The 5 S’s of Wine Tasting

I miss wine tastings! 30 to 40 times a year people would hire me to come to their home, gather their friends, and I would facilitate a wine-tasting. One of the main reasons I love wine tastings, is that it gives people a chance to try different wines that they normally would not buy at their local wine store.
Wine is not cheap, at least here in the eastern part of Canada. We pay a lot for wines. As I welcome our new visitors and readers from the US, Germany and Australia, we pay at least double, & sometimes triple, what you guys pay for the same bottle of wine! We really love our wine. Let’s take a look at the 5 ‘S’s’ usually associated with a wine tasting.


Take a look at your wine, ensure it is not cloudy. A cloudy wine can be caused by a second fermentation in the bottle, normally caused by huge shift of temperature. It’s harmless, but the wine won’t be necessarily pleasant


That wine may have been in that bottle for a couple of years, swirling releases many different aromas and flavours. It has become second nature to me, I automatically swirl a glass of wine every time.


Smelling the wine, after swirling is very important. So many of the different flavours & aromas are picked up when you smell the wine, and it will definitely make tasting the wine more pleasant.

This is all we can have during a lockdown


Everyone’s favourite part, sipping the wine. Training to be a Sommelier, when we would taste wines at every class, the sipping will confirm many of the aromas you picked up when smelling the wine.


Does the flavour linger? One of the things I don’t enjoy about some wines, is that soon as you swallow it, the flavour is gone. I like when that flavour lingers in your mouth, that’s enjoyment to me.

Before I tell you about the white & red wine of the week this week, can I show you my first attempt at making tacos. I know, first? I’ve made quesadillas, and I make fajitas and stir-frys a lot, but this was my first true attempt at making a taco and they were delicious


It started with me purchasing, and replanting a cilantro plant. I’m so excited, cilantro is one of my favourite herbs, and this plant looks like it’s going to make it!

Homemade Salsa

Then it’s my delicious homemade salsa. I’ve been making my own homemade salsa since the beginning of the pandemic.

Lime Cilantro Crema

At a particular restaurant here in town, they serve lime and cilantro sour cream, and I’ve always loved it. When I bought the taco kit at Costco with a group of friends, they provided a line and cilantro Crema. Again, delicious. The knock-off recipe is here.

I did pretty good.

I sautéed chicken breast with onions, peppers, and a homemade taco seasoning. Then, I added cheese and some coleslaw on top, my homemade salsa, and the lime and cilantro Crema. I will definitely be making this meal again, served it with some coleslaw on the side and some rice. Easy peasy and out of this world delicious.

Let me show you a great white and red wine.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling

Kung Fu Girl Riesling is dry, but just touches on the off dry, which makes it so perfectly delicious with tacos or any Asian cuisine. There’s great acidity and just a little tinge of sweetness on the tip of your tongue. Serve it chilled and it’s a great partner for many of your favorite meals, priced under $20 here.

A Pinot Noir / Syrah Blend?

I didn’t know what to think when I saw this label at the NSLC. A winery in France took the thinnest skin grape, Pinot Noir, and paired it with the thickest skinned grape, Syrah, also known as Shiraz. It is a very uncommon blend, but was it ever delicious! I have a couple of friends who say they don’t like Pinot noir, becauses it’s wimpy. I’m going to challenge them to try this wine. This wine is not wimpy, it’s a medium to full-bodied wine with lots of flavor, very food friendly and priced under $17. I would love to hear what you think on this unique blend.

Stay safe everyone. Till next week, Cheers

Long Weekend Wines

A long weekend, another one during a full-blown lockdown here in Nova Scotia. So let’s face it, it’s more important than ever to have something to look forward to this weekend, so why not enjoy some great wines and delicious cocktails.

Last year during the first lockdown, my work colleagues and I would end the week by having a virtual happy hour. We have started doing that again this year. This was my cocktail of choice to kick off the long weekend yesterday.

Cranberry Gin Smash

I stopped drinking coolers many many years ago because I couldn’t handle the sweetness. Sorry Bacardi Breezers, loved you but could only drink one at a time. I think that’s why I started drinking wine. Manufacturers have acknowledged this, and now there is a wide variety of flavored coolers at your favorite liquor store that are not sweet. This is one of them. The Georgian Bay cranberry Gin Smash was refreshing and delightful, and will be making another appearance in my refrigerator. And you can buy them separately!! I love that. I like being able to mix and match cocktails at the liquor store.

This long weekend, unofficially the kick off to Summer, is also a great time to enjoy a Rose wine.

Long weekend Rose

As most of you know, I am planning to do a trip to the Niagara Wine region with Atlantic Tours this year, and in Ontario, there is a company called Long Weekend Wines. They make a white wine, a red wine and also this Rose, which I have to get my hands on when I can finally travel to Ontario. It’s under $14 a bottle and its a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Two hardy red wine grapes, but of course with limited skin contact to make it a rose.

Ok, so we’ve covered a gin cocktail, a rose wine, and before I tell you about a fantastic find I discovered this past week, I’ve been experimenting with new recipes. I watch a lot of Food Network, and the chefs are always doing their take on a fried chicken sandwich. So I decided to give it a try.

Fried Chicken Sandwich

I have to say it turned out pretty good. It was tasty, but it was so messy to make, or maybe I’m a messy cook. So I took a chicken breast, sliced it in half, and then pounded it to even thickness. (That was fun!!) Then I made an easy batter of flour, corn starch, salt & pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and cayenne pepper. Then I added enough water to make the batter the same consistency of pancake batter. Keep in mind most recipes I find are made for 4 – 6 people, and because I live alone I cut all these recipes down. I’ve even seen where chefs have used beer instead of water, to give it a unique flavor. This is what my batter looked like.

The batter

The batter was easy to make, I just kept adding water till it was like pancake batter. And then I dunked in my 2 pieces of chicken breast, and fried them in oil in a frying pan.

It made for a delicious sandwich, I cooked it 3 minutes per side, and added ham, lettuce and cheese to make it kind of a BLT. Like I said, delicious, but messy. There was a lot of spatter of oil from the frying pan, so I’m not sure if I was doing something wrong there. Any tips out there would be greatly appreciated.

Now I have to share the fantastic find I discovered this week.

Whenever I’m at the liquor store and I see a red sale sign, I tend to check out the wine. We are, after all, in the middle of a pandemic that has lasted for over a year. I picked this up and Oh My God! It was delicious and had great body, and the 3 grape blend provided a nice complexity. Sit down, because this wine is on sale right now here in Nova Scotia for $12.49 a bottle. From the Mendoza region in Argentina, it’s definitely worth checking out this long weekend.

Stay safe everyone, and till next week Cheers

A great personality makes for a great wine-drinking friend

Lockdown Fantasies

My fantasies involve travel

My apologies for those who tuned in because of the title and were a little disappointed of the clean nature of my fantasy. This is, after all, a wine blog. And I’ll be honest, all my daydreams and night dreams right now, involve travel. It’s the one thing I’m really looking forward to when the world returns to some sense of normalcy. Whatever that new normal may look like.

Jackie & I at Pearl Harbour

Probably one of my favorite people in the world to travel with is my sister Jackie. We’ve done a few ‘sister’ trips, just the two of us, and I’ve also travelled with Jackie & her family. We’ve been to Florida, Hawaii, Aruba, Barbados, Bahamas, New Orleans, Mexico, and we’ve ziplined together in Haiti. And that’s been just a few of our destinations. I talk to my sister almost every day, she’s in Newfoundland, and right now I’m looking forward to the day I can visit her. We are both looking forward to our next trip.

We hit quite the storm in Aruba

The above picture was taken when we hit a Tropical storm in Aruba. It was pouring rain so we hit the cocktails. This was lunch, and we finished at 2 a.m. in the Casino. We are great travel partners. Hard to believe, but she doesn’t like wine.

Niagara Falls

What got me thinking of travel again? This past week Richard Arnold of Atlantic Tours & Travel, and I did a webinar to about 40 people on our upcoming trip to the Niagara region of Ontario for a wine tour. Right now, if its safe to travel, the trip is planned for October 2nd. If it’s still not safe to travel, we will do it in 2022.

Wine vines in Niagara

It’s going to be a fabulous trip that includes Quebec City, Niagara Falls, wine tours and lots of laughs. Check out the full itinerary of our week long trip here.

So this was the scene on my deck last evening

I cooked up a feed

It was a gorgeous sunny evening here and I was in the mood to cook.

All the essentials

I had all the essentials, olive oil, salt, pepper, my new recipe for molasses butter and my meat thermometer. Yes, I said molasses butter. One of my recipes last night was for a pork chop glazed with molasses butter (easy) and served with an apple bacon chutney. Oh. My. God.

Easy to make molasses butter

The butter was easy. Melted butter, molasses, 2 cloves of garlic minced and brown sugar. A delicious glaze for pork, and I used it on a chicken breast too, which I have yet to eat.

The chutney wasn’t hard either. I chopped up some red onion, and I used my small cast iron frying pan on the grill, because I wanted to cook everything on the grill. You could do this on the stovetop. I just didn’t want to go back and forth between the grill and the stove.

Onions & Olive oil

I cooked the onions in olive oil till they were a little glazy and then I added my chopped up apple.

You let the apples cook down a little, you want them slightly soft. Once this is done, if you are using uncooked bacon, you would chop the bacon up and add it now. The apples, onion and bacon all cook together. I was using already cooked bacon, as I didn’t have a fresh pack of bacon, so I chopped it up in small pieces and added it last.

Season the apples with some cinnamon. (& nutmeg if you have it.) Then you add a little unsweetened apple sauce, apple cider vinegar, & brown sugar. The vinegar is very important as it will really balance the sweetness. This simmers for 20 minutes to let the apples get really soft and all the flavors marry together. I got this recipe from a Canadian chef, Spencer Watts, and you can get the full recipe with amounts here.

It was magical. Definitely one I’ll be making again. Let’s talk some wine.

If you’re wondering what I had in my glass for BBQ bonanza, it was this wine

Menage a Trois Red Blend

The Menage a Trois red blend is a decadent red blend and the perfect BBQ wine. The blend consists of Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, and on their own they are great BBQ wines. Put the 3 grapes together and boom, one of the best for grilled meat. A perfect love affair if you will. This wine is on sale right now in Nova Scotia, for under $17 a bottle. It’s regularly under $20, so still a great value.

The winery makes several white Menage a Trois wines including a Chardonnay and this Pinot Grigio, which we can get here.

Menage a Trois Pinot Grigio

This wine was given 91 Points and the Pinot Grigio is the perfect way to get a little fresh. 100% Pinot Grigio grapes, this wine seduces with a great balance of acidity and fresh fruit. Priced under $20, another great wine for enjoying on the patio this Summer.

I would like to say hi and issue a big welcome to all our new readers, especially those joining us last week from Ireland and Alaska. I hope you enjoy the wine journey.

Till next week, Cheers

Wines Mom Will Love

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and a big thank you to all the Mom’s out there. I’m very lucky that my Mom is still going strong at 86 years young. She just bought a brand new car. My dad passed away last July at almost 90, and they had a bigger car. So she sold it and bought this sporty little number, and now zips around town like she’s 60!

Mom & her new Red sporty car

This next picture was taken a couple of years ago, while we were at the Canada Games Centre in Corner Brook, walking, while I was home for a Christmas visit. She still walks almost every day. She is living proof keeping busy, keeps you young.

Mom & I out walking

My Mom is a white wine drinker, and this is one of her favorites.

She loves Chardonnay out of Argentina. This is a very fruity wine, with gorgeous aromas and flavors of apple and pineapple. As a matter of fact, when Mom was here visiting one Summer, we were playing cards and both enjoying a glass of this wine. My older sister, who doesn’t drink wine, said ‘Is someone eating an apple”? The wine spends a little bit of time in French oak barrels so I didn’t find this Chardonnay really oaky. At just $15 a bottle, you should probably buy your Mom 2.

1st Pizza Making Night

Back when we were able to get together with friends, I learned to make pizza. Now I make it and freeze it. It’s quick and easy, especially after a stressful week in lockdown, and that’s exactly what I had last night. Buffalo chicken pizza. Normally my dough is thinner, more flatter. I normally take a fork and punch some holes in the dough, so it doesn’t rise up in the oven, but I was in a rush and forgot to do that this time. It was still yummy. Also, on the pizza, I used 75% tomato sauce and 25% BBQ sauce, for a little extra zip. Hard to tell with all the mozzarella I used.

And the wine I had with this easy Friday night meal? The Finca Las Moras Malbec.

Malbec is the flagship grape of Argentina and since 2011 has been the most cultivated grape in Argentina. Malbec started out as being one of the grape varietals allowed to be used in a Bordeaux blend. When frost hit in 1956 and wiped out 75% of the vineyards, Bordeaux didn’t plant as much. However, it made its way across the water and became the star of Argentina.

Look at that color

Look at the beautiful rich deep color on this Malbec. When I was training to be a Sommelier, one of the things that made Malbec easier to identify in blind tastings was the color. Beautiful inky purple, the Malbec grape is a small dark grape with thick skin. This creates a full-bodied wine with lots of flavor but has medium tannins, so it’s very easy to drink. The empty bottle in my recycling bin is all the proof you need.

As I had mentioned in last week’s blog , my friend Nancy and the fine folks at Univins & Spirits had given me some Argentinian wines to try and write about. This is my awesome friend Nancy who represents a ton of great wines from Univins & Spirits. I’ll be honest, I love wines from Argentina, so I have had all of these wines before.

Last but not least, all my friends I work with at the Radio station will know how much I love this next wine. If you’ve ever asked me for a great wine at a great price, chances are you’ve tried this wine. It’s hard to believe that I have to use a stock photo of this wine, considering how many bottles have been consumed in this house!

The Dada 2 is a Merlot, and it is one of the most luscious wines you could drink. It is a delicious wine with a full mouth feel and lots of flavor. I’m heading out today to pick up some ribs to do on the barbecue tonight, and this is a perfect wine for that. Whatever is on the menu for Mother’s Day tomorrow, this wine will match.

Thank you to Univins & Spirits

Again, a big thank you to Univins & Spirits for the opportunity to taste and write about their wines. Of all 6 wines shown here, they are all under $20, and they are all fantastic. It’s hard to believe such an amazing array of wines are available at such a great price point. How fast do you think you’d become Mom’s favorite if this is what you gave her tomorrow.

That’s it for me this weekend. Stay safe, and till next week, Cheers

Don’t Wine For Me Argentina

Couch Wine Tour

Although our first full week of full lockdown did provide some challenges, it also held a very bright spot for me. My friend Nancy Johnston and the fine people at Univins and Spirits, shared some Argentinian wines with me and asked could I share them with you.

I get asked all the time where the greatest values in wine are located and Argentina is definitely at the top of the list. These are excellent quality wines at easy to swallow prices. And although Malbec is widely considered the ‘National Wine of Argentina’, they are doing fantastic things with other grape varietals.

I know everyone is missing travelling at this time, and we can’t go in person. Let’s take a little trip to Argentina through our wine glass.

My in-house wine tour

Outside the city of San Juan, lies the Pedernal Valley & Tulum Valley, which are becoming more and more acclaimed for great quality red wines. It is hotter and drier in these Valleys, as opposed to Mendoza, which is the biggest wine making region in Argentina. What does that mean for the wine? Grapes ripen faster, which means a more full-bodied wine with a little higher alcohol content. Don’t mistake that for ‘boozy’, as the wine is not boozy at all, and the alcohol content comes in at around 13.6%, which is very average in a red wine. This Cabernet Syrah blend from Finas Las Moras, is a delicous blend of the two grapes. It’s medium to full-bodied, with a very generous mouthfeel. It’s a perfect pairing for when you are enjoying a grilled piece of meat, and the $16 price tag means you can enjoy more than one bottle.

Smooth and delicious

Do you know what blew me away about the Fincas Las Moras winery? It was founded in 1993. It’s so hard to believe it’s that new. They started small and now export to 45 countries around the world. When you think of wineries in France and Italy making wine for hundreds of years, this vineyard has been doing it since 1993, and doing it really well. This Syrah is an absolute delight. Do not confuse this Syrah with some of the heavy-bodied, oak-laden Shiraz wines out of Australia. Although Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape, it is referred to as Syrah in France, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. Some people have written that Shiraz is ‘New World’, and Syrah is Old World, however, Argentina, Chile and New Zealand are New World wine-making regions. Australia called it Shiraz and kind of made that name its own, and in the U.S. it’s generally known as Shiraz. This Syrah is light to medium bodied, fruit forward and very food friendly. A steal at $15.

And last but not least, one of my favorite wines from Argentina.

After a stressful week, La Mascota Cabernet Franc is a great way to eend the week, it’s perfectly balanced and elegant. Cabernet Franc is the mother grape of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It was once known as a ‘blending’ grape’ in Bordeaux, but it is so interesting and complex on its own. Hand harvested and aged in both French and American oak for 15 months, this gorgeous full-bodied wine has rich fruit and spicy notes. A fantastic wine for under $18.

A very big welcome to all of our new wine loving friends, from near and far. I see that our new friends and followers are from Canada and the U.S., so welcome to my wine journey.

Stay safe everyone. Till next week, Cheers