Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and although everyone will admit, the last 19 months have been extremely challenging, I hope we can all find something to be grateful for. Much of Canada is experiencing its 4th Wave of Covid-19 and some families and friends are not able to get together for Thanksgiving for the second year in a row. This has been very tough for many people, and hard on people’s hearts and mental health. Covid fatigue is a real thing, and I understand it completely.

Me voicing ads

But this weekend I am going to focus on the good things, and there are many of them. I have a great family, my Mom will be 87 in 3 months and she is doing great. I have a sister whom I adore, and her family is my family too. I have wonderful friends, that I feel I can count on and have helped me a lot over the past 19 months. I have a job that I really enjoy, (most of the time LOL). And I am grateful for this little fella, Gabriel.

Gabriel

Gabriel is a cat that was severely abused, and I started fostering him over three years ago. He was so scared when I first got him, he lived under the bed and hissed at me for 3 straight months.

Gabriel feels safe now

Now he’s turned into Mr. Social. He greets my friends at the door, and is just a gorgeous kitty. As you can see he had parts of his ears chopped off, and had his teeth kicked in, so you can understand why he was hesitant to trust. He is the baby of the household now, and he knows it.

Me & Tigger

I wasn’t always a cat person, I adopted Tigger when I lived out West and together we lived in 8 cities and towns in 4 provinces. He was over 20 years old when he passed, I had him for 20 years and the vet figured he was 5 months old when I adopted him. This is what good living looks like, Tigger was well known and well loved.

Leo aka Batman

After Tigger died, I didn’t know what to do. So I fostered a kitty cat that was very sick. He had feline leukemia and had limited time, but I got 2 years of wonderful enjoyment out of this ‘little’ fella! I swear Leo had it so good he hung on a lot longer than anyone thought he would. I always said he didn’t want to give up the treats or the good life. I only ever have 1 kitty at a time, and they seem to love all the attention.

So, let’s talk some wine.

Ruffino Prosecco

I’ve tried a new Prosecco recently and if you are planning on having any kind of celebration this weekend, try it. Prosecco is an Italian sparkling wine, that is tasty and inexpensive. This wine is $20, and most of them are under $20, so they are easy on the wallet. This one is dry and crisp with a light acidity and nice tart citrus flavors. Great for your appetizers, and we enjoyed this with a charcuterie board, and it was wonderful.

655 Miles Cabernet

Here’s a wonderful new red I’ve tried recently. 655 Miles Cabernet Sauvignon out of California. When I bought it, it was $17 and what a great price on a great wine. Well, I just checked and its on sale here in Nova Scotia, so I’ll definitely be adding a couple of bottles to the wine rack. It’s actually a blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvigngon, 5% Petite Sirah and 3% Syrah, so it’s a super interesting and complex wine. I searched and searched but couldn’t find the reason behind the name, 655 Miles. But it’s a beautiful bottle and the wine is full-bodied with a generous lingering finish and good tannins.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend to my Canadian friends and readers, and to the rest of the world, have a great weekend. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Wine Tastings Are Back

Last Friday I did my very first wine tasting in 18 months. Ask me if I was excited. It was so great to start them again, and what a way to kick off another wine-tasting season. We had so much fun and so many great wines.

Such a fun group

A very big thank you to Barb for hosting and to Donna for passing along my name, and to all the ladies who made it such fun. I hope the rest of your weekend was just as fun. We had some great laughs, tried some good wines, and some great wines. And the higher priced wines weren’t necessarily the best ones. We did 8 wines, and I’m going to start with the whites this week, and I’ll cover the reds next week.

We actually started with a Rose wine

Gerard Bertrand Rose

I absolutely loved this wine, and some of the ladies had had it before. This should become a new classic. It’s an excellent price at just $19.99 and a vibrant non-sweet rose wine that’s a blend of 3 grapes, Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. I think it’s my new favorite rose. I’ll definitely be buying it againn.

Then we tried an amazing sparkling wine from award winning winemaker Jean Benoit Deslauriers at Benjamin Bridge here in Nova Scotia.

The hand-crafted small lot 2015 Brut from Benjamin Bridge was spectacular. Normally when I do wine tastings, I bring a great sparkling wine at a great price, like a Prosecco. However, when it’s a limited edition, small lot, and there was literally only 2 bottles left, you had to have one. Once this is gone, it’s gone, so what a wonderful treat for the ladies to share this wine. I have also bought the non-vintage Brut which is about $28. This beauty was $50, but it was a spectacular example of a traditional made sparkling wine, and we enjoyed every sip.

The true temperature of ‘room temperature’ red wine is always an interesting discussion at wine tastings.

The next white was a bit of a surprise to us, as it was the most expensive but no one picked it as their favorite.

Rose Rock Chardonnay

Oregon is one of my favorite Pinot Noir producing areas. And I thought that since Oregon is so similar in terroir to Burgundy France that the Chardonnay would be exceptional as well. This wine was $52 a bottle, and sadly, I don’t feel it was worth the money. The slogan is ‘French Soul, Oregon Soil’, and although I didn’t find the Chardonnay overly oaky, one of the ladies couldn’t drink it because she found it oaky. Everyone has a different palate. It was tasty, but I’ve tasted better for less money.

And now for the wine of the week, and the hands down favorite white from last week….

Picpoul De PInet

This is always an interesting wine to bring to wine-tastings. No one has heard of the ‘Picpoul’ grape. Picpoul, also known as Folle Blanche, is originally from the south of France, and was used initially in making Cognac and Vermouth. This was a fantastic wine and most everyone was shocked to learn of the $17.50 price tag. It had subtle citrus flavors and just the right amount of acidity. This is a wonderful food wine. The ladies had a charcuterie board which paired very well, and it would also be great for appetizers and salads.

Thank you again ladies, next week I’ll cover the red wines we did.

So our wine tour to the Niagara region of Ontario didn’t go on October 2nd. The rising number of cases were concerning, so we played it safe. I do, however, have a Nova Scotia wine tour to tell you about, a day trip.

Myself and my friend Richard Arnold from Atlantic Wine Tours are doing a day trip to the Annapolis Valley on Tuesday, October 12th. We are going to visit 3 wineries and do tastings, and have a lovely lunch. All the details can be found right here!

The Annapolis Valley

The colors are just gorgeous in the Fall of the year in the Annapolis Valley, and Richard is from there, so he doesn’t an awesome tour. I hope you’ll come join us for a fabulous day in Nova Scotia.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Wine Writer’s Block

I’ve been writing a wine blog since before I started my journey to becoming a Sommelier, and that was almost 10 years ago. Since then I have written over 600 wine blogs. And sometimes, you come to a brick wall. I started this wine blog today a couple of different times, and erased the titles and the topics. It’s naturel a person will have some writer’s block every once in a while.

So, while I’m in a bit of a rut today about writing wine blogs, I’m going to try to get you out of your wine-drinking rut. So many people buy a wine they like and keep buying it. Hey, I have some staples in my wine rack. Go to’s, that you know are good. And wine is expensive, it’s not like most people can afford to buy a wine, especially a treat wine, and not like it. But there are safe ways to expand your wine palate.

  1. Attend a wine tasting if you get the opportunity
Wine tastings are fun

I’m so happy. Wine tastings are starting up again. Now that we can have 25 people in a room unmasked and not social-distanced, I have been booked for 2 wine tastings so far this Fall. Wine tastings are fun and a great opportunity to try different wines at a fraction of the cost. People who go to wine tastings and find a wine they like, tend to take pictures of the wine and pick it up the next time they are out. You don’t even need to hire a Sommelier, gather a group of friends, have each person bring a wine they like, and then the group can try all the wines. However, a Sommelier is a well-trained knowledgeable wine steward who can guide you through a wine tasting, and also pick out a wide variety of wines. It’s a fun way to expand your wine palate.

2. Choose a grape you like from a different country

If you like Pinot Grigio, most of what you’ll find is Italian. Try looking for a Pinot Grigio from a different country, or try its cousin, Pinot Gris. If you like Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, try one from a different country than what you are used to. Compare Old World to New World. Because most Old World Wines, those from France, Italy etc, label by region and not by varietal, ask for help. There are big differences between the way California or France would make a wine. Weather has a huge impact on the taste of wines as well, and you’ll probably will be able to detect nuances. Try a Pinot Noir from Canada and try one from Chile, you’ll detect some differences.

2. Try a different grape altogether, but in the color of wine you like.

You’ll feel empowered. If you are a white wine drinker, try a totally different white. If you’re a red wine drinker, try a different red. Again, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Tell your wine store staff member what you like about your favorite wine, and ask them to recommend something different. You’ll feel like the Queen or King of the wine world.

Let’s talk some wine

Pinot Noir is such a great wine for Summer. First of all, you serve it slightly more chilled than you would a big bold red like Cabernet Sauvignon. Also, it’s medium-bodied and the perfect pairing for anything you serve on a plate. This Montes Pinot Noir is from Chile and is a great value, under $19. (It’s also on sale right now here in NS)

There won’t be a wine blog next Saturday as my sister Jackie is coming to town, and I’m helping her get her son set up in a new home in Antigonish.

Till the next time, Cheers

Darlene

Stay The Blazes Home 2.0

Here we go again

Effective 8 AM yesterday morning, the Halifax region of Nova Scotia went into a pretty severe lockdown as it seems our third wave is upon us. I was really disappointed, I had a wine-tasting booked for last night with a small group of people (8). Needless to say that got cancelled. I got tested on Monday, as all residents are being encouraged to get tested, and thankfully I was negative. Even better news, this coming Monday I get the first shot of my vaccine. Obviously, because of this lockdown, our Atlantic bubble will not be happening May 3rd, moved from the original date of April 19th. Fingers crossed this four week lockdown does the trick, because Nova Scotians are very good for the most part, of doing what it takes to get this latest outbreak under control.

Riley & Maggie

In other news, this week I headed to Antigonish to pack up this handsome young man, my nephew Riley finished his first year of university at St. FX. Here he is, with their new puppy Maggie. I’m going to miss him until his return in September, as he is definitely one of my favorite people in the world. He’ll be 19 this year, and this young man loves to eat, it’s a good thing I love to cook.
This is him and I a couple of years ago, at the airport, as we were parting ways after two weeks in Barbados.

He was heading to NL, me to NS

So that’s what my week was like. Let’s talk a little bit of wine. Wine is the one thing that help make lockdowns a little more pleasant. First, a great white wine.

Eco Sustainable

First, let me say, it is a complete coincidence this white wine has the word corona in it. My friend Joan bought this wine to a little get together a couple of weeks ago and I really enjoyed it. As you can see from the sticker, Mezzacorona, in the Italian Alps, is a designated Eco sustainable Vineyard. This means from grape growing, to wine making, Mezzacorona aims to protect the environment with different sustainable practices. This is a very flavourful Pinot Grigio wine, notes of pear and cantaloupe, with a little spice on the finish. A great value, priced under $16 here in Nova Scotia.

My red wine this week also hails from Italy, it is the Boira oak-aged Sangiovese. I didn’t even realize it was organic when I bought it, and as you can see it is also labelled vegan friendly. Aren’t all wines vegan friendly, they’re made with grapes? No! Most wines go through a fining process, which removes small particles and makes the wine super clear, something that can’t be done with just filtration alone. Some wine-makers use egg whites, egg shells, or casein, a protein found in milk, which would mean the wine is not officially vegan-friendly. Although I didn’t get to do my wine tasting last night, one of the most popular questions I get at wine tastings, is a light smooth red wine that white wine drinkers will like. This is the wine. Very smooth, easy to drink, very light on the tannins. A nice wine for $17.

I need this glass

I definitely need this wine glass, stay safe everyone! Till next week, Cheers

A Wine Holiday For you

Isn’t Everyday National Wine Day?

Let me tell you Saturday is my favorite day of the week. Hands down. The day I can sleep in, and relax and do what I want. And Saturday night feels like a little holiday. You see I can sleep in on Sunday, but I always say ‘I’ll be going to bed early tonight, because I have to work tomorrow, so I better get up’. There’s none of that crap on Saturday. But as I was laying in bed this morning, I realized I had a little writers block. Which happens to me every once in a while. And as I lay there wondering what to write about, I thought, ‘there must a some kind of wine holiday today’. LOL. As it turns out there is a whole list of wine holidays I didn’t know about. I didn’t include the ones that were in January & February, I’ll include them early next year. I thought I would have a little fun with them.

Just so you know today is……

March 27: International Whisky Day (However, I am not a whiskey drinker at all, but Happy Day to all my Whiskey loving friends)

April 17: World Malbec Day

May 1: International Sauvignon Blanc Day

Carmen Reserve Premier Sauvignon Blanc

This line of wines from Carmen are excellent values, because they are so delicious and come at a great price. This Carmen Reserve Premier Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and dry with herbal notes & great acidity. A perfect pairing for shellfish, sushi and really any appetizers. Less than $15.

May 9: World Moscato Day

May 13: World Cocktail Day (My cocktail of choice, happens to be wine)

It’s how I feel about Wine Wednesday

May 15: World Whisky Day (Wait, what? Isn’t today International Whisky Day?)

May 2: International Chardonnay Day

Trinity Oaks Chardonnay

I had the chance to try a new Chardonnay this past week with my friend Angie and I said to her “this is my new favorite Chardonnay”. I can’t tell you how much I loved this wine. Why? Because it wasn’t overly oaked, it wasn’t ‘buttery’, the Chardonnay grape was allowed to shine with gorgeous pear and citrus flavors. Plus, as an added bonus, they have partnered with Trees for the Future, a nonprofit that’s planted over 180 million trees, Trinity Oaks plants one tree per bottle purchased.  Win-Win! You get a great wine and a tree gets planted. $22.99 here in Nova Scotia.

May 25: National Wine Day – (Please, any day can be National Wine Day! In My opinion, anyway.)

June 4: International Cognac Day

June 11: World Lambrusco Day (Remember Riunite wine from the 80’s? It was a Lambrusco wine)

June 25: International Rosé Day

July 22: Shiraz Day (Also happens to be my birthday!)

It’s always Wine O’clock somewhere

August 1-5: International Albariño Days (It’s a white grape varietal out of Portugal. Totally unfair that this wine gets 5 days.)

August 4: White Wine Day

August 18: International Pinot Noir Day

Meomi Pinot Noir

Meomi Pinot Noir is one of the best value Pinot Noir wines in the wine store for two reasons. 1. It’s under $25, which is unusual for a spectacular Pinot Noir. 2. It truly is a spectacular Pint Noir. Priding themselves on fantastic coastal California wines, when I visited the Napa region in 2001, many winemakers will tell you the coastal California breezes add a special terroir to the grapes like no other region.

September 2: International Cabernet Day

September 17: International Grenache Day

October 9: International Pinotage Day (Buy a good one from South Africa, not the ‘coffee flavored’ pinotages.

October 15: Champagne Day (Don’t feel compelled to wait this long.)

Cheers!

October 28: Carignan Day (Known for being used in blends, if you are not familiar with this grape, it really adds a beautiful touch to red blends)

November 7: International Merlot Day (I don’t know about Paul Giamatti, but I’ll be drinking me some Merlot on this day, I’ve recently founds a few new ones, which I will share with you next week)

November 11: International Tempranillo Day

November 17: National Zinfandel Day (It’s an American celebration, but don’t tell anyone.)

November 18: Beaujolais Nouveau Day (a.k.a. The worst Gamay Noir you will taste this year)

November 24: Carmenère Day

December 4: Cabernet Franc Day  (If you haven’t tried Cabernet Franc on it’s own, outside of a Bordeaux blend, you don’t know what you’ve been missing)

December 20: Sangria Day (In other words, take all that leftover red or white wine from those previous days and mix it with a bunch of chopped fruit.)

And now for my wine of the week…..

Trinity Oak Cabernet Sauvignon

A little earlier in the blog I wrote about the Trinity Oaks Chardonnay, and it truly is one of my favorite Chardonnay wines because of the complexity, which sometimes gets lost in a Chardonnay. The complexity can also be found in the Trinity Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon, and it too, will plant a tree for every bottle purchased. The grapes come from both Coastal California and Lodi (known more for its Zinfandel, but features beautiful grape-growing weather). Try this beautiful Cabernet with your next meal featuring beef, you’ll love it. It too is $22.99.

Wine pairing is easy!

That’s it for me for this week. Thank you for reading

Darlene