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.