How to Read a Wine List, Vertical Tastings and Sommelier Sips

Ryan Campbell, formerly sommelier at Toronto’s Crush Wine Bar, now works with the wine lists at the parent company, Vintage Hotels in Niagara. Wine is such a big part of your restaurant, how do you ensure that your staff, who aren’t sommeliers, are still knowledgeable? We hold an informal “wine school” once a month for about 15 staff members.  For the last class, we focused on chardonnay with a vertical tasting. Vertical tastings mean one type of wine, like chardonnay, from different producers, but all from the same vintage. A horizontal tasting would be, say chardonnays, all from one producer, […]

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Mandela Wines: South African Free Trade Wines Toast with Madiba Label

By Melissa Pulvermacher When someone says Nelson Mandela – what do you think of? Political prominence, humanity, social brilliance and revolutionary philanthropy are only some of the things that come to mind for me. After one afternoon spent at the iYellow Wine Cave, I now add the word ‘wine’ to that list. Yes, that’s right. House of Mandela Wine exists and is not only a great product, but is Free Trade guaranteed and carries through the legacy of Nelson and his family while supporting a thriving industry in South Africa contributing to the country’s economic prosperity. Who knew a great […]

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Australian First Families of Wine: Seduction Speed Tasting

Photo Credit: Kristy Gardner By Kristy Gardner, Wine Writer, Photographer, Designer I’ve never been to Australia. But hot damn, after the Australian First Families of Wine (AFFW) Unlock Tour de Force event in Vancouver this week, I want to go. The setting: 22 wines, 60 minutes, and some pretty epic “coming-of-age” stories later, Robert Hill-Smith of Yalumba Family Vignerons c. 1849 – and the 11 other family owned wineries belonging to the AFF – welcomed us with a generous sampling of some of best wines Australia has fermented. Presenting hand selected, flagship wines ranging in varietals from the lesser known […]

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Marco de Grazia: Coaxing Wine from Contradiction (and Lava)

Part 2: Sicily’s Volcanic Wines Sicily is also known as mezzogiorno, “the land of the midday sun”—and of the midday nap. This April afternoon is so warm that I decide to take la pausa before my next visit. I love that notion of an afternoon pause: it doesn’t sound lazy, just meditative. I retreat to my dark hotel room and flop on the cool bed sheets, mesmerized by my ceiling fan as its breeze evaporates the sweat on my arms and legs. Outside, a dog barks, someone laughs, a door slams. Then quiet. After several hours of drugged sleep, I […]

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Errazuriz Wines: Chile’s Cool Climate Grapes Shine

This is the first in a series of team tastings by top reviewers in our community, most of whom are graduates of either the Algonquin College Sommelier Program or La Cite Collegiale Sommelier Program. They share with us their overall impressions from the tasting, as well as reviews of each of the wines presented. You’ll also find their reviews shared on Twitter and Facebook as they are all very active on social media. “The Errazuriz wine tasting at Daly’s restaurant in Ottawa on September 26th was an absolute treat. Francisco Baettig, head winemaker at Errazuriz, is a supremely knowledgeable and […]

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Avondale Winery: South African Wine With its Ducks in a Row

By Priya & Alex, A Vine Romance When you think of South African wines, several prominent names may come to mind, but there is more to this region than just a few well-known wineries. We learned this the easy way—by meeting one of the remarkable winemakers who is producing wines of exceptional quality. That winemaker is Jonathan Grieve and the winery is Avondale. The invite we received to join Jonathan at a winemakers lunch had us a bit skeptical. What could we expect from a man who holds a duck in his arms in a promo shot? Well, we learned […]

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Plonk Wine Videos Stumble Blindly into Brilliant Insight

At last, wine web videos that actually blend humour and personality. The online series Plonk crushes tired old wine talk, yet slyly mixes in wine education without a bitter after taste. The creators of Plonk get it: you can’t begin to educate without entertaining … first, foremost, forever. My thanks to the intrepid Beppi Crosariol for featuring the series in his Globe and Mail wine column yesterday. It deserves the attention, and is certainly getting it with 88,000 views and climbing quickly.  Now that’s viral. My favourite scene is in episode four when Chris, the host, gets Rocky-style training on […]

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Gerard Bertrand Wine Tasting: Diversity of Southern France Wines

On a glorious April morning, a small group of wine journalists gathered at Restaurant Daniel on New York City’s upper east side for a tasting with winemaker Gerard Bertrand (pictured above). Click on the arrow to play the short video. Gérard Bertrand Côte Des Roses Rosé 2014 Languedoc, Midi A.P., France This lovely southern French rosé is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah grapes. It’s elegant, yet full-bodied for rosé and very satisfying. Freshness is everything in this wine. Grenache is ideal for rosé because it matures easily and quickly, has vibrant aromatics, yet keeps its zesty acidity for food. […]

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First Families of Wine Tasting: Primum Familiae Vini Bring Family and Place to the Glass

By Mymi Myriam At 11:30 a.m. on a windy Thursday, I walked into a sumptuous room at the Four Seasons Hotel.  Immaculately decorated, it had high ceilings and an incredible view of Toronto’s affluent Yorkville neighbourhood. In the center of the room was a very large and beautifully dressed… dining room table! I was at the right place: the long-awaited Primum Familiae Vini (PFV) luncheon. The PFV is an international association of some of the world’s finest wine producing families from France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. It was created in 1992 by Robert Drouhin and Miguel Torres as they […]

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Tasting from the Tank: Barrel Samples and Wine Reviews

Most of the wines that I taste are bottled and on the liquor store shelves, or about to be there. However, when I attend a tasting with a winemaker who is visiting my city or when I travel to wine regions, I am often tasting tank or barrel samples. Sometimes, these samples get sent to my office in a generic wine bottle with a hand-written sticker telling me when the wine will be bottled, which is a future date. This is because the winemaker is keen to show you his or her new baby, even if that child is still […]

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