Meet the Mighty Grape

I love reading about wine and recently I read an article about the amazing grape, and there were a few fun facts in there I didn’t know that I thought I would share on this Saturday.

We all know grapes as the berries used to make our favorite beverage. But did you know that the grapes you put on your charcuterie board are different than the grapes used in the production of wine. The grapes you eat as a snack have a thin skin and have been bred by farmers over the years to be seedless. Wine grapes have a thick skin, are smaller and have lots of seeds.

It also takes a lot of grapes to make wine, about 1200 of the smaller grapes, or 2.5 lbs, to make one bottle of wine. Grapes also have more uses than just wine or as a snack, it’s used in the making of jams, jellies, and dried out they become raisins. Grapes dried out become raisins, and dried wine grapes become Amarone.

There are 8,000 different grape varieties, and by far my favorites are used to make my favorite beverage.

Speaking of grapes and our favorite beverage, let’s talk some wine….

First, a new white I tried recently with my friend Arla. Arla is a huge fan of Pinot Grigio and she recently tried and loved this Pinot by Riff. Arla always shares her new finds with me, for which I am very grateful.

Riff Pinot Grigio

With the weather warming up, here is a crisp cool white wine that pairs wonderfully with Summer. Originating from the Northern Italian Alps, the area is known for straightforward clean citrus Pinot Grigio. This is a gorgeous wine with notes of pear, citrus and melon, and a great value at $21 here in Nova Scotia.

I also tried a new red wine recently.

McManis Petite Sirah

If you haven’t tried McManis Wines before, what are you waiting for? I’ve written about the Zinfandel, which I love and the Cabernet Sauvignon, which I also love. I have also tried the North Forty Red blend, which unfortunately we can’t get here in Nova Scotia anymore. You can read about it here though. Recently I’ve tried the Petite Sirah from the McManis family of wines. Petite Sirah is an extremely rare grape, also known as Durif, named after French Botanist Francois Durif. Known widely for blending because it adds structure and tannins, many California winemakers are taking this unique grape and making it the star. McManis is one of those. And Petite Sirah is the best when grown on old vines. As the saying goes, ‘the older the wine, the better the wine’. This was a wonderful wine, priced at about $22.

My colleague BJ Wilson

Yesterday the Radio station I work at had it’s 13th Annual Linnks for Lymphoma Golf Tournament, raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It was a great sunny day and we had a ton of fun. A big thank you to everyone who came out and joined us. My co-worker BJ Wilson, who hosts BJ & The Q Morning Crew, worked with me on hole #10. We cooked pepperoni and did the ‘Closest to the Pin’.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

You Gotta Love a Long Weekend

Who doesn’t love a long weekend? A day late, but I hope everyone had a wonderful Canada Day yesterday.

This is the 155th year that we celebrate Canada Day, which honors the anniversary of Confederation, when Canada became a country separate from the British Empire.   It was known as Dominion Day until 1982, which is why my home province of Newfoundland had a beer called Dominion Ale. And it wouldn’t be from Newfoundland without a picture of a moose on the bottle.

Dominion Ale

But today we are here to talk about wine!   Are you grilling this Canada Day?  It was a beautiful day here yesterday in Halifax so I fired up the grill last night. Did some ribs which I’m going to finish this evening. My favorite wine to go with ribs? Regular readers know what a huge fan I am of Zinfandel with ribs. Whether it’s a 100% Zinfandel, or Zinfandel is part of the blend, I’m a fan.

Cline Ancient Vine

Cline makes a beautiful smooth Zinfandel. Natalie Maclean, Canada’s most prolific wine writer, gave this wine 92 Points. From Contra Costa County close to the San Francisco Bay area, this rich wine has notes of plum and black pepper, which makes it perfect for anything on the grill.

Robert Mondavi said it best “Wine, Food & Art – incorporating these three things will enhance your life”.  No wonder he was a legend.

Robert Mondavi

Here’s my recipe for BBQ ribs.

  • Take the membrane off the back of the ribs. It adds nothing to the ribs.
  • I like to marinate my ribs. Brown Sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, liquid smoke, hot sauce, and some BBQ sauce.
  • I also slow cook them first in a 275-degree oven for 2 – 3 hours.
  • Then I finish them on the grill, adding more BBQ sauce. I like Bulls Eye Sweet & Sticky.
  • They are fall off the bone delicious.

For my white wine drinking friends, a good hearty white wine goes great grilled food, like this one from Trinity Oaks.

With flavors of apple and pears, and delicately used oak, this is a great Chardonnay.

That’s it for me for today. Have a wonderful and safe long weekend.

Sorry, not sorry, Kale

Darlene

Wine Trivia

In my wine tastings I always include a little trivia. Fun facts about wine that most people find surprising and cute. Like did you know most people don’t know that authentic champagne uses both red and white grapes. The 3 grapes used are Chardonnay (white), Pinot Noir (red) and Pinot Meunier (also red). The color comes from the skins, so there is limited contact with the skins.

Do you know what the primary grape in Chianti Classico is? Or even just Chianti? Years ago before I studied wine, I’ll be honest, I thought Chianti was the grape varietal. But it’s a region in Tuscany Italy, where Sangiovese reigns dominant. I’ve heard people say they find Chianti dry, I think because the tannins in the Sangiovese grapes are so high. I really like the Super Tuscan wines, where Sangiovese is paired with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or other non-Italian grapes. Like this wine.

Monte Antico – 90 Points

I almost bought this again last evening. It’s a great Italian Super Tuscan wine. Made with Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s priced around the $20 mark. Another piece of trivia, Monte Antico means ‘ancient mountain’ and the husband & wife team of Neil & Maria Empson have put 40 years of passion and experience in this wine. Look for it in the Italian section of your closest liquor store.

I googled it, and discovered some mouthwash contains an alcohol level of anywhere between 14% and 26.9%.  Wine, unless it’s a port, on the higher end would be 14.5% for some reds while some white wines can contain as little as 6%.  Plus it’s no fun to swallow mouthwash and even less fun spitting wine.

Speaking of wines with a lower alcohol content, here’s a very popular one

Jacob’s Creek Moscato

Jacob’s Creek Moscato has an alcohol content of about 8%, and is affordably priced under $15. Remember, in the wine making process, yeast turns sugar to alcohol, so some low alcohol wines can be on the sweeter side, including this one.

I had the opportunity to visit the Napa Valley region in California in 2001, and I really really want to go back. It was amazing. I still love California wine and drink it on a regular basis. One winery I visited twice was Francis Ford Coppola’s winery, and here is a fantastic wine that my nephew gave me for Christmas this past year.

Director’s Cut Cabernet Sauvignon

I’m sad we can’t get Director’s Cut wine here anymore. Both the Zinfandel and this Cabernet Sauvignon were spectacular. My nephew lives in Labrador City and got this in Fermont Quebec, which is about 25 minutes away. We are both going to be home in October, and I’m going to ask him to bring me another one. Another bit of wine trivia, upstairs at the tasting room of his winery, Francis Ford Coppola has a display with something from each movie he’s made. And he has one of his Oscar statuettes on display. Plus he grows olive trees and produces and sells his own olive oil.

That’s it for me for this week. Have a wonderful weekend, Cheers

Darlene

Wine Trends of 2022

Every year, I take one of my first wine blogs of a New Year and talk about upcoming trends in the wine world. I’m always reading about wine and so I find it interesting when they come to fruition. In the past, I have written about wine in cans, Rose becoming even more popular and online wine sales growing. Here’s a few trends to look for this year.

  1. Chilling Red Wines

Putting light and fruity red wines into an ice bucket, just like you would white wines, has been a practice of Sommeliers in culinary hot spots like New York and San Francisco for years now. This trend has taken off everywhere. It’s no longer taboo to chill red wines, and people were once embarrassed for putting ice in red wine, but our room temperatures are too warm for red wine. This is a topic that comes up in every wine tasting. People admitting to chilling red wine. Well, I do too. I try to bring it down to 15-degrees Celsius. And your lighter fruitier wines like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel taste much better when chilled. Here’s a wine you can try chilling and let me know what you think.

Bread & Butter Pinot Noir

This wine has made a bit of a comeback in my wine rack. I’ve had it the last few Friday nights and I just love it. Smooth, easy to drink and much better when chilled. It’s $23 a bottle and available in just about every province in Canada. I enjoyed it while home for Christmas as well.

2. Low Alcohol Wines

People are choosing a healthier lifestyle and many people can be conflicted with choosing healthy and still enjoying their favorite beverage, whether it be with a meal or all on its own. Wine makers are listening, and more are coming out with low alcohol or zero alcohol wines.

Nova Scotia’s award winning winery Benjamin Bridge has come out with a non-alcohol version called Piquette Zero.

I haven’t tried it yet, but their website describes it as

“Piquette Zero is a lively and delicious alcohol-free wine-style beverage, offering a creative and unprecedented craft option to industrially dealcoholized wines that are so often stripped of their character.”

3. Cocktails will be popular and simple

One of my favorite cocktails

I made this cocktail for guests last Christmas and have served it several times since. Easy. Cranberry juice, Prosecco, lime juice and fresh cranberries in the glass to give it a festive look, and a lime wedge. You could take it a step further by adding a liquor like Grand Marnier.

Beauty of Chaos Cabernet

I have tried this beauty recently, and it’s appropriately called Beauty of Chaos. On sale right now, it’s under $17 a bottle. From the Columbia Valley in Washington State, this big juicy Cabernet is a great wine at a great price. Gorgeous berry flavors.

Well, the Omicron variant has hit Atlantic Canada hard. I did get to Newfoundland for Christmas, which was awesome. As the sign says, wine is the glue that is holding this shitshow together.

Stay safe everyone. Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Wine Tastings Are Fun

Some they tasted blind

Last Saturday evening I did a wine tasting. It was my 4th tasting in this building. We had some first-timers and some familiar faces. We had a lot of fun, some great laughs and we tried some great wines. My challenge for this wine tasting was two fold. It was important I didn’t bring any repeat wines, and I wanted to mix it up a bit.

A fun group of people

Some of you might feel intimidated at the thought of going to or attending a wine tasting. Don’t be! I’ve done wine tastings for as few as 6 people and as many as 30. Although last Saturday’s wine tasting was in the Common Room of an apartment building, I’ve done most in people’s homes. Get a group of friends together in your home, bring someone in that knows wine, and it will be fun and informative. Food is always a nice touch. Most people do a charcuterie board style with cheese, crackers and some meats.

So let’s talk some wine.

Grand Pre Sparkling

We kicked off the evening with a locally made Sparkling wine, from Grand Pre Vineyard in Nova Scotia. Champlain Sparkling Brut was named after Samuel de Champlain, the person credited with mapping Nova Scotia. This wine was made in the traditional method and is a gorgeous dry Sparkling wine.

Then we did comparisons, in both a white and a red. Let’s start with the white wine that won the evening.

Vinho Verde

Hands down the winner of the evening. Vinho Verde is a region in Portugal that is putting out some great wines at even greater prices. It is not a grape variety, it is a region. Most have some effervescence, this one had very little. Vinho Verde means green wine or young wine. Beautiful wine with great acidity and priced at $13.99. Pick one up this season to enjoy with family or friends. Great food wine.

As I mentioned earlier, we did a comparison of a couple of expensive wines, with reasonable priced wines, to show people that great wine doesn’t have to be expensive. We tasted them blindly, I had the wines in paper bags and we tasted them side by side. The lower priced wines won both times.

The top photo is the Heritage Chateauneuf du Pape, priced at $55. Almost 3 times the amount of the Cote du Rhone in the bottom picture. Most people liked the bottom wine more. Both from France, both from the same region, Cote du Rhone, and both made with the Grenache grape. The Cote du Rhone on the bottom also has Syrah added. It’s less than $18 at $17.78 and what a deal. Spectacular wine. And a great wine to have with your favorite comfort foods, now that the temperatures are dropping.

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

Darlene