The Top 5 Wines for Winter

Wine in winter

It’s another chilly one today, woke up this morning to -13°.  My favorite part of winter?  Comfort food and wine!  I’m all about the comfort food this time of year.  I like the hearty beef stews, casseroles and mashed potatoes as my favorite side dish.  It’s a good thing I run.  So I’m going to share my Top 5 favorite wines for winter, which happen to pair very well with comfort food.

  1.  Syrah


This was my wine of the week last week, based on tasting it in my favorite liquor store.  I went back the next day and bought a bottle for Saturday night.  I was barbecuing that night and this was the perfect fit.  I’m not the only one, as many critics have given this wine 95 points.  Great deal.  The next day I made a pot of beef stew in my crock pot… it fit even better.

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Syrah tends to be more on the full-bodied side with intoxicating aromas and flavors on the palate.  The structure and hint of spice is a perfect food wine, however, I have to share that this wine tasted pretty good on its own.  After all, you have to sip on something while your cooking…. who’s with me?

2.  Zinfandel

Zinfandel comes in many forms.  It can be a stand alone, like this 7 Deadly Zins….

7 Deadly Zinbs

Or as part of a blend… like this Bogle Blend

Bogle blend

Zinfandel is a great wine for comfort food.  Regular readers of my blog know I love Zinfandel with barbecue fare, especially ribs, but it also pairs well with hearty meats like lamb.  These great wines come in both medium and full-bodied versions, with big juicy flavors and notes of black pepper.  You can understand why it pairs so well with meat dishes.  Who doesn’t love black pepper on their comfort food!

3.  White Burgundy (Chardonnay)

I know most people think a heavily oaked Chardonnay is the best white wine for your sturdy comfort foods.  And if that’s what you like it will work fine, but for my friends who don’t like heavily oaked wine, there are more options out there, one of them being white Burgundy.  When you buy a white Burgundy, it is Chardonnay in the bottle, but the french winemakers in this part of France know how to make Chardonny where the fruit shines.

Take for example this Premier Cru Montagny.  Montagny is the southernmost area in the legendary Cote Chalonnaise, known for exemplary wines.  This wine is a great value at just $36, because it is Premier Cru.  The Cru’s, Grande and Premier, tell us it is exceptional wine.  As a matter of fact, it tends to be the finest wines produced in the region.  So to get a Premier Cru for this price is extraordinary.  This wine boasts flavors of apple and caramel with notes of citrus, and would be a great wine for your favorite comfort food.

4.  Malbec

I’m having so much fun re-discovering Malbec.  Like you, sometimes I get stuck on a varietal and I like buying that same varietal from different countries and different winemakers.  Recently I tried Malbec again and remembered how well it pairs with everything.


This is the Malbec that had me falling in love all over again.  Another 95 pointer from many critics and worth it.  Gorgeous structure, rich fruit and spicy notes.  Goes with every winter comfort food you can think of.

5.  Bordeaux Blend

A Bordeaux blend consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and then there’s Malbec, Cabernet Franc and/or Petite Verdot is made part of the blend.  They are full-bodied and rich on the palate and really the perfect steak wine.


The good news is that they can range in price from $20, like the one pictured above, to several hundred dollars.  I love them all.  I love pairing them with comfort food.  If there was a quintessential winter wine, this would be it.

wine forecast

Those are some of my favourite wines for winter.  What are yours?

Have a great weekend everyone.  Till next week, Cheers



Taking The Mystery Out of Wine

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Wine can be a complex beast.  And it can be a little intimidating, especially if you want to venture outside of your normal wine purchases.  I understand there is a level of safety going into a wine store and buying something you know you will like.  However, when that happens time and time again, you may want to try something different but are a little hesitant.  It’s going to be OK.  Here’a a few tips to help de-mystify wine so that you’re not so nervous about trying something new!

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  1.  What do you currently like?

When people tell me they are nervous about trying new wines, because they are afraid they won’t like it, and let’s face it, no one wants to pour their money down the drain.  The first question I always ask is ‘Currently, what is your go to wine?’  If you like Cabernet Sauvignon, or you like Malbec, try that same grape from a different country or a different producer.  In my opinion, that’s the first place to start.  You can have a great time experimenting with how different winemakers work with your favorite grape variety.

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2.  Discover Your Wine Style

People who drink wine have a wine style.  Some people, like myself, have several wine styles they enjoy.  There are tests out there you can take to determine your wine style.  Vine Pair, for example, has a test of 5 questions you can take to determine your style.  Try and see what you come up, and then give it a try and see if you like it.

I took it for fun, and keep in mind, I love many different grape varietals from different places globally.  But based on the answers I picked, it suggested I try Syrah.  I’ve had Syrah several times and love the spicy notes in a Syrah.

Pepper Pot

For me, going outside of my comfort zone for a Syrah would be heading to South Africa.  In the past, I’ve had some not-so-great experiences with wine from South Africa, but lately I seem to be on a roll.  The Pepper Pot is a Syrah blended with Mourvedre and Cinsault, and it is super smooth.  Great fruit on the palate with the spice you would expect from a Syrah.  This is a great wine and a reasonable price at just $22 a bottle.

My wine of the week is also a Syrah, this wine I tried was spectacular.  Which brings me to another way to safely experiment with new wine

3.  Check Out A New Wine in the Wine Taster



I have to take a brief moment and thank all the wonderful staff at the NSLC at the Larry Uteck location.   Brenda, Heather, Amber and all staff make for a great buying experience .  And a big thank you to Amber who let me try this wonderful wine from the taster last night.

I know my favourite wine store has tasters in them and it’s a trend I’ve noticed across the country.  It’s  a wonderful way for you to try a new wine before buying the full bottle.   I have purchased many higher priced wines after trying them in the taster.   Let’s face it, no one wants to spend $30 on a bottle of wine and not love it .

My wine of the week is $27 and worth every penny.   Errazuriz is a vineyard started in 1870 and Eduardo Chadwick is a fifth generation winemaker.   In the past he has teamed with legendary producer Robert Mondavi to make the Zena series of wine.  All the wine coming out of Errazuriz is great wine and they have something in every price range.  This Syrah is bold, lush and silky smooth on the palate.


Well, that’s it for me this week. If you try a new wine, would love to hear from you.  You can post a comment below.

Till next week, Cheers


Chase Away January Blues

Beat the january blues

After the fun-filled month of December, January can seem like a very long month.  But I know a way to help chase away January blues.  A couple of great new wines.

Because I end the year with a  ‘The Best of 2017’ blog and start the New Year with a ‘2018 Wine Trends’ blog, I haven’t had the opportunity to tell you about some of the amazing wines I had over Christmas.  This was a banner season for trying great new wines.


Beringer is one of the long standing wineries in California, started back in 1876 by two brothers.  Beringer puts out some amazing wine, and they have something for everyone’s price range.  The Founders Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is the wine my parent’s had waiting for me when I got off the plane in Newfoundland.  Sadly you can’t buy this great wine in Nova Scotia, and it runs about $21 there.  When I arrive, my parents like to sit down with a glass of wine and we catch up.  Even though I talk to them on the phone at least twice a week, it’s still not the same as doing it face to face.  This was very good with cherry and vanilla notes, and although I enjoyed it sitting and chatting, it would be very food friendly.


So when I was home it snowed……. a lot!!  My parents live in an area of senior’s cottages, and normally snow clearing is included.  However, I guess the snow clearing guys had all of Christmas off, because we didn’t see them through 4 days of snow.  I shoveled a lot while I was home, which made this wine even more enjoyable.


I’ve always said ‘if anyone thinks I’m hard to shop for, they don’t know where the wine store is”!  My nephew paid attention and bought me this gorgeous wine as a Christmas gift, which I enjoyed fully after a day of shoveling in Corner Brook.  The winemaker for this lovely wine, Steve Peck, says this is a great expression of the kind of grapes and wine that really shows the Paso Robles region.  Paso Robles is situated between Los Angeles and San Francisco and is known for wine and olives.  This is a favorite of mine with notes of black currant and cocoa.  Beautifully structured with a good grip making for a great steak wine.

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


My wine of the week this week hails from Argentina.  I’ve written about this sister wine previously,  the Trapiche Gran Medalla Cabernet Sauvignon.  It had made my wine of the week about two years ago, when I gave a bottle of it to my friend Bobby Mac for his 50th Birthday and bought one for myself.  It was spectacular, so the Malbec was on sale recently and I decided I wanted to try it.  Well, one of my better decisions.  I had the 2013 vintage and it was a fantastic wine .  The Decanter World Wine Awards gave this wine and this vintage 95 Points.  And regular price it’s only $26.  That’s why it’s my wine of the week, I can’t remember a 95 Point Wine for under $30.  Opulent fruit flavors, great structure, and a really nice finish help make this wine my first wine of the week for 2018.

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On the bright side, we are almost half way through what some consider the longest month of the year.  I can already see the days getting longer.

Till next week, Cheers




2018 Wine Trends

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I do a fair bit of reading about wine, and it always amazes me at some of the trends.  For example, last year I wrote about wine in a can, never really expecting it to come to fruition.  However, in 2017 I actually drank wine from a can.

wine in can

I got to try the Big House Zinfandel and the Big House Pinot Grigio in 2017.  Apparently the industry feels this appeals to a younger demographic and they want these young people to start drinking wine earlier.   So here are some of the upcoming trends in wine.

  1.  The Bigger The Better 

Magnums, which is the equivalent of 2 bottles, saw an increase in sales of 378% in 2017 and the industry doesn’t see this slowing down any time soon.   We are also seeing more variety in the magnum size bottle.  Think of the convenience.  Champagne immediately comes to mind for me, as many Champagne vintners have been bottling in magnums for a long time now.

Dom Pernignon

Don’t think for one moment magnum means cheap.  The most famous Champagne in the world is probably Dom Perignon and they bottle in a magnum size.  Bit of a hit on the wallet as it sells here for just over $600 a bottle.  However, I am seeing more and more boxed wine, which conveniently holds 3 or 4 bottles of wine.  Every party I went to in December there were at least one, sometimes two boxes of wine.  The quality is improving every year.

The Black Box wines is selling like hotcakes across Canada, as a matter of fact, we went to our local liquor store to pick some up in December and we were sold out.  The Black Box makes 11 different varietals from California, Chile and Argentina.

2.  Sparkling and Rose Wines are on the Rise

No surprise here.   Both sparkling and Rose wines are so versatile, I’m not surprised sales are increasing year after year.  Even ‘non-sparkling’ drinkers have no problem sipping on a Mimosa.

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And Rose wines have gone from a Summer favorite to a year round staple.  These great wines are perfectly suitable for appetizers, charcuterie boards and a nice ‘Welcome to the Party’ drink!   I had the opportunity to try many sparkling wines this past year as I have made them a big part of my wine tastings.


From rose Champagne to our local Nova Scotia grown Grand Pre Rose,  Rose wine sales are on the rise.  And not just in Canada, I was reading an article in Fortune Magazine about the increase of sales in Rose wines across the United States as well.  They are giving a lot of the credit to Millennials, but I definitely helped with the surge in Canada, buying 4 times as much as the year previous.

3.  Chilean Wine Becomes a Superstar

For years Chilean wines have become more and more popular.  People are realizing that a spectacular quality of wine is coming out of Chile at very reasonable prices.  Chile has become the 5th largest exporter of wine in the world.  I think the trend for 2018 will not only be the ‘lesser-priced’ Chilean wines, but I think you will see an increase in the more premium wines that are coming out of Chile.


The Nimbus Pinot Noir at $30 per bottle and the Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Carmenere Lot 1 at $50 a bottle, are two examples of prime wine coming out of Chile.  The Nimbus Pinot Noir has been given 92 points by some wine critics, which is extraordinary for a $30 wine.  The Terrunyo Carmenere is beautifully structured and aged in new and used French oak barrels for 17 months.  Smooth and beautifully crafted, it’s still a great value.  And the Terrunyo Cabernet Sauvignon is a steal of a deal at just $35 a bottle.

4.  Red Blends Continue to Shine

I wrote about Red blends last year, and I don’t see them slowing down.  There can be something found in every price range.

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From Bear Flag Red Blend out of California at $14 a bottle


To the Beringer Quantum Red Blend, which sells for $68 a bottle here where I live.  The backbone of this wine is Cabernet Sauvignon at 74% but it also includes Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec for a classic American made Bordeaux style of blend.  Another wine with wonderful structure and fruit flavors that just shine.

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As we settle into another new year, my wish for you is a wonderful 2018 and I hope you enjoy a few new wines.

Till next week, Cheers