Saturday, August 9, 2014

New Product Review: Skinny Grape Shiraz

At last: a low-calorie option for red wine lovers! 

The latest addition to the Skinny Grape family is a Shiraz unlike any other. Keeping in line with the other Skinny Grape varieties, the Shiraz is only 80 calories per glass (albeit a small glass, 142ml or 5 oz). This Shiraz is a nice and dry red, coming in at a 1 on the sugar scale and only 1 gram of sugar per glass. The Skinny Grape whites and rosé are a bit sweeter, so I was pleasantly surprised that the Shiraz was more dry. 

Skinny Grape Shiraz

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Drunk Desserts: White Wine Cupcakes with Riesling

If you know me, you probably know that I love cupcakes. If you read this blog, you also know that I love wine. Naturally, I wanted to combine these tasty interests. 

Riesling Cupcakes

After some quick googling on the matter, I found a small handful of recipes that seemed to fit the bill. I decided to make white Riesling cupcakes with a white chocolate and Riesling icing. Here is the recipe I used, along with some minor adjustments I made along the way.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

How to: Food Pairing 101

So you’re having BBQ ribs for dinner, but have absolutely no idea what wine will complement your meal. Maybe you’re ordering pizza and fancy a glass of wine…wait, does wine even go with pizza? Sure it does. 

You’re not alone. Every week I hear the question “I’m having ___ for dinner, what wine will go with it?”, so I thought I’d share some basics on food and wine pairing. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

New Product Review: Low-Calorie Skinny Grape Wine Spritzers

It’s not quite patio weather yet here in Ontario, but that didn’t stop me from getting out on the deck to enjoy and review these new low-calorie wine spritzers made by Skinny Grape. Lucky for me, I had an outdoor fireplace to keep things cozy.

Skinny Grape Wine Spritzers by the outdoor fireplace

Here's the Skinny...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

How to: Put Together the Perfect Wine Basket

Weddings, birthdays, graduations, raffle prizes: there are all sorts of occasions to give a wine gift basket. 

Recently, I was asked to put together a prize for my cousin’s stag and doe, and it got me thinking: what goes into the perfect wine gift basket? Besides the obvious requirement of wine, there were other questions to be answered. What wines should I choose? What else can I add to it? What do I put it all in?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boxed Wine Basics

You’ve probably seen them at your local wine or liquor store: cardboard boxes filled with wine, often being carried out by embarrassed shoppers wearing sunglasses to hide their identities. Okay, at least I’ve seen them. 

A box or cask of wine
Boxed wines, or “casks” as they’re sometimes referred to, have a bit of a reputation for being the tacky sort of thing your alcoholic aunt might purchase. Fortunately, the times are changing! 

Here are a few good reasons to consider buying boxed wine:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review of Panama Jack's cocktails: Margarita & Long Island Iced Tea

Happy Wine Wednesday!

Last week, Panama Jack’s released their newest wine-based cocktails: Margarita and Long Island Iced Tea. They’re available to taste right now at The Wine Shop in Ontario, but in the mean time, here’s a review of both products.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Rise of Wine-Based Cocktails

What will they think of next? 

Wine-based cocktails seem to be growing in popularity, at least here in Ontario. Panama Jack’s has a line of flavoured wine-based creams that imitate Bailey’s Irish Cream, Cafe del Sol’s coffee liquor provides an alternative to Kahlua, and Cartier Irish Cream is another Bailey’s copycat. 

Why Wine?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Picture Post: Finished Wine Gift Basket

Between finishing this wine gift basket and my birthday falling on #WineWednesday this year, it's been quite a week! As promised, here are pictures of the finished product. For more tips check out my last post here.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

How-to: Wine Tasting

There’s a little more to tasting wine than swirling your glass around with a raised pinkie finger. Here’s how to get the most out of your wines and simultaneously look like a real wine connoisseur. 

Prepare: Having the proper conditions for tasting a wine can make all the difference. First, you’ll want to select the proper glasses for the wine you’ll be tasting. Red wine glasses are usually a bit larger, rounder and domed. Here are some examples from Riedel: 

Secondly, ensure that the wine is chilled to the proper temperature. Lighter wines should be chilled for longer. Although many people drink their reds at room temperature, chilling them slightly can result in a better tasting. Here is another helpful chart with recommended serving temperatures: 

Look: It’s tempting to start sipping right away, but first stop and take a good look at the wine. What’s the colour like? Aged wines tend to be darker in colour. Young reds tend to be more vibrant in colour, with mature reds taking on brown hues. Young whites are usually lighter while older whites can be golden. If you tilt the glass, you can also take note of the wine’s legs. Does the wine leave thick, lingering streaks inside the glass, or does it run back down quickly? This will help you determine the body or density of the wine. Finally, a good wine should have clarity and should not be cloudy or dull. Having a white background (e.g. a napkin) can be helpful when judging a wine’s appearance. 

Sniff: Sorry to disappoint you, but we’re still not ready to taste yet. Swirl your glass vigorously to help release the wine’s aromas. If you take a whiff before and after swirling, you will definitely notice a difference. What fruit aromas can you smell? Are there oak, spice, or floral notes? Are there a combination of aromas that result in a complex nose? Most importantly, does it smell pleasing? This is also a good way to tell if a wine has gone off before tasting it: a sour or vinegar-like aroma is never a good sign. 

Taste: Here’s the fun part. Take a sip and let the wine coat your mouth. Let it sit on your tongue for a few seconds before swallowing. What flavours are most prominent? Is it sweet, dry, or somewhere in between? Does it feel light, heavy, “chewy” (this means the wine is high in tannins), or smooth in your mouth? It’s also important to remember not to judge a wine by the first sip: give it a fair chance! On the second sip, you can breathe in through your mouth or “slurp” the wine to add air which releases more of the wine’s flavours. Take note of the finish as well. Is it short, lingering, complex? 

The fun part about wine tasting is that even with these guidelines, taste is an incredibly subjective matter. Try tasting wines with a group: do you pick up on different aromas and flavours? You'll probably have different opinions on the wines too: even if it received a 95 from a wine critic, you might think it tastes awful. So next time you try a new wine, keep these tips in mind!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Year, New Vintage: Trius White 2012

To kick off the new year, Trius has released the new 2012 vintage of their classic Trius White. 

In the fall, I took a tour of the Trius at Hillebrand winery and tasted Trius White 2011. It was my favourite wine of the day. So, how does the new vintage compare? 

Trius White 2012

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wine Lingo, Part 2

Happy Wine Wednesday! As promised, here is a continuation of my previous post on wine terms. 

Finish: the lingering flavour and sensation of the wine after drinking. It can be short, long, dry, complex…you get the idea.

Ice wine, or “Icewine”: a sweet dessert wine made from frozen grapes. They can be red or white depending on the grapes used. Ice wines are usually a fair bit more expensive than other wines because of the strict conditions required to make them, but it's worth it. 

Nose: the overall smell or aroma of the wine. 

Sugar scale: a numerical system used to describe how dry or sweet a wine tastes, with 0 being the most dry. This system is being phased out and replaced with the more vague qualitative categories of extra dry, dry, off-dry, medium sweet, and sweet. 

From the LCBO website. 

Tannins: more common in reds, tannins are what make your mouth pucker after taking a sip and make a wine taste more dry or bitter. Tannins come from contact with the grapes’ seeds, skins, stems, and sometimes wooden barrels that the wine is aged in.

Varietal: the type of grape (or grapes, if it's a blend) used in a wine. Different appellations are conducive to growing different kinds of grapes, which is why some areas are known for a certain type of wine.

Vintage: the year the grapes were harvested in. Not all wines specify the vintage, because sometimes they use grapes from different years and hope that no one will notice the difference. 

VQA (Canada only): stands for Vintner’s Quality Alliance. In Ontario, a VQA wine must use 100% Ontario grapes and jump through a series of hoops before they get to put a special sticker on the bottle. 

I'll keep adding terms as I think of them. Next up: a review of the brand new Trius White 2012!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Big House Red 2012 Review: "Criminally Delicious"

Last night I tried Big House Wines' 'Big House Red 2012'.

Big House Wines' Big House Red 2012

Let me start off by saying that I'm not a huge red wine drinker. I've been told it's an acquired taste, so I've been making a serious effort to speed up the process by continuing to try new reds at every opportunity. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Happy Winesday!

Over the weekend, my boyfriend Thomas and I had the pleasure of visiting Thirty Bench Wine Makers in Beamsville, Ontario. It’s not quite Niagara on the Lake, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. As we drove through the blowing snow, I wondered whether our trip was going to be worth it. 

Thirty Bench Wine Makers, located in Beamsville Ontario

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Nice Legs! Wine Lingo 101

There’s quite an array of terminology to describe a drink that is essentially fermented grape juice. Some of them are less obvious than others, and some sound like they were made up by someone who had already started on the wine. So, here are some of the basic terms you might hear if you hang out around seasoned wine drinkers. 

Acidity: the right amount of acidity gives wine a crisp, refreshing taste. Too much and you’ll feel like you’re drinking sour patch kids.

Appellation: a geographic region where grapes are grown. 

Aroma: specific scents you can pick up after sniffing a glass of wine, such as peach, cherry, or blackberry. The aroma depends heavily on the grapes used.  

Body: the fullness, density, or weight of a wine in your mouth. 

Bouquet: the overall smell of the wine, usually reserved for older wines that have been aged in oak barrels.

Brix: a fancy scientific scale used the measure the sugar content of unfermented grapes. The higher the Brix, the higher the alcohol content will be.

Dry: the opposite of sweet, not the opposite of wet. 

Legs: the streaks that a wine leaves after swirling it around in your glass. Lighter-bodied wines will have thinner legs that dissipate quickly, while full-bodied wines cling to the inside of the glass.

I'll be adding more terms in a future post, and eventually compiling a separate page of wine terms. Until then, go impress people with your fabulous new wine vocabulary. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

What's a Winebrary?

Winebrary: it's like a library, full of valuable information, but with books you can drink. No membership card required, and you can be as loud as you like.

I don't know about you, but that's a concept I can definitely get behind.

Wine can be a bit intimidating, especially for those who are just starting out on their wine-drinking careers. Trust me, I know. In May of 2011 I applied for a job at a wine store, with very little wine knowledge and even less experience actually drinking it. You can imagine my embarrassment and panic as I struggled to answer questions like, "What grape varietals are in this Meritage?", and, "What wine should I serve with my curry dish this evening?".

Fortunately for both me and my customers, I've learned a little bit about wine over the past few years. I've had the opportunity to taste more wines than I can count, visit beautiful vineyards across Canada, and learn from people who have earned their wine connoisseur badge after years of experience in the field.

Stay tuned for all things wine-related, including reviews, food pairings, how to's, and more!