Ribfest & The Perfect Wines

Summer 2015 014Summer 2015 013

Halifax just hosted its first ever Ribfest!  OMG, have I ever told you how much I love ribs.   A group of us from work went down to the Halifax waterfront to enjoy some mouth watering ribs from professional ribbers from both Canada and the United States.   But don’t wait once a year for Ribest, you can learn how to make your own perfect ribs on your own BBQ.


Do you know what goes great with ribs… you guessed it, wine!  Here are some of my favorite pairings if you plan on firing up the grill and having a rack of ribs this week.


One of my favorite wines tops the list for best rib wine.  Last week I called the Predator Old Vine Zinfandel the ultimate BBQ wine… it’s the ultimate rib wine.  Zinfandel, if you’ve never had it before, is a juicy full-bodied wine with lots of jammy fruit flavors and a hint of smoky bacon.  You can see how it’s a perfect match for BBQ ribs.  If it’s a little too pricey, check out these other Zinfandel wines.

Cline Old VineGnarly Head label

The Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel is another beauty, and some of the vines are 100 years old.  It packs a punch at 15% alcohol, but the alcohol doesn’t over-power the taste of the wine.  On their webpage the #1 food to pair it with is BBQ pork.  Coincidence.. I think not!  The other Old Vine Zinfandel is Gnarly Head, a tasty flavorful Zinfandel and great with ribs.

Bogle Essential

I’m also a big fan of having Zinfandel in a blend, like this Bogle Essential Red which is a Zinfandel Syrah blend.  The Syrah really ads a hint of spice to the Zinfandel and I love the match.  If you’re like me you probably like to add a bit of spice to your ribs, whether it’s black pepper or a spicy BBQ sauce.  The spice of the ribs goes well with the spicy notes in the wine.

Dada label

Do you know what also goes great with ribs?  Merlot.  Like this Dada Merlot out of Argentina.  And at just $15.99 a bottle you’ll be cooking ribs any night of the week.  This is also an organic Merlot wine and really delicious.  Argentina is putting out some first class wines at fantastic prices.

Dreaming Tree Crush

I also love Merlot in a blend, like this Dreaming Tree Crush from California.  This is a Merlot and Syrah blend, and again the Syrah adds a touch of spice to the plump juicy Merlot.  This vineyard is owned by musician Dave Matthews and they are making incredible tasting wine.  I also really like the fact his labels are made from recycled paper and he makes his bottles lighter to cut down on shipping costs and fuels.  Plus the wine is delicious, so why wouldn’t we support this wonderful venture.

Bachelder Chard label

For my white wine loving friends, I would go with something rich like a Chardonnay.  This Thomas Bachelder would fit the bill perfectly.  Rich fruit, apple flavors and a hint of wood from the oak aging with make this a great wine for smoky ribs.

I’ve been told I make great ribs.  It’s the one thing my parents and my nephews ask me to make, so here’s my recipe.

Dar’s BBQ Ribs

– Start with a rack of Baby Back Pork Ribs.  Pre-heat your oven to a low temperature like 300-degrees, or use a slow-cooker.  Slow cooking the ribs for 1 1/2 – 2 hours before you put them on the grill with ensure fall of the bone ribs.

– In a bowl combine half a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, brown sugar, bourbon, garlic, cayenne pepper, chili powder, hot sauce (I use Frank’s), fresh ground pepper, a dash of salt and a squeeze of lime juice.  Don’t worry about the hot sauce and spices, the heat will cook off and the flavor remains.

– Cook the ribs for two hours on low (3 – 4 if you are using a slow-cooker) and then heat up the grill.  Turn the burner that the ribs will be over completely down and keep turning and basting with BBQ sauce for another 45 minutes.  You’ll have those yummy grill marks and the additional basting makes for great flavor.

– Have fun and practice makes perfect.  And think of how much fun you’ll have practicing and eating the ribs.

You Can't buy happiness

Till next week everyone, enjoy Summer cause it’s passing us by way too quickly.  And fingers crossed Ribfest is back next year.




Birthday Wine Wish List!

Wine Birthday

It’s that time of year again.   My birthday is coming up this week, and I figure I am one of the easiest people to shop for.  Head for a store that sells wine… Done!    One of the most common phrases I hear is that ‘I wanted to buy you a bottle of wine, but I didn’t know what to get you’.   Let me solve that problem right now.  Here are a list of some of my favorite wines.


I love California wines, and I love Zinfandel.  This is my favorite and I’ve tried all of them… even the $50 ones.  This one comes in at $25 and still makes the top of the list.  The Predator Old Vine Zinfandel is the ultimate BBQ wine, and named after the ladybugs that provide eco-friendly protection from aphids and other vineyard pests.  The vines are over 50 years old and provide a rich dark fruit, smoky bacon flavors, spice and hints of oak aging.  I have not found a better wine to enjoy with BBQ ribs.

Double Decker wine Red Rock Manage a trois botle

I also love a California Blend… and here are 3 of my favorites.  Double Decker is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Barbera so it’s a robust, yet smooth wine.  The Red Rock Winery combines Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.  It’s plump, juicy and has gorgeous plum flavors with toffee notes.  And the Menage a Trois California Red have 3 of my favorites, Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.  All of these wines are around the $20 mark.

Mac Murray wine

I also love Pinot Noir, and I mean I love Pinot Noir.  This is the latest find.  The Mac Murray Pinot Noir from Sonoma County in California is one of the more full-bodied Pinot wines I have tried.  With classic raspberry, cherry and sandalwood flavors and smooth oak aging, it’s a great wine.  At $30, a little pricier than some, but worth it.  If that’s out of the price range, head to New Zealand, where they are putting out some spectacular Pinot Noir wines.

Kim Crawford Pinot Noir  May 2015 013

This is the wine I had last night, and it’s on sale right now.  Kim Crawford Pinot Noir is $3 off coming in at about $20.  Great value for a great wine.  With earthy black cherry notes, this wine is incredibly food friendly, and take it from me, tastes fabulous while you’re cooking too.   And the wine on the right is from the Saint Clair Family Estate winery, and they are putting out some fantastic Pinot Noir wines.  I have a bottle in my rack now signed by winemaker Kyle Thompson.  I don’t want to open it to drink it, so another one would be greatly appreciated.. LOL!

Bogle merlot  Anciano

I also love Merlot and this delicious wine from Bogle made the list last year, and is still one of my favorites, so I’m putting it on the list again this year.  This lovely Merlot is a staple in my wine rack and I just love it.   The wine on the right is the Anciano Tempranillo which has been aged 7 years and at $14.99 makes this one of the best finds in the liquor store.  Smooth and food friendly, you can’t go wrong with this one.


And last but not least, I do love a dessert wine, and here are my two favorites.  The Borealis from Benjamin Bridge is made right here in Nova Scotia.  Named after the Northern Lights, winemaker Jean-Benoit Deslauriers waited for the perfect moment to create a most perfect wine.   And the other wine pictured is the Royal Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos and is one of the most highly rated Tokaji wines.  Tokaji originates out of Hungary, and is rich and decadent and its sweetness is balanced by crisp acidity.  Gorgeous flavors of apricot, citrus notes, grapefruit and tropical fruit, it has an incredibly long finish and each sip is a moment to savor.

Birthday George

I share a birthday you know with this little cutie, Prince George.  He’s probably not getting a lot of wine for his birthday so feel free to send his my way.

Next week we are going to be reviewing the 90+ Program.  Wines that have been rated 90 or more and comes in under $30.

Till then, Cheers


Wine & Jazz – A Match Made In Heaven


Halifax Jazz

Our beautiful city of Halifax is hosting the Jazz Festival this week.  I love listening to Jazz music and enjoying a glass of wine.  They go hand in hand like spaghetti and meatballs.  So if you’re getting your Jazz on this week, here are a couple of my favorite wines to go with the tunes.

Jazz 1


If you love Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane like I do, you have to love the smoothness of a Pinot Noir.  Here are some of my favs!

bl 14 DrsCk Pinot-front

The Pioneer Block Pinot Noir from the Saint Clair Family Estate Winery is spectacular.  This winery is putting out some of the best, and each Block has unique characteristics.  I have tried several of the ‘block’ Pinot Noir wines, and I have not been disappointed.

Dec 2014 054Dec 2014 053

This is my friend Anthony and I enjoying one of our all time favorite Pinot Noir wines, the Sea Smoke. Hailing from the Santa Rita Hills in California, this beautiful wine is aged exclusively in French oak for 16 months, of which 55% are new barrels.  I loved the wood on this wine along with rich fruit, spices and a smokiness that greatly enhanced the wine.

Calera labelWhitehaven

And my final two are two more favorites.  Calera, Josh Jensen’s California Pinot Noir that literally has my mouth dancing.  And my go to favorite when it comes to Pinot Noir – Whitehaven from New Zealand.  Both, like  my favorite jazz tunes, are super smooth, sexy and feel good wines.  Heightened flavors of fruit, strawberry and spicy wood.

Jazz 3

White wine drinker?  Stay with the Pinot family and enjoy a great Pinot Gris.

Sandhill Pinot GrisAra Pinot Gris

Here is a Canadian favorite – from the Sandhill Vineyard in British Columiba.  Crisp and refreshing with gorgeous citrus flavors… a great Summer wine.   Next to it is the Ara Pinot Gris.  I shared this wine with a friend visiting from Moncton last Summer, and we sat on the patio and enjoyed every sip.  From New Zealand, it was vibrant and aromatic and it’s a wine that pairs great with food as well.

And now my new wine of the week…. and it’s a beauty!

Iscay Malbec

This is the Iscay Malbec and Cabernet Franc blend.  And oh how delicious it is.  Nothing adds elegance to a wine like Cabernet Franc and the distinct aroma greets your nose.  This is mixed with the distinct aromas from the Malbec including blackberry fruit and cola.  It is rich and full-bodied and has delicious spices and this will go with beef, lamb, game meats but I loved it drinking it all by itself.  At $45 it’s a bit of a treat, but we all deserve a treat and oh what a treat it is!

Jazz 2

Well that’s it for me this week, I have to go enjoy more of our Jazz Festival.  Don’t you just love weekends in Summer?  What’s on your agenda this weekend?

Till next week, Cheers



Summer Lovin’!


Summer Lovin'

I don’t know about you, but here in Eastern Canada we had one heck of a winter.  A bad one!  So, with the arrival of July, everyone seems to be in a good mood.   Summer is a glorious time, isn’t it?  Sunshine, warm temperatures, patio parties and lots of wine flowing.  I’ve found a few new wines recently that will help make Summer even better.

Mac Murray wine

This is my favorite new find.  The Mac Murray Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County in California.  If you’re one of those people that think all Pinot Noir wines are wimpy, move over!  I had the 2012 vintage, which had an extended growing season.  This extended growing season gave the grapes a full-bodied richness.   This spectacular example of a Pinot Noir has classic raspberry and cherry flavors with a hint of oak aging.  It’s so smooth and rich, this Pinot Noir would even pair well with beef.  I can’t wait to have this one again.

Matt Slaney Double Decker wine

This is my colleague at work, Matt Slaney.  Matt is my adopted son… I love to cook, and he loves to eat so it works out great for both of us.  He’s mid-20’s, lives on his own, and got a full time job.  Hey, I know when to adopt!!  LOL.  Anyway, recently Matt gave me a few bottles of wine from California, and this was one of them.  It was the first time having this particular wine, and I loved it.  The Double Decker California Red Blend is a gorgeous blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Sirah and Barbera.  This is the perfect barbecue wine, it will go with anything you put on the grill.  With blackberry and plum flavors, this would be the absolute perfect wine to have with BBQ ribs.

Fetzer Cab

Sorry for the blurry picture, but with warm temperatures, don’t you find yourself firing up the grill more often.  If steak is on the menu, here’s a new find that will pair well, and at under $17, you can fire up the grill any time the mood hits.  Last summer around this time, I wrote about the Fetzer Zinfandel, another great wine for barbecue food.  This time I tried the Cabernet Sauvignon.  This is a beautiful Cabernet with flavors of blackberry, mocha, toffee and vanilla notes.  Great wine, great price.

Wolf Blass Chardonnay

And for my white wine loving friends, look no further than the Wolf Blass Chardonnay out of Australia.  This gorgeous rich Chardonnay is the perfect Summer wine, whether you are barbecuing or just sitting on the patio.  Citrus and peach flavors with hints of spice, it’s a rich and full-bodied white wine and very food friendly.

Wine drink the good stuff

I will close this week’s blog off with a great piece of advice… Life is too short, drink the good stuff now.  Growing up my mom would save the good dishes, good glasses and all the other good stuff for ‘special occasions’.  Not me… every day is a special occasion and I use the good linens, the good wine glasses, and I drink the good wine now!  Enjoy every minute

Till next week, Cheers