Wine scores are bologna

How we each perceive wine is going to be different. I have written over 40 blog posts on various topics about wine, and I still feel like I have no idea what I’m talking about. There is so much to know and so many wines, it easily becomes overwhelming.

For a long time I loved Apothic Red. It was my favourite wine and I didn’t even consider buying anything else. Then one day, I hated it. It was too sweet and way too rich and just thinking of it now makes me feel gross.

The great thing about wine is that it is subjective. I can hate it and you can love it, and that’s totally fine. It doesn’t mean the wine is good or bad; it just means we have different tastes.

For example, I think DORITOS are the greatest chip to ever leave a bag and enter my mouth. Something about that dusty cheese really gets me going. I have a friend who, shockingly, who thinks Arribas are amazing. I honestly can’t understand why someone would willingly choose those spiced wannabe chips, but hey.

It’s like people who love Jeanne’s cake — like, seriously? They ACTUALLY taste like cardboard with icing on them. People love them. I don’t get it.

And M&M’s are clearly the superior candy to SMARTIES.

I realize these are all subjective opinions, but I believe in my heart, soul, and mouth that I am correct and there is no other way. The good thing is that nobody cares what I think of these flavours, and my partner has the same tastes as me, so it works out well.

Some critics use points to score wine, which makes wine objective. But I say that’s bologna! It’s what you like. Why is their opinion “better” than mine? Just because you give a wine a high score doesn’t mean I’m going to like it. Points are meaningless. Even the Journal of Wine Economics referenced two papers stating that wine ratings were a “powerful illusion.”

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703683804574533840282653628

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Grab some Sriracha and a bottle of Riesling

Reigning from Germany, Riesling is one of the six noble grapes.

For some reason, it usually comes in a tall, skinny bottle. Riesling has a reputation of being crisp and florally, as well as sweet, but many Rieslings are dry.

Fun Fact: Rieslings are the most aromatic wine in the world.

This tall blonde pairs well on its own or with any food. However, Riesling and spicy foods are a killer combo. Indian and Thai food plus a bottle of Riesling equals heaven for your taste buds.

This girl is best served cold.

One of my favourite things about Riesling is that the labels make it so easy to know what you are going to get. One of these four descriptions will appear on every bottle of Riesling. It’s in German, but I can tell you what to look for.

Trocken – always dry, crisp, high acidity, with hints of minerals

Kabinett – Light wine, fruity, high acidity

Spatlese – Late harvest wines with honeycomb flavours, tropically fruit and high acidity

Auslese – Full-ripened wines, sweet fruits and honey, high acidity

Wines that aren’t Riesling, but are pretty frikkin close to Rielsing:

Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Loureiro (Portugal), Torrontes (Argentina), Malvasia Bianca (Italy)

Wine in a can. How bow da?

It’s actually not terrible!

My friend, Nate, brought me a can of wine to a curling bonspiel a few weekends ago. I wasn’t playing, obviously. I was there for support.

Actually, I was kinda bored because I know nothing about curling, so when Nate handed me this beverage I was excited and skeptical.

BIG HOUSE WINE actually already has bottles and boxes of wine, so now they have moved into the canned world.

It’s $4 for a can that equals two “standard” glasses of wine.

img_0995

I love it because it’s portable, great for the cabin, poolside, hikes, picnics, and camping. I don’t like beer that much, but I’m always envious about how easy it is to pack a few in a backpack and be on your way. Wine bottles you need an opener, a glass, and then you need to carry this glass bottle around. Urgh, what a hassle.

I know, my life is so tough having to pack wine when I go on hikes at my cabin. #firstworldproblems

I’m not actually complaining. I’m just happy that my convenience level just became easier.

But seriously, this zin was smooth to drink. It had a dark fruit taste, like black cherries and plums. It was nice!

Next time you are heading out to the cabin and you need a convenient wine, grab a few of these bad boys.

http://www.lcbo.com/lcbo/product/big-house-cardinal-zin-zinfandel-can/444760

A “tip” from a server to you

If your server doesn’t know much about wine, when you ask him or her what their favourite wine is, it’s always the most expensive one on the list. I used that trick a lot as a server before I started to educate myself in the world of wine, and it paid off. People generally tip a percentage of the total bill. If your bill is higher, then the tip will often be more. There are also incentives sometimes for servers to have the highest guest cheque average or sell a specified menu item.

Even having slight wine knowledge can save you a pretty penny and gives you a way better chance of enjoying the wine brought to your table.

Recently, I found two wines at local restaurants that I LOVE. The first was at Bouchee Boucher — half restaurant and half butcher shop. We wanted to try everything on the menu and share, so we didn’t really try and pair wine with any particular meal.

The scalloped potatoes with a pile of shaved ham; wild rice casserole with duck confit, mushrooms, and whipped blue cheese; crispy pork belly, and the butcher’s steak were all amazing, but the Buried Hope Cabernet Sauvignon was incredible. I went to The Winehouse the next day to pick up a bottle. Apparently, they have a very nice pinot noir as well. The phrase on the front of the wine is “stressed vines deliver rich wines,” and that made me laugh. Hopefully stressed students deliver high-quality content and employable skills.

Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 4.42.53 PM.png

This full-bodied red has a slight vanilla, blackberry, and oaky flavour, and it has a soft taste to it. It is also available at the LCBO.

The next wine was a Merlot, and since I took a picture of it, like I generally do with bottles of wine I enjoy, I thought I would remember the name. This particular bottle is a fully white label that just says, “merlot” in the bottom right corner. Several Google searches did not help me out…

Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 4.41.36 PM.png

Thank goodness another friend of mine took a picture of the back since the wine is simply called, “merlot.” It is merlot from Lock and Worth Winery in BC. It is for sure available at The Winehouse if you want to check it out.

For the record, neither of these were the most expensive on the menu. I’m pretty sure the Merlot was actually the least expensive.

Cheers!

Three reasons wine can give you a headache — and sulfites aren’t one of them

 

Hey all,

Here is a list of things that gives me headaches:

  • My mother
  • Stress — see above
  • Crying a.k.a. dehydration
  • Loud music
  • Screaming babies
  • Trying to win my FitBit Challenges and running out of water, again, dehydration
  • Drinking too much

Sulfites, my friends, do not give you a headache.

Sulfites are a naturally occurring substance in all wine, and it is a by-product of fermentation. In fact, sulfites occur in a lot of foods like dried fruits, shrimp, maple syrup and mushrooms. They are also an antioxidant and preservative.

Water: The number one reason people get headaches from wine is because they are dehydrated — as you can tell from my list above. A good rule of thumb is to drink a glass of water between every glass of wine. This also keeps red lips stains at bay.

Tannins: Tannins give you the dry taste in your mouth and are from grape skins, stems, and seeds. Most people don’t get headaches from tannins, this compound is actually an antioxidant. If you are sensitive to tannins then stay away from malbecs and cab savs. Vinepair http://vinepair.com/wine-101/wine-and-headaches/ gave me a great tip to check if you are getting headaches from tannins: steep black tea for about ten minutes. Drink it and see if you get a headache. If you get a headache from it then stick to wine without tannins, and make sure you are hydrated.

Sugar: Alcohol + sugar = headache city. When you aren’t hydrated — I’m seeing a theme here — your body takes water from other parts of the body, like your head. This is also why you feel so skinny after a long night of drinking wine and no water. It’s also a great time to trick yourself and your FitBit into thinking you lost weight. Sweet white wines and white zins have more sugar, so you have a higher chance of a getting a headache.

Histamines: Sulfites can also cause asthma symptoms. Histamines are chemicals released when you have an allergic reaction. About 1% of people have an allergy to sulfites. If you are one of these people, I acknowledge that sulfites might actually give you headaches, but there you are the exception to the rule!

fullsizerender

#NotaDoctor

Knowledge credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gifPNUwxqo

Wine and Sleepy Time

Blogging about wine has been a lot more science-y than I expected. Math and science were not my strong points in high school, but if my teachers had linked these topics to alcohol I feel like I would have paid more attention.

Does wine even make you tired? Does red wine make you more tired?

Kinda.

There haven’t been any studies done to confirm this, but we can reasonably come to that conclusion with what we — “we” as in me Googling things — do know.

Grape skin, flesh and seeds all contain melatonin — the natural supplement you can take to help you sleep. At some point during the winemaking process the melatonin level rises — yeast is expected to be the culprit. That’s why grapes probably won’t make you tired, but wine is more likely to.

Red wine is made with the skin of grapes, so we can make an educated guess that drinking red wine would make you more sleepy than white. Even so, the amount of melatonin in a bottle of wine is about 1/10000 of what is in a melatonin pill.

It would be really nice to have an excuse for falling asleep on the couch when we have company over, many times. Like, a lot of times.

That could also be because I have the energy level of a mother sloth who has to care for a clan of baby tigers.

Another theory is that people generally have wine to wind down at the end of the day when they are already tired. Alcohol, in general, is a depressant, which makes you tired.

So then all alcohol should make everyone sleepy, right?

Ummm, yes? But no.

Get ready for some #science.

Alcohol also affects your frontal lobe, which inhibits impulses — who knew?! So if you are out at the bar drinking tequila shots and you want to go dance with the hot dude in front of you or you need to go find someone to take you to McDonald’s, you are way more likely to do that.

When you are wine drunk, or at least when I am, I’m pretty likely to stay sitting and think about how I would really enjoy the French onion soup at Johnny G’s, rather than actually go out and get it.

Also, your quality of sleep after drinking is garbage #fact. That’s why you wake up at 7 am, feel wide awake, and then you move to the couch after a morning snack and fall asleep watching whatever is on TLC.

screen-shot-2017-01-21-at-11-16-08-am

This is me trying to explain that it’s not wine that makes you sleepy, it’s alcohol in general. My graphic T should add credibility to my rants. Gotta love Winners.

Vegans beware — you’re in for a scare…

Sorry, I have been watching a little too much Goosebumps recently — not by choice.

But seriously, milk, egg whites, dried fish bladders, and gelatin — which is processed from livestock — might be in your wine, and that is something vegans, vegetarians and people with dairy and egg allergies might not be too stoked about.

img_0825

However, these agents are used in the winemaking process, and don’t actually count as an ingredient or additive. In fact, the whole point of adding these is to take them out after.

These ingredients are more common in younger wines to limit the sediment in the wine. This process is called fining. They bind to the sediment and the winemaker can filter out the goop in your wine so you don’t have mud at the bottom of your glass. Fining also takes out the more astringent tannins, so the wine is easier to drink. When this process is done, your wine is clarified.

This process happens while the wine is still in the barrel. Egg whites and milk are more commonly used. The winemaker pours in the milk, the milk bonds with the sediment and sinks to the bottom of the barrel. This goop is removed from the barrel, and then goes through the regular filtration process. There is such a minimal amount of these particles left in the wine after the filtering process that you would never be left with a fishy, milky or eggy taste.

The first wine I noticed with egg and milk listed in the ingredients was Wine Men of Gotham, an Australian shiraz that I really like — it’s also about $12 so it fits in my price range. The law in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand require winemakers to list when milk, egg whites, or fish bladder is used in the wine. Canada also requires sulphites to be listed on the bottle. There is no requirement for gelatin.

img_0826  #selfieatwork

This law was established by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency under the federal allergen guidelines, but there is no medical evidence to suggest wines that have been through the fining process have caused any allergic reactions.

There are vegan-friendly options for this process as well. Seaweed and volcanic clay achieve the same result, but doesn’t have to be listed on the bottles.

If you are concerned about which fining agent is used in your wine you can email or call the winemaker, and they can clarify for you.

Cheers!

Six places to sip wine in Winnipeg

Everyone is busy. Whether it’s school, work, family, volunteering, trying to maintain your relationship and friendships, keeping a sliver of time for yourself to stay sane, and if you are like me — which I know a lot of you are — it’s all of these things. When the stars align, and I am able to take a night off with my partner I want to go someplace I know I will enjoy. These are my top six places, in no particular order, to relax and enjoy my favourite beverage.

The Common – Where else can you get flights of wine? Seriously, I don’t know. I always felt that The Forks was missing something, and The Common was it. Sitting down to people watch while I get to decide what kind of food I want by creep-staring at other people’s plates is exactly what I want to do at The Forks – especially if I get to be drinking three different kinds of wine while I do it. It’s seriously the perfect meeting place. I love it. IG: @thecommonwpg

img_1840

Enoteca – I have only been here once because I am a starving student that needs to make better choices about where I spend my money, but that was enough for me to love it. It’s an intimate restaurant in the middle of a strip mall, kind of in the suburbs, which has parking – so I’m into it. The inside is beautiful and the staff really knows their wine. Ask them to pair your wine with the shareable plates and then you have a next-level drinking and dining experience. Don’t even get me started on the food. It’s amazing, but that and a healthy amount of sass is what you should expect from Scott Bagshaw. There really is nothing else quite like it in Winnipeg. IG: @yourenoteca

Peasant Cookery: Jam-packed with young professionals, or almost young professionals, Peasant Cookery wins with its location in the heart of The Exchange District. The lounge is one of my favourite places to have a glass of wine. The wine selection isn’t large, but it’s good, and the prices are fair. I highly suggest going on a Monday for half price charcuterie boards or a Wednesday for the Buck-A-Shuck. In the summer, the patio could not be more perfect. Right across from The Cube, you can catch free live music while enjoying your sangria and still have some personal space. If you love to be around what’s happening in our city, the Peasant Cookery patio is the place to be. I also have to give an honourable mention to the cocktails here. The bartenders seriously know how to whip up a great drink. IG:@peasantcookerywpg

Mona Lisa Ristorante: Mona Lisa has a self-serve EnoWine System with 20 feature wines by the glass that makes your wine drinking experience interactive. It’s relaxed and informal, just how a conversation over wine should be. Plus, it’s always fun to try something new and pressing buttons and watching the wine pour into my glass is still fun for me…yes, I’m an adult. Every Thursday Mona Lisa has live music, and every Wednesday is half off wine – so I’ll see you there Wednesday. If you go before or after a Jets/Bomber Game the place will be PACKED. They offer free rides to and from the games. I dare you to look at the menu and not order anything. The apps, pizzas and pastas rule my life. IG:@monalisacorydon

Segovia: Clearly, I love tapas. It’s probably because I have a FOMO on food. I want to taste all of the flavours! The menu is a little mysterious. I kind of know some of the words on the menu, and the rest are either in another language or an exotic food I have never heard of. Either of which I am okay with because I have yet to be disappointed with any of the flavours in my mouth – even if I don’t know what they are. But we are talking about places to drink wine, and the food here should be enough of a reason, but I have more. The patio is incredible and great for people watching. The interior is beautiful and has a great ambiance. If you get a chance, sit at the bar and watch the chefs cook. Segovia is almost always full. If it is, they will call you as soon as your table is ready. Since Osborne has plenty of shops and restaurants in sight, this a chance to shop, check out the other local bars and spend some time in one of Winnipeg’s hot spots. The wine selection is spectacular and the bottles seem to flow quickly here, so don’t drive. IG: @segoviatapasbar

Chaise Cafe & Lounge: More people need to know about this hidden gem that camouflages into the houses on Provencher. I love it so much. It has an intimate lounge with couches you can easily move around to suit your party, an unbelievable patio, family style brunch with homemade bagels, and a covered and heated patio for the summer.  Chaise also has an incredible promotion on Mondays. You have to ask for it, but it’s 50% off your food bill. Hello! That means I should eat double the food, right? IG: @chaisecafewpg

Where do the smells in wine come from?

I enjoy reading the back of wine bottles to see what “flavours” are in the wine, but often I can’t usually pick out the same smells in the glass.

These explanations like “oaked vanilla with a hint of cherry…” on the back of the bottle don’t actually mean that cherry and vanilla are in the wine.

These smells come from aroma compounds. The scents are released by alcohol and fermentation, and each wine has different aroma compounds.

To add to the confusion, our noses smell aroma compounds differently. It depends on the environment you are in. It’s like when you are in a room that has a weird smell, but you have been in the room for a long time so you don’t smell it anymore.

One person may smell a lemon, another my smell an orange. Usually, people smell similar fruits — like citrus fruits or tree fruits.

Wine aromas enter wine in different ways. They are categorized by: primary, secondary and tertiary aromas.

Primary aromas come from the characteristics of the grape of the wine. Most of the smells in the wine you can find in the actual grape, but more flavour comes out in fermentation and the wine making process.

Secondary aromas come from aging in oak or steel barrels. Oak barrels are porous, so the wine gets more oxygen exposure in oak barrels, which changes the flavour. These barrels can also absorb flavours in the wine making them less intense. There are other factors like the species of oak, where the oak was grown, if the barrels have fungus or the age of the barrels that contribute to the flavour and scent of the wine.

Tertiary aromas come from aging. Once wine is in the bottle it continues to change. That is where yeast and chemical changes happen. This is called the “bottled bouquet.”

Your brain can only pick out smells that are in your memory. That’s why you could have a group of friends sitting around the table tasting wine and they all smell different things.

Give it a try with your friends next time 🙂

Cheers!

Dirty water? Add wine.

There was a time when people drank wine ALL THE TIME.

People living in places like ancient Athens and ancient Babylon had almost undrinkable water, so they came up with a way to sanitize it.

People drank diluted wine from morning to night. Like, everyone. Even babies.

Here is a full article from the National Institutes of Health website: Wine as a digestive aid: comparative antimicrobial effects of bismuth salicylate and red and white wine.

Basically, it explains that using white wine at a 1:1 dilution rate, reduced the bacterial rate much faster than red wine. It took red wine 24 hours to dilute the bacteria to make the water drinkable, and it took white wine only 2 hours to get the same effect.

It wasn’t the alcohol content that made a difference. Tequila was also tested using this method and didn’t create any change in the bacteria. It has something to do with the alcohol and the pH balance in wine, and some other science that I don’t really understand.

Obviously, there are much better methods for purifying water like boiling it or using a filter, but this method was used for generations, so it still does work.

So, if you are travelling in an area where you don’t trust the water, try mixing one part wine with one part water and let it sit for an hour. #survivaltip