Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Say Oui To French Wine!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 21, 2017 by darmyers

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So I am in the process of studying for my certification for a French Wine Scholar.  Last week we had an awesome 2 days in the classroom with teacher Lisa Airey.
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It was so very informative.  Even though I am a Certified Sommelier, this course is really getting into depth with the wine regions and the wines of France.  And the best part of the course, naturally, is the homework… we had some amazing wines. I’m going to try and touch on a few that could suit any palate.

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One of my favorite white wines of the entire weekend was this Arthur Metz Riesling from the Alsace region of France.  Alsace borders Germany and over the past 1000 years, ownership has gone back and forth between France and Germany.  It has belonged to France since just after the Second World War but they still have many customs from Germany, starting with the labeling of their wine bottles.  It always says the grape varietal, while the majority of France labels by region.  This 2016 Riesling had wonderful crisp acidity and the gorgeous flavors of pears and honey complimented with a slight twinge of sweetness.  Excellent wine for spicy food, Thai cuisine and at just $20 a bottle, it’s a great value.

There’s nothing like Champagne in the morning and especially when it’s this Pol Roger Rose Champagne made 60% from Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay and then 15% still wine of Pinot Noir is added before the second fermentation.  This Champagne is also aged 7 years before release and we enjoyed the 2002 vintage.  It was spectacular.  Delicate and flavorful with hints of strawberry and vanilla.  It’s a treat wine, at $102 a bottle, but nothing says special occasion quite like Champagne.

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I absolutely adore French red wine, especially when it comes from Bourgogne, or what’s more widely known as the Burgundy region of France.  So Burgundian red wines are Pinot Noir, and I love Pinot Noir.  The wine I am going to tell you about is the one on the right i. The above picture, which is the Bouchard Nuits Saint Georges, located in the acclaimed Cotes de Nuits area of Burgundy.

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The vinification takes place in wooden vats, which is the wine-making process.   Then it’s aged for another 16 months in oak barrels.  But 80% of the barrels are older, with only 20% being aged in new oak.  What does that mean to you?  Wood does not over-power the wine and the flavors of the grape shine through.  You can cellar this wine for up to 10 years but it is delicious to drink now.  This Pinot has those yummy cherry flavors and Pinot Noir goes with just about anything you serve.  I also like it all on its own, but it’s a great wine for comfort foods as well, like roast beef, wild game meats and stews.

And now for my wine of the week…

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Chateauneuf du Pape is the quintessential French wine. Translated, it means “Castle of the Pope” and Popes have been loving this wine since the 1300’s!  This wine is 62% Grenache, 16% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre with rhe remainder Cinsault.  It’s a heavenly blend, we had the 2012 vintage and this wine ages very well so it can be cellared.   A bit high on alcohol side, at 15%, so letting it breathe for 30 to 45 minutes before serving is a great idea.  It’s also very well priced at $60, which is very reasonable for Châteauneuf du Pape.

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The thing I love most about wine, is that the learning never stops.

Till next wee, Cheers

Darlene

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Wines to Warm The Soul

Posted in Uncategorized on October 14, 2017 by darmyers

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After an unusually warm September, where temperatures here hit the high 20’s and low 30’s in the last week of September, the cooler temperatures have finally settled in.  I love this time of year.

 

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Nova Scotia is beautiful in the Fall.  The colors are bright and vibrant, there are lots of farm fresh apples and vegetables, and it’s comfort food time.  Each year around this time, I usually do a wine blog on my favorite wine and comfort foods.   And one of my favorite comfort foods is one that I only tend to have when my mom is around.

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Chicken pot pie is the epitome of comfort food.  Delicious chicken and vegetables in a creamy gravy broth with fluffy pastry.  What’s not to love.  One of my favorite wines for chicken pot pie is one of my mom’s favorites.  Chardonnay.

Love it or leave it, Chardonnay is the most planted white grape variety in the world for a reason… it’s delicious and very food friendly.  This Cloudy Bay Chardonnay originates out of New Zealand, which is not an area widely known for its Chardonnay.  Mostly what you hear coming out of New Zealand for a white wine is Sauvignon Blanc.  The warm weather of the area as well as being 100% fermented in French oak, brings out some unique flavors in the Chardonnay including cashew nut, lemon and nectarine.  I found this wine to be super interesting and complex.

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My sister Jackie, who rarely cooks, and doesn’t like to cook,  makes two things extremely well.  Scalloped potatoes and meatloaf.   Meatloaf, and any other comfort food that contains ground beef is fairly easy to pair.  If you are a white wine drinker, a Chardonnay suits perfectly, but if you’re like me and love those big reds, this is the time to crack one open.  A Shiraz would be a great wine for meatloaf, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, but I’m going to feature a Malbec.  002

Malbec, once one of the popular grapes grown in Bordeaux France, is now the star of the Argentinian wine community.  It has found a great home in Argentina, and this one has been one of the best I have tried recently.  It is so delicious, and I’m guessing it’s because the grapes were grown in the mountains of Mendoza.  This winery was started in 1998 and they are making impressive wine.  Give this Malbec a try before it’s all gone.

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I don’t know why but my crock pot gets more use in the winter than in the Summer.  I think because in the Summer I like to cook outdoors.  Roasts, stews, soups and of course Chili, are some of my favorite dishes through the cold winter months. When I think Chili, I think Merlot.  When you think Merlot, you’re probably not thinking Italy.

This wine is a blend, featuring Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  The berry and plum flavors of this wine with hints of spice from the Syrah, will pair wonderfully with the tomato flavors of a chili.  Take my word for it, and give it a try.  At only $18 a bottle, you have nothing to lose.  This is a wonderful wine and I think I will pick up a bottle for the weekend.

I want to write one quick note out of respect for the people in the Napa Valley region, and all of California.

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The world is holding their breath and our hearts are breaking as the news of wildfires continue to rage through Northern California, encompassing parts of the Napa Valley.  My heart and prayers go out to the families and friends of the 51 lives this horrific tragedy has claimed.  This fire is so devastating it is burning the area of a football field every 3 seconds.   The world is praying for the safety of everyone and everything that lives in Northern California.

And that’s it for this week.  Today and tomorrow I am taking the final steps to becoming a certified French Wine Scholar.  I”ll tell you about it next week

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

 

 

Grape Expectations!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 7, 2017 by darmyers

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Great Expectations may be one of the greatest novels of all time by Charles Dickens, but this being a long weekend, it’s all about the grape expectations for me.  I have tried some great new wines lately and I can’t wait to share them with you.

I am also taking another wine course for the certification of French Wine Scholar.   I’ve been studying like crazy for it, and the review and exam is next weekend.

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So the first wine I wanted to tell you about is French.

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The Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone is a blend of Grenache and Syrah and is classic Cote du Rhone.  Cote du Rhone is a region of France, and a section of the liquor store that may be easy to walk past.  Keep in mind one of the regions in the Cote du Rhone is the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  Some of these wines are tremendous value and silky smooth.  This particular wine is just that!  It sells for $17 and has a wonderful structure, and the fruit is accentuated by flavors of leather, smoke and spice.  It comes in white as well, with the grape being Grenache Blanc.

Grenache Blanc is a very important grape variety in this region of France,  and is very widely planted.  It is used in the blend of Chateauneuf du Pape but is a stellar wine all on its own.  This particular wine is also $17 and this grape pairs well with shellfish, sushi and even charcuterie boards.

I cannot write a wine blog on the Saturday of a Thanksgiving long weekend here in Canada, without sharing a great wine for turkey.

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No one is buying Vouvray without knowing what it is.  Well Vouvray is a Chenin Blanc white wine from the Vouvray region in the Loire Valley of France.   It is a crisp white wine with lovely acidity that will really compliment a meat like turkey.  There are subtle flavors of honey and peaches and this particular wine is a fantastic value at just over $18 here in Nova Scotia.  If you’re foregoing turkey this weekend, this is a winner with roast chicken and fish as well.

And for my wine of the week, I’m going to include a tribute to a dear friend and fellow wine lover

 

 

On September 15th, the world lost a true adventurer and a larger than life personality.  My friend Ron Ryan passed away suddenly while hiking in Colorado.  When Ron tackled something, he did it at 110%.  He was a husband, a father, a brother and a friend to many.    There were so many of us who met Ron through work and who he helped on a business level.  And for many of us, Ron and his wife Rosalie became great personal friends.  Ron enjoyed life to the fullest, and in addition to hiking he loved photography, skiing, reading, boating and travelling, just to name a few.

Ron also loved the big bold Cabernet Sauvignon wines.  And this wonderful wine he and his wife Rosalie gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago.

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Christmas 2013 to be exact.  I was saving it for a special occasion but if there’s one thing I’ve learned  in the last few weeks to live every day to the fullest.  Like my friend Ron did.   The vintage is 2008, and I was reading a wine review recently that says this wine is ready!  This particular vintage is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc, a true Bordeaux style blend.  This particular wine spent two years in oak before being released.  The Winemaker at Etude is known for making elegant Cabernet Sauvignon with rich fruit and complex spucy notes.  The next steak I enjoy I will be opening this beauty and toasting my good friend Ron Ryan

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Enjoy the long weekend everyone

Cheers, Darlene

Simplifying Wine!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 23, 2017 by darmyers

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So we had another great wine tasting last weekend, and we tried 6 new wines and had a lot of fun.  I have been doing a lot of tastings lately and one of the greatest accomplishments I get from a wine tasting is simplifying wine a little bit.  Wine can be a complex topic, there are so many different kinds of wine, grapes, wine-making styles from so many countries, it’s no surprise people can be a little intimidated buying wine.  One of my main goals in a wine tasting is to help take some of the mystery out of buying wine and to help simplify it for people.

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There’s no better way to do that than to get a great group of people together and try some new wines.  New wines tends to bring out lits of questions, and we like that, because the more we know, the easier buying wine gets.  And that’s what we did last weekend.  Here is an example of a pairing we did from 2 Pinot Noir Wines from France.  One was twice the price of the other, and the group was split down the middle as to which one they liked the best.

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I love this wine.  Le Fou means ‘Madman’, and the owner decided to call it that, because his neighbours thought he was crazy for planting Pinot Noir in the south of France, known for its Syrah and Grenache.  I think this wine is tremendous value as it comes in just under $17 a bottle here in Nova Scotia, but it’s medium-bodied with lots of flavor.  There are some pepper notes accompanied by tart cherry and a very food friendly wine at a price you can open any night of the week.

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We tasted the Le Fou side by side with this wine, a Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region of France.  It’s a popular opinion that the Burgundy region of France provides some of the greatest Pinot Noir wines in the world, especially from the Cote de Nuits region of Burgundy, where this wine originates from.  The 2015 vintage is considered exceptional because of things like weather conditions and grape maturity.  I found this to be a delicious and well structured wine with spicy notes.  Although this wine was closer to the $30 range, I found it tasty and a great treat wine.

And now my wine of the week… a great find from Italy

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This was the last wine of the evening, and probably the biggest hit of the evening.  Definitely a wine I will be showcasing in other wine tastings.  Montepulciano is a region in Tuscany, but it’s also a grape.  And that’s the case in this wine, it’s the grape Montepulciano from the Abruzzo region, thus the name Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  This wine is fairly new to our local liquor store and I just loved it!  It was rich and full-bodied and extremely smooth to drink.  I love that their goal is quality from cluster to glass.  And at $22.99, I will definitely be buying this wine again.  As a matter of fact, I am invited to party this evening where there will be pizza on the menu and I think I may bring this wine.

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Well, that’s it for this week

Have a great weekend everyone.  Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

 

 

 

Wine FAQ’s

Posted in Uncategorized on September 16, 2017 by darmyers

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I’m doing another wine tasting tomorrow and I’m excited.  There are 20 people coming to this one, and that means lots of questions.  There are a couple of people coming that it will be their very first wine tasting, and one of the ladies was asking me what to expect.  As I told her, this is your wine tasting.  I’m only there to pick out some different wines for you to try and to answer all your questions.  As I do more and more wine tastings, I realize there are a few of the same questions that get asked every time.  So this wine blog is all about answering questions, and I have an awesome new wine for you to try as my wine of the week.

What makes a good wine?

Drink the wine you love and love the wine you drink.  That’s all you need to know about what makes a good wine!  Think about it.  I have a couple of friends who only drink white wine.  So if you were to give them a glass of Bordeaux, no matter how high the quality of the Bordeaux, they are not going to like it.  So to them, it’s not a good wine.  But I love Bordeaux, so I would find it a good wine.  Wine is a matter of personal preference.  Have fun and try new ones, but drink the wine you love, and don’t worry about whether anyone else thinks it’s a good wine.  People’s opinions will vary, and no one is wrong.  That’s why I called my blog Wine – In My Opinion.

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What temperature should I serve my wine?

The topic of wine temperature always comes up.  Sadly, many people won’t try red wines because they don’t like the warm taste to their lips.  Many people, including most restaurants, serve red wine too warm.  When it was stated that red wine should be served at room temperature, they meant the room temperature of  the underground wine cellars.  And remember, hundreds of years ago, homes were not as warm as what they are today.  The average room temperature in a home is 23-degrees Celsius.  Way too warm to serve wine.  Red wine should be  served between 13° and 16°C  and some people like their big heavy wines,  like Cabernet Sauvignon, served  at 18° , and this is fine.  White wine should be served betwee 9 & 11 degrees, and ice wines as cold as you can.

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How do I know if a wine is bad?

On Thursday evening I opened a bottle of wine and knew instantly it had gone bad because of the smell permeating from the bottle.  It was this wine..

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I have had it several times before, it’s a great wine for BBQ food, so I did know it had gone bad. I bought it back to my NSLC and they exchanged it no problem.  Now keep in mind there was one small sip taken out of the bottle.  They may raise an eyebrow if most of the bottle is missing!  About 10% of corked wines do go bad, and about 4% of screw caps.  It amazes me how many people tell me they have never returned a bottle of wine.  Which means some people open a wine, maybe for the first time, and think they don’t like that particular wine.  How I knew this wine was bad was because of the skunky vinegar smell.  Sipping it confirmed it.  If a wine tastes like it sat open in a barnyard, or has any sharp ‘off’ smell, pour the glass back in the bottle and return it to the wine store where you bought it.  Believe me, they’ve all taken back wine.  Wine’s too expensive to waste.

And now it’s time for my wine of the week… I’m so excited because I LOVED this wine…

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This is the Magnifico Rosso Fuoco Primitivo.  From the Puglia (pronounced pool-yah) region in Italy, this is a magnificent Primitivo wine.  Primitivo is the Italian version of Zinfandel.  This wine had a really nice medium to full-bodied feel and the jam flavors are a compliment to this wine, not a detriment.  There are spicy notes to compliment the juicy plum flavors and I had this wine with baby back ribs that I did last weekend.  If there’s a heaven, I want this wine and baby back ribs to be a part of it.  It was wonderful, but this wine would also pair well with stew, lamb, beef, and especially any kind of gamey meat.  (I’m from Newfoundland, this pairs well with moose)

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If you have any questions about wine, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below.

Have a great weekend, till next week, Cheers

Darlene

 

 

Goodbye Summer!

Posted in Uncategorized on September 9, 2017 by darmyers

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Although the last day of Summer is not officially until September 20th, Fall hit Nova Scotia right on September 1st this year.  The temperatures started to drop almost immediately and the nights were cooler for sleeping.  Hello Autumn!

Two weeks ago I was hired to do a Summer wine tasting, and I met 8 of the nicest people.  They wanted a ‘summer-themed’ tasting with lots of chilled white  and rose wines.  They wanted a goodbye to Summer tasting and we had a fabulous time while sharing some great wines.  I even tried a couple of new ones that night.

Let me introduce you to  one of the surprise hits of the evening.

Grand Pre Rose

This wine was not originally on the list.  My local liquor store was sold out of the one I originally planned to bring.  But what a great surprise this turned out to be.  The rose wine from Grand Pre Winery in the Anapolis Valley in Nova Scotia was a treat.  It was bright and crisp with lovely citrus flavors, and everyone loved it.  A tremendous value at just $15.99 a bottle, this is a great appetizer wine and a great wine for the upcoming Thanksgiving turkey dinner.

Sancerre

On that evening, we featured 3 different Sauvignon Blanc grapes done in 3 different styles from 3 different countries, and this was the hands-down winner.  In my opinion, no one does Sauvignon blanc like the Sancerre region of France.  This was refreshing and crisp with gorgeous citrus flavors. It was very simply good, nothing over-powering and I feel the wine-making was done to perfection.  The picture on the bottle is the actual Chateau in the centre of the region, which was built in the 10th Century.  This wine is priced at $34 but so worth it.  Honestly, it’s going to be hard to go back to $18 Sauvignon Blanc.

LIghtfoot Riesling

Although I didn’t get the Rose wine from this vineyard, as they were all sold out, I did have the opportunity to try the Lightfoot and Wolfville Riesling.  So good.  Lightfoot and Wolfville is probably Nova Scotia’s newest winery, established in 2009 and they are completely organic.  This fabulous Riesling was aged in the bottle for over a year before release, and the peach and marmalade flavors were in a word – Yummy!  There were only 66 cases of this wine released, so if you see a bottle, nab it before it’s gone.

And my wine of the week…

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We featured two wines that night that were 100% Aglianico grapes.  One was a Rose from southern Italy and this full-bodied red.  And it was considered the best wine of the evening, and let me tell you those people have good taste.  From Campania, this wine is delicious with rich dark fruit flavors and a smoky note that would have it pair very well with stews, roast beef and barbecued food.  You know, all the comfort foods you love for Fall and winter.  This is a treat bottle of wine, coming in at $44 a bottle, but it is so very good.

Baby back ribs

Speaking of awesome barbecue foods that this wine would pair well with, see below for my recipe for baby back ribs.  I finish mine on the grill because  I like those grill marks and it’s a great chance to baste and turn.  I’m known pretty well among my friends and family as a good ribber.  If you try the recipe, let me know how they turn out.

Darlene’s Baby Back Ribs

I’m going to do the recipe in the style that I make them.

  1. First, and very important, use the tip of a knife to start to peel back the tough layer of skin that is on the back side of the ribs.  We call it the membrane.   Once it starts to lift, I use 2 pieces of paper towel to peel the rest of it off.  This is a very important step as it keeps fat in and flavor out so you want it gone.
  2. Then I marinate my ribs. In a bowl I mix, 2 teaspoons of brown sugar, a few shakes of Frank’s hot sauce, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce, and then add a bottle of barbecue sauce.
  3. Let the ribs sit in the marinade for at least 4 hours, or even over-night.
  4. Then pre-heat oven to 275-degrees and let the ribs slow cook in the oven for 2 ½ – 3 hours.
  5. Then it’s time to head to the grill
  6. I put them on the top rack and keep turning and basting in barbecue sauce for an hour.
  7. When I take the ribs off the barbecue, I’m careful, because they are cooked to fall off the bone perfection at this point.
  8. Tent the ribs, put them on your cutting board and put aluminum foil over them for 10 minutes. This allows all the juices to settle.
  9. Then I cut the ribs and serve them up. A note to use  your favorite barbecue sauce, I like the Bulls Eye Sweet and Sticky personally, but you choose your favorite and try different ones.

Well, that’s it for this week.  Til next week, Cheers

Darlene

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Into Wine

Posted in Uncategorized on September 2, 2017 by darmyers

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First of all, let me say a very big thank you for all the feedback I received last week.  I very much appreciated it.  I really liked hearing things about the blog you liked, like finding the good values – great wine at great prices, and I even had someone who knew I loved to cook, to include some of my favorite recipes as a pairing. I read them all and over the coming months you may get a new flavor to the wine blog.  Keep the feedback coming!

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So my favorite season is upon us.  I love Fall.  I love the gorgeous colors, the cool nights for sleeping and the harvest of local fruit and vegetables.  The fact that it is also grape harvesting season in the wine industry brings a smile to my face as well.  Probably not a coincidence for that timing.

I`m going to start this blog off because a favorite value of mine, that hasn’t been available for a long time is back, and it`s a favorite of mine for 2 reasons, it’s great wine and it’s a great price!

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This is one of those great wines that tastes like a $40 bottle of wine but is $18.00 a bottle.  It`s the Hoya de Cadenas 130th Anniversary edition from Spain and it is so smooth and easy to drink.  This is a blend of some of my favorite grapes including Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Bobal.  Bobal is a grape that originated in Valencia Spain and is named for the latin word Bovale, in reference to the shape of a Bull`s head.  I find this wine to be extremely elegant and it’s complimented by flavors of cherry and spice and very subtle oak.  It`s back at our local liquor store so stock up while it is still here.

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While we are in Spain, let me tell you about a new wine I tried this past week.  It`s the Red Guitar Old Vine Tempranillo Garnacha.  Garnacha being the Spanish pronunciation of the French grape Grenache.  Fans of Apothic Red might like this wine, as there is a slight tinge of sweetness added.  It`s a medium-bodied wine with flavors of raspberry and some sweet winter spice.  It`s well priced at $15 a bottle here in Nova Scotia, and I have many friends who love the Apothic Red, with that hint of sweetness, and this is a wine that you might want to try.  Great wine for pork.

And now my wine of the week,

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In previous blogs, I have talked about Valpolicella especially Ripasso.  This is a Valpolicella Superiore – what’s the difference you might ask?  2 things, grape selection and ageing.  It has to be aged for one year before release but traditionally Superiore is aged 2 years.  Valpolicella Superiore is considered the second step on the way to Amarone.  This fabulous wine is $25 and worth every dollar.  Here in Halifax, Superiore wines range from $20 to $52, so this is good value. Very smooth and tasty abd the palate comes alive with flavors of cherry, plums and spice.   The perfect wine for pasta and pizza.  My apologies for the cat dish in the background.  LOL

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I hope everyone has a wonderful long weekend

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene