Little Known Wine Facts

Did you know that a glass of wine was actually enjoyed in space? It was 1969 and astronaut Buzz Aldrin bought a vial of wine with him. A small vial of wine boldly goes were no beverage has gone before. Just before stepping onto the moon, feeling a little anxious, Buzz Aldrin took communion.

i’m always reading about wine, and I love finding interesting little titbits like the one above .

People are surprised to hear white wine contains more sulphites

Benjamin Franklin has been quoted as saying wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy. Here are a few more interesting things

  • Wine Flavored Kit Kat bars are actually a thing
  • There is a free wine fountain in Italy. It recently opened. Believe me, it wasn’t there when I was in Italy almost 4 years ago, I’d still be there. It’s located in the Abruzzo region of Italy just outside of Rome.
  • Not all wines are vegan, some use a filatration process that uses animal byproducts like gelatin.
Lots of benefits of red wine
  • Drinking to one’s health, actually started in Greece. The host took the first sip to prove to his guests he wasn’t trying to poison them.
  • How many grapes are in a glass of wine? A glass of wine typically contains one cluster of grapes which is approximately 75.
  • Women tend to be better winetasters, only because their sense of smell is a little better, especially in their reproductive years. Those years may be far behind me, but a glass of wine still smells pretty good.
Had a feast going on the grill.

So as you can see, I was in a bit of a mood to cook and try some new recipes last night. On the menu for last night and today were homemade chicken fingers, chicken skewers, chicken fajitas, crispy roasting potatoes just to name a few. But would you like to know my favourite thing I made last night?

Mint Cilantro Chutney

It’s a mint cilantro chutney, it is SO easy and so delicious. I used it as a dipping sauce for my chicken skewers, and all through the night I couldn’t stop dipping different foods in it, it’s that good. A store in my area had all kinds of fresh herbs on sale this past week, including mint & cilantro as well as parsley. This recipe contains plain yogurt, chopped mint, chopped cilantro, some fresh lemon juice, a little bit of garlic and a dab of sugar. I found a recipe online but I didn’t include the ginger or the cloves that it called for. Its here.

And now for my Wine of the week…..

Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon

When I visited California and the Napa Valley region 20 years ago, one of my favourite places was Francis Ford Coppola‘s winery and wine tasting room. I actually went back an additional 2 times. Upstairs was a display where he showed a piece of paraphernalia from every movie he directed, and even had his Oscars on display. My friend Richard texted me a picture of this wine 2 weeks ago, saying how much he enjoyed it with friends, and I decided to feature it again as my wine of the week. Francis Ford Coppola, being Italian, has a long history with wine. His grandfather used to make it in the New York apartment using vats he made himself. Francis Ford Coppola doesn’t make wine in his basement, he has perfected the art of making wine. This Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied, decadent, delicious and priced under $24 a bottle.

True friends

Have a great week. Till next weekend, Cheers

Darlene

Frequently Asked Questions

Every time people find out I am a Certified Sommelier, they always have lots of questions. Today I figured I would answer some of those questions.

  1. How long does wine last?

First, let me pass along some advice, a screw cap will not keep wine fresh. Once you break the seal on the screw cap, it may screw back on easily, but it won’t keep your wine fresh. As a matter of fact, if you are keeping the wine, toss the screw cap. Buy yourself a wine stopper. Actually the plainest one I have keeps wine the freshest. I have several wine stoppers, here are a couple.

This wine stopper was given to me at a trade show event. I opened a bottle of Prosecco before Christmas, and this stopper kept the bubbles alive and fresh in that wine for a week. Which is unheard of for a sparkling wine.

I have this rubber green one which I find good for red wine.

And I have this pretty one I bought in Italy. A wine stopper will keep your wine fresher longer, and the better the seal on the stopper, the better job it will do. Oxidation is the enemy of the wine. Putting it in the refrigerator will also slow down the oxidation process. Without a wine stopper, your wine will last about 2 days. With a wine stopper, a white wine will last 3 – 5 days, with wines on lighter side, up to 7 days. Fortified wines can last up to 28 days once opened. Going back to the screw cap, a friend of mine opened a bottle of wine, had a glass, put the screw cap back on and 3 days later, the wine tasted like vinegar. Wine Stopper!

Keeps the wine fresh

2. Are all sparkling wines sweet?

No. This never ceases to amaze me. I always bring a sparkling wine to a wine tasting. Great sparkling wines do not have to a) cost a lot of money and b) be sweet. If you would like to try some sparkling wines may I suggest an Italian Prosecco or a Spanish Cava. High quality sparkling wines without the high price tag. If you see the word ‘Brut’ on a label, that is the driest sparkling wine. It is crisp, and there is not one bit of sweetness in a sparkling wine marked ‘Brut’.

Great dry crisp sparkling wine

Here’s a great example. Mionetto Sparkling Prosecco Brut is a beautiful sparkling wine. Dry and crisp, with a price tag under $20.

3. What’s the simple rule to pairing wine

There was a time, many many years ago, restaurants would recommend a wine based on your food choice. Some high end restaurants do hire Sommeliers to do these recommendations. But if you don’t have a Sommelier at home, what are some of the basics.

Here’s the basic rule. Lighter white wines pair well with chicken, fish, vegetables. Red wines, big bold proteins. Sparkling wine, it’s a palate cleanser, great for appetizers, or dishes with lots of garlic. Here’s a chart that may help you. As you can see, there are many wines that go with many different foods.

Wine pairing made easy

And now for my wine of the week… Actually there are 2, each in a different price range.

Fronterra Cabernet Sauvignon

Here’s one smooth operator. And I don’t mean my friend Angie who is holding the bottle. The Fronterra Cabernet Sauvignon out of Chile is a great value wine, trying it this week for the first time. While the rest of Canada pays between $8 – $9 for this wine, it’s still a good value at $10.99 here.

My second wine of the week is a little more of a treat

Lodi California is located between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the San Francisco Bay in California, and it is known for great Zinfandel. Many Old Vine Zinfandel vineyards in Lodi feature un-grafted, un-trellised 100-year old vines, which can give more concentrated wine. And concentrated Zinfandel is a good thing. Full-bodied deliciousness, smooth, with smoky chocolate flavors. This makes it the perfect wine for ribs done on the BBQ.

That’s it for me for this week. Heading to Antigonish to get my nephew set back up at St. FX University.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Wining About January

Does anyone else feel like this is the 76th of January? I don’t usually start my blog with something on the negative side, but I have to say, I’m feeling some of the January blahs. It feels like weeks since I took my Christmas decorations down and in reality, I only took them down the 3rd of January. It’s the 16th of January and honestly, it feels like the 76th of January. And this is a little strange for me. I don’t normally mind January, especially when the weather has been as mild as it has been. May I have to stop watching so much news about the Looney Tunes down South, and his Vice Poodle, and doing more things that make me smile. Exercise, reading, puzzles and cooking! Here’s the book I’m reading now, and it is excellent.

I love Harlan Coben

Excellent, can’t put it down, I can clean that tomorrow kind of book! I also just finished this puzzle that I got for Christmas.

And my friend Sharon gave me this awesome meat thermometer as a Christmas gift

I’ve needed one so bad

One of the things I’m doing to help blast away the January blahs is walk with my friend Beth, and eat better. Remember the chicken skewer recipe I told you about last week, one of my new favorite all time recipes. Well it goes with salad too.

The salad dressing is made right here in Halifax. It’s one of only salad dressing I don’t make myself. This is made by an awesome group of kids here in Halifax called ‘Hope Blooms’. If that name seems familier, you may have seen them on the Dragon’s Den.

Hope Blooms Lemon Smoked Caesar

The Hope Blooms Lemon Smoked Caesar is one of my favorites, and they also carry a Maple Balsamic, a Basil Pesto and many more. This is an amazing organization and you can check them out at www.hopeblooms.ca

I have a couple of friends that do Dry January every year, and my friend Anthony posted the other day saying ‘If you think you’re January seems long, try doing Dry January’. So, there’s that. Let’s talk some wine.

January is all about trying something new. And why not extend that to your wine palate. One of the things we do really well in Canada – Ice! Why not try an ice wine. Canada produces some of the finest Ice wines in the world, because if anyone can produce a frozen grape, it’s us here in Canada. As a matter of fact, Peller Estates, who have been producing wine here in Canada for 50 years, has an ice wine tasting room.

How cool is that

Peller Estates makes a beautiful Ice wine from the Vidal grape, and guess who else has the cooler weather to grow the Vidal grape and make a great Ice wine? You guessed it, Nova Scotia.

Grand Pre Vidal Icewine

This is the Grand Pre Vidal Ice Wine from right here in Nova Scotia, and it’s a gorgeous dessert wine, with the excellent price tag of $24.99 Most of them start at about $50 a bottle. Ice Wines are beautiful after you’ve had a big meal, you would like something sweet, but don’t want a heavy dessert. They are served ice ice cold, and in a small sipping glass. It is a delicious satisfying way to end a great meal.

Looking forward to wine tastings again

And now for my wine of the week.

I’ve been craving a steak. It’s not something I have often, so when I do, I really really enjoy it. So, I’m seeing one in my future. Because I don’t have steak that often, I do tend to treat myself to a nice cut of meat. Here’s the wine I think I will go and buy to have with it. I love Kenwood Estates. They make a fantastic Zinfandel, and they don’t disappoint with this Cabernet Sauvignon. The Sonoma County, which stretches from the Pacific Coast to the Mayacamas Mountains, plays a huge role in the terroir and the unique taste of this wine. Full-bodied and firm, this beautiful wine has gorgeous rich flavors of black currant and fig. Please excuse the wine stain on the picture, I spilled a little and then took the picture.

That’s it for this week. Let’s take a moment to wish Betty White a Happy 99th Birthday. You Go Girl!

Till next week, Cheers

Wine Trends for 2021

2020 was an interesting year

For many many people, 2020 was a challenging year, me included. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. I re-discovered my love of cooking, new recipes and new wines. I also read some great books, rediscovered a love of jigsaw puzzles and appreciated every minute I got to spend with family and friends in my bubble. But there is hope, with the introduction of 2 vaccines and more on the way, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. While we are in the tunnel, it’s a great opportunity to catch up on some reading, including some things to watch out for in the wine world for 2021. The first of the year, I tend to do a wine blog on the upcoming wine trends. Here we go!

  1. Rose Wine continues to be hotter than ever.
Mionetto Rose Prosecco

Last year I read that you will see a Rose Prosecco in 2020, however Covid slowed that down. But Food and Wine magazine says it’s coming in 2021. I have had Mionetto Prosecco several times, it’s a great sparkling wine to take to wine tastings. Mionetto has produced a DOC certified Rose Prosecco, unfortunately, it’s not available here yet. Once it is, you have my word, I will buy a bottle and try it. Rose wine sales increased 43% in the Summer of 2020 over the previous Summer. 43%! Wow. Keep in mind, more people were staying close to home this past Summer worldwide, drinking on their patios, and from the looks of it, many were enjoying Rosé wine.

2. Online Sales of wine will continue

More and more people started buying wine online in 2020. This statement probably comes as no surprise to anyone. Most people I know started buying online for the first time, thanks to the lockdown provided by a global pandemic. Bloomberg says we are going to see this trend continue, people liked the convenience and the delivery. Wine stores, who started doing deliveries in 2020, will probably need to continue with that trend.

How I ended 2020 and started 2021

3. Hard Seltzers will continue to gain popularity

East Coast Lifestyle Rum Soda
White Claw Mango Seltzer

Many local brewers from Nova Scotia and around the world are producing these sparkling water based drinks. Sparkling water with a boost of alcohol, and many food and wine magazines are calling them hard seltzers. Many wine lovers are not huge fans from the reviews I’ve read, but I really like them. They are refreshing and tasty and they are perfect for Summer. The top picture is the East Coast Lifestyle Rum Soda from right here in Nova Scotia, and the bottom is the White Claw mango hard seltzer from the U.S.. I have a palate that likes many different kinds of drinks, and I love these drinks, especially the low sugar ones.

Before I tell you about my wine of the week, I have to share my new favorite recipe. I love a show on television called Watt’s On The Grill, featuring Chef Spencer Watts. It’s filmed right here in Canada. He also has a show ‘Watt’s Cooking At The Cottage’. On one episode he made these chicken skewers. Oh. My. God. They are so good, and easy.

First I cut up the chicken breasts and marinated it for 8 hours. Over night works well, even 3 or 4 hours. You really should marinate.

Brown Sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, & Worcestershire sauce.

5 easy ingredients for the marinade. Then I grilled them on my BBQ. About 3 – 4 minutes per side for me.

Set some marinade aside to baste with

I set aside about 1/4 of the marinade to baste while they cooking. Flip, baste and repeat. Then he recommended this sweet thai chili mayo sauce that I have made twice and have even used this mayo on a sandwich and it’s heavenly.

1st night I basted with the mayo sauce
It’s also great on pork

The mayo sauce has equal parts Mayo & Sweet Thai Chili sauce, garlic, and cilantro. He calls for fish sauce, but I’m allergic so I used Hoisin sauce, which is like molasses meeting soy sauce. You can use any green fresh herb you like, I happen to have cilantro, because I make my own salsa. It’s awesome. His recipe is here.

And now for my wine of the week..

Silvia Cellars Three Barrels blend

I’m going to start this description by telling you that this wine is $7 off right now at the NSLC on my street. It’s a great wine for $23, it’s spectacular for $16, which is what I paid for this wine yesterday. Sylvia three barrel blend is a blended wine of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Zinfandel. Beautiful and full-bodied.

I have the 2011 vintage last night, and I will give this tip. Either let it sit, or decant it. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah , and Zinfandel tend to be higher alcohol wines all on their own, around 14%. This wine has been sitting in its bottle for almost 10 years, so the first thing you may taste if you open and try it right away, like I did, would be alcohol. Once I decanted it, it was amazing. Full-bodied with flavors of toasted oak and candied orange peel’s, I’m going up today to buy another one or two!

Priorities

Have a wonderful week. Thank you for reading

Darlene

My Top 10 of 2020!

Bye Bye!

Revised! Welcome to the first Saturday of 2021! This blog almost didn’t get written today, because I forgot what day of the week it was LOL. A common occurrence I’m sure this time of the year. I know that many people are looking forward to seeing 2020 in the rearview mirror. It was not an easy year for sure, and this Christmas I am in Halifax, not with my family, as travel was not recommended. Some good did come out of this year though. Personally, I slowed down a bit, I rediscovered the joys of puzzles and good books, I learned how to make homemade bread, and I found some great new wines. Let’s have a look at some of them.

10. Canyon Road Cabernet Sauvignon

Canyon Road Cabernet

For the most part my wine blogs are all about finding good wine at reasonable prices. I always say, good wine doesn’t have to be expensive. This is a prime example, of a wine of the week. Canyon Road Cabernet Sauvignon is a surprising $10.99 and has become a staple in my wine rack, and in the wine rack of several of my friends. This is a smooth easy to drink medium bodied Cabernet. It’s not oaky and the tannins are not over-powering.

9. Rhone To The Bone

It was back in the Summer when I found this delightful Rose wine from the Cotes du Rhone region of France. Rhone to the Bone is made from the Grenache grape, which is the same grape used in making Chateauneuf du Pape and Syrah. As a matter of fact it is 80% Grenache & 20% Syrah. Two full-bodied red grapes, with limited skin contact, because that’s where all the color in red wine comes from. This fresh crisp rose was a favorite of mine this Summer and comes in at under $18.

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I was ready for 2020

8. Caliterra Tributo Chrdonnay

2020 started out like any other year. Winter months, comfort food and great new discoveries that go with our favorite comfort food. The Caliterra Tributo Chardonnay was one of those great finds. A delicious Chardonnay from Chile, that was priced suprisingly under $18 and a great compliment with roast chicken.

7.

This puzzle of classic games revived my love of puzzles

7. Unconditional Pinot Noir

You’re probably not surprised there’s a Pinot Noir on the list

Anyone who knows me won’t be surprised there is a Pinot Noir on the list, and Oregon is one of my favorite places for Pinot Noir. And you can’t have a Top 10 without having a couple of treat wines on the list. This is a Pinot Noir from one of my favorite regions for Pinot – Oregon. Given 93 Points, it’s actually quite surprising this wine is just $33 a bottle. It’s incredibly smooth and the 2016, which I had, produced low yields that year, which meant more intense fruit. I loved it.

6. Stemmari Grillo

Stemmari Grillo

I don’t believe you can get this wine in Nova Scotia, but you can get it in other parts of Canada like Ontario. My friend Arla bought this back from the U.S. when she returned in March, and it’s a Sicilian white made with the Grillo grape. Although Grillo might not be well known in Canada, it is actually the most important white grape in Sicily. It also received a Gold Medal at the Berliner Wine Tasting. I think she said she paid $9 for this in the States, however, here in Canada it’s about $14, which is still a great price for a great wine.

I learned how to make homemade pizza

5. Ava Grace Merlot

I love Merlot. It’s a plump juicy full-bodied Grape and this one from Ava Grace, which I discovered in Newfoundland, was a favorite. Mocha, vanilla and spice flavors, and to all my Newfoundland friends and wine-lovers, this wine is on for $15.28 at the moment. Go out and buy a couple.

4. Zonin Prosecco

Zonin Prosecco

Two years ago, my #1 wine of 2018 was a Zonin Ripoasso that was given 96 Points, and it cost under $20. I think that’s the first time I saw that high of a rating at that price point. This year I bought its sister wine, the Zonin Prosecco a few times. It’s a great sparkling wine with New Year’s Eve just around the corner. It’s even fun in a holiday cocktail.

Prosecco, Cranberry & Lime Flavored Sparkling Water

3. La Vielle Ferme Blanc

This wine is also made in red, but the white has become one of my favorite white wines. La Vielle Ferme was bought to a small dinner party of people in my bubble, back when we were allowed to have 10 people. My friend Arla introduced us to this one, and we were all trying it for the first time. I was absolutely blown away by the wonderful tropical flavors in this wine. At $14.49 a bottle, you can see why it’s one of my favorites.

2.

Beef Bourguignon

When the pandemic put us in lockdown in March, many of us tried new recipes for the first time. And why not, restaurants were closed and we had a lot of time on our hands. I tried some new recipes including this Beef Bourguignon recipe.

2. Argyle Pinot Noir

Before the pandemic hit, I had the opportunity to do a couple of wine tastings in the beginning of 2020. In previous years I probably did 30 a year. I loved meeting new people and introducing them to some new wines. When I do a tasting, I always bring a treat wine, and this was my favorite treat wine of 2020. Argyle Pinot Noir from Oregon This is a perfectly balanced Pinot Noir with wonderful aromatics and a nice lingering finish. It’s $52, but worth the treat.

  1. Chateau Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon

This was my wine of the year because it’s a $20 Cabernet Sauvignon that tastes like a $75 bottle of wine. This wine was a pioneer in the success of Napa Valley wines back in the 60’s. This big bold Cabernet Sauvignon from Chateau Souverain delivers with mocha and vanilla flavors balancing tannins with easy drinkability. It was my favorite new find of 2020.

I want to thank each and every one of you who have joined me on wine journey of discovering great wines at affordable prices. I wish you and your family a happy healthy 2021. Thank you and Happy New Year.

Darlene