BBQ & Wine

BBQ & Wine

Have you got that barbecue fired up for the season yet?  It took us a while, but the temperatures are finally warming up and the smell of barbecue is in the air.  I love to barbecue and do it all winter long.  But for my seasonal barbecue loving friends, this blog is for you.  In my opinion, nothing goes with barbecue food quite like wine.

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It’s always important that when barbecuing, the job is much more fun if you have a glass of wine with it.  I never barbecue without wine.  Kind of an unwritten rule in my house.   And if it’s beef or pork you are thinking of grilling this weekend, have I got a new wine for you to try.


I love good wine, I love great wine.  But I also love finding very good wines at great prices.  And for this week, this interesting bottle takes the prize.   I bought this wine to share with friends ladt Friday night.  The Wine Men of Gotham not only sparked a great conversation because of the label and the name, people loved it once they tried it.  A  Shiraz Grenache blend out of Australia, Gotham Wines is fairly new, only being around since 2004.  This wine is only $15 a bottle here in Nova Scotia, and worth every penny.  Named after the city of Gotham, because like Gotham the wine is dark, rich, complex and mysterious.  Worth a try I think for $15.

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I have to share a great white wine as well for my white wine loving friends and readers.  I understand when looking for wine pairings with BBQ food, many of the choices are red.   Barbecue food & wine pairings are not just for red wine lovers.  There is a tremendous amount of white wine that just loves the grill.


Here’s one of my favorite white wines for grilled food, Conundrum.  It’s hard to believe this wine has been around for 25 years, and I only discovered it about 4 years ago.  It was started by the guy who founded Caymus vineyards, and anyone who knows Caymus knows it’s quality wine.  And what Charlie Wagner used to do is blend wines at the dinner table to go with whatever they were eating!  Can you imagine?  Apparently no one blended wines back in 1972, when Charlie Wagner started doing it, so this was pretty radical.  This wine brings forward delicious flavors of Hawaiian tropical fruit and pear, some of the wine is aged in stainless steel and some of the wine is aged for 10 months in oak.  This leaves a soft palate, but the oak doesn’t overpower the wine.

And now for my wine of the week….


Here is my buddy Mike holding up my wine of the week, the Luzon Crianza.  This is from one of the hottest new wineries in Spain and the prices are still fantastic.  This bottle was $22 and is a blend of 4 grapes, Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Merlot.  This wine saw between 15 and 20 days on the skins, and this produced a rich flavorful wine that is full-bodied and has lots of character.  I found it to have a really nice plush texture on the palate and with hints of balsamic, you can understand how it would go great with grilled meat.   A great wine to go with hearty stews and of course barbecued meat.

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Well that’s it for me, I hope you have a chance to do some grilling and enjoy a nice new wine with it.  Have a great week everyone, and till next week, Cheers


Expanding My Wine Horizons

Since my passion for wine started many years ago,  I’m always trying to encourage people to expand their wine horizons.   I understand some people are hesitant to buy a new wine unsure if they’re going to like it.  After all, wine is not cheap.   Thankfully some places where you buy wine allow you to taste.   This is always a great way for people to try new wine.   There are so many great wines, it would be a shame to just keep drinking the same one over and over!  Wine blogs are also a great way to get people’s opinion on wine.


Now that the warmer weather is moving in, more people are starting to barbecue.  My running group met one day last week and I swear the entire town of Timberlea was barbecuing that night.  Here’s a great wine for all things barbecue.  The Chateau de la Tuilerie has been family owned since 1955 and make beautiful wines in the Rhone Valley region of France.  This Syrah is exceptionally interesting because it doesn’t see any oak, which is unusual for the Syrah / Shiraz grape.  However, it’s not missing any flavor or personality.  I thought this was a great wine and at $18 a bottle, it is definitely worth a try.


Here’s another interesting wine at a great price.  One of the people I am going to Italy with is the wine rep here for Banfi wines, an Italian winery that has been making wine since 1919.  Once known for Lambrusco, ir as you might know it, Reunite.   Do you remember Reunite from the 70’s?


The Colle Pino  May come from the same winery but is a completely different wine.  It combines a nice plump juicy Merlot with the traditional Italian grape Sangiovese for a really easy to drink pleasant wine.  It makes for a very interesting blend that I have come to associate with Tuscany.  It’s only $16.29 a bottle here and a perfect wine for pizza, mild cheeses, roast chicken and pasta.  At that price, it’s a wine you can enjoy any night of the week.

And now for my wine of the week…. And it comes with a story…

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Regular readers will know on May 18th I am heading to Italy.  We are spending a day and a half in Rome, before we head North to Tuscany.  We have a villa at a winery rented, and the winery is called Carpazo!  It’s in the heart of Montalcino, one of the regions of Tuscany.  Here are a couple of pictures.  Imagine my surprise when I walk into one of the boutique wine stores here in Halifax, and see a selection of wine from this winery.  So of course I had to buy one.


Last Saturday night, my friend Judy and I popped open the 2014 Rosso Di Montalcino from the winery I will be staying at while in Italy.  It was so good.  It was $30 a bottle here, and I have to be honest, I am looking forward to seeing how much this wine is going to cost me over there.  But I had to buy it, and I’m glad I did.  Made from the Sangiovese grape, this easy to drink wine was young and fresh but very tasty.  Caparzo was established in the later part of the 1960’s.  The estate is located on a hillside area 220 metres above sea level, facing south and south-east. They grow Sangiovese, Sangiovese Grosso, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Bland and Traminer. The company has grown and adapted with the times all while maintaining and respecting the traditions of the terroir.  The villa on site, which is known as The Casa, is available for rent, and that’s where we will be staying. Wine Saturday 2

That’s it for me this week, and remember, so many wines, so little time!

Till next week Cheers




I’m Officially A Wine Sommelier


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5 years, 200+ hours in the classroom, 23 exams, countless projects and papers, and blind-test tasting approximately 600 wines… but I did it.  On Sunday night I officially became a Certified Sommelier with the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers.

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Here I am accepting the designation from the two greatest instructors a girl could ask for.  Mark DeWolf, who is President of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, just taking over the National Presidency January 1st of this year, and Carman Mills, who is a Professor at Dalhousie University and one of the most knowledgeable wine people I have ever met.

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It was an action packed weekend as my friend Judy and I took a master wine class from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. It was hosted by Jean-Phillipe Turgeon, representing the wines of Gérard Bertrand.  We started the afternoon with 15 gorgeous wines, including white, red  and rose.   They also sponsored the gala dinner that night and provided the wines.   It was a fabulous evening with some spectacular wines .  I would like to share some of my favorites from that day and night.


This was my favorite white wine of the day, and they served it with the appetizer course at dinner.  Most of the people at the gala dinner had a scallop appetizer, but because of allergies, I had the salad.  Not only was the salad delicious,  this was a delightful pairing.   Picpoul, also known as Folle Blanche, is a white grape variety that originated around the Cognac and Armagnac region of France.   Picpoul is sometimes blended in with red wines but this standalone was fantastic and a great wine for an appetizer.


What a treat… we got to enjoy the 1969 Rivesaltes Legend by Gerard Bertrand… at $199 a bottle, let’s just say it was the treat of the night.   It’s a very full bodied wine with Granache as the grape variety.  Fortification haltsthe activity of the yeast before it can convert all the sugar into alcohol,  giving it a tinge of sweetness.  This wine is then aged in wooden casks for as much as 50 years.   Beautiful cherry brandy flavours along with some tobacco makes for a great wine.



This is the Gerard Bertrand Corbieres (pronounced without the ‘s’ on the end, like Corbiere.  This is a great wine at a great value.  This wine is $19.99 a bottle here in Nova Scotia, and again is made with the Grenache grape.  Did you know Grenache is the grape variety used to make Chateauneuf du Pape!  Licorice and spice accompany the fruit flavors  and is a great wine for the upcoming barbeque season .

And now for my one of the week….


I know what you’re thinking, she didn’t pick the $199 bottle of wine as her wine of the week.  This is still a treat winebut I enjoy this one much more.  Again from Gerard Bertrand, the L’Hospitalitas is made from a blend of Syrah and Mourvedre.   This vineyard is along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and the grapes benefit from that beautiful Mediterranean climate.   This particular plot is at the bottom of a 90 foot cliff protecting it from wind.   Probably makes for a challenging harvest,  can you imagine picking those grapes?   It is $67 a bottle here where I live,  and in my opinion it’s worth every penny.

Well,  that’s it for this week.  Thank you to all my readers and supporters who sent me messages of support!  I really appreciate it.

Till next week, Cheers



Although the weather is a little chilly for this time of the year, here in  Halifax, on the bright side, we don’t live in Newfoundland Canada!  A big apology to all my friends and family over n Newfoundland, but 110 cms of snow in the first couple of days for central Newfoundland and snow everywhere else… I’m really sorry, but I’m glad we were left unscathed.  On another bright note, you got to stay inside and drink wine!  I’ve had a few more new wines this past week, and the price tags on these great wines will bring a smile to your face.  Frostbite and all…008

The first wine of the week is for my white wine drinking friends.  I absolutely loved this Chardonnay and almost made it my wine of the week.  It is a Chardonnay from the southwestern part of France and the French know how to make a wonderful white wine that sees oak, but unless you knew, you’d never know.  It is so subtle and so well done, with lovely nut and pineapple flavors, and it’s under $20 a bottle.  A great French white wine at a great price.


My next two wines are from the latest feature at my NSLC, Old World 90+ point wines.  The first is the Vitiano Rosso from Italy, made by the winemaking brothers Riccardo and Renzo Cotarella.  They are from the famed winery Falesco and first introduced Vitiano in 1995.  Made from equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese, this is a great blend and a great price.  Another fabulous wine under $20 that goes great with pizza or any meat dish you may be serving.


For my next wine, we head to the Tuscany region of Italy.  And yes, I may be guilty of buying more Tuscan wines than normal, since I really want to get a feel for the wines of the region before I head there next month.  This wine is primarily Sangiovese and features gorgeous cherry flavors, good tannins and notes of toasted oak.   I personally thought the finish was really well done on this wine and I can’t remember the exact price, but I’m pretty confident it was around the $21 mark.

And now my wine of the week…


So on the week I found out I had passed all my CAPS Sommelier courses and I would be graduating and getting my Sommelier pin and diploma on April 9th (tomorrow), I wanted to have a special bottle to celebrate.  My friend Judy came over and we opened this wonderful French wine I bought specifically for the occassion. It is a Right Bank Bordeaux from the Fronsac region and we enjoyed the 2010 vintage.   Right Bank Bordeaux means its Merlot dominant with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  The wood was quite evident when we first opened the bottle, so we let it sit for about 45 minutes.  We slowly enjoyed the first glass, but the second glass was so much better after it had a chance to breathe.  It was a lovely enjoyable treat, and this wines sells for $30 here in Nova Scotia.

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I laughed when I first read this.  Anyway, tomorrow is the big day, I graduate as a Sommelier with the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers.  I also have a Master Class tomorrow on wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, and I will tell you all about it next week.  And I’ll share pictures of my graduation.

Till next week, Cheers


Arriverderci March!


And good riddance!  It’s April 1st, thank goodness.  We had worse weather in March than we did in January…. It’s like once winter came it didn’t want to go away.  I’m sure you didn’t miss the Italian reference in the title.   The countdown is on for May 18th,  which is the day I leave for Italy.   There are four wine tours included plus a cooking class so I’m super excited.


It’s only fitting that our first wine of the day comes from Italy.   The beautiful Sartori  L’Appassione is a gorgeous wine from Veneto made from the Corvina grape.  The Corvina grape makes for a deliciously smooth juicy wine that’s easy to drink.   This is a wonderful wine to go with any pork dish and it’s under $18 a bottle .   I love wines that are easy on the palate and easier on the pocketbook


Our next wine  of the day takes us to Spain,  with a delicious Ribera Del Duero.   Now that’s the region in Spain where the wine comes from, the grape is Tempranillo.   Tempranillo  is probably one of the grapes from Spain that make up the backbone of some of the finest wines that come out of the country.   Wines from Ribera Del Duero and Rioja tend to have Tempranillo as its base.  This was a medium to full-bodied wine with a beautiful finish on the palate that just stayed with you.  Gorgeous tannins, great fruit and that nice finish.  A great price point, coming in under $18.

And  now it’s time for my wine of the week ….


This is brand-new for me, and probably one of the hottest deals at our liquor store.  All 3 wines featured today were all under $20 and spectacular wines to boot.


And you will notice from the sticker on the label,  Robert Parker gave this wine 91 Points.  And the best part…. It’s $15.99 a bottle.  That’s not a typo, it’s under $16.  Had it last night for the first time, and it was outstanding.  The flower on the bottle is a passion flower, and I am so passionate about good wine at great prices.  Monastrell is the Spanish name for Mourvedre, and Mourvedre tends to be the famous ‘M’ in a GSM blend, which is Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.  Spain was gutsy enough to have the ‘M’ stand on its own, and made a beautiful Monastrell wine.  I had it with a barbecue last night, but this wine will go with everything and is great all on its own.  Fantastic wine at a spectacular price point.  This is the wine I will be telling all my friends about.

Wine Amateur

Well, that’s it for this week.  Have a wonderful weekend, and till next week, Cheers