Wine – My Fall Favorites!


Autumn is my favorite time of the year.  I love the cool crisp feel and the gorgeous colors.  I believe I fell in love with Autumn growing up on the West Coast of Newfoundland.  The pictures above are of my hometown, Corner Brook, Newfoundland.  A small town surrounded by trees and water and it is gorgeous in the Fall.    It’s also time for comfort food, and sitting in front of a fireplace with a great glass of wine on a cool evening.

I thought I would share some of my Fall favorites for wine  (and maybe even some food)

Ahhh,,, comfort food.  Pizza, pasta, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, pot roast, and turkey… just to name a few.  We all have our own version of what comfort food is.   And one thing I know for certain, there is a wine out there for you!


Here is one of the best deals in the Liquor store today – In My Opinion.  At $15.99 a bottle, this is a gorgeous wine.  It is predominantly Merlot, which gives it all its plump juicy fruit flavors, with some Syrah (Shiraz) and Cabernet Franc for structure and body.   This is the Marilyn Munroe of full-bodied wines.   Dada means a favorite subject or obsessive idea….And, wine is one my favorite subjects, and some might say a little obsessed.   Maybe that’s why I like this wine so much.  Or could be all those smoky plum flavors that come alive in your mouth with a hint of oak that does not over-power the wine.  Yeah, that’s it.  Also, this wine is made and bottled with no Sulphur Dioxide, no sulphites.    Hmmm, no headache?   And it will go with most of your favorite comfort foods, mac and cheese, pizza, pork chops and is big enough to handle beef as well.


Comfort food is just that… comfortable.  It nourishes our soul, and we start to feel good and let go of anything that resembles a bad day.  Wine that goes with comfort food should do the same thing.  If you’re idea of comfort food is ooey gooey mac and cheese, here’s a great wine.  One of my favorites hails from California and is the J. Lohr Chardonnay.  At around $20, here’s another great wine you can enjoy any night of the week.  Aromas of nectarine, pear and apples greet you and will bring back memories of Mom’s apple pie.  Gorgeous buttery smooth with a hint of vanilla toastiness from the oak barrels, and you’ll find yourself cooking comfort food more often.


There’s no way I can write a food and wine blog without mentioning my favorite comfort food – pasta.  And probably my favorite wine varietal – Old Vine Zinfandels.  The St. Francis Old Vine Zinfandel is a flavorful beauty but be careful, it packs a punch with 15.7% alcohol.  Believe it or not, the alcohol doesn’t over-power the wine – but if you’re a cheap drunk, you may want to be extra careful with this one.  For every 3 bottles of wine opened in the United States, 2 of them come from California.  And for good reason – they make great wine.  This one is zest and balanced and full of spicy cherry flavors.  Zinfandel is very food friendly so it will go with pretty well anything.  And if you don’t like the thought of that much alcohol in your wine, try one of these Old Vine Zinfandels.  They will be a welcome addition to any dinner table and they are all delicious.


I have a confession to make.  The response to my last 2 blogs have been so overwhelming, that I actually got writer’s block thinking about it.  I want to thank everyone for reading and sharing my blog, I am very appreciative and very humbled that you would take the time out of your busy lives to spend a few minutes with me and my thoughts on wine.   A very big thank you to my good friend and colleague in Radio, Anthony, who helped me with this bout of writer’s block.   Anthony is a genius in the Production room, and he too, learns something about wine every day.  So I went to him and he came up with the topic of today’s blog.

I would like to welcome all my new Twitter followers from the United States and abroad over the past few weeks, and all my friends here in Canada as well.  I love having you as part of my journey to become a Sommelier.

Next week is Thanksgiving here in Canada, and next week’s blog is dedicated to all of you.  I will be giving thanks to great friends, great wine and great times together.



“Benvenuto in Italia” – Welcome to Italy

Italian wine is the theme of our local Port of Wines this year, so I have had the opportunity to try several beauties.   I find Italian wines to be warm generous and friendly, much like the people I’m guessing.   I can’t wait to travel to Italy one day and here are a few ways we can travel to Italy this evening and never leave our homes.

A Primitivo is genetically the same grape as a California Zinfandel, and my wines friends all know how much I love Zinfandel.  So it’s probably no surprise that I found this to be a fantastic wine.  I was shocked this elegant fruity wine from Puglia was under $20.  Juicy flavors of ripe raspberries and a hint of smoke make this wine my big winner of the week.


Here’s another big winner for under $20.  Pronounced ‘Oh Toes’ if you want to ask for it at your local wine store, which is a latin name for an owl.   The winemaker wanted to make a wine that was dark and mysterious as the night time, when an owl would come out.  Full bodied and spicy, this wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Shiraz.  So it’s flavor all around.  The Merlot made it a perfect match for grilled pork, but believe me, this wine will go with just about anything you serve.

You cannot write a wine blog about Italian wine and leave out Valpolicella, ranking just after Chianti in Italian wine production.  Because Italy is one of the ‘Old World’ wine regions, it is named by region.  So Valpolicella is not a grape variety, it is a region.  And the region is known for 3 grape varietals – Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara.  And you thought Valpolicella was hard to pronounce.  This is  elegant silky wine that is under $20.  This wine is aged in stainless steel so it’s a great wine if you don’t like your reds oaky.  Juicy cherries on the palate, firm tannins and a nice finish.  Great wine.

Another wine I had to mention was a Barolo.  And although it is my goal to try every Barolo I can, this is the one I had most recently.  A treat wine, as all Barolo’s are, this is one that is reasonably priced at about $35.  A beautiful garnet color in the glass, this Barolo has flavors of dried cherries, spices, and a nice finish.  Surprise that special person in your life with this wine the next time you have pasta with a creamy sauce.  Marriage made in heaven.

And last, but certainly not least, I would never dream of writing this wine blog about Italian wines without talking about Chianti.  It would be sacreligious.  Chianti is the most popular wine to come out of Italy and this is a nice dry Chianti for under $20.  Made mostly from Sangiovese grapes, I have heard this wine described as deep and expressive.  This well balanced wine is strong and velvety with flavors of aged fruit and spice.

If there’s a pasta I am known for, it is probably my Pasta with Green Olive Paste and 4 cheeses.’  There’s not even a name for it, I took a recipe and tweaked it so that I made it my own.  Here’s the recipe.

Photo: Benevenuto in Italia - Welcome to Italy... this week's wine blog at  And featuring a great recipe for my favorite Linguine dish.

Linguine With Green Olive Paste and 5 Cheeses: 


In a blender combine

1 cup of green olives

A good helping of Olive Oil

A splash each of Red Wine Vinegar and Lime Juice



Blend.   It’s supposed to be a paste, but a liquidy paste.  Not solid paste.  Again I apologize for no amounts, I never measure.  Which is why I cook better than I bake.

In the mean time, cut up chicken breasts into bite size pieces and cook.  I cook them in Maple Syrup sometimes just to add a different flavor to the pasta.  Set aside.

Boil your pasta, I like using fresh Linguine.   You can use your favorite pasta.  Here’s something you must do.  When you drain your pasta, RINSE it in water.  It gets rid of that yucky taste and add about a teaspoon of olive oil and stir throughout the pasta.  Trust me.

I use the pot I cooked the pasta in and combine the chicken, paste, real bacon bits and the 4 cheeses.  You can vary on the cheeses, but I always use Parmesan and Mozzarella and Asiago as my base 3.  The other 2 can vary.   I use Jarlsberg and Cheddar, but you can mix it up,   Add cream.  Lots of it.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes  And it comes out looking like this.  This is a picture of the pasta I took the last time I made it.

Photo: Benevenuto in Italia - Welcome to Italy... this week's wine blog at  And featuring a great recipe for my favorite Linguine dish.

So until next week “Applausi” – which means Cheers in Italian.


The Wonderful World of Chardonnay

It’s been called the World’s most favorite white wine!   And I have been enjoying it to the max this Summer.  This green skinned grape which originated in Burgundy, France is probably considered the most food friendly of the white wines.  People often ask which white and which red they should put on a dinner table, and I always answer Chardonnay for the white and Pinot Noir for the red.  That’s my personal opinion.

A new Chardonnay I have tried this Summer is the Carta Vieja Prestige 2010 vintage Chardonnay from Chile.  First Chardonnay from Chile I have ever tried and I was very impressed.  At $24.99 a bottle here in Nova Scotia, this is a beauty. This bright yellow elegant wine has tropical fruit aromas on the nose and easy to drink passion-fruit, banana and apple flavors on the palate.  Very food friendly – try it with pasta!

One of my go to favorites this Summer is this gorgeous Chardonnay from California.  J. Lohr has been producing quality wines for many years, and if you are a red wine drinker, I encourage you to try the gorgeous red wines produced by this winery.  The J. Lohr Chardonnay is pale yellow in color with aromas of nectarine, pear and apple.  It finishes with a toasty vanilla that will keep you coming back for more.  The other evening my mother and I were enjoying a glass, and my sister kept saying “I smell apples”.   We enjoyed this wine that evening with grilled chicken and it was a match made in heaven.

I cannot write a blog about Chardonnay without mentioning my favorite.  Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay.  This is the wine that started my foray into white wine drinking and has set the bar for Chardonnay in my opinion.  Beautiful limestone and stone fruit aromas on the nose.  Youc an also taste the stone fruit on the palate, along with a buttery richness that I just love.  This wine recently won the Best Wine for Chicken in the Great Canadian Wine Match.  Say no more.

And if $83 is not in the budget, Le Clos Jordanne makes a beautiful wine in every budget.  The sister wine, Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay is a beauty as well.  The clay and limestone soils produces a very elegant wine that is quite unique.  Gorgeous flavors of melon, pear and stone fruit and the limestone is quite evident.  I love it.

Thanks for reading, till next week Cheers





Great New Italian Wines

Well it seems I have been on an Italian kick lately, and have discovered some wonderful new wines from the region.

I am on a mission to try every Barolo and Nebbiolo wine and I recently tried this one.  It’s hard to find one under $50, but I found this one which sells here for $34.99

The Beni di Batasiolo Barolo from the vintage year 2009.   A lovely red brick color in the glass and aromas of spices, herbs and truffles on the nose   A very balanced wine with nice tannins.  It’s dry, but many fine Italian wines are, and I find they go very well with food.  You could pair this with pasta, creamy sauces, chicken, hearty meat dishes and anything with a tomato sauce – and it would be heaven in your mouth.

You can’t talk Italian without talking Pinot Grigio, the light crisp go-to Italian wine.   This is a beauty of a wine, under $20, it’s just $17.99 here.  Harvested in northeastern Italy, this wine will go with so many foods.  (Try it with the Caprese Chicken recipe at the end of the blog).  Gorgeous flavors of citrus, pear and a hint of apricot, make for a delicate wine that you will want to enjoy again and again.

Allow me to introduce you to one of the best deals at your local Liquor store.  It is the Tre Saggi Talamonti, and it’s priced at $16.99 here.  It’s a fantastic wine at a fantastic price.   Coming from Central Italy,  this full-bodied wine delivers bold flavors of cherries, floral notes and juicy tannins.   Very food friendly.  Try it with everything from sausage to beef to my recipe for Caprese Chicken.

Caprese Chicken:

Are you ready for the easiest fanciest looking dish ever!

Chicken cutlets

Mozzarella ball cut in slices


Italian Salad Dressing

balsamic Vinegar


Cook your flattened chicken cutlets in the Italian salad dressing.  (or make your own by pounding a chicken breast.  I am terrible at this, so I buy them flat already)

When they are just about cooked, add a slice of mozzarella, topped with a tomato and some fresh basil.

Drizzle balsamic vinegar and serve.  People will go WOW!  It will look fancy, and it is probably the easiest chicken dish ever!

Serve it with any of the wines above.  Enjoy


Long Weekend Wine

Everyone loves a long weekend, and we wine drinkers are no exception.  As many provinces across the Country celebrate a long weekend,  I have put together a list of some new wines I have tried recently, that would be perfect for the long weekend.  Please feel free to share your favorite ‘Long Weekend Wines’ with me.

Pascual Toso Limited Edition Malbec 2011

I love finding a good deal and this wine is on the “Over 90 – Under 30” selection at the NSLC.  They are wines rated above 90, by Wine Spectator and are priced below $30.  This Malbec from the Mendoza region in Argentina is a beauty of a wine at under $22.  Gorgeous garnet color in the glass and as your bring it to your nose you’ll find yummy aromas of cherries and a bit of spice.  On the palate I loved the combination of cherries, peppercorn, and smoky oak.  Very elegant and the perfect balanced with a nice lingering finish.  Bring this wine to any BBQ or enjoy with pasta.

I do love a good crisp Sauvignon Blanc, and this one did not disappoint.  First time I have tried a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile and I was quite impressed.  Falernia is Chile’s most northern vineyard so some cooler temperatures come into play here.  Also, what sets this wine apart is that normally Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t see any oak.  95% of this wine is stored in stainless steel and 5% in oak.  Combined with mouth-watering grapefruit, lime and herbal notes, a perfect wine to accompany your favorite summer salad.

If you can find this next wine, buy lots of it.  A great price… under $20, and a gorgeous Zinfandel.   Many of my blog readers know I have an infatuation with Zinfandel, so when I saw Zinfatuation from the Napa Valley in California, I had to give it a try.  Medium bodied,  flavors of strawberry, spices, and oak.  It is fruity with good acidity and very food friendly.  Try it with any meal.

Lots of people have been asking me for my Southwestern Chicken Salad.  I have made it a few times recently, and have bought it into work.  Easy!!  Here it is… a great summer salad.

Darlene’s Southwestern Chicken Salad:

  • Breaded chicken strips  (done as per instructions in the oven or on the BBQ – brush with BBQ Sauce)
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Can of Corn
  • Shredded Mozzarella and Cheddar Cheese  (You can buy the combo already shredded)
  • Real Bacon Bits
  • Green Pepper
  • Red Pepper
  • Ranch Salad dressing
  • Salsa
  • Tortilla chips

Combine your lettuce in a bowl.  Add diced tomato, chopped green and red pepper, small can of corn, Bacon bits, and the Shredded Cheese.   When the chicken strips are cooked, cut them up in bite size pieces and add to the salad.  ( I love the salad when the chicken is warm)

Combine Ranch dressing with Salsa.  Half and half works for me.  Blend  into salad.  Adorn with Tortilla chips, which are delicious to use as a utensil when eating this salad.

Enjoy… isn’t that easy!!  And so delicious.  Some people also add black beans.

Till next week – Cheers