If you are drinking red wine, stay away from whipped cream.

So that’s it for me for this week. Yesterday was a fun day at work! I had a delivery of some wine from New Brunswick, from a friend and colleague who travelled up there.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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I Love Fall

One thing I know for certain, Atlantic Canada is a stunningly beautiful place in the Fall. Between the gorgeous colors and the cooler crisp temperatures, it is my all time favorite time of the year. I currently live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but I am originally from a beautiful area of Atlantic Canada, Corner Brook, Newfoundland. The West Coast of Newfoundland is home to the amazing Gros Morne National Park, Marble Mountain Ski Hill and this is where I grew up.

Steady Brook on the West Coast of NL

This next picture doesn’t do the view justice, as I was grilling last night, as the sun was going down, I tried to capture the gorgeous sky and the pretty Fall colors. Yes, I keep clear lights on my balcony all year round. Now that it is getting darker much earlier, I like them on when I’m out using my barbecue.

The view from my deck

It’s also a great time for comfort food and great wine. I have a great maple curry chicken pasta dish I made this past week. I’ll share the recipe shortly, yes, that is homemade cheese toast and a robust red to compliment.

Bowtie pasta with cheese toast
Trapiche Reserve Malbec

Speaking of robust reds, my friend Angie bought this Trapiche Reserve Malbec and shared with me. I don’t buy a lot of Malbec, but I enjoyed this very much, and it’s as wonderful on the wallet as it is on the palate, coming in under $15. Plum and spice notes, with a hint of vanilla. We were playing our weekly game of Rummikub but it would also go nicely with food.

Bread & Butter Pinot Noir

I know I’ve written about this wine in the past, but I bought it again last Friday night. I was do some meal prep for my nephew, and was sipping along. This is so smooth and so flavorful, it’s one of my favorite PInot Noir wines and it’s only $22 a bottle. And that really is a great price for a great Pinot.

Maple curry chicken pasta

I don’t know why, but I don’t eat a lot of pasta in the Summer. So last weekend, I made one of my favorites, a maple curry chicken pasta. I cut chicken breast up in bite size pieces and cooked that in olive oil and some curry powder. I used bowtie pasta, but you can use penne. This is so quick and easy. Saute onions and bell peppers, add the cooked pasta & cooked chicken, and pour in maple syrup. Let that simmer. Then I normally add cream and curry paste, but I was out of curry paste, so I used curry powder, heavy cream and some of the pasta water to make the sauce and let that simmer. Oh, and I added bacon. I mean, pasta is so much better with bacon.

You could enjoy this with a hearty white wine, like this one

Trinity Oaks Chardonnay

Or you could try this new red, which I enjoyed last night for the first time

It’s very seldom I see a red wine in a clear bottle. A rule of thumb, any wine, whether red or white, that comes in a clear bottle should be consumed within 3 years. Which is why most whites are in clear bottles, the majority of them should be consumed within 3 years. So I was a little concerned when I got this home and realized it was a 2016. It was on clearance, regular priced at around $17, on for $13.50. Honestly, I feel our liquor store was a little late putting this on clearance.

It was the Bree Merlot from France, and I love Merlot from France, normally. Most of the French Merlot wines I’ve had have been in Bordeaux blends, but I love the Left Bank of Bordeaux where Merlot dominates. And although it was good, I could tell it was starting to show its age. There was a little bit of a bitterness, but otherwise it was tasty. I wish I had found it earlier. But the fruit still shone through and the empty bottle this morning will tell you it went down more than OK.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and although everyone will admit, the last 19 months have been extremely challenging, I hope we can all find something to be grateful for. Much of Canada is experiencing its 4th Wave of Covid-19 and some families and friends are not able to get together for Thanksgiving for the second year in a row. This has been very tough for many people, and hard on people’s hearts and mental health. Covid fatigue is a real thing, and I understand it completely.

Me voicing ads

But this weekend I am going to focus on the good things, and there are many of them. I have a great family, my Mom will be 87 in 3 months and she is doing great. I have a sister whom I adore, and her family is my family too. I have wonderful friends, that I feel I can count on and have helped me a lot over the past 19 months. I have a job that I really enjoy, (most of the time LOL). And I am grateful for this little fella, Gabriel.

Gabriel

Gabriel is a cat that was severely abused, and I started fostering him over three years ago. He was so scared when I first got him, he lived under the bed and hissed at me for 3 straight months.

Gabriel feels safe now

Now he’s turned into Mr. Social. He greets my friends at the door, and is just a gorgeous kitty. As you can see he had parts of his ears chopped off, and had his teeth kicked in, so you can understand why he was hesitant to trust. He is the baby of the household now, and he knows it.

Me & Tigger

I wasn’t always a cat person, I adopted Tigger when I lived out West and together we lived in 8 cities and towns in 4 provinces. He was over 20 years old when he passed, I had him for 20 years and the vet figured he was 5 months old when I adopted him. This is what good living looks like, Tigger was well known and well loved.

Leo aka Batman

After Tigger died, I didn’t know what to do. So I fostered a kitty cat that was very sick. He had feline leukemia and had limited time, but I got 2 years of wonderful enjoyment out of this ‘little’ fella! I swear Leo had it so good he hung on a lot longer than anyone thought he would. I always said he didn’t want to give up the treats or the good life. I only ever have 1 kitty at a time, and they seem to love all the attention.

So, let’s talk some wine.

Ruffino Prosecco

I’ve tried a new Prosecco recently and if you are planning on having any kind of celebration this weekend, try it. Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine, that is tasty and inexpensive. This wine is $20, and most of them are under $20, so they are easy on the wallet. This one is dry and crisp with a light acidity and nice tart citrus flavors. Great for your appetizers, and we enjoyed this with a charcuterie board, and it was wonderful.

655 Miles Cabernet

Here’s a wonderful new red I’ve tried recently. 655 Miles Cabernet Sauvignon out of California. When I bought it, it was $17 and what a great price on a great wine. Well, I just checked and its on sale here in Nova Scotia, so I’ll definitely be adding a couple of bottles to the wine rack. It’s actually a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvigngon, 5% Petite Sirah and 3% Syrah, so it’s a super interesting and complex wine. I searched and searched but couldn’t find the reason behind the name, 655 Miles. But it’s a beautiful bottle and the wine is full-bodied with a generous lingering finish and good tannins.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend to my Canadian friends and readers, and to the rest of the world, have a great weekend. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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New Friends & New Favorites

Riley & Maggie

Starting this week’s wine blog with some serious cuteness! 2 of my loves, my nephew Riley and my sister’s Bernadoodle puppy Maggie. Yes, she is a puppy, about 8 months now.

Something exciting happened to me in the past week. I got to meet one of my readers that lives in Ottawa. When you’ve been writing a weekly blog for several years, no matter what the topic, you always question yourself and “are people reading”? That’s why I really appreciate any comments and feedbacks, and the friends and readers that share my wine blog with their family and friends on social media and through email.

Jean from Ottawa

This is Jean from Ottawa, and when I met her I had to give her a hug. I felt I knew her through our mutual friend Angie, and she said she felt she was getting to know me through my wine blog. That’s why I’ve always felt wine is so much more than just a beverage. It helps make a good time even more special and brings friends, old and new, together.

My friend Judy

Jean was visiting so my friend Angie decided to open a special bottle of Champagne that she received for a very special birthday. The above picture is of my friend Judy, who I also met through Angie, enjoying the special champagne.

Veuve Clicquot Champagne

I love a good dry not sweet Champagne, and this one was damn near close to perfect. When you see the word ‘Brut’ on a label, you know the wine inside is not sweet, it’s dry. Champagne is made with 3 grapes, 2 of which are red. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with no skin contact. Sparkling wines are made worldwide, but you know when you see the word ‘Champagne’, it came from Champagne France. No other sparkling wine is allowed to use that word, even if it’s made in the same traditional way, using the same grapes. The winemaker, also called the Blender, has the job of combining grapes and vintages so that the ‘House Champagne’ tastes the same year after year.

I tried another awesome white wine this past week.

Director of Fun Richard

This is my friend and the Director of Fun for Atlantic Tours, Richard. Richard came to my building last week and did a talk to some of the residents about upcoming trips. We enjoyed a glass of wine, and one of them was a white Bordeaux. Go to http://www.atlantictours.com and find out about our River Cruise to Bordeaux France in 2022. This fantastic blend consists of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion and Muscadelle. The 2018 we enjoyed received the honors of Best Value Buy of 2019 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. With its gorgeous bright flavors, I think Richard told me it’s on sale right now for $15 or $16 right now. Still just around $20 a bottle, it’s a great wine.

Before I get into my new red, and I have tried a couple of new ones recently, I have to tell you about a pork tenderloin recipe that changed my mind on pork tenderloin. Pork tenderloin it’s like a blank canvas, and really needs a lot of flavour thrown at it. If it’s overcooked, it’s pretty boring. I have found a fabulous pork tenderloin recipe.

It starts with butterflying the pork tenderloin. My stuffing was simple. I sauteed onions and apples in butter and oil, with a dash of cinnamon and a drop of maple syrup, and salt and pepper of course. I added that mixture to the bread crumbs and stuffed the tenderloin.

Bacon makes it better

I’m not usually one for bacon wrapped meat, but my friend told me about this recipe and I decided to try it.

Then I put that on the grill.

Always let it rest

I used a meat thermometer to bring it to a medium, 145-degrees. Then I covered it in aluminum foil and let it rest.

Oh. My. God. It’s like the bacon became part of the tenderloin, and was so moist and tasty. I’m addicted.

Now, The new red wine…..

Roscato Dark Red Blend

Richard bought this red to our event, and I really enjoyed it. it’s a fantastic value at $16.99 and it’s a red blend that consists of Merlot and two indigenous grapes from Italy, Teroldego and Lagrein. it’s medium to full bodied, it has been aged in oak, but the fruit definitely shines from the wine. It’s plump and juicy with subtle hints of coffee, vanilla and chocolate, and a perfect wine for meat.

Here’s to a wonderful week of new friends and new favourites. Cheers

Darlene

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The Reds of Last Week’s Wine Tasting

Last week I told you I did my first wine-tasting in 19 months, and we had such a great time. We did 8 wines at this particular tasting, so last week I covered the first 5 wines, which were the sparkling, the rose and the whites. This week I’m going to share the red wines.

We had 3 red wines, and started the evening with a Pinot Noir

MacMurray Pinot Noir

From the Russian River Valley in California, I love this Pinot Noir. One of the ladies who didn’t think they liked Pinot Noir, because their experience in the past was a ‘wimpy’ one, like this. This is not a full-bodied wine, it’s medium bodied, but lots of flavor. I found how they used the oak was very interesting. It spent 8months in both French and American oak, but the really interesting part was 20% new barrels and 80% used barrels. The used barrels imparts less oak flavor onto the wine, but ages it smoothly.

Septima Gran Reserva from Argentina

This wine is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat. When I opened this wine during the wine tasting, the cork crumbled in my hand. I was very concerned. I tried the wine, and although it hadn’t gone skunky yet, you knew it wouldn’t be much longer before the wine was tainted. This is a big bold full-bodied red, great for red meat. All the ladies agreed it wasn’t their favorite wine to sip on, but would compliment food, and I had to agree. Even though it was breathing for about 90 minutes, it didn’t soften the wine. This wine comes in at $42.50 a bottle.

And last but not least, my personal favorite of the evening

Casella 2010 Cabernet

I don’t usually take Australian wines to a wine-tasting, but on a leap of faith from Alex at the NSLC, I took this wine and it was my favorite. Many lesser priced Australian wines can have manipulated oaky flavors, and be a little too oaky for me. Not all, but many. This was not the case with the 2010 Casella Cabernet Sauvignon. It was spectacular. Full-bodied but the oak didn’t overpower, and the 2010 vintage has won awards all over the world. This wine was $50 a bottle, and I have to say it was totally worth it. This is a wine you can sip on its own, or enjoy with food.

Relaxing weekends

If you are interested in having a wine tasting in your home, reach out to me at darlenemyers@hotmail.com. I can do a wine tasting that fits your budget. Next week, I have a Champagne to share with you, a pork tenderloin that changed my mind on pork tenderloin and a new red.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Wine Tastings Are Back

Last Friday I did my very first wine tasting in 18 months. Ask me if I was excited. It was so great to start them again, and what a way to kick off another wine-tasting season. We had so much fun and so many great wines.

Such a fun group

A very big thank you to Barb for hosting and to Donna for passing along my name, and to all the ladies who made it such fun. I hope the rest of your weekend was just as fun. We had some great laughs, tried some good wines, and some great wines. And the higher priced wines weren’t necessarily the best ones. We did 8 wines, and I’m going to start with the whites this week, and I’ll cover the reds next week.

We actually started with a Rose wine

Gerard Bertrand Rose

I absolutely loved this wine, and some of the ladies had had it before. This should become a new classic. It’s an excellent price at just $19.99 and a vibrant non-sweet rose wine that’s a blend of 3 grapes, Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. I think it’s my new favorite rose. I’ll definitely be buying it againn.

Then we tried an amazing sparkling wine from award winning winemaker Jean Benoit Deslauriers at Benjamin Bridge here in Nova Scotia.

The hand-crafted small lot 2015 Brut from Benjamin Bridge was spectacular. Normally when I do wine tastings, I bring a great sparkling wine at a great price, like a Prosecco. However, when it’s a limited edition, small lot, and there was literally only 2 bottles left, you had to have one. Once this is gone, it’s gone, so what a wonderful treat for the ladies to share this wine. I have also bought the non-vintage Brut which is about $28. This beauty was $50, but it was a spectacular example of a traditional made sparkling wine, and we enjoyed every sip.

The true temperature of ‘room temperature’ red wine is always an interesting discussion at wine tastings.

The next white was a bit of a surprise to us, as it was the most expensive but no one picked it as their favorite.

Rose Rock Chardonnay

Oregon is one of my favorite Pinot Noir producing areas. And I thought that since Oregon is so similar in terroir to Burgundy France that the Chardonnay would be exceptional as well. This wine was $52 a bottle, and sadly, I don’t feel it was worth the money. The slogan is ‘French Soul, Oregon Soil’, and although I didn’t find the Chardonnay overly oaky, one of the ladies couldn’t drink it because she found it oaky. Everyone has a different palate. It was tasty, but I’ve tasted better for less money.

And now for the wine of the week, and the hands down favorite white from last week….

Picpoul De PInet

This is always an interesting wine to bring to wine-tastings. No one has heard of the ‘Picpoul’ grape. Picpoul, also known as Folle Blanche, is originally from the south of France, and was used initially in making Cognac and Vermouth. This was a fantastic wine and most everyone was shocked to learn of the $17.50 price tag. It had subtle citrus flavors and just the right amount of acidity. This is a wonderful food wine. The ladies had a charcuterie board which paired very well, and it would also be great for appetizers and salads.

Thank you again ladies, next week I’ll cover the red wines we did.

So our wine tour to the Niagara region of Ontario didn’t go on October 2nd. The rising number of cases were concerning, so we played it safe. I do, however, have a Nova Scotia wine tour to tell you about, a day trip.

Myself and my friend Richard Arnold from Atlantic Wine Tours are doing a day trip to the Annapolis Valley on Tuesday, October 12th. We are going to visit 3 wineries and do tastings, and have a lovely lunch. All the details can be found right here!

The Annapolis Valley

The colors are just gorgeous in the Fall of the year in the Annapolis Valley, and Richard is from there, so he doesn’t an awesome tour. I hope you’ll come join us for a fabulous day in Nova Scotia.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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The Fruits of Their Labour

I love long weekends

This weekend is Labour Day weekend, and I’d like to dedicate this blog to all the workers involved in making our favourite beverage…Wine! A hats off to the workers that we do not see or meet. There are so many people involved in the making of your favorite wine. From the people who plant the vines, cultivate and harvest the grapes, and to those that are involved in the wine-making process, Cheers to you this Labour Day weekend. I’d also like to say a big thank you to the people who stock the shelves and help bring this awesome beverage into our lives.

On another note, I was double-checking to see how to spell Labour Day, and our American friends spell it ‘Labor’, while the British spell it ‘Labour’. And since Canada is still a British colony, I’ll go with Labour. But I digress, let’s talk some wine.

Yes, yes it is!

My friends Fred and Arla are leaving today for Alberta. They have a grandson Sage that’s almost 2, and another one on the way. So they are going up to take care of Sage while their son & daughter-in-law have baby #2. So we had a little get together last night, to have a farewell sip. Fred and Arla are both drinking whites at the moment. This is one my friend Angie bought for the occasion.

Ruffino Pinot Grigio

Ruffino has been making wine for 140 years, so they are pretty darn good at it. This is a bright and lively white wine with great acidity and gorgeous herbal and lemon flavors. It’s a great deal normally under $16, and it’s even reduced further right now. It’s also super food-friendly. Yes, it’s totally acceptable to drink white after Labour Day 🥂

Before I tell you about a great new value red, let’s talk ribs.

It’s not officially a long weekend until I do some baby back ribs. My hometown of Corner Brook Newfoundland had its first Ribfest this year, and I missed it by one weekend. I had recognized one of the participants from Ribfest in Halifax.

Rule #1. Take off that fatty membrane layer at the back of your ribs. It keeps fat in and flavor out.

In my baggie, I put brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, BBQ sauce and then orange juice. That’s going to marinate all day, and then I’ll slow cook them in my oven for about 2 hours, and finish them off on the grill. I’ll put some grill marks on the ribs but then I’ll move them to indirect heat to finish cooking.

I’ll let you know how they turn out. In the mean time, I love red wine with baby back ribs. My favorite is probably Zinfandel. And here’s one that won’t break the bank. The Pepperwood Grove Zinfandel is rich and juicy and priced under $18. It’s more of a medium bodied wine, compared to those in the $30-$40 price range that are much more full-bodied!

if you’re up for a treat this weekend, you might want to try this Zinfandel.

I presented this wine and one of my last winetasting before Covid.

1000 Stories

Here’s a very interesting and complex Zinfandel wine, 1000 Stories bourbon barrel aged Zinfandel. I’ve had positive and negative experiences with bourbon barrel aged wine. I have had wines where the bourbon overpowers the flavour of the wine, and it’s boozy in the back of your throat. This one doesn’t do that, the bourbon is quite mild, and the price point is about $38 a bottle.

Meanwhile, here’s a great value wine I had this past week.

Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon

This is available everywhere, and in Newfoundland Nova Scotia, it’s on sale right now. From one of the top wine-producing regions in Chile, the Maipo Valley is producing some fine tasting wine at extraordinary decent prices. It’s rich and dark in the glass with beautiful flavors of plum, cassis, oak and mint. It’s a fantastic value, and worth the try.

I’m so excited, I have a wine-tasting coming up this Friday night. I’ll tell you all about it next weekend. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Wine Writer’s Block

I’ve been writing a wine blog since before I started my journey to becoming a Sommelier, and that was almost 10 years ago. Since then I have written over 600 wine blogs. And sometimes, you come to a brick wall. I started this wine blog today a couple of different times, and erased the titles and the topics. It’s naturel a person will have some writer’s block every once in a while.

So, while I’m in a bit of a rut today about writing wine blogs, I’m going to try to get you out of your wine-drinking rut. So many people buy a wine they like and keep buying it. Hey, I have some staples in my wine rack. Go to’s, that you know are good. And wine is expensive, it’s not like most people can afford to buy a wine, especially a treat wine, and not like it. But there are safe ways to expand your wine palate.

  1. Attend a wine tasting if you get the opportunity
Wine tastings are fun

I’m so happy. Wine tastings are starting up again. Now that we can have 25 people in a room unmasked and not social-distanced, I have been booked for 2 wine tastings so far this Fall. Wine tastings are fun and a great opportunity to try different wines at a fraction of the cost. People who go to wine tastings and find a wine they like, tend to take pictures of the wine and pick it up the next time they are out. You don’t even need to hire a Sommelier, gather a group of friends, have each person bring a wine they like, and then the group can try all the wines. However, a Sommelier is a well-trained knowledgeable wine steward who can guide you through a wine tasting, and also pick out a wide variety of wines. It’s a fun way to expand your wine palate.

2. Choose a grape you like from a different country

If you like Pinot Grigio, most of what you’ll find is Italian. Try looking for a Pinot Grigio from a different country, or try its cousin, Pinot Gris. If you like Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, try one from a different country than what you are used to. Compare Old World to New World. Because most Old World Wines, those from France, Italy etc, label by region and not by varietal, ask for help. There are big differences between the way California or France would make a wine. Weather has a huge impact on the taste of wines as well, and you’ll probably will be able to detect nuances. Try a Pinot Noir from Canada and try one from Chile, you’ll detect some differences.

2. Try a different grape altogether, but in the color of wine you like.

You’ll feel empowered. If you are a white wine drinker, try a totally different white. If you’re a red wine drinker, try a different red. Again, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Tell your wine store staff member what you like about your favorite wine, and ask them to recommend something different. You’ll feel like the Queen or King of the wine world.

Let’s talk some wine

Pinot Noir is such a great wine for Summer. First of all, you serve it slightly more chilled than you would a big bold red like Cabernet Sauvignon. Also, it’s medium-bodied and the perfect pairing for anything you serve on a plate. This Montes Pinot Noir is from Chile and is a great value, under $19. (It’s also on sale right now here in NS)

There won’t be a wine blog next Saturday as my sister Jackie is coming to town, and I’m helping her get her son set up in a new home in Antigonish.

Till the next time, Cheers

Darlene

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What’s Hot? A Lot!

Damn, It’s hot!

I read this past week there are almost 300 forest fires burning in British Columbia, and 85 of them are in the Okanogan Valley. The Okanogan Valley is home to some of Canada‘s greatest vineyards and wine producers. When wildfires were burning in places like the Napa Valley in the, I got asked by many people how that would affect the wine.

CTV ran this story this past week on how smoke affects wine and what winemakers can do to help alleviate the bitterness and smoky flavors that these wildfires can cause. You can read the full article here, but make no mistake, wildfires in any winemaking region will affect the taste of the wine.

Humidity drives me crazy

Atlantic Canada is in the middle of an extreme heat wave, with high humidity. Not my favorite weather. 🙄 Yesterday saw temperatures of 29° and with humidity it felt like 39°. I’ve always said, extreme heat is no different than extreme cold, it makes it almost impossible to get outdoors and do anything, unless you have a pool in your backyard, which I do not.

Looking for something cool to drink? Let’s talk some beverages

Black Fly Coolers are awesome

On a really hot day, I like a cool drink, but I don’t like them sweet. This Summer I’ve discovered Black Fly coolers, I have Vodka Grapefruit on the right and Vodka citrus on the left. Decisions Decisions! I also picked it up in Vodka punch. I like the coolers, they are very refreshing but not sweet.

Classic White Wine Spritzer

Did you know, for most of my 20’s, I didn’t like dry wine, red or white. So I drank white wine spritzers, basically red or white wine, with something fizzy added. It can be sparkling water, 7-up or soda water, and lots of ice. And you can include a garnish if you like. And that’s how I initially got introduced to wine. It is still a great cocktail on a Friday evening when it’s really warm out.

Before I tell you about a couple of great red wines I had this past week, I made a homemade peach BBQ sauce. I was at a Farmers market and they had baskets of peaches. So I picked some up and decided to try a peach BBQ sauce. Now the recipe called for bourbon, and I didn’t have any so I substituted tequila.

My peach BBQ sauce

In a saucepan, I combined tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, molasses and chopped peaches in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. I let that cook down for 10 – 15 Minutes. Added the tequila and some Frank’s hot sauce, because I wanted to make it with a bit of zip. Then I put it in the food processor to smoothen out all the chunks. You can also use an immersion blender, which I do have. Let it cool, and put it in a mason jar. It was my first time and it turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself.

Now for a great wine I was given as a gift this past week. My friends Fred & Arla gave me this bottle of wine last weekend and what a treat. The only thing is, NSLC (the liquor store in Nova Scotia) stopped carrying it.

Orca Red Wine

A blend of Grenache (90%) and Syrah (10%), it has an alcohol content of 15%, so be careful, it can knock you on your a$$! It was delicious though, but let me tell you about a wine you can actually get here.

Carpineto Tuscan Red

This was an interesting red, from the Tuscany region of Italy. It’s a Super Tuscan because it’s 70% Sangiovese, and a 30% blend of Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot. A Super Tuscan is the name they put on wines from Tuscany Italy that are made with ‘non-Italian’ grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This is under $20 a bottle and it was on sale recently so I picked it up. Let it breathe for a bit. You can get this wine across Canada including Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and to my Newfoundland friends, it’s on sale there too!

Stay safe everyone. I’ll be here hoping for an end to this heatwave. Autumn is coming up really soon, right? Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Homeward Bound

Saw lots of rain

Newfoundland folk artist Eddie Coffee wrote and sings a song called ‘Grey Foggy Day’ and of the 10 days I spent in Newfoundland recently, it rained for 8 of them on the West Coast. But it didn’t matter, I got to visit my family and it was for the most part relaxing.

Maggie turned 6 months old and weighs in at an impressive 51 pounds, but the sweetest puppy with the nicest disposition. Too Cute

I did a new recipe in the past week, chicken with a citrus chimichurri. Turned out delicious. I cut chicken breasts in half and pounded them out so they were the same thickness.

Citrus Chimichurri

In the citrus Chimichurri I put olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice and some of the lemon zest, honey, salt, pepper, fresh basil, some thyme, an some fresh parsley, I used both curly and flat leaf. I am growing both flat leaf and curly parsley but my favorite is the curly parsley. I marinated the chicken in half the Chimichurri and basted with the other half.

Curly Parsley on the left

Anyway, the chicken turned out amazing, and I will definitely be making that recipe again.

Delicious

Ok, let’s talk some wine. I normally dedicate this blog to great wines under $25. However, every once in a while I tell you about a treat wine. Well, that’s what I had while in Newfoundland. For my birthday, my sister and my brother-in-law did steaks and someone they do business with, bought 2 bottles of wine. We only went through one the first night.

Chateau St. Jean Cute du Rhone

This was a big bold wine, it’s a GSM blend, Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Grenache, which is the grape used for Chateauneuf du Pape, is a boozy grape. It tends to have a high alcohol content. This wine is 14.5% and you could taste it. This company also makes a Chateauneuf du Pape, but it would be a little more expensive. Those wines tend to start at $50 and go up. A great idea to let it sit for 30 minutes, but I would definitely decant this wine. It was a beauty though, and a great value at $25 a bottle. Good tannins and good spice, made it a great pairing for the steak. Apologies to my any readers in Saskatchewan, as I was researching the wine I discovered it’s $32 a bottle there. Yikes. I thought we paid a lot for wine.

If I had my time back, I would have had them open the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. We enjoyed this wine on my last night there, and it was stunning. You can get this wine across Canada, but not here in Nova Scotia. It’s worth picking up. The closest to us would be either Newfoundland or Quebec.

This is a little more expensive at $30 a bottle and what a treat it was. Deep, rich and intense in flavor, this would be a gorgeous steak wine. But I enjoyed it on my last night in Newfoundland gabbing with my Sister. The wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with some Petite Syrah and Merlot. Rich and delicious. This was definitely my favorite wine of the trip, and worth the treat price tag. These brothers have a unique way of making the Cabernet, they de-stem, but don’t crush the grapes entirely. They let some full berries ferment 8 – 10 days. They say it adds more flavor. I can’t argue with them, it was a great wine.

That’s it for me for this week. I didn’t take a lot of pictures while I was home. I was busy helping my sister set up her new trailer, I have some pictures of that I’ll share next week, and other than that who wants pictures of rain. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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The Tour to Niagara is On!

Yes, I’m this excited! I have a couple of trips planned, all within Canada, but still, I’m this excited. The wine tour to the Niagara region in Ontario, including a 2-night stay in beautiful Quebec City and the 1000 Islands Boat Tour is going ahead for October 2nd. And this is where we are staying in Niagara Falls.

Embassy Suites by Hilton

Lots of exciting news this week. I am getting on a plane Thursday for the first time since Christmas 2019 and heading to Newfoundland for 10 days. And then, October 2nd, we are leaving Halifax for a wonderful 7-night tour that I would love you to come on. Come join us, there’s room, and we are going to have so much fun. If you like videos, Richard and I did a video a while back explaining the full details of the tour, and you can view it here. Richard is the President and Director of Fun for Atlantic Tours, and honest to God, he’s so much fun, you would think he was a Newfoundlander himself. LOL

I’m going to share the readers digest version of the tour.

Manoir Victoria Quebec City

First we leave Halifax on a brand new comfortable motorcoach bus and head to Quebec City for 2 nights. We will be staying at the Manoir Victoria Hotel in the heart of Old Quebec City. There we will be given a guided tour, we will have some free time to explore and we are going to discover some great food and wine. I have never been to old Quebec City before so I’m super excited about this part of the trip.

And then it’s on to Niagara Falls. We are staying at the beautiful hotel seen above, the Embassy Suites by Hilton. Over the next 3-night stay, we will enjoy a guided tour of Niagara Falls, plus we will be visiting 6 of the top wineries in the Niagara region. Not all in one day of course, but the best part is we will have a designated driver, so we can enjoy these wineries to the fullest. Some of the wineries include

Wayne Gretzky Winery

Wayne Gretzky not only has an award winning winery, but he also has a whiskey tasting room on site, in this spectacular 20,000 square foot facility.

We will also be visiting Peller Estates, along with 4 other wineries. You can visit 2 wineries, or you can come to all 6, it’s completely up to you. 13 Meals: 4 Dinners, 2 Lunches, 7 Breakfasts are included in the price, and we are going to have so much fun. Come with us.

Thousand Island boat tour

We are going to finish it up with the Thousand Island Boat Tour before we head back home. You can join us from anywhere. Check out the details at http://www.atlantictours.com. You’ll probably talk to Peggy and she can help with any questions you might have.

So, last week I told you I had some ribs marinating, and would give you the recipe this week.

Ribs marinated for 10 hours

Marinades can change, and I never measure amounts. Here’s what I put in my marinade. You can mix and match, or use whatever you like. Brown Sugar, Worchestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, liquid smoke, and BBQ sauce. You can use any sauce for the marinade, but when you are finalizing the ribs on the grill, use a good thick one, it will stick to the ribs better. Then set your oven to 275-degrees and slow cook those ribs for 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

Then I put them on the grill, on in-direct heat. What I mean by that, is one side of my BBQ is on, and the other is not. I put the ribs on the off side, to allow them to finish cooking, slowly. That’s when I’m basting with my good BBQ sauce. This is the one I like, Bulls Eye Sweet & Sticky.

I also put the ribs directly on the heat for a minute or two each side. I let the heat carmelize those sugars from both the sauce and the marinade, and put those real nice grill marks on your ribs. Did I take a picture after my ribs were done. No, I was too hungry. Trust me, they turned out great. And this is the wine I had with them.

Ravage Cabernet Sauvignon

Normally, I like a big bold Zinfandel with ribs, but this time a big bold Cabernet Sauvignon also did the trick. This is actually a blend, even though the majority of the wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon. That is the main grape of the wine, but there is a small bit of Merlot and Zinfandel in this wine. It was rich and decadent, and I just loved it with the ribs. It felt like a real splurge, even though it was under $20 a bottle. To my Newfoundland friends, you can get it there, it’s $1 more.

Corner Brook, NL

I just wanted to let everyone know there will be no wine blogs for the next 2 weeks. Heading to my hometown of Corner Brook, Newfoundland on Thursday and I’m there till Sunday August 2nd. I’ll tell you all about my trip when I get back.

Stay safe, enjoy Summer. Cheers

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The Winds (Wines?) of Elsa

Elsa hit my deck hard

The Winds of Elsa? or the Wines of Elsa? Either way, Tropical Cyclone Elsa hit the Halifax area last night and while some people didn’t get any damage, my patio wasn’t quite as lucky. Yes, this is a picture of my brand new barbecue with a full 20-lb tank of propane inside, and yes, it was attached to the deck by 2 bungee cords. Didn’t matter, Elsa sent all my herb plants flying and my BBQ toppling. So that’s what I’m doing today, clean up. How was your experience with Elsa? People who live on the front of our building didn’t receive any wind at all. I guess I was in the path. Oh, and slept through it all.

Apparently that was me last night. Let’s look at some great food and wine.

First, a couple of new food dishes.

Chicken Flautas
Sweet & Sour Meatballs

My friends Mike & Kim in Newfoundland introduced me to chicken flautas 15 years ago. Delicious. Boiled or roasted chicken, (You can use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. ) shredded, add sauteed onions and garlic. Lots of garlic, they are garlicky! Add salsa and cheese and roll them up in a tortilla shell. And then fry them in a pan till browned on all 4 sides. These flautas, my Mom’s recipe for sweet and sour meatballs, and some rice made for a great weekday meal. I have ribs marinating today, and I’ll share those with you next week. Put them in the marinade last evening, that’s going to be tasty.

I’m going to share some great wines you can have with foods based in a sauce, in this case, a sweet and sour sauce.

A Rose is a great choice

Angie with Arrogant Frog Rose

Arrogant Frog is a great Rose wine and a fan favorite among my friends. It’s made with the Syrah grape, has wonderful acidity and is a great way to compliment a food with a heavier sauce. Perfectly priced at $17.

Pepperwood Grove Zinfandel

Another grape that goes well with a sweet and sour sauce would be saucy Zinfandel. Zinfandel’s peppery notes pairs very well with the smoky components of a sauce. You can also check for an American ‘red blend’, as many of them contain Zinfandel. For my Newfoundland friends, here’s a couple of great Zinfandel wines.

Gnarly Head Zinrfandel

Gnarly Head Zinfandel is an old vine Zinfandel, which means the flavors are really enhanced. It is found everywhere in Canada and is priced under $23 a bottle.

Cupcake Red Blend

A wine like the Cupcake Red Blend is a Zinfandel based red wine with Merlot & Petite Sirah added to make it a blend. Delicious and priced between $17 and $19. I looked for this yesterday at the NSLC on my street, but they were sold out of it. It would have been a great wine to have with my ribs tonight.

And last but not least, a brand new wine I had last night. Loved it. You have to let it breathe.

I had the 2015

When I first opened the bottle, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. The wood overpowered. So I let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes, and boy was it enjoyable. You need to either let this breathe for 20 – 30 minutes or decant it. Keep in mind, it was bottled 6 years ago in 2015, so in a case like that, when you first open the bottle, oak would be predominant. This wine was only aged 3 months in French Oak barrels so it shouldn’t be oaky. This is a beautiful Super Tuscan blend from Italy, made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese, in equal parts. Beautifully balanced with lots of body. Priced under $20 a bottle, I enjoyed it.

Well I have to dance myself down my hallway, I have my barbecue grates soaking in the bath tub.

Till next week, Cheers

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I’m A Fool for the Cool

I’m not a fan of humidity

Although it’s cool here in Halifax today, we had a few really humid days this past week. Temperatures were like 28° with a humidex of 35°, that’s a little uncomfortable for me. In true eastern Canada fashion, however, temperatures hit a high of 13° yesterday.
My heart goes out to people in the western portion of our country, where temperatures are in the high 40s and low ‘50’s, and for our readers outside of Canada that’s Celsius degrees. Lytton, BC hit the highest temperature in North America, earning a mention on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC. Sadly, a fire evacuated and burnt much of the town, and our hearts are going out to everyone there.

With temperatures that high, I barbecued during those couple of days.

This pork chop was a new recipe, and a winner! The easy to make glaze consisted of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and a little orange juice. Tasty! that marinade would also work on chicken.

If you’ve been watching the Food Network lately, you’ve seen iconic Canadian Chef Mark McEwan promote this wine. It was also featured on a couple of episodes of the latest Top Chef Canada. The reason being, Sauvignon Blanc is so food friendly. This Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc, it’s from New Zealand, and was the very first wine I ever got tested on in my training to become a Sommelier. Gorgeous flavors of passion fruit and grapefruit, make it a great summer wine. It pairs fantastic with seafood, and also your favorite summer salad.

For my friends in Newfoundland, there is a wide variety of Stoneleigh products available, including a sparkling. If any of my readers try that particular wine, can you let me know what you thought? I am going to get home this Summer, and would love to hear opinions.

Valpolicella Ripasso

Ripasso in Italian means ‘to pass again’, and that’s what happens with the Valpolicella grape juice. It is ‘passed over’ Amarone skins and picks up those rich deep flavors of the Amarone. This is a great BBQ wine, with cherry flavors from the Valpolicella and fig and chocolate from the Amarone skins. It’s on sale here right now, so it’s a great time to try it. We don’t have access to it here, but my friends in Newfoundland can get a dry Zonin Rose Brut. I’ll be trying that when I go home this Summer.

Stay safe everyone. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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Summer has Landed!

Wine Goals!

Many people here in Canada really look forward to summer. Maybe because our winters tend to last a little longer. The weather has warmed up, the kids finished school yesterday and as we open up from our 3rd wave, people are talking about going to see family and friends throughout Atlantic Canada. What does summer look like for you? Is it camping? Is it barbecuing? Is it sipping wine on the patio? (Yes!). If you’re like me, it could be all of those things and many more.
I want to share some favorite summer wines, but first I’d like to tell you about a new refreshing cocktail I tried for the first time this week .

On a hot Wednesday evening this week, I tried the new vodka citrus drink from Black Fly. Black Fly is made here in Canada. Do you want to know how hot it was? There were about 12 ice cubes in this glass before I poured. This was tart, refreshing, and not too sweet. I have a few from this company to try, including vodka cranberry and vodka punch. They also do drinks with rum and gin, and you can get a variety pack as well. Perfect for Summer and available in all 4 Atlantic provinces and the rest of Canada.

Speaking of summer, did you know I do really good baby back ribs? I’m kind of known for them to my close family and friends . I have a nephew Brady, who works at IOC in Labrador City, who is trying to duplicate my recipe. I made a rack of ribs this past week, because it does take several hours to get delicious fall off the bone ribs.

If you were to ask me about one of my favourite meals, it is baby back ribs, crispy wings, rice and corn on the cob. It’s really too early for corn on the cob here in Nova Scotia, so I made this dish with corn, carrots, apples, red onion and bacon, which turned out to be really delicious. (I cooked the red onion in the bacon fat))

The key to great ribs, chicken or any kind of pork is marinating.

My marinade was brown sugar, garlic powder, salt and pepper, a little bit of hot sauce, maple syrup, a little bit of orange juice and barbeque sauce. I like them to sit in the marinade for about six hours and then I slow cook them in a 250° oven for 3 hours and then I finish them off on the grill. Yummy!
Here’s the wine I enjoyed with this meal.

La Baume Syrah

Rarely will you ever see the French call this grape by its other name, Shiraz. They prefer Syrah, and this one from Domaine De La Baume is wonderful, and it’s around $18.
I promised my friend Daphne in Newfoundland last weekend that I would feature wines that she could get in Newfoundland. She told me she reads the blog, but she can’t get most of the wines I feature. Although you can’t get this particular Syrah, you can get one from the same region in the same price range.

I am definitely going to Newfounfland this summer to visit my family, and I promise to try this wine while I’m there. Like the La Baume, this Syrah is also from the Languedoc region of France and comes in under $18. I can’t wait to try this wine when I go home.

Last but not least, I am going to finish the blog with a refreshing rosé wine, and yes it’s available throughout Atlantic Canada including for my friends in Newfoundland

The Pelee Island Rose blush is a great wine for Summer. It also brings to light how much more we pay here in Atlantic Canada for wine from even the rest of Canada. This wine is $12.95 in Ontario, it is $18.99 here in Nova Scotia and $19.99 in Newfoundland. Hard to believe isn’t it, that’s a big difference. However some great news for my Newfoundland friends, it’s currently $2 off there! It’s not a dry Rose wine, it has some effervescence. But it’s very food friendly and wonderful if you’re just sipping on the patio.

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

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Wines for Dear Old Dad

My Dad

This marks my first Father’s Day since my dad passed last July, 3 months before he turned 90. It’s been a year of firsts, his first birthday, first Christmas and now first Father’s Day without him. He was a wonderful dad, and always had a smile on his face. He lived a great life and we all miss him very much.
Dear old Dad wasn’t very much of a wine drinker, but he was the first one to pour me and mom a glass. As a matter of fact, my Dad always went to the store and got Mom’s wine. it was after my Dad had passed, that my Mom went into the liquor store for the first time and bought her own wine. That was a new experience for her. He also loved great food.

I have to share with you the chicken that changed my life LOL. Anyone who was willing to listen this past week, I told them about this chicken. I brined my first chicken last weekend.

I took out a chicken early Saturday morning out of my freezer to thaw. Later that afternoon I boiled water, sugar, brown sugar, peppercorns, molasses, lemon, rosemary, thyme, & garlic. Once it cooled to room temperature, I added more cold water. It’s very important you do not put raw chicken in warm water, because it will create a safety hazard. Then I put the pot with the chicken and my flavored brine in my fridge and left it there until late Sunday afternoon. You can brine for 6 to 12 hours, however because I was having this chicken for Sunday supper, I brined for 24 hours. Then, because it was a beautiful evening, I fired up the barbeque and put it on the rotisserie.
I don’t have a picture of the finished product, because once it reached an internal temperature if 165° and it rested, I carved the chicken and started eating. O.M.G! It was that good, and I ate so much, I forgot to take a picture. It was so good I almost went door to door in my apartment building to say “You have to try this”! But I didn’t.

Let’s talk about some cocktails. On a beautiful sunny day, I know many Dad’s enjoy a beer while working the grill. So for Father’s Day we are also going to feature a beer. Now, here’s one of my favorite beers. Made here in the Maritimes.

Crafty Radler

If someone had told me a few years ago I would love beer with grapefruit and tangerine, I don’t know if I would have believed them. But I do! Made by Pumphouse Brewery in Moncton, New Brunswick, this delicious blend of beer, grapefruit and tangerine hits the spot on hot Summer day.

At the NSLC yesterday I noticed many of Nova Scotia Tidal Bay wines were on sale. These are fabulous for sipping on patios as the weather warms up, or enjoying with your favorite chicken or seafood. These wines truly reflect the terroir of Nova Scotia and I’ve never had one I didn’t like. Some of the ones on sale this week were Benjamin Bridge, L’Acadie and Grand Pre, just to name a few.

And last but not least, I tried a new red this past week and it was yummy.

Delicious and on sale right now

What a pleasant surprise this was. The Amado Sur Red Blen is an Argentinian blend of Malbec, Bonarda and Syrah. I looked for it on our NSLC website and couldn’t find it anywhere, however, it’s there. I saw it again last night when I was there. It’s in the Argentina section and it’s on sale right now for $16.99. Jon Thorsen who writes my personal favorite wine blog, the Reverse Wine Snob, check it out here. Jon started this blog because like me, he feels wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. He calls it a delightfully rich and fruity blend, and says it’s vegan friendly.

The wine-maker says its a great wine to go with steak, and it would be, but I had a little something of many items on my plate last Saturday night, and it went great.

Rice, wings, taco boats & a skewer

I do like variety on my plate, and yes it’s unusual I don’t have a vegetable on it. Don’t judge! It was Saturday night.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there. Have a safe wonderful weekend.

Till next week, Cheers

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Smart People Drink Wine

Great news for wine lovers

There’s a reason for wine lovers to celebrate tonight. Not only because it’s Saturday night, but because drinking wine makes you smarter. At least according to Yale neuroscientist Gordon Shepherd. Now, I’m not Albert Einstein, or Albert Wine-stein for that matter, but that’s great news to me.

Dr. Shepherd says wine exercises both sides of your brain. Wine drinking requires sniffing& swirling the wine on the different sides of your mouth. Shepherd points out that this activity is a complex motor process involving several areas of the brain. The researcher covers the connection between interpreting wine flavors and the brain in detail in his book, “Neuroenology: How the Brain Creates the Taste of Wine.” And since wine requires use of so many of your senses, including smell and taste, it makes sense.

So here’s to great wine and smarter wine-drinkers.

So last week I told you I was taking care of the food for a few friends getting together on a balcony. We are allowed to get together on a balcony, not inside. Now some people froze, it was chilly, although 2 days later there was a heat wave warning.

Mediterranean Orzo Salad

So we had 2 salads, a Caesar, and a Mediterranean Orzo salad. Orzo is a pasta that looks like rice, but actually is a pasta, and is great in a salad. I added red pepper, red onion, chickpeas, tomatoes, fresh herbs & feta cheese. You can add whatever you like to give it a splash of color.

Lemony Herb dressing

Then I made this delicious lemony herb dressing. And it’s even better the next day. In the dressing is fresh lemon juice, the zest of the lemon, 1 clove of garlic, red wine vinegar, honey, salt & pepper and of course olive oil. Delish!

Marinated chicken skewers

We also had some marinated chicken skewers. It’s the Chef Spencer Watts recipe that I had mentioned in a previous blog. That recipe is here.

Taco boats

I also did taco boats, because the store was sold out of the small taco shells, but these worked out better when we were sitting on a patio. They were much easier to handle, and less mess. (My apologies for a next day picture, I forgot to take a picture the night before, and this was left-overs.) The homemade salsa, lime cilantro crema, and dipping sauce for the skewers were a hit as well. I had so much fun doing this. I want to do this for our next get together.

Now let’s talk some wine, & cocktails – my intelligent friends. This past week we had a heat wave for 2 days, so on days like that, I like a nice cold refreshing drink. Can you say Arriba! (I know you have to more mature to remember Speedy Gonzales, but that’s what he would cheer.)

Speedy Gonzales

Speedy Gonzales would love these. I know we did.

Just before this latest lockdown, my friends and I had a Mexican themed food night. And what better way to kick off the event than with a classic Margarita from Jose Cuervo, featuring the famous Jose Cuervo tequila. Jose Cuervo has been making tequila for 250 years and now they are making these delicious mixed drinks. They are affordable and not at all sweet.

Here’s another drink that is not the least bit sweet. I’m not a fan of sweet drinks. Before Riley went back to Newfoundland, after his first year of University, he handed me one of these, and said ‘give it a try’. Well, the only danger with this drink is that you can’t taste any booze and it went down pretty fast. Wouldn’t take long to go through a 6-pack. Delicious and refreshing and the watermelon is one of 3 new flavors introduced this past year.

My friend Angie shared this wonderful wine with me this past week. It was easy to drink and not overly oaky. I figured the winemaker can describe it even better than I can.

“These Reserva wines reflect the varietal character, which combined with an ageing of 6 months in French oak barrels, make them to stand out for their freshness, fruit and balance.”

Errazuriz was started by two great wine-makers, Eduardo Chadwick and Robert Mondavi. And the winemaker for estate, Francisco Baettig, has won winemaker of the year for Chile, and has been nominated for one of the ‘best winemakers in the world’. So you know it’s a great value at just $16.99

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Till next week, Cheers

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Wine In The Great Outdoors

I know Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, but it’s supposed to be sunny and 27-degrees today. The great news this week, restrictions have eased a bit here in Nova Scotia, as we entered Phase 1 of the reopening from our 3rd wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are allowed to gather in groups of 10 on a patio outdoors. Today, it’s supposed to hit 27° so me and 6 friends are gathering on a patio. Can’t wait to drink wine, catch up and share some laughs.

Every once in a while I get a bit of writers block, it’s to be expected when you write a one blog every single Saturday for over 10 years. So I decided to go through my archives, to see if I could get any new inspiration or even update previous wine blogs. I realize that the first Saturday of every June, I tend to write a blog that centres around a barbecue. Now I know in previous blogs I show many pictures featuring me cooking food on the grill. The guys at work call me the “Queen of the Barbecue for good reason. LOL 😆

Eating healthier

I tried to eat a little healthier this week, made a Caesar salad dressing without eggs. I am a person who doesn’t like eggs. I know, me and Guy Fieri from the Food Network, he doesn’t like eggs either. This was a delicious dressing, from a blog called ‘Once Upon a Chef’. Click here for the recipe.

Balsamic Honey Glazed Carrots

I also found some organic multi-colored carrots this past week and did this Balsalmic Honey Glazed Carrot dish. Simple, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, honey, balsamic vinegar and some parsley to finish. The recipe is here. I’m also looking forward to the fresh corn. This wasn’t quite as juicy and delicious as I like my corn. I can’t wait for the peaches and cream corn to come out.

It’s early for the corn.

I’m so excited to be providing the food for tonight’s get-together, I’ll share some pictures next week. It’s going to be simple, sitting outside, patio food. Marinated chicken skewers, mini tacos, a Mediterranean Orzo salad, and the above Caesar salad.

Jackie & Craig

I also want to take a moment to say Happy 34th Anniversary to my sister Jackie and her husband Craig. When Jackie was 17 she started a part time job at McDonald’s, and Craig was her first customer. 4 years later they married and have 2 gorgeous children, Brady & Riley. And of course a fur-baby, Maggie. I’ve introduced you to Maggie when she was an 8-week old puppy. Jackie sent me this picture this week, wow, is she growing. Check out the size of her paws.

Now, let’s talk some wine. First for the white.

La Vielle Ferme White

I went to my friend Angie’s this past week, and she bought out the red version of this wine, and I said to her, I need to get another of the white. This is a spectacular white wine, I absolutely love it, and its under $15 a bottle. It comes from France, and has been hailed around the world as a spectacular value for the money. It’s a blend of 4 white grapes and has delicious flavors of peach, pear and honey. Great wine.

Speaking of great blends, here’s one for the red wine drinkers.

One of my favorite blends in the world, is a GSM. GSM usually is the abbreviation for Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Sometimes the M is Merlot. Either way, it’s a fantastic juicy blend with great structure, and a nice lasting finish. I had a red wine this week that I tried for the first time, and I’m not sharing it, because I wasn’t really that fond of it. Don’t get me wrong, the bottle got finished. But one of the things I really noticed was that as soon as you swallowed, it was gone, all of the flavor and any remnants of the wine. I like a nice finish, and you won’t be disappointed in this. Under $20 and a great wine.

If you’re grilling this weekend, have fun and let me know what you grilled. Have a wonderful weekend, till next week, Cheers