Wine Roulette

First, wine tasting is not easy. If anyone tells you that, they are liars.

I don’t mean having a sip and tasting what is in your mouth. I mean smelling your wine, having a sip and being able to tell me what fruits, flowers, herbs and hints of whatever is in the wine.

To even have a decent shot at picking out the flavours and scents you need to be able to concentrate and not be around any smells like perfume, cooking smells, or pet smells. Even a glass that is the wrong shape or size can alter what you are able to smell.

The temperature, age of the wine, what you were eating before you sampled the wine, all of these things play a factor into what you taste.

I had ordered a glass of wine at a restaurant that I know I love, but I was eating a different kind of food with it, and it tastes totally different and kind of gross. It’s amazing the difference that makes.

Real experts at this can look at the shade and transparency of the wine can tell you what type of wine it is. I could probably tell you the difference between a pinot noir and a cab sav, but that’s about where it stops. I know Syrahs or red Zinfandels are usually a dark purple/black colour and Pinot Noirs or Sangioveses are a lighter, more browny/red colour.

Fruits are usually the most prominent smell and taste you can pick out. Herbs, spices and flowers are sometimes apparent.

Then there are the smells from the barrels. You could have oak, vanilla, smoke, chocolate, espresso, or even things like nuts.

Overwhelmed yet? Each part of your tongue tastes different things, so when you are ready to taste you have to swirl the wine around in your mouth to catch all the flavours.

To me, that seems like using mouthwash and also is going to make me have red wine mouth. I don’t want to. Especially if the wine has a lot of tannins in it, it will give your whole mouth that bitter dry feeling.

I invented a game to test out your skills in a way that, hopefully, isn’t infuriating.

Go to your favourite restaurant with a friend, hopefully on half price wine night, ask your server for the wine menu and to surprise you with a glass of wine. Each of you try and pick out the flavours, you will have the wine menu in front of you so it’s not super overwhelming and a complete shot in the dark. The person who guesses correctly doesn’t’ have to pay for the wine!

After you guess, get the server to bring over the bottle of wine so you can look at what it’s supposed to taste like and try to find those flavours in your wine.

You actually will be learning something and it won’t break the bank. It will show you what to look for in a particular type of wine, hopefully help you with picking out flavours, and you might find some new wines you love or hate!

Wine tasting is learned. It’s not easy, and it’s not something you are going to learn overnight. Make it fun.

I’m going to try this with Scott and see how it goes. Wish me luck!

The Need-to-Know for Pinot

Pinot Noir – The crowd pleaser – a safe red to serve to crowds because it goes well with many different foods and has subtle flavours, so it’s easy to drink. The tannins are pretty low in Pinot Noirs, so it doesn’t give your mouth that dry, bitter feeling.

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Born in Burgundy Region of France — nicknamed Red Burgundy out there. This wine has flavours of red berries, mushrooms, sweet black cherries, and the smell of damp leaves.

It’s pale, transparent, and best served “cool to the touch.” It’s lighter in colour because the skin of Pinot Noir is so thin.

Pinot Noir grapes are hard to grow, and thrive in cooler regions.

Pinots are infamous with wine snobs. The movie, Sideways, was based around Pinot Noir and how amazing it can potentially be.

More affordable pinots come from Oregon, California, Chile, Australia and New Zealand — these pinots are generally fruitier than their French sister.

Names for Pinot Noir that aren’t Pinot Noir, but still mean the same dang thing:

Savagnin Noir (FR SZ), Bourguignon (FR), Pinot Nero (IT), Pignola (IT), Spätburgunder (GR), Blauburgunder (GR), Klevner (AS), Nagyburgundi (HG), Modri Pinot (SV), Bourgogne, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey-Chambertin, Morey-St-Denis, Chambolle-Musigny, Vougeot, Flagney-Echezeaux, Nuits-St-Georges, Vosne-Romanee, Aloxe-Corton, Côte Challonaise

Other blogs about this popular grape: http://winefolly.com/review/pinot-noir-wine-facts/

Cheap wine all the time

Life is hectic. Sometimes you need a night out with your friends, but you don’t want to spend a lot of cash. Me neither. I compiled a list of restaurants that offer wine specials across the city.

On weekends you are pretty much hooped because restaurants are already busy and they don’t need a reason to lure you in with discounts.

 

Monday

Chop – ½ price glasses

Tavern United – bottles from 12.99

 

Tuesday

Original Joes – ½ price bottles

Moxie’s Classic Grill– ½ price glasses

Carbone – reduced bottles

Peasant Cookery – ¼ off wine bottles

 

Wednesday

Moxie’s Classic Grill – ½ price bottles

Pony Corall – $5 off wine bottles

Mona Lisa – 30% off glasses

Earls – $6 glasses of wine

Smitty’s – ½ price glasses

Clay Oven – 25% off any wine over 25$

 

Thursday

Elevate Eatery – 1/2 price bottles of wine

Shark club – ½ price glasses

Carbone – reduced glasses

Jekyll and Hydes – ½ off bottles

The Canadian Brewhouse ½ bottles and $1 off glasses

State and Main – ½ price bottles

JOEY and Earls have Happy Hours from 3-6 every day with $4 drinks and after 9pm from Sunday – Thursday.

Santa Ana – has possibly best pizza in the city and definitely the cheapest bottles of wine. Every. Single. Night.

Make sure to call in advance. They are often full and take reservations.

Giveaway!

Click the FOLLOW button for your chance to win a $20 LC gift card! It’s the easiest contest you might ever enter.

Winners announce on here, Facebook and Instagram on March 13 at 5pm.

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You MUST follow my blog for your entry to count. Giveaway ends March 12 at 11:59pm EST. You must be 18 years and older and a resident of Manitoba to enter. This post is not sponsored by WordPress and it is void where prohibited by law. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by WordPress. By entering you are confirming that you are at least 18+ years of age, release WordPress from any and all responsibility and you are adhering by WordPress’s terms of use.

 

The Skinny on Chardonnay

It’s starting to feel warm again and I am debating putting sunglasses on when I drive, so that means it’s white wine time again!

When I think of Chardonnay I think of a middle-aged blonde female who gets day drunk during the week while wearing high heels, white pants and some type of fur — into it.

That’s completely irrelevant to what I’m about to tell you about chardonnay.

This bae was born in the Burgundy region of France, where it’s known as White Burgundy — opposite of Pinot Noir!

It’s known as an elegant white wine and is best served cold. This wine is super versatile and goes great on patios in the summer or pairs well with hearty soups in the winter.

Chardonnay grapes are easy to grow, and are very different depending on the region and climate (aka terroir). That’s why you could have one Chardonnay that’s super dry and made from less-ripe grapes that tastes like green apple or lemons and hate it, or you could have one that’s made from very ripe grapes and tastes like guava, mango or pineapples.

They other huge difference is whether the Chardonnay is oaked or unoaked.

  • Oaked Chardonnay has a buttery flavour and are pretty rich.
  • Unoaked Chardonnay is similar to a pinot gris or sav blanc and tend to be more crisp and tart.

Safe foods to pair with Chardonnay:

  • Soft cheeses
  • Fish with herbs
  • Chicken, Turkey
  • Shrimp, Lobster, Crabs, Scallops, Oysters, Clams
  • Mushrooms, truffles
  • Almonds
  • Yellow squash, lemons, peas, asparagus

Wines that aren’t Chardonnay, but are pretty close to Chardonnay:

Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Semillon, Fiano (Italy), Antão Vaz (Portugal)

Fun Fact: Chardonnay is the wine used to make sparkling wines.

This clearly isn’t everything to know about Chardonnay, but it’s a good starting point. The links below go into more detail about the grape if you are interested.

http://vinepair.com/wine-101/chardonnay-white-wine-guide/

http://winefolly.com/review/chardonnay-wine-guide/

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.

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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.

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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…

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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!