Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Hello December! At work on Wednesday, I couldn’t believe it was already December 1st. This Fall just flew by, even November where it seemed it rained every day

This is what my BBQ looked like for most of November. It was a windy and wet one. Today it’s sunny and we have a wind chill of -12-degrees. Hello December!

Grumpy Xmas
I miss Grumpy Cat

My sister and my brother-in-law are coming this week on Tuesday. Yay! She is one of my favorite people on the planet. And I love him, he is the brother I never had. I’m so excited.

They are crossing over the ferry tonight, heading to Antigonish, where their son Riley is going to St. FX University. So, while she is here, I may make this dessert. Jackie loves chocolate, and I know she would love this Chocolate Lasagna.

Chocolate Lasagna

You can find the easy to make recipe here. Oh, and Maggie is coming too.

So Maggie is going to stay with Riley and Jackie and Craig are coming to Halifax on Tuesday to do some Christmas shopping. I took a couple of days off this week to spend with her, and then on Friday evening I’m heading to Antigonish to spend the weekend with all of them. So, there won’t be a wine blog next weekend.

Let’s talk some wine. Well, first, let’s talk when wine and beer meet.

A local craft beer company, North Brewing, has teamed up with Benjamin Bridge, the award winning winery in the Annapolis Valley, to create Blanc Grisette conditioned on the skins of Sauvignon Blanc. It was so delicious. Crisp and light, I enjoyed this after work yesterday evening. I loved it.

I booked my trip home yesterday, going home for Christmas for 10 days. Because of a Covid lockdown, I couldn’t get home last Christmas, and it was our first Christmas without my Dad. So I’m really looking forward to getting home for Christmas this year. My mom drinks white wine, and this is one of her favorites.

Apothic White

Although I find the Apothic red wines OK, I really like the white. It is available in every province and it’s priced at around the $20 mark. It’s a delicious blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Grigio, and it’s a great addition to any Christmas party. It’s a wonderful food wine, because Chardonnay will bring the body and the texture, Riesling and Pinot Grigio will bring acidity and provide a perfect balance. If you try this wine, I would love to know what you think.

Esteban Martin

I decided to try this new wine from Spain a little while ago. It’s a Garnacha – Syrah blend. Garnacha is Grenache, so it’s comparable to a Cote du Rhone from France. This is a great wine, normally priced under $17, and now on sale. So a great time to try it. Great peppery notes and wine critic James Suckling gave this wine, which is under $15, 92 Points.

That’s it for me this week. Till next week, Cheers

Wine Tastings Are Fun

Some they tasted blind

Last Saturday evening I did a wine tasting. It was my 4th tasting in this building. We had some first-timers and some familiar faces. We had a lot of fun, some great laughs and we tried some great wines. My challenge for this wine tasting was two fold. It was important I didn’t bring any repeat wines, and I wanted to mix it up a bit.

A fun group of people

Some of you might feel intimidated at the thought of going to or attending a wine tasting. Don’t be! I’ve done wine tastings for as few as 6 people and as many as 30. Although last Saturday’s wine tasting was in the Common Room of an apartment building, I’ve done most in people’s homes. Get a group of friends together in your home, bring someone in that knows wine, and it will be fun and informative. Food is always a nice touch. Most people do a charcuterie board style with cheese, crackers and some meats.

So let’s talk some wine.

Grand Pre Sparkling

We kicked off the evening with a locally made Sparkling wine, from Grand Pre Vineyard in Nova Scotia. Champlain Sparkling Brut was named after Samuel de Champlain, the person credited with mapping Nova Scotia. This wine was made in the traditional method and is a gorgeous dry Sparkling wine.

Then we did comparisons, in both a white and a red. Let’s start with the white wine that won the evening.

Vinho Verde

Hands down the winner of the evening. Vinho Verde is a region in Portugal that is putting out some great wines at even greater prices. It is not a grape variety, it is a region. Most have some effervescence, this one had very little. Vinho Verde means green wine or young wine. Beautiful wine with great acidity and priced at $13.99. Pick one up this season to enjoy with family or friends. Great food wine.

As I mentioned earlier, we did a comparison of a couple of expensive wines, with reasonable priced wines, to show people that great wine doesn’t have to be expensive. We tasted them blindly, I had the wines in paper bags and we tasted them side by side. The lower priced wines won both times.

The top photo is the Heritage Chateauneuf du Pape, priced at $55. Almost 3 times the amount of the Cote du Rhone in the bottom picture. Most people liked the bottom wine more. Both from France, both from the same region, Cote du Rhone, and both made with the Grenache grape. The Cote du Rhone on the bottom also has Syrah added. It’s less than $18 at $17.78 and what a deal. Spectacular wine. And a great wine to have with your favorite comfort foods, now that the temperatures are dropping.

That’s it for me for this week. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Making November A Little Less Dreary

November in Halifax

We had a fabulous September and October weather-wise here in Halifax, but we’ve seen our fair share of rain in November. There’s a special weather statement in effect for Monday Tuesday and Wednesday, we could get over 150 mm of rain with high winds.

People have asked why I’m putting up some Christmas lights a little early, well it makes things look less dreary. Plus, they bring me joy, and we could all use joy.

My foyer

This is what outside my apartment door looks like right now. The lights in the holiday swag are battery operated and so pretty.

Gabriel

Here Gabriel is checking out the Christmas decorations in my entrance way. Not sure what to think, although this is our 4th Christmas together.

You know what also brings me joy? Probably not too hard to guess, since you’re reading a wine blog. Wine. And food. I get a lot of joy from food as well.

Wings & Potatoes on the BBQ

I do love grilling all year round, and experimenting with new recipes. I normally do wings in the air fryer, but I tried a dry rub, grilled them, and finished them in the air fryer for crispiness. They came out pretty good!

Let’s talk some wine. I have a wine tasting tonight, where we are doing some comparisons between grapes in different price ranges. I’m really looking forward to it, as there are a couple of new wines I’ll be featuring tonight. I’ll tell you all about it next week.

Many new wines have arrived at the NSLC recently. I tried one last night.

I love the label and had to try the wine. Plus it had a great price point, $12.49. Love the lips, and how they call it ‘easy going red’. To my friends in Newfoundland, it’s available there as well, and it’s on sale there right now. It’s a fun and easy to drink red blend. I looked everywhere on the Internet and on the bottle, and no where could I find the grapes used in this wine. But it’s tasty and definitely worth the purchase.

Bu Vivere Sangiovese

This is another new wine I’ve tried in the past couple of weeks, a Sangiovese out of Italy. This is another great value that will only be at our liquor stores for a limited time, it’s $14.99 a bottle, and it’s fresh and fruity with some spicy notes. It’s a great bottle of wine to bring if you’re invited somewhere for dinner.

I know I didn’t do a wine blog last weekend, I had company all weekend, and just didn’t get the chance. i’m really looking forward to my wine tasting tonight, and sharing some of the new wines I’ll be introducing tonight.

I’ll tell you all about them next weeki’ll tell you all about them next week
Cheers

Darlene

International Merlot Day

International Merlot Day

Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog, knows I’m a huge Merlot fan. It’s luscious and sexy, easy to drink and very food friendly. Merlot is known as a chameleon because it adapts to many climates, taking on the character of both its location and winemaking techniques. Which makes Merlot so interesting. Depending on where its grown, and who the winemaker is, it can have subtle nuances. I find it a super interesting wine. Here are some of my favorites.

Carta Vieja Merlot from Chile

Chile is producing some fantastic Merlot wines. Chile is producing some great wines period. Although Merlot was bought to South America in the 19th Century, it wasn’t until the Chile & Argentina wine boom of the 1990’s that people started appreciating the Merlot made there. This is a great Merlot for $18.

This one is fantastic as well, also from Chile at just $20 a bottle.

Santa Ema Gran Reserve Merlot

Merlot is also a big grape in a Bordeaux blend. Bordeaux labels its wine by region, so it’s a little more hard to determine which has more Merlot, and which has more Cabernet Sauvignon. A Bordeaux is always a blend, and If you buy a wine from the Left Bank, regions like Haut-Medoc, Margaux or Paulliac, they will contain Merlot, but be Cabernet Sauvignon dominant. The Right Bank of Bordeaux is Merlot dominant. Regions like Saint Emilion and Pomerol. These tend to pricier Merlot wines.

Chateau Le Puy

This Chateau le Puy is a spectacular wine, and is a blend. 85% of this wine is Merlot with some Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. Bordeaux wines age extremely well so at $36, this is a great value.
A wine from next-door to this region, is the Château Puyfromage

This wine is also from Bordeaux, it’s also a blend, and comes frm right next-door to the region of Saint Emilion. Merlot is still the dominant grape but it’s a little more affordable at $22.79 a bottle.

Another French Merlot

This Merlot is also from France, but much more affordable, I tried it last night for the first time. Baron Philip De Rothschild Merlot is on sale in my area right now for less than $15 a bottle. I found this to be a softer Merlot, some notes of raspberry, coffee and spice. Tasty, but definitely a softer medium bodied Merlot, whereas most Merlot wines are more on the full-bodied side.

Candor Merlot

And last but not least, one of my favourite Merlot wines. California can make some beautiful Merlot wine, and this one from Paso Robles is so very good. This wine is luscious and plummy on the palate. (Plummy is a word, right?) I just love it, and it comes in that around the $25 price range.

That’s it for me for this week. Have a fun weekend. Don’t forget to put your clocks back and enjoy the extra hour sleep. and our trip to Bordeaux France is going ahead in April 2022, check out all the details here. I would love to see you on the trip.

Darlene

Fun Facts About Wine

I must be a Genius

If this statement is true, I must be a freaking genius! I know wine can be responsible for some witty come-backs and awesome dance moves. We are going to have a bit of fun in this week’s wine blog with some fun facts about wine and I’ll tell you about a couple of new wines I tried this past week.

Did you know grapes are the most planted fruit in the world.

Now, grapes are used in making more than just wine. Some people eat them as is (boring!), they can also be used to makes jams, jellies, and juice. My favorite way to consume a grape, happens to be in a glass. A tonne of grapes can also produce 720 bottles of wine, so here’s to a tons of grapes.

Wine is mentioned in the Bible

There are all kinds of references to wine in the bible. The Bible also speaks of wine in general terms as a bringer and concomitant of joy, particularly in the context of nourishment and feasting. One of my favorite quotes “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart”

During the early Roman times, it was forbidden for women to drink wine.

I’m a Champion

Officially, by Roman law, drinking wine by a woman was a crime and even the death penalty was sentenced. In addition, at Roman “parties”, the closest ones could kiss the girl on the lips to see if she had not been drinking before. Thankfully I wasn’t born back then. Whew! Hey, if you’re kissing my lips, there’s going to wine on them. Just a heads up.

 “Aroma” is the term for the fragrance of young wine, while “Mellow” is for old wine.

When I was studying to become a Sommelier, I learned the importance of smelling wine. Smelling your wine, is an important part of the tasting ritual. Wine tasters will stick their noses deep into a glass (an important reason not to fill it too high) and inhale deeply, then angle the glass this way and that as they continue to assess the wine’s aromas. In blind wine tastings, the aroma was very important in identifying a grape variety. My instructor used to say, you identify by your nose and confirm by tasting. And swirling the wine helps release the aromas. As a matter of fact, you’ll see me smell the wine first, swirl and smell it again. We learn the different aromas that are released by swirling.

Spitting wine can be acceptable.

But honestly, why spit. When I was studying to become a Sommelier, we tasted many wines each evening. One night it was up to 50. In a case like that you have to spit. At a wine-tasting event, it is also acceptable to spit the wine out. It is OK to take a sip of wine and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds and then decide to swallow or spit it out. This allows people to taste many different wines without getting drunk.

Fred, Angie, Joan & Me

My friends Fred & Arla got home from Alberta recently and we got together to have a glass of wine with Angie and Joan. We shared a wine that was given to me by my niece and her husband, when I had them over for dinner last Sunday.

Doug Gilmour 93 Red

I met Doug Gilmour briefly at the Radio Station I work at, when he was in for an interview while visiting Halifax. He was such a gentleman, kind and gracious to the staff. At the time, I had no idea he was such a wine lover. Apparently, wine has long been a passion of the Maple Leafs legend. I definitely would have chatted about that if I had known. Doug Gilmour 93 comes in both a white and red, and we enjoyed the red the other evening. It was a very interesting wine. It’s a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir, and I can honestly say, it’s the first time I have had Pinot Noir mixed in with a traditional Bordeaux type of blend.

That’s it for me for this week. Happy Halloween!

Darlene