Birthday Shenanigans!

This past week, I celebrated my birthday! Some friends came down and surprised me, and we drank some wine…. Actually we drank a lot of wine! LOL One of the bottles I opened was a special gift given to me by a good friend for Christmas in 2013. He passed away suddenly three years ago and I’ve been waiting for a special occasion to open this bottle. Since this was my first birthday since my dad passed away, and I was hoping he and Ron were having a cold beer somewhere, I decided to open and enjoy the special bottle of wine with a couple of special friends.

My friend always wrote the year he bought the wine
2006 Etude Cabernet Sauvignon

The wine I opened was a 2006 Étude Cabernet Sauvignon from California. As you can see, every time he gave me a bottle of wine, he signed the bottle. I’ve done some research on this particular bottle of wine, and found some interesting information. Etude was started in 1982 by Tony Soter, and although he was never formally trained as a winemaker, he was sole winemaker until he sold in 2000. Although Tony stayed on for an additional 7 years in a consultant role, Jon Priest became the winemaker at Étude, and he is making widely-acclaimed wine. He says, in 2006, ideal weather conditions and low yield made for a great well structured Cabernet Sauvignon. It was very good but it comes with a heft price tag of $90.

MJ Mas Janeil Le Petite Pas
Syrah, Grenache, Carignan & Mourvedre

Another bottle we opened birthday night was this wine, I had never tried before. Both ladies who came to visit for my birthday like really full-bodied heavy wines. And I’ll be honest, I really thought this wine was going to deliver that. Syrah (Shiraz) is a thick-skinned grape which normally is very dark in color, and heavy. However, this blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvedre was medium-bodied, light and fruity. After some research I found they used carbonic maceration as a way to ferment the grapes. This is the same process they use for Beaujolais, which means it releases very little tannins and gives wine a very fruity, light feel. It was very tasty and it’s on sale right now, less than $17. But if you’re looking for a light, easy to drink wine, this is the wine for you. It’s a great wine for charcuterie boards and even pork tenderloin.

And now for my wine of the week…

Ava Grace Rose

Last week, my wine of the week was the Ava Grace Merlot, a wine I discovered while being in Newfoundland. This week, I discovered its sister wine, and it hails from California, but is sold right here in Nova Scotia. This Rose wine was given 93 Points in the Ultimate Wine Challenge and it’s less than $20 a bottle. It’s fresh, crisp and delicate with beautiful apricot flavors the wine and has a wonderful palate.

Summer sipping on the patio

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

Darlene

Summer Wine Time

10 Summer Wines Perfect for the Season
Summer is here

Nothing says Summer quite like the Canada Day holiday here in Canada and the 4th of July for our neighbours in the U.S. And as many parts of Canada and the U.S. are experiencing extremely high temperatures, there is a wine for that.

When I think the hot days of Summer, I think Rose. And I can’t remember if I discovered this particular one last Summer or the Summer before.

Arrogant Frog Rose

One of the great things about Rose wine, other than the taste, is that it doesn’t have to break the bank. This beautiful fresh Arrogant Frog Rose is just $15.99 a bottle here. From France, this Rose is made from the Syrah grape (think Shiraz), but of course limited contact with the skins. Harvested at night to avoid increased sugar levels, this wonderful wine is perfect for the patio or that Summer picnic.

Me too!

Between wild weather throughout much of Canada this Spring, (it snowed in Halifax May 13th) and Covid-19, people are ready to get out and enjoy Summer. Safely of course!

I’m also going to share a couple of beverages I love in the Summer that isn’t wine.

Sandpiper Pomegranate - We Can So You Can Take It Outside - Hike ...

Locally made in Nova Scotia, I love these refreshing Vodka soda coolers. Fun to drink with no added sugar, these are not the sweet coolers of past years. The top one is made by local brewer Nine Locks and is the delicious Pomegranate and the bottom one is the Blue Lobster Lemon Lime by the Nova Scotia Spirit Company. Fabulous delicious drinks for Summer, that are only about 5% or 6% alcohol content, so you can have more than 1.

Back to the wine

Last year on my Canada Day blog I wrote about a great Canadian red wine from the See Ya Later Ranch. Check it out here.

See Ya Later Ranch Riesling

This year I want to tell you about the Riesling from that same vineyard. Located in the Okanagan Valley in beautiful British Columbia, the See Ya Later Ranch gets its name from how the owner, Major Hugh Fraser, signed off on all his letters. He didn’t want to say Good-bye, so he said ‘See Ya Later’. And a vineyard was born. The Riesling is a great wine for under $20 and is light and refreshing. Another great wine for sipping on the patio or served with your favorite meal. Riesling is actually one of my favorite white wines to pair with food. I love it.

And now for my wine of the week…..

Conviction Pinot Noir

I love an interesting label on a wine bottle, and since I’m very adventurous when it comes to trying new wine, I will admit I’m a bit of a sucker for a great label. I am in Newfoundland. My father is not well and I’m on Day 11 of self-isolating, before I help get my Mom ready to go into a home, and hopefully see my Dad come out of the hospital. So while I’m in Newfoundland, I sent my brother-in-law to the liquor store for me and ask him to get me a Pinot Noir. I loved what he bought home. The great news is you can also get this wine at the NSLC in Nova Scotia, but I had never tried it before. Another great wine from British Columbia, it’s vibrant and delicious and went great with the chicken kabobs I did that evening on the BBQ. A decent price as well, coming in at around the $26 mark.

The extreme heat is a little much for me

That’s it for me for this week. Stay cool. This past weekend in Newfoundland it was in the mid-30’s and that’s very unusual temperatures for June. Enjoy the weekend everyone.

Darlene

I Miss Wine Tastings

You never know!

I am in Newfoundland. In self-isolation. My parents are quite elderly and I drove to Newfoundland Tuesday (18 hours including a ferry) and started self-isolating for 14 days in the basement apartment in my sisters home. It’s given me some time to think, and I was thinking this week I really miss doing wine tastings. As a Certified Sommelier, I get asked a lot to do at home wine tastings for people. I go to their homes, or to the Common room of their apartment building, and I guide people through a wine tasting. I did one in January and one in February this year, and that was it. Normally March, April & May are quite busy with wine tastings, but then Coronavirus happened.

My favorite part is meeting new people and getting them to enjoy new wines. We all know wine is expensive, especially here in Canada, so we don’t want to waste it. Some people tend to buy the same wine over and over, and a wine tasting is a chance for people to step outside their comfort zones and try some new wines.

Here are some of my favorites from previous wine tastings.

It’s always a great time when friends gather
Image result for villa de conchi cava
Villa Conchi Brut

I always bring a sparkling wine to a wine tasting for two reasons. 1. Many people think all sparkling wines are sweet, ie Baby Duck or Reunite. Sparkling wine has come such a long way since those days. You can now buy Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava at a fraction of the price of a ‘Champagne’ and get a great quality dry sparkling wine. One of my favorites to bring to a wine tasting is the Villa di Conchi Spanish Cava. Such a pretty bottle, such a great price. Just $19 for this sparkling wine that is made in same method as Champagne from France. A perfect way to welcome a guest, it made my Top 10 Wines of 2018. Hint: This is on sale in Nova Scotia right now for $17 a bottle, run out and buy more than 1.

There’s always a wide variety
Elouan Pinot Noir

Another wine I love bringing to wine tastings because of the misconceptions around it, is a good Pinot Noir. And we all know Oregon state, sandwiched between California to its South and Washington State to its North, is making spectacular Pinot Noir wines. I have bought them in all price ranges, but this is a fan favorite. The Elouan Pinot Noir is not the most expensive Pinot, just $33 a bottle, but it’s one of the tastiest. Many people tend to think Pinot is ‘wimpy’, I’ve been told that a dozen times. Because the skin of the grape is so thin, it doesn’t have the dark color of a Merlot or a Cabernet, but it packs a ton of full-bodied flavor. And so food friendly. I love Pinot Noir.

Botter Primitivo is Organic

Last but not least, I always love bringing a surprise wine. A wine that is such a good value, to drive home the point good wine does not have to be expensive. Primitivo, which is the same grape as Zinfandel in Italy, is another grape that can be a little higher priced. Not this Botter Primitivo. It’s under $15 a bottle and with Summer here, it’s the perfect BBQ wine. By the way, it was 33-degrees in Halifax yesterday, a heat wave. Here on the West Coast of Newfoundland, it was 10-degrees.

This was taken at 12 Noon
25+ Best Wine Tasting Memes | the Memes, Finish Memes, When Memes

Well that’s it for this week. Cheers

Darlene

How Coronavirus has changed The Wine Industry

The new normal

At the beginning of every year since I started writing wine blogs, I do a blog on upcoming trends in the wine industry. You can read my January 2020 wine blog here. This past January I predicted Italian wines would continue to do well, Rose Prosecco was coming, and we could see a price increase in European wines. Never in a million years would I have predicted a global pandemic that saw wine tastings and social events come to a complete halt, and the sale of wine surpass those at Christmas time.

Who could have predicted a toilet paper shortage

We have witnessed the obliteration of public wine tastings and on-premise wine drinking of any kind. Wine industry experts expect this at-home wine drinking to continue. Even as the world starts to open up, people are still hesitant to eat out, and heaven knows when the next public wine tasting will be. Even as we start to open up, older adults especially are continuing their attention to catching an infection, and continuing to dine at home. Experts are saying the retail sale of wine will continue to be strong for a while yet.

My new mask

Next to toilet paper and hand sanitizer, the best selling product across Canada during the Coronavirus pandemic, was booze. There has been an unprecedented demand, and the industry has adjusted, with curbside pick-up and home delivery on the rise. Where as companies have seen lost sales from cancelled events, the retail sector has done just fine. Here in Nova Scotia, on the Eastern Coast of Canada, the NSLC reported the sale of alcohol increased by 14.4% in March alone, and we were only in lockdown for 2 weeks that month.

Ok, let’s talk some wine.

Another wonderful Italian Pinot Grigio, this time from the mountainous northern region of Italy. Given a ‘Best Buy’ designation from Wine Enthusiast and the #1 Italian wine sold in America, you can’t go wrong this crisp Pinot Grigio with its gorgeous citrus and green apple flavors. Here in Nova Scotia, it’s just $14.95 a bottle.

And now for my wine of the week…

Cavit Red Blend

It’s the sister wine to the Pinot Grigio, Cavit Red Blend. Another award winner, and a 92 Point Wine that is under $15, because this wine is also $14.95 a bottle. It’s a very interesting blend of 40% Teroldego, 35% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah.  Teroldego is a deeply colored red wine grape variety grown mostly in the Trentino wine region of northern Italy where it is the main dark-skinned variety. Combined with the traditional grape varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, this is a winner.

That’s it for me for this week, till next week Cheers

Darlene

Merlot is Back!

After the movie Sideways won an Academy Award for best Adapted Screenplay, Pinot Noir became a shining star in the wine world, and has stayed there. It is a mainstay in the California wine world, and winemakers attribute the film, calling it ‘The Sideways Effect’.

Doctor’s orders

Another grape didn’t fare as well, one of my all time favorites, Merlot. After Paul Giamatti, playing Miles Raymond, issued the famous line ‘ “No, if anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I am NOT drinking any f****** Merlot!”. for 5 years following the films release, Merlot sales dropped 2% each year while Pinot Noir sales rose 16% each year. That is ‘The Sideways Effect’.

You had me at merlot - red wine | Meme Generator
I love Merlot

But in a recent poll in the U.S. from YouGov, Merlot has become the #1 drinking red wine at 19%, inching out Cabernet Sauvignon at 18%. You can read that article here. My friends, Merlot is back!

Grenache, Syrah & Merlot makes a great blend

So let’s start the blog off with a Grenache, Syrah & Merlot blend that is so easy to drink and so affordable. Normally a GSM is Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Patisserie’s aim is to offer simple, approachable and well-made French wines that are fruitier in style and reminiscent of some of the most popular French cakes usually found in pâtisserie shops. This blend offers flavours of black cherries and spicy vanilla, similar to a Clafoutis (a traditional French flan like cherry cake). And here in Nova Scotia, it’s $18 a bottle. That’s what I call Win-Win!

Jacob’s Creek Moscato

A little bit of a surprise, the poll showed that Moscato is the #1 drinking white wine. I know Moscato has been on the rise in popularity, because I’m hearing more and more people say they love it. And you are going to love this Moscato from one of the leading winemakers in the Barossa Valley in Australia, Jacob’s Creek. This Moscato is only $14 a bottle here, so everyone can afford to try it. Moscato has a tinge of sweetness and is known for tropical fruit flavors. It’s delicous served chilled, and goes very well with appetizers and charcuterie boards. The light bubbly wine can really cut through the salt of meats and cheeses on a charcuterie board. It goes well with Thai food as well, like my homemade Chicken Pad Thai and Sweet Thai Chili wings. I assure you, I eat very well.

Homemade Chicken Pad Thai & Thai wings

And now for my wine of the week..

Steak with butter in cast iron
I normally like mine a little pinker

I did a steak last night for the first time in a long time. I will tell you, I do a mean steak in a cast iron frying pan. Simple and easy to remember, butter, salt & pepper are the only 3 ingredients. I melt a lot of butter in a pan, get it hot, and put in my steak. Last night I had two smaller pieces of thick beef tenderloin. Sear it on both sides, and then I put it in the oven for 12 minutes. I will be honest, it was a little too long, I like my steak a little pinker. But it was tasty, as I kept basting the steak with the melted butter. It was good. Very good. here’s the wine I had with it.

A good full-bodied Bordeaux. Bordeaux is a always a blend, and consists of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and another grape variety approved for the region. This blend is 40% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Cabernet Franc. In a meeting of Wine Cellar Masters from Bordeaux during a blind tasting, this was one of the favorites picked. I had the 2018 vintage, which is still really new, but it wasn’t overly heavy. A great wine at a great price, under $17 a bottle.

That’s it for me for this week, till next week, Cheers

Darlene