Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Temperatures For Serving Wine

Posted in Uncategorized on April 27, 2019 by darmyers

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The battle wages on.  For as long as I can remember people have been enjoying their wine at the temperature they like, and that’s the way it should be.  I’ve seen people warm red wine by placing it on a warm stove, (true story) and I’ve seen lots of people put ice cubes in their wine.  No one is wrong in their preferred way to drink wine.  But as I prepare to do another wine tasting next weekend, I’m confident it will be one of the first questions asked… “What is the proper temperature for serving wine’.

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For some reason people who enjoy red wines feel guilty for bringing the temperature down.  But I always say don’t.  People have been drinking wine for thousands of years, but I’m pretty confident when I say our ‘room temperatures’ wasn’t

in the 20’s for thousands of years.  You see, room temperature for red wine had to do with the temperature of the underground wine cellars in the Old World, which I’m to understand were about 55 degreees Farenheit, which is 13-degrees Celsius.  Cat saying No

This is me when people tell me it’s their private shame that they chill their red wine.  In my opinion, a wine served too warm, or a white wine served too cold, can lose some of the character.  Keep in mind, a red shouldn’t see anything over 25-degrees.  It can really alter the taste of the wine, and I know for a fact, my parents keep their thermostat on 28-degrees Celsius.  But wine shouldn’t be too cold either.   For example, tannins in red wine can taste a little bitter when served too cold.  I personally always refrigerate my red wines 20 – 25 minutes before I serve it.  Less time if its uncorked, because if the seal is broken, it tends to cool quicker.

As you can see by the chart above, port wines should be served the warmest of all the wines.  And on that note, let’s take a look at a couple of wines I enjoyed this past week.

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Last Saturday I bought myself a great cut of beef tenderloin steak from a local butcher.  I love buying local because I know where the meat comes from, and that it was fed apples and grass.  I was really excited about my steak, which I served with potato fries and hot wings.  On top of my steak are mushrooms done in a balsamic glaze.  The only seasoning I use on a great cut of meat is salt and pepper.  This was a delicious meal and I enjoyed a big bold red.

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One of my favorite steak wines comes from Beringer in California, and its the Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon as part of their Distinction Series.  This is the 2015 vintage and although it was fantastic, it still has lots of time to cellar and age.  It will be delicious for years to come.  Beringer has been farming the Knights Valley vineyards since the mid-60’s and it started appearing on the label in 1974.  They have been making this wine for a long time and it is outstanding.  It sells for $38 here in Nova Scotia and believe it or not, that’s less than what it sells for in Ontario!  (About $44)  A great treat wine and I loved this meal.

And now for my wine of the week

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On the journey to become a Certified Sommelier I took many classes and met many wonderful people.  One of them is Jason, who works at a wine store in Halifax called Bishops Cellar.  I was down there a while back and Jason recommended I try this organic wine.  I’ve not had a tremendous amount of success with organic wines, some of them are lacking something.  Plus this wine is from South Africa, which can scare some people off.  (Me a few years back)  But this wonderful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot was done in a Bordeaux style but has less than half the sulphites of most red wines.  Plus there are no chemical additives as well.  And it’s delicious.  And the best part?  It’s $16.50 a bottle!  We can open and enjoy any night of the week and not feel guilty because its not breaking the bank.  This wine is an amazing value and boasts delicious flavors, and you should try it when you can.

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Have a great weekend everyone.  Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

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International Malbec Day

Posted in Uncategorized on April 20, 2019 by darmyers

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Hoppity Hop over to your favorite wine store, it’s the Easter long weekend, and you know what that means, extra wine is needed.   On Thursday, it was also International Malbec Day, the day the Malbec grape is celebrated the world over.

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It is celebrated on April 17th to commemorate the day when president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento of Argentina  officially made it his mission to transform Argentina’s wine industry.   On that April day, back in 1853, he tasked Michel Aime Pouget, a French expert in soil, to bring over new wines to Argentina.  Among the vines he brought over was Malbec.

Although Malbec originated in France, there were two huge events that transpired, that allowed Argentina to claim the grape.  First in the 1850’s, there was a huge phylloxera outbreak which killed the vines with pests.  Then in 1956 there was a huge frost that killed the vines.   However, Argentina has few pests and even fewer outbreaks of frost, and Malbec flourished in Argentina.

And on Thursday I bought this Argentinian Malbec beauty, which I shared with my friends Mair & Sharon, Mair loves Malbec.

My friend Amber at the NSLC was pouring this fantastic wine on Thursday evening and I ended up buying 3 of them.  Normally they are $24 but for one day only, International Malbec Day, they were $20.  It’s rich with a velvety chocolate finish, but is not ‘too big’, as some Malbecs can get.  I really enjoyed it.

She was also pouring this Malbec.  From Trapiche as well, the Gran Medalla in the black bottle is a little more expensive, coming in at $28.  This Malbec is a little more meatier, a little heavier.  Very full-bodied, the oak and the spice is a little more prominent, and the fruit is definitely deeper in color.  It’s a delicious wine, I think this is wonderfully suited for a meal with hearty meat or a stew dish.

And now for my wine of the week, and unfortunately it’s not Malbec, but I had to tell you about it

 

In 2016 Errazuriz Winery was named Winery of the Year.  Don Maximiano Errazuriz founded Viña Errázuriz in 1870.  Eduardo Chadwick is a 5th generation family member who is now President of the vineyard. I wrote about Mr. Chadwick a few months back, when Decanter Magazine named him Wine Person of the Year.  Check out that blog Wine Man of the Year

This Pinot Noir is fabulous.  Some people don’t like Pinot Noir because they feel it’s ‘light’.  Let me tell you, it’s not light on flavor.  The Pinot Noir grape is very thin skinned, which is why it is called the ‘heartbreak’ grape.  Because the skin is not thick like a Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon skin, the wine tends to be medium or light-bodied and honestly, you can see through some of them.  I included a picture to show that it’s not a heavy looking wine.  But don’t let the color of the wine fool you, this wine has so much flavor.  It’s my favorite wine to pair with food, and the fact this fantastic Pinot Noir is only $17 a bottle is the reason it was the Wine of the Week.

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That’s it for this week.  Happy Easter everyone

Cheers

Darlene

 

 

 

 

 

ABC’s of Wine Tasting

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13, 2019 by darmyers

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I have been very busy this past Winter and Spring with wine tastings, and people are always a little nervous for their first wine tasting.  I think they may be nervous that they won’t be able to identify the nuances of the wine, and you know what?  That’s OK!!  Here’s what I tell people at the beginning of a wine tasting.

  1.  This is your wine tasting – I am only here to facilitate and answer questions.  Most people have lots of questions about wine, and they might be a little nervous to be the first to raise their hands.  I find that once the first question has been asked, that’s like permission for others to speak up, share their comments and ask lots questions.  It’s the feedback from the group that makes a great wine tasting.

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2.  A Wine Tasting Allows You To Try Different Wines

In my opinion, the #1 benefit of a wine tasting is to venture outside of your comfort zone and try new wines.  We all know wine is not cheap, especially here in Canada.  Most people won’t spend $30 on a red wine, if they only drink white wine, and vice versa.  A wine tasting allows you to try new styles of wine and wine at different price points at a fraction of the cost.

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How it’s done…

  • First, examine the wine in the glass. How does light filter through the wine? Is it deep in color? The darker the red, the more time it has spent on the skins, and if it’s a white, it may be a reflection of the age of the wine.
  • Then, smell the wine and consider how the aroma compares to your favorite wine. Is it fruity or floral? Does it have a sharp or tangy scent?
  • Finally, the taster takes a sip of the wine and evaluates how it feels and tastes. Does it seem rich?  Does it feel heavy in the mouth?  Is it light and crisp?
  • After swallowing the wine, the taster considers the aftertaste. Does the flavor linger? Does it change over time?
  • And most importantly, do you like the wine.  If not, no problem. You paud for two ounces, not the entire bottle.  If you do like wine, take a picture! Easiest way to remember it when you go to buy it.

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My wine of the week…

Hidden Bench Blend

Thirty Bench is a winery in the Niagara region of Ontario, right here in Canada.  They specialize in small lot wines with a tremendous amount of detail to quality wine.  This winemaker’s blend was fantastic, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  It is full-bodied with good tannins and hints of sweet oak.  Great beef wine, and would go very well with lamb or hearty stews as well.

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If you have any questions regarding a wine tasting, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Great Wines Under $20

Posted in Uncategorized on March 30, 2019 by darmyers

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The other evening I had dinner out with friends at a restaurant I hadn’t been to before.  For 1 glass of red wine, I paid $21.42 Canadian.  True story.  I took the receipt to prove it.  It was $18.85 plus 15% tax.  I was telling my friends at work, and we started listing off great wines that you can get a whole bottle for $20.  That became the logic behind this wine blog.  Buying a great bottle of wine for the price of what I paid for a glass.  Let me apologize to my American friends, wine is so much more expensive here in Canada, so I’m guessing the wines listed below are probably under $10 in the States.  In any case, enjoy!

  1.  Casillero Diablo Merlot – $14.99

Just to be clear, I didn’t order an expensive Bordeaux at the restaurant, I ordered a Chilean Merlot.  And although they didn’t state brand names, it could very well have been this one.  Casillero De Diablo is the most famous Chilean wine brand in the world and this impressive Merlot is under $15.

2.  Ravenswood Zinfandel

The last time I was in Florida, I paid $7.19 American for this wine.  It sells for $19.99 here and Zinfandel is the best BBQ wine, in my opinion.  Try it with ribs, and let me know what you think.  Fun fact, every year Ravenswood hosts a party for the people who have the logo tattooed on them.  I love wine, but I don’t have any wine logos tattooed on me.  That’s true love.

3.  Cono Sur Reserve Pinot Noir – $19.99

There was a time when there was an unwritten rule that stated ‘don’t buy a Pinot Noir under $20’, as the heartbreak grape tends to fetch a higher price.  Most are $30 and up, but this one from Chile is a beauty that broke the stereotype for Pinot Noir under $20.  Many wine critics have give this wine 90+ Points, and the Reserva in the name tells you it’s been aged!

4.  Domaine De Tariquet Sauvignon Blanc

French wine sometimes gets a bad rap for being expensive, but that’s not always the case.  The Domaine De Tariquet Sauvignon Blanc is $15.99 and deliciously crisp with citrus flavors that will go with any appetizer you are serving.  Sauvignon Blanc is such a food friendly wine, it goes with just about everything.

5.  Freixenet Brut Vintage Reserva

Like the bubbly but don’t want to pay the big bucks for Champagne?  This Cava from Spain should be on your shopping list.  The word ‘Brut’ in the title tells you it’s not sweet, and it’s made in the traditional method, exactly like Champagne, where the second fermentation takes place in the bottle.   This company, Freixenet is the largest producer of sparkling wine in the world.  They know what they are doing, and this bubbly is $18.99.

5.  La Mascota Cabernet Franc – $17.48

And last, but definitely not least, you simply cannot talk about great value wines without paying a visit to Argentina.  The La Mascota Cabernet Franc tastes like a $40 bottle of wine.  Wine critic Tim Aitken gave it 93 Points, and it’s only $17.48 a bottle.  This is a great wine at a great price and definitely my Wine of the Week.

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Till next week, stay optimistic and enjoy the wine

Cheers

Darlene

Women & Wine

Posted in Uncategorized on March 23, 2019 by darmyers

Women have become a powerful force in the world of wine-making.  Around the world women are garnering deserved attention, in what was once a male-dominated environment.  Today we salute the women making waves in the wine world and the wonderful wines they are creating.  The 4 ladies pictured above are pioneering women in the wine world in Idaho.  Here in Nova Scotia we don’t see many wines from Idaho but when I travel, I will be sure and look for them.  All around the world, these talented ladies are making names for themselves.

Meet Genevieve Janssens – Robert Mondavi Winery – Napa Valley

Robert Mondavi Winery has reached almost legendary status, not only in the Napa Valley but around the world.  This is Genevieve Janssens, winemaker at Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley.  She is carrying on the quality of care that her mentor, Robert Mondavi had for great wine, because she believes he had the same wine-making style as her father.  She was raised in France and moved to California in 1978 to work with Mondavi, and loves the Napa Valley for its innovation and creativity.

Robert Mondavi Winery has a long tradition of making great Cabernet Sauvignon, in a variety of price ranges.  This one won’t break the wallet, as it is priced under $20.  A great compliment to lamb or steak, this full-bodied wine is easy to drink and easy on the pocket book.

Meet Marlize Beyers – Hidden Bench Winery = Niagara Region Canada

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When my sister went to visit her daughter in the Niagara region a couple of years ago, she bought me a bottle of Hidden Bench wine and I loved it.  Sadly, we can’t buy it here in Nova Scotia, but it is fantastic wine, and made by this lady, Marlize Beyers.  She is a graduate of the prestigious University of Stellenbosch Viticulture and Oenology program and is a perfect choice to carry on the tradition of creating terroir-based wines right here in Canada.  Like this Pinot Noir.

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This is the wine my sister bought home to me and it sells for about $32 in Ontario.  It features gorgeous flavors of sweet ripe cherries and has a marvelous lingering finish.  This is an organic Pinot Noir and it’s very tasty and food friendly.

Meet Gina Haverstock – Gaspereau Vineyards – Nova Scotia

Last but not least, it’s impossible for me to do a wine blog about women in wine, and not talk about Gina Haverstock from Gaspereau Vineyards in the Anapolis Valley in the province I call home, Nova Scotia.  She  worked at Jost Vineyards and became a Certified Sommelier, and then went to Brock University to study Oenology.  She then worked in the Rheingau region of Germany as well as Burgundy France.  She has a soft spot for cool climate wines and is considered the mother of Nova Scotia Rieslings.

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My regular readers know how much I love Riesling, especially with Thai food and anything with a little spice.  Riesling is a great food wine.  I love the apple and pear flavors in a Riesling, and this crisp beauty from Gaspereau doesn’t disappoint.  For readers that are able to pick up a bottle, I think you’ll love it.  It sells for about $22 here in Nova Scotia.

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There are women in every wine region in the world making incredible wines, and today we salute all of them.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

 

Another Great Wine Tasting

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2019 by darmyers

Last Saturday I met a bunch of great new people at a wine tasting my friend Sam (Samantha) hired me to do.

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It was a nice small intimate gathering of friends who love wine & food, and we had fantastic charcuterie boards made by the hosts.  There is nothing like great cheese, bread and meats to compliment a wine.  And we got to try a few new wines together.

Mionetto

This award-winning sparkling Prosecco from Mionetto was our first wine of the evening, and  the LCBO recommends you serve this wine with cured meats, cheese and crisps.  So it was a perfect way to kick-start the evening.  A nice smooth easy to drink Prosecco, at a fantastic value, $19.99.    There is the perception that sparkling wine has to be expensive, and with great wines like Italian Prosecco and Spanish Cava, that’s just not the case.  This is an example of a quality sparkling wine at a great price.

Aligote

As something completely different, I like to do that at wine tastings to get people out of their comfort zones, we tried this Aligote from the Burgundy region of France.  I have to say, I was a little disappointed in the wine.  I found it a little flat tasting with not much structure and no lingering finish.  It was $25 and honestly, this winner from a previous wine tasting was the better white wine.

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I bought this to another wine tasting, because it gets such rave reviews.  It’s a great value at just $20 a bottle and proof that just because a wine is more expensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better.  This blend of Trebbiano, Chardonnay with a touch of Sauvignon Blanc is a winner.

One of the guests bought my wine of the week from last week.  The Porta 6 wine from Portugal which is a blend of  50% Aragonez, 40% Castelão and 10% Touriga Nacional.  And I’m willing to bet most people have not tried  Aragonez and Castelao grapes, which are native to Portugal.  This easy to drink red blend is a guilt-free pleasure at under $15 a bottle.

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My wine of the week, however, is the last red wine we had that evening.

One of the questions I get asked on a regular basis is where the good value wines are coming from, and Argentina tops the list.  This Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was deemed by Decanter magazine as one of the top exceptional wines from Argentina with lots of personality.  This is a great wine for just $21 and is a great ‘meat’ wine, ie steak and roast beef, but it was also fantastic to drink all on its own.  Ripe berry fruit, with notes of vanilla and tobacco, this good structured Cabernet also had a great finish.  This was the winning red of the evening.

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Have a great weekend everyone.  Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

March Madness Wine Edition

Posted in Uncategorized on March 9, 2019 by darmyers

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March Madness has become the term for the NCAA Basketball Championships in the United States.  For me, it’s waiting for winter to end and Spring to show its face.  Here in Halifax, we’ve actually had more snow in March than we did in January or February.  Snow or not, it’s a great month to discover new wines.

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Besides, who doesn’t love sitting in front of a fire place on a chilly evening with a glass of wine and a good book.  This is my current read, and I’m loving it.  Half way through.

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Tried a new white wine this past week,  and wanted to share for all my white wine loving friends

The Quail’s Gate blend consists of 3 grapes, Chasselas, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.  All the grapes for this wine were hand picked and blending took place after the grapes were fermented.  The blending of grapes can take place during fermentation or after.  By blending after fermentation, it allows the individual personalities to shine through in the wine.  This Quail’s Gate blend, which sells for $19.99 here, is from British Columbia, and is a wonderful example of great wines on the market made right here in Canada.

So, I’m doing a wine tasting tonight and was at the NSLC picking up wine for that yesterday evening and had the pleasure of trying some great new wines.

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For a treat wine, try this wonderful Italian blend from Farnese.   This is an example of a full-bodied wine with grapes that include Primitivo, Merlot, Sangiovese, and Malvasia just to name a few.  It’s $40 a bottle and you won’t be disappointed with this treat wine that goes with every meat dish you can imagine.

Here’s the wine I had yesterday evening.

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This Piemonte Barbera is young, but so good and it is meant to be consumed now.   Although it’s deep and dark in color, it’s actually a light to medium-bodied wine.  It was delicious tasting, with soft tannins and easy-to-drink fruit flavours of strawberries and cherry.    At just $17 a bottle, it almost made my wine of the week but not quite because hold on….

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Isn’t this the prettiest label you’ve seen in a while.  Mario was hanging out at our Larry Uteck location having people taste a wide variety of wines, including this one.  This is the Porta 6 from Portugal.  It’s so good, my NSLC sold out of it yesterday but Amber tells me more is arriving today.   It is $14.99 a bottle and that price tag will blow your mind.  It’s so smooth and so easy to drink  with gorgeous flavours of plum and some pepper on the palate.   I didn’t get to take one home because I was lucky to get a taste, but I’m going up today to buy a few.   The label also makes a great conversation piece if you’re sharing this one with friends.

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I’m excited about the wine tasting tonight,  i’ll be meeting all new people except for the lady that hired me.  It’s one of the reasons I enjoy doing this so much, and they’re in for a big treat  because I have a lot of new wines, which I will share with you next week.

Have a great week

Darlene