Top Restaurants for Food, Wine and Fun

Here are the restaurants I love in various cities. I hope you find this a helpful list, and let me know if you enjoy your dining experience at any one of these. My favorite restaurants in Ottawa, Ontario are Sidedoor (613-562-9331), Wellington Gastro Pub (613-729-1315), Fraser Café (613-749-1444), Fauna (613-563-2862), Mena (613-233-6462), Taylor Wine Bar (613-730-5672), Segue (613-237-1658), Eighteen (613-244-1188), The Albion Rooms in Novatel (613-760-4771), Play (613-667-9207), Absinthe (613-761-1138), Navarra (613-241-5500), Atelier (613-321-3537), Supply and Demand (613-680-2949),  Urban Pear (613-569-9305) and SmoqueShak (613-789-4245, casual lunch). In Almonte (30 minutes west of Ottawa), I like Heirloom Cafe (613-256-9653). Just across the […]

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Three Cheese Caribbean Rice Recipe Paired with Sparkling Wine

The Caribbean is Closer Than you Think It’s definitely getting as hot as the Caribbean, so why not bring the flavour of the Carribean to your home as well? This savoury recipe for Three Cheese Caribbean Rice is the perfect main for a Caribbean-themed bash. And with savoury jalapeno-flavoured Canadian Havarti, Old Canadian Cheddar, and creamy Canadian Gouda, it will have your guests’ palettes dancing on first taste. A great wine to complement the cheesy flavour of the rice is a Hungarian wine called Hungaria Grand Cuvée Brut. While not from the Caribbean, its zesty lemony flavour will balance out […]

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Canada’s Wine Trends and Regions: Lang and O’Leary Exchange

Join me tonight on CBC’s Lang and O’Leary Exchange, the national television news program with hosts Amanda Lang and Kevin O’Leary (also of Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank). We’ll be chatting at 4:20 pm EST about trends in the Canadian wine industry as well as emerging new regions to watch from the perspective of Canada’s largest wine site and social media community. Speaking of Kevin O’Leary, you may find this Google + Video interview to the left with him about his own wines of interest. He’s definitely the “merchant of truth” even when it comes to wine ;) Enjoy your […]

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Wine of the Week: Malivoire Guilty Men Red, Ontario

This wine of the week shouldn’t spark any feelings of guilt, especially given the price. Cheers, Natalie Sale Ends: September 15, 2013 Sale Price: $13.95 | Save: $1.00 (Usually $14.95) Natalie’s Score: 89/100 Malivoire Wine Company Guilty Men Red V.Q.A., Niagara Peninsula, Ontario An incredibly tasty wine for the money! Wow. Luscious aromas and flavours of fleshy ripe plums and dark berries fill the glass and your senses. There’s some smoky cherries on the finish that make you sidle up closer to the bottle for a top up. Wonderfully supple! Guilty Men Red food pairings: grilled meats, roasted poultry, vegetarian […]

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LCBO Best Wines: Henry of Pelham and Oyster Bay Pinot Noir, Elderton Shiraz Vintages August 31

Here are my top wine picks from the August 31 Vintages Release. VIP Members can access all 53 wines that I reviewed as a text shopping list with my complete tasting notes, scores, food matches and the stock for each bottle in their closest LCBO stores. Stock numbers are usually posted online a day or two before the release based on the LCBO doing so. They can also add my wine picks to their custom shopping list with one click and access that list on their smartphone. This is one of the benefits of becoming a VIP Member. I’ve recently […]

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3 Insider Wine + Food Pairing Tips, Most Underrated Grape

Wordsmith, wine pro and lifelong highland dancer, Natalie MacLean sat down with Grape Magazine, talking whisky, winter, the world’s greatest wines and the secrets to top-shelf imbibing without breaking the bank. Your Writing Process? I’m a messy writer—if I were a painter, I’d paint a seagull in one corner, then a clump of clover in another corner. I’d splash on the page every impression I have, then edit, edit, edit. Best Wine & Food? The best pairing is between you and a wine you like. But as far as food pairings go, the fun is in experimenting, choosing whether to […]

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Wine Aroma Wheel: 5 Wine Tasting Secrets They Reveal

The best-known wine aroma wheel above was developed by Dr. Ann Noble, while she was a professor with the renowned oenology program at the University of California at Davis. It categorized aromas broadly, splintering off into more specific sub-aromas. It was ground-breaking in that it took the obscure and confusing adjectives often used to describe wine and categorized them coherently. Here are the top 5 wine tasting secrets that Dr. Noble’s aroma wheel, and the other wheels below can tell us: 1. Describing wine doesn’t have to be vague and off-putting. Using concrete, everyday adjectives from categories of fruit, flowers […]

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Sommelier Courses: French Language + Fresh Focus Video

In the video chat, Tom Vigeant, Coordinator of the Sommelier Certificate Program at La Cité Collégiale in Ottawa, talks about the courses offered in this French wine program. You can also watch our other video chat on the 5 worst questions to ask a sommelier. What makes La Cité collégiale Sommelier Program different from the George Brown or Algonquin College Sommelier Program? From the Wine and Spirits Education Trust or WSET courses? Is your sommelier program aimed at the wine enthusiast who wants to learn more about wine but not necessarily work in the industry or is it for industry […]

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Wine of the Week: Kangarilla Road Shiraz Cabernet, Australia

Friday’s advice: Please drink responsibly … sit down so you don’t spill any. With this well-priced shiraz cabernet blend, you don’t need to be as cautious, but why waste a delicious drop? Sale Ends: September 15, 2013 Sale Price: $13.25 | Save: $1.00 (Usually $14.25) Natalie’s Score: 88/100 Kangarilla Road Vineyard & Winery Charlie’s Blend Shiraz Cabernet McLaren Vale, Australia Wonderfully dark, fleshy blackberries and plums with lip-smacking, full-bodied weight and a smooth texture. Some lifted dark berries and spices on the finish. Incredible quality and value for this price point! Shiraz Cabernet food pairings: burgers, meat lovers’ pizza, pasta […]

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