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 and Seafood, Shellfish and Steak with Sommelier Allison Vidug

Allison Vidug, sommelier at the Shore Club in Toronto, shares her tips on pairing wine with fresh seafood and shellfish, as well as great cuts of juicy steak. Tell us about the wine list at The Shore Club. Since I took over the wine program, my focus has been on creating a classic list with wines that suit the menu.  The Shore Club’s menu is all about simplicity and quality of ingredients used in steak and seafood dishes. The wine list will include classics from the Old World, New World and, great Canadian wines — which I am most excited […]

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Size Does Matter > Big Bottles of Wine

These are big-game bottles. Drink one and you become a character in a Hemingway story. We hunted for the bottle under the hot sun. We brought it down. The bottle was big. Drinking it felt good. We drank until the bottle was empty, and then we fell asleep. Known in the trade as large formats, big wine bottles are larger animals than the standard 750 ml. They range in size from the magnum, which equals two standard bottles (1.5 litres), to the nebuchadnezzar (neb-kd-NE-zr), which equals 20 standard bottles and weighs in at a table-warping 15 litres. According to a […]

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Bring Your Own Bottle BYOB Wine to Restaurants Tips

Bringing your own bottle of wine to restaurants is now legal in many provinces and states, but what are the rules of engagement? I shared some tips on CBC radio this week on the etiquette of doing so, including the types of wines to bring, corkage fees and tipping. You can listen to that conversation below … Does the thought of bringing your own wine to a restaurant make you feel cheap and arrogant? Get over it by practicing good BYOB etiquette. 1. Even when the practice is legal, check if the restaurant allows or encourages it. When you make […]

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The Worst Wine Mistakes Not to Make: Wine Etiquette

You can watch the full wine video here. The hosts of CTV’s The Social love their wine. We shared a few good glasses together as well as some laughs on wine etiquette — how to avaoid being low-classy with wine ;) You can also read my story on The Grapes of Gaffe. Find out the answers to these “pressing” wine questions: How do I hold a wine glass, by the stem or the bowl? Hold your glass by stem—otherwise your hands will warm the bowl and the wine, and leave unsightly fingerprints. Your wine glass should never be poured more […]

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Sulfites in Wine: A Debate to Cause a Headache?

By Natalie MacLean What’s the big deal about sulfites in wine? Most wine labels bear the warning “contains sulfites” (or sulphites, the Canadian and British spelling), which can alarm consumers into thinking that the substance is harmful or unhealthy. In fact, sulfites, the salts of sulfurous acid or sulfur dioxide (SO2), are just a common food preservative that prevents the wine from oxidizing after fermentation (it turns brown and the fruit aromas go stale) or spoiling from bacteria once bottled. Traditionally, in Europe no warning label was required if there was less than 100 parts per million of sulfites added, […]

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Champagne for New Years and Beyond

Got your champagne ready for New Year’s? Don’t wait until midnight to crack open a bottle of bubbly as champagne and sparkling wine are among the most food-friendly wines on the planet when it comes to pairing them with food. You can get a shopping list with my top champagnes and other wines showing the stock at your closest liquor stores when you join as a  VIP Member. This story from Canadian Press that was published in the daily newspapers across the country last week gives more tips on how to make your meals sparkle with champagne or other bubblies […]

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How to Pick a House Wine: 5 Tips + Why You Need One

You’ve just finished your yoga class with your friend and the two of you agree it would be great to have a glass of wine together. Do you invite her back to your place? If so, which wine to serve? The mother of your child’s playmate arrives to pick up her child. Do you invite her in for some vino? Which one? The holidays are right around the corner, when unexpected guests will be the norm. Are you ready with your house wine? If not, here are 5 tips on choosing a great house wine: 1. Why wine? Wine is […]

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Wine Glasses: How Many Do You Really Need? Which Shapes Work Best?

Even after I started learning about wine, I’d always secretly believed that varietal-specific stemware was an unnecessary expense, fueled by snobs and glassware companies. Then one evening, a friend poured some Bordeaux for me in a large, elegant glass at a dinner party. As soon as the gorgeous aromas wafted up from the wine, I realized what I’d been missing. Good glasses are like subtle amplifiers: their shape, volume, bowl shape and size, and rim diameter enhance a wine’s inherent qualities. The glass doesn’t change the wine itself, just the way we smell and taste it. Choose a style of […]

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