Archive | February, 2010

Attention… Calling all guys!

12 Feb

Listen up! I know you think that Valentines Day is a joke, a commercial holiday to make those in relationships pay more, while singles sit on their couches crying and stuffing their face with leftover sale price chocolate.

But, I guarantee you that it’s more than that to your girlfriend, your girl friend or that girl you picked up two weeks ago.

The thing is, yeah, the ‘holiday’ is cheesy. But Valentines Day doesn’t have to mean heart-shaped chocolate and cinnamon hearts. It’s a time of the year to show the important people in your life that you are thinking about them and care about them.

Oh, sure, you say you make the lady in your life feel special all year-round. But do you? Really? For the guys that aren’t so sure, V-Day is a built-in excuse to bring out your A-Game.

And you know a great way to do that? With wine!

You want the best bottle to impress the lady in your life this Valentines Day? Or perhaps just a bottle to give to a special friend to bring a smile their face and make them forget you forgot to call?

Look no further… From Italy, may I recommend the Zenato Bardolino Chiaretto ’08. It’s PINK, EASILY AVAILABLE and 11.95!!! Sweet baby Jesus, I make it easy for you. Most importantly, it’s not just a stereotypical bottle of Yellowtail Rose stacked beside a Valentines Day clearance sign.

If your girl is more of a bubbly kind, I can offer up another option. Niagara-based Henry of Pelham has a gorgeous Rose Brut VQA (That means its met the standards of the Vintners Quality Alliance, which generally means a superior wine). It’s a touch on the pricier side ($29.95), but she’s worth every penny, right gents?

And if you happen to be a single lady, or heck, a taken one who’s celebrating alone – these wines are mighty tasty and they’re both 12 percent alcohol.

Cheers to you and yours on this holiday all about love!

Two Chileans walk into a bar…

12 Feb

Part of this whole exploring wine thing has got to be finding out what I know and what I don’t know about wine. Another part has got to be drinking…a lot. So, I decided why not take the plunge – a blind taste test.

On the menu were two Chilean Sauvignon Blancs at two different price points (one just slightly higher) and just for fun, why not throw in a mid-priced Argentinean Sauv Blanc as well. The bottles were hidden from me, poured by my obliging boyfriend and basically left me blindsided and completely unaware.

I was certain of two things: one, I would be able to tell the more expensive bottle from the rest and two, I would make a fool out of myself.

Bottle number one. It’s a pretty yellow colour. Got some legs on her. Smells like a bouquet of sweet, hand picked flowers. Lemony in flavour. Light in the mouth. Tangy.

Bottle number two. Immediately minerally. Doesn’t smell as strong as the last bottle. Light. No to little legs. The predominant taste isn’t wine, it’s water – like Perrier. Upon further tasting, it does have some flavour. You know when you cut apples and don’t want them to turn brown, so you toss them around in a bit of lemon juice? It tastes like that. Other than that, there’s not a whole lotta oomph in this wine.

Final bottle. Just a touch darker than the others. Crisp and smoother than the rest, with less bite at the back of your mouth. Very easy to drink. A little Nutty? It’s hard to describe, but somehow it’s my favourite. I quite literally wrote down “Yummy”. It’d be great with bbq’ed shrimp and asparagus.

I revisited the wines the next night and not much had changed. The first was still yummy, and I liked it better on its second trip. It had grown on me a bit. The second, still not my favourite, but much better with the creamy pasta dish as it cleaned the palate. It’s still remarkably zesty and just a touch tingly on the tongue. It may taste like water, but man, is it smooth.

So, then… Which was the Argentinian, the cheap Chilean and which the most expensive?

My first bottle was the Trapiche Astica Sauvignon/Semillon blend (LCBO# 359083, $7.45).

The second, and least favourite, was the more expensive Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc ’09 (Vintages# 396994, $13.95).

And the final bottle, the one I enjoyed the least, was the Argentinian – Santa Carolina Chardonnay (LCBO# 259192, $8.50).

What does this all mean? Well, it means you can’t tell a six dollar difference between two Chileans, so you might as well buy the one you enjoy more, which for me was the cheaper of the two. It also means, when you stop relying on labels, you get to actually experience the wine, which is kind of the whole point, if you ask me.


Wine Not?

1 Feb

So, you decide you want to buy a bottle (or a few, for that matter). You walk into your local LCBO or WineRack and you glance around at all the shiny cylinders. You wander amongst the aisles of foreign names, glance at labels that contain information you know nothing about.

You pick up a few, hold them in your hands. You feel the weight of the liquid gold in your hand, heavy like a library book. You flip it over, start skimming the back – it talks of fruit, vines grown on specific latitudes and producers names you can’t place faces to. You set it the bottle back down, move onto the next. Until you just give up, head to the back to the party zone, picking up a 12 pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and hitting the road.

Well, no offense to Mike, but you’re missing out.

So here’s a beginners guide to walking into the LCBO proudly – and walking out with a stellar bottle of wine.

From the pros – here’s Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library.

First, do some research. Whether this means reading a wine magazine like Vines or Wine Access for starter bottles, or simply googling the best beginner bottles, having read something in advance will not only give you a few suggestions, but make you more confident walking into the store. This means you won’t just bail out and buy a cheap bottle of vodka, but stick to your plan.

Next, if you’re thinking of buying a bottle to go with dinner, try to match it up. There are plenty of wine sites that’ll help you with this task, but the basic standard rules are whites go with fish, chicken and light coloured sauces (including pasta) and reds can stand up to steaks, roasts and heavier pastas.

Third, wander around. Pick up bottles that catch your eye. There is no right and wrong here. Look at which grape varietal is on the bottle (usually on the front, but not always). Good white choices for beginners are Pinot Grigio, unoaked Chardonnay and Riesling, while good reds to start with are Shiraz, Malbec, and Merlot. Blends are often a good idea too – so don’t be afraid of a Syrah-Malbec.

Finally, try it. You’ve got to experiment to figure out what you like. Generally, you’ll figure out a favourite flavour, or even better, a producer that you enjoy. This means you can try other wines that they’ve had a hand in, and hopefully they’ll expand your horizons.

At the end of the day, you’ve got to take a blind leap because no matter how good someone tells you a wine is – it’s your taste buds.

As for the don’ts. Well, don’t assume an expensive wine is automatically good, or write off an inexpensive bottle as cheap. Don’t fall into a wine rut, only drinking German Rieslings. Don’t fall for pretty labels. Don’t only buy wine that’s on the shelf because its someone’s recommended pick.

Most importantly, don’t forget to break the rules. That’s what makes wine fun.