Gift Wines: 5 Tips on How to Pick a Great Bottle

Want to give someone a bottle of wine this year? Here are quick tips on how to choose a great gift wine this holiday that we discussed on CBC Ontario Morning in the audio clip below. Click on the arrow above to listen to the clip. You can get all my wine reviews of great gift wines (including those for yourself) showing the stock for each bottle at your closest liquor stores. Wine is a great gift because: –    one size fits all –    doubles are fine –    it’s easy to re-gift Also: – it’s easy to return for cash […]

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Vino Under the Volcano: Etna Wines Erupt Expected Notions of Terroir

I expected something a little more dramatic: the sizzle of a lava river oozing down the volcano, the rumble of the earth as it split between my feet, the screams of villagers running for their lives. Instead, all I hear are the clicks of tourist cameras as we look up at Mount Etna, its white tip puffing peacefully against the blue sky. “To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all,” Goethe wrote. “For Sicily is the clue to everything.” That’s why I’m here on this island of dazzling sunshine and menacing shadows, […]

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Pierre Sparr Wines: Alsace Value and Taste Pair Well

Maison Pierre Sparr By Melissa Pulvermacher We’re all on a constant search of high-value wines for a great price. I always say that your chance of getting a great quality wine for a large price tag is high, and although the odds are less consistent, it feels great to find a killer bottle of wine that doesn’t break the bank. Maison Pierre Sparr, founded in 1680 by Jean Sparr, is a winery and brand located in Alsace, France. Sparr owns 15 hectares of their own Domaine, while also sourcing grapes from 130 hectares of trusted farmer-owned vines, to produce their […]

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Oyster Bay Wine Tasting: Fresh and Food Friendly

Oyster Bay By Matt Steeves New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Canada, Mr. Simon Tucker, hosted a lovely tasting of Oyster Bay wines at his official residence recently.  A small group of trade professionals attended to sample and assess the portfolio of New Zealand wines that Delegat Canada Limited (agent and owner of Oyster Bay) were showcasing.  Jason Hands and Camille Gemmell Johnston of Delegat kindly walked us through the tasting of their Oyster Bay portfolio. My overall impression from the tasting was that each wine Oyster Bay produces is done very well, and sold at a very reasonable price point […]

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Villa Maria Stays True to its Roots: New Zealand Winery Focuses on the Field

Villa Maria By Julia Kelada Often, decanting a wine for an hour gives it time to breathe and reveal its true character. That was exactly the time I was fortunate to spend recently talking with Sir George Fistonich, founder and owner of Villa Maria Wines in New Zealand, who has been making wines for more than 50 years. Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2013 Private Bin Pinot Gris 2013 Private Bin Pinot Noir 2011 Cellar selection Pinot Noir 2010 Private Bin Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2010 Although I had researched a long list […]

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The Grapes of Laugh: How to Host a Wine Tasting or Start a Wine Club

There are many excellent reasons to host a wine tasting party—or even to form a wine club. For one thing, wine is a social beverage—one that’s meant to be shared with friends. And it’s more fun to drink than to buy Tupperware—unless, of course, you’re drinking from the Tupperware. The only goal is to enjoy yourself and perhaps find a new favorite bottle. Although wine does lend itself to serious technical analysis, that’s not really necessary. You don’t need a PhD to talk about it: anyone can share opinions about the wine. Most people just want to socialize over a […]

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Wine Tasting Club Checklist

Continued from How to Host a Wine Tasting Here’s a checklist for how to host a wine tasting or start a regular wine tasting club. 1. One Month Before the Tasting Decide who you want to invite Your tasting club could be for your existing friends, or a means to get to know new friends via work or other venues, or a mix. Invite six to twelve guests. These days, trying to find an unscheduled evening with six to twelve busy people is a challenge so you may need to give your group even more lead time than a month. […]

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Pairing Wine with Weird Holiday Turkey Recipes

Maple-Brined, Wood-Smoked Grilled Turkey To stuff some life into this year’s obligatory wine and turkey pairing column for Thanksgiving (or Christmas), I asked the creators of some strangely wonderful turkey recipes for their permission to post them here and pair them with wine. I’m still on the hunt for beer can turkey, turducken, tofurkey (tofu-shaped turkey), and believe or not, that new chocolate-glazed with sprinkles dessert favourite, turdunkin (!) Maple-Brined, Wood-Smoked Grilled Turkey Recipe Allow a total of 4 to 4-1/2 hours to start the fire, cook the turkey, and let it rest. Have a full bag of charcoal on […]

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Wine Tasting Hackathon: New Way of Social Wine Discovery

Our second team wine tasting yesterday felt like a family reunion. Sommeliers and wine bloggers from Toronto and Montreal flew or drove in to join those from the east to west ends of Ottawa. There was an instant camaraderie among those gathered here who recognized each other as fellow contributors to our online community. What I admire most about these reviewers is that although they have sterling wine credentials and training, they keep it real and conversational — with an effort to connect, not to impress. The tasting also struck me as the wine version of a hackathon. In the […]

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Canadian Wine Harvest 2014: BC, Ontario, Quebec, NS Winemakers Weigh In

Join us Friday morning on Global Television as we discuss how the Canadian wine harvest is going from coast to coast. In the meantime, here are reports from the field: winemakers from British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia give their impressions of how the 2014 harvest is looking so far. Tantalus Vineyards David Paterson, Winemaker, Tantalus Vineyards, British Columbia How is the 2014 harvest going so far? So far the 2014 harvest has been ideal. We are in the home stretch now and a couple more weeks of warm days and cool nights to finish off with will be […]

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