Food & Wine Experience on a student budget

This week I went on a double date to a food and wine experience at FRESCOLIO on 5-1604 St Mary’s Rd..

For those of you who haven’t heard of FRESCOLIO, it is a fine oil and vinegar tasting bar — and it is magical. There are over 60 flavours of oil and vinegar and you can try AS MANY AS YOU WANT!

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Not only did this event suit my student-friendly budget ($35), I legitimately learned a lot about wine, oil and vinegar.

I knew olive oil was good for you, to an extent, but I didn’t know they act as antioxidants and are high in mono-unsaturated fats.

In order for balsamic vinegar to be true balsamic vinegar it must come from Italy. Just like champagne has to come from Champagne, France for it to be true champagne. Here is an article to help you realize if your balsamic vinegar is legit or if you are being fooled! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/09/balsamic-vinegar-fraud_n_5459425.html

Honoure Black from Poplar Grove Winery did the wine pairings for us, and she nailed it.

 

The first pairing was Munson Mountain Pinot Gris and Chèvre goat cheese, with southern hemisphere extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and lemongrass-mint white balsamic vinegar. I normally would never pick that flavour, but WOW I am happy I tasted that. Interestingly enough, my friend, Chantel, commented that she didn’t like the wine very much before she tried the oil and goat cheese, and then she really enjoyed it.

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Unfortunately, this is one of the better photos taken of me of the night. Just focus on how happy Chantel is to be eating the goat cheese.

I got a little too excited when the food and wine came out and wrote notes that don’t help me at all, but thankfully I have a decent memory.

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I also wrote a note for myself to watch the movie Sideways

The next pairing was a Poplar Grove viogner paired with prosciutto salad wraps and green limonite fused EVOO and another white balsamic vinegar.

Viogner can be like chardonnay in how oaky it tastes, but it is generally also a floral grape like a gewürztraminer. This one was sweeter at the front, and would pair well with spicy foods.

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These are the prosciutto salad wraps, and one of the family owners of FRESCOLIO. I can’t remember his name, so I guess my memory isn’t that great. He was very helpful, knowledgable and friendly. These would be a great snack to take to a potluck or wine tasting, and all the recipes are on the FRESCOLIO website.  http://www.frescolio.ca/recipes/course/appetizer/

The next pairing was the 2015 Poplar Grove chardonnay with mediterranean bulgar salad and mild intensity, southern hemisphere EVOO and traditional 18-year aged dark balsamic vinegar.

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I generally don’t like chardonnay, but this one was amazing! It wasn’t oaky and it would go well with creamy cheeses, pasta and mushrooms.

Next we moved onto the reds. Yay!

The Poplar Grove 2015 Merlot paired with blueberry Wensley Dale cheese and garlic infused EVOO and pomegranate dark balsamic vinegar. YUM.

Then the CSM 2012 (cab sav., syrah, merlot) with wine aged Bellevittano cheese and chipotle infused EVOO with strawberry balsamic vinegar. I think you all know how I felt about the wine aged cheese…

I honestly cannot say enough good things about this evening. The wine was fantastic, the hosts were kind and informative, the food was unreal, and to top it off we had great company with us. The only tragedy of the evening is that we couldn’t manage to take one nice photo together.

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The last pairing was the 2012 Poplar Grove Malbec with a macaron and milanese gremolata infused EVOO and black currant dark balsamic vinegar.

If our mouths weren’t stained already, they definitely were after the blue macaron. Hence the closed-mouth smiling in every photo.

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While this event was VERY fairly priced, Scott and I obviously didn’t leave before spending another $80 on oil and vinegars. It is a dangerous place for two people who love to cook and eat.

Poplar Grove Winery has a great website that you can order wine off of: http://www.poplargrove.ca

Check out the FRESCOLIO site for upcoming events. We were definitely the youngest people there, but it was still awesome. Lets try and fill it with young people next time and show them how sophisticated we are!

Cheers!

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What is organic wine?

What is organic wine?

A better questions is, why do I get a rash from it?

Most of you probably aren’t interested in why my face and body start to swell when I accidentally drink organic wine, especially when I am on a tiny island off the coast of Indonesia where there are no doctors and only very overpriced Benadryl sold in a closet they call a doctors office, so I’ll just stick to answering the first question.

Winesofcanada.com says:

“Organic Farming is a method which allows nature to protect and grow the produce without introducing foreign substances. It largely excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. As far as possible, organic farmers rely on crop rotation crop residues, animal manures and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity, to supply plant nutrients, control weeds, insects and other pests.”

You know that perfect strawberry in the bunch that has no bruises or bug bites and is all the same colour and looks perfectly symmetrical? That’s because of toxic pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers.

Organic wine comes from grapes that are told, “it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside; it’s what is on the inside that counts.”

The wording of the definition from winesofcanada.com is a little questionable to me, so I did a little more investigating. On order for wine to be certified organic — in Canada — it has to be made with 95% organic ingredients. Plus, sulfites cannot be added to the wine, but that does not mean the wine is sulphite free.

This really is only a concern for about 1% of the North American population, who are sensitive to sulphites (source:FDA).

And unless the animals are eating organic food, I think their manure probably has chemicals in it.

That is just the Canadian standards for organic wine. There is actually no legal international definition. However, any wine labeled “organic” in the LCBO must meet Canadian Organic Regulations.

The Canadian standards also require wine to be harvested in clean, non-contaminated containers made from food-grade plastics, enamelled metal or wood.

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Organic wine does NOT mean it is vegan wine or sulphite free wine. Organic wine can still contain things like egg whites or animal enzymes.

If my face didn’t double in size every time I drank the stuff then I would be all for it. But chemicals are almost impossible to get away from, so enjoy yourself! In my professional opinion, it isn’t something to worry about. If you are going to (responsibly) indulge in wine, it’s already a poison. I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy organic.

Cheers!

Why blends are the best

This summer has been interesting, to say the least. I am looking forward to getting back into a routine and seeing what this year in CreComm has in store —hopefully a little less stress crying .

Scrolling through my last blog posts, I see I got a little crafty towards the end. Now it’s time to throw some real wine knowledge in your face again!

This weekend I started thinking about blends and varietals. My boyfriend’s family is awesome and they had a surprise wine tasting this weekend. In addition to that, they had a pizza cook-off and a caesar making competition. My boyfriend and I won the caesar competition— just saying. I guess I have a natural talent when it comes to drinks.

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Photo courtesy of @knatez on Instagram – check him out!

Also, with a million years making drinks at Moxie’s Grill and Bar, you would hope I would win.

Not only was there a surprise wine tasting, the wine was a fleet of Oculus. I will let you check it out here:

http://www.missionhillwinery.com/media/37928/2011_OCULUS.pdf

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Spoiler: it was amazing!

Anyways, let me explain to you the difference between a varietal and a blend.

A varietal is made from the same type of grape: Shiraz, Chardonnay, Merlot, etc. Varietals can use grapes from different regions in their wine, but it will still be all the same grape.

A blend is generally about 40-50% of one type of grape, and the rest is a mix of other grapes.

The general consensus was that blended wines are the best in the world.

I had it justified to me this weekend like this:

Picture your favourite grape as your favourite spice. Now imagine cooking with that spice. Sure, it’s good on its own, but when you add other spices to the mix it really brings out the flavour.

Wines that have too much tannin can be mixed with something less bold. If the aroma isn’t right, add a different wine!

Grapes grown in different places or picked at various times of year all have different flavours. The combination options are almost endless. The people that can make the perfect blend of wine must have the most incredible taste buds.

However, I have met many perfect blends in my day, so if that’s your job — keep up the great work!

White wines and Pinot Noirs usually aren’t blended.

Message me with your favourite wine blends, or let me know if you have any questions about wine.