BBQ Season Wines!

Wine BBQ

Every year about this time I do a wine blog on some of my favorite wine pairings with BBQ food.  I BBQ all year long, and people at work call me the ‘Queen of the BBQ Grill’, as I even BBQ at least twice per week throughout the winter.  This time of the year, it’s even more.  I would rather cook on an outdoor grill than in the kitchen any day of the week.  Since the last blog on BBQ pairings, I’m always trying new wines, and sometimes I think, this would be perfect with grilled ____, (fill in the blank).  So here are some of the new wines I have tried in the past year that would be perfect BBQ fare.

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Personally, Zinfandel is my go-to BBQ wine.  I love it, especially with things like BBQ ribs and pork chops.  The Renwood Zinfandel on the left is a great one I have discovered in the past year.  This vineyard specializes in the Zinfandel grape, and they do it extremely well.  Cherry flavors, a bit of cola on the palate and vanilla make for an easy to drink wine whether you’re at the BBQ cooking, or enjoying the fruits of your labors.

The wine on the right is the Cleaver Red Blend which is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah and as the label says ‘is made for meat’.  This is a great rib wine as well, but because it’s so rich and full-bodied will pair well with any meat you put on the grill including a juicy steak.  The Syrah adds a nice spice to the palate  which pairs well if you put black pepper on your meat as I do.


Speaking of steak, here’s a new discovery I have made in the past year, and thought, this would be heavenly with a steak.  The Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon from California leaps from the glass onto the palate with chocolate and mocha flavors, however they are very subtle and distinct.  I don’t want to give you the impression it would be like the manipulated coffee flavors of a few South African Pinotage wines.  The Layer Cake Cabernet has great structure, rich dark fruit but it’s very smooth.  This is a great wine in my opinion, and a great steak wine.

Burger week 3

Love a burger done on the grill?  Me too!


Check out the Robert Mondavi Heritage Red Blend.  Primarily Syrah and Merlot, it also has the added flavor of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah.  Lots of flavor at a price under $20.  This is a great wine.  And a great burger wine.

White wine drinker?  Don’t think you have to drink red to pair perfectly with BBQ fare.  There are lots of great options on the white side.

Tidal Bay

Most of the vineyards in Nova Scotia put out a specialty wine called Tidal Bay, designed by the Wine Association of Nova Scotia, that is made for the terroir of Nova Scotia.  Launched in 2012, they are all slightly different, however they are truly fascinating.  They are bright, crisp and fresh styles of wine that pair perfectly with seafood.  And although I’m allergic to seafood I love them as a Summer patio wine and they are fantastic appetizer wines.

And if you love white wine and want a pairing with a big juicy steak, hamburger, or even ribs…. how about this one

Rodney Strong Chardonnay 1c97e-ribs

The Rodney Strong Chardonnay is classic California Chardonnay.  Fresh and fruit forward, it boasts apple and bright lemon flavors with toasty oak from the barrel aging.  That barrel aging brings with it notes of brown spice and vanilla.   Those brown spice and vanilla flavours tend to complement things like steak and ribs .  It’s a great wine.

And my wine of the week….is an Italian beauty


The Corvo Rosso Red IGT is a classic Sicilian wine.  This wine is extremely versatile and would pair well with any BBQ fare, but it goes beyond BBQ.  This is an easy to drink Rosso that this vineyard has been making since 1824, and with that kind of experience they have done it right.    As I was enjoying this wine I had visions of some of my favorite cheeses, it’s a great cheese wine.  Think pizza too!   Oak barrel aging brings a roundness and smoothness to the glass, but the lingering finish really made the wine for me.  This is a great wine overall, and how this wine sells for about $18, I’ll never know.  But it’s one to keep around.

Wine BBQ 2

Sunshine and temperatures in the 20’s… that’s what this weekend calls for.  I don’t know about you, but I will definitely be firing up my grill, and there will be glass of wine in my hand.  Please feel free to share your favourite BBQ wine.

Till next week, Cheers




Wine Loving Long Weekends

Long weekend 3

I don’t know about you, but I’ve really been looking forward to this long weekend.  Probably because it’s the first unofficial long weekend of Summer, or maybe it’s because it’s a beautiful day with lots of sunshine here in Halifax today.   Wine always seems to taste better on a long weekend.  Here are a few new wines I have tried recently, that you may want to enjoy this long weekend.

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Here’s a very nice light fruity red wine from Italy, the Bersano Piemonte Pinot Nero.  This is a beautifully blended wine of Nebbiolo, Barberra, Pinot Nero, Pinot Blanc and Brachetto that comes in under $20 a bottle.  I knew very little about the Brachetto grape, but it’s grown mostly in the Piedmonte region of northwest Italy, and used mainly for blending.  The wine is very fresh and very elegant.   As you can tell in the picture I took on the right, it’s very light-bodied.  I enjoyed this wine, and it’s a great wine slightly chilled that would be a great patio drinking wine.


Here’s another great wine for the long weekend.  From New Zealand, the Kim Crawford Pansy Rose wine is crafted from Malbec and Merlot grapes.  Don’t let the name Pansy fool you.  Where I come from the word Pansy might refer to someone who’s wimpy but this wine is anything but – it has lots of flavour.  The juice is soaked on the skins for about 3 hours to get the pretty color, and then removed and cool fermented.    This is a bright and sunny wine with refreshing flavors of strawberry and watermelon and a wine that you will enjoy all Summer long.  Another winner coming in under $20.

Nova 7029

I was visiting my local liquor store recently and they were showcasing the new Nova 7 from local producer Benjamin Bridge.   This year’s vintage is even more salmon colored than in the past, and this is a great wine that represents the terroir of Nova Scotia.  And even though it’s the perfect seafood wine, and I’m allergic to seafood, I love it as a patio wine, as an appetizer wine and I love it with Thai food.   They were also showcasing the Benjamin Bridge non-vintage sparkling wine.  This wine is a steal of a deal at $28.   It’s a fantastic sparkling wine with gorgeous flavors of citrus and a nice minerality on the palate.  Sparkling wines go so well with appetizers, shellfish and oysters, but it’s also capable of making any evening special.

And my wine of the week…….


The Peachy Canyon Westside 2013 Zinfandel from Paso Robles, which by the way is turning into one of my favorite wine-making regions.  I have written about Peachy Canyon previously, its sister wine, the Peachy Canyon Incredible Red Zinfandel.

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The Westside Zinfandel is actually a blend.  It’s 77% Zinfandel, 13% Petite Sirah, 6% Alicante Bouschet, 3% Syrah and 1% Tannat.  Now there might be a couple of grapes in this blend you haven’t heard of before.  Alicante Bouschet originated in the Langeudoc region of France and is actually a cross that involves the Grenache grape.  Think of GSM (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre)  It’s also widely grown in the Cognac region of France, Portugal and now in California.  Tannat also originates in the south of France, but you may have seen it locally in the Argentina section.

Getting back to the Peachy Canyon Westside, this winery is making some spectacular Zinfandel wines, and this one has pomegranate flavors, with notes of cinnamon and mocha.  I really enjoyed this wine, and comes in just under $37.

Long weekend

Yes, indeed.  It is a long weekend.  Have a wonderful long weekend, drink responsibly and never ever get behind the wheel of any motorized vehicle while under the influence.  Stay safe out there.

Till next week, Cheers


Wines of South Africa



Last weekend the Atlantic Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers held their Gala dinner and featured wines from South Africa.  I have a confession to make.  Normally I don’t walk by the South African section of the wine store, I run past it.  Some of my experiences have been less than palate friendly, and because of that I had a tendency to shy away from this section.


This is Alba, from South Africa, and she brought some wonderful wines to this dinner.  I was so impressed with her passion and her knowledge on the topic of wine from this country.   One of the things I found very interesting is that South Africa has been making wine for about 500 years, but has only been exporting it less than 30 years.


For the reception, we had the Graham Beck Gorgeous Pinot Noir Chardonnay and I think Gorgeous is the perfect word to describe this fun rose wine.  It’s a beautiful combination of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, had a great acidity and was easy to drink.  The flavors of orange blossom really stood out for me, and this was a great wine to start the evening.


Also speaking was Will Predhomme from Ontario.   This guy knows his wine.  Will holds the Advanced certificate through the Court of Master Sommelier, is an educator at the University of Guelph and is making his own wine under the North Shore Project label in Ontario, as well as Pearce Predhomme Wines in Oregon.  Impressive!

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For the first course we had a charcuterie board with an amazing mustard, and this was paired with the 2015 Ghost Corner Sauvignon Blanc.  This was a fantastic expression of a Sauvignon Blanc, and my friend Rayell’s favorite wine of the evening.   It was very similar to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that has mineral flavors and notes of grapefruit.  Personally I also picked up really subtle tropical fruit flavors that made the wine for me.  This was a great wine with the charcuterie board and a great appetizer wine over all.

Cedarberg Bukettraube   Salad

The wine served with the salad was my absolute favorite wine of the evening, and I can honestly say I knew very little about the grape before this evening.  It is the Cederberg Bukkettraube and it sells here for just $20 a bottle.  I loved this white wine.  Apparently it is a rare cultivator with only 77 hectares left in the world.  It was truly an explosion of flavor on the palate, but extremely delicate at the same time.  This would be a great wine with spicy food as well.  Alba was telling us this wine would go great with Thai food, other spicy curry dishes, and I believe her.  This wine had great acidity, and at the same time it was very smooth and lots of gentle apricot flavors.  This will be a staple in my wine rack this summer.

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For the delicious main course, they served a beef shortrib & duck leg confit samosa.  Now, although the samosa wasn’t my favorite, the beef shortribs were spectacular.  And served with this hearty beef dish was my favorite Pinotage wine, Beyerskloof Diesel Pinotage.  The unique label features a remarkable drawing of the winemakers canine companion, who happened to be named Diesel.   If you have had a ‘manipulated’ Pinotage in the past, and didn’t like it, (I didn’t either), try this.  It is not manipulated, it is Pinotage done right.  Rich dark cherry flavors with distinctive oak flavors, this Pinotage saw 21 months in new French oak barrels.  Not surprising the oak plays a big part in the flavors of this wine.  This wine is very well structured and can tackle any meat you serve with it.

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Darlene and Rayell

I had a great time connecting with people that I took my Sommelier courses with, and people I haven’t seen in a while.  It was a fantastic time with fantastic people.

I hope you give these wonderful South African wines a try, they may surprise you as much as they surprised me.

Till next week, Cheers




My Mother’s Day Picks


Mom #2

It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday… a day for us to officially thank Mom, although I think we should do that every day.  God knows we put them through enough growing up.  Regular readers of this blog knows that my Mom loves a good Chardonnay.   But I’m going to take a moment to highlight some of my favorite picks for Mother’s Day, and hopefully include something for everyone.


If you need help and live in the Halifax area, head on down to the brand new Port by NSLC store and see this lady, Rayell Swan.  This is one lady who knows what she’s talking about.  And no matter what your budget, she will find something delicious in that price range.

Dreaming Tree chardonnay       Village reserve

Here are two great Chardonnay wines on both ends of the price spectrum.  The Dreaming Tree Chardonnay from California is a fantastic wine at a fantastic price.  Dave Matthews and Sean McKenzie are doing things right with recycleable corks, lighter weight bottles to cut down on shipping costs and recycled labels.  Plus, the wine they are putting in the bottles is top notch.  The tropical fruit notes and oak aging makes for a food friendly California Chardonnay.  Next to it is my favorite Canadian Chardonnay, from Le Clos Jordanne in Ontario.  They make a couple of different Chardonnay wines, like the Claystone Terrace.  This is a clean, lean and fresh tasting Chardonnay with mineral fruits and good acidity.  The Le Grand Clos Chardonnay is a little richer with a weightier mouthfeel.  The latter is one of my favorite Chardonnay wines and perfect for Mother’s Day.

May 2015 006 Nova 7

It was Mother’s Day exactly one year ago that my oldest sister tried the first wine that she fell in love with.  And it’s a local favorite.  The Nova 7 from Benjamin Bridge here in Nova Scotia, in my opinion, reflects the terroir of our Canadian province, and is great for the local cuisine.  Seafood for Mother’s day?  This is your wine.  I love this wine and I think it’s a beautiful expression of our province.


I’m cooking for 4 different Mom’s on Sunday, along with my sister’s two boys.  Her 2 sons and her husband are meat guys!  So I’m firing up the grill and serving burgers, chicken skewers and a maple balsamic chicken thigh.  If you’re serving red meat, here’s a spectacular new wine that I tried recently.  The Tellus Syrah from Italian vineyard Falesco.  At $22, pick up a bottle or two.  One of the first things you will notice is the black pepper, or at least I did.   It’s a combination of spice and fruit, in a well structured Syrah, but the black pepper is very noticeable, and I loved it.   This is a great pairing with any grilled meat.

And my wine of the week is….


If you’re looking for a treat wine for Mom, look no further than the 2009 Dalmau Rioja from Spain.  I had the privilege of trying this beautiful wine this past week.  A combination of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and some Graciano.  Now I had to do some research on the Graciano grape, not having a lot of experience with this particular grape.  What I found out was this grape is primarily grown in the Rioja region of spain and is characterized by its deep red color and the ability to age well.  I loved this full-bodied wine and it would be spectacular with red meat, or wild game.  It’s fruit forward with toasty flavors of blackberry and blueberry notes.   It’s rich with great structure, but also incredibly smooth and the lingering finish really made the wine for me.  At $65, treat your mom.

Wine Mother's Day

To all the Mother’s out there, especially my Mom, thank you so much.  You amaze the rest of us.  And to everyone with a Mom, buy her a bottle of wine, you’re probably the reason she drinks.

Till next week, Cheers