How to Spit Wine Without Losing Your Dignity

Spitting out your wine—it’s an acceptable part of winery tasting room etiquette. In North America, we associate spitting with crudeness and great gobs of wet tobacco. Europeans, however, are completely uninhibited about spitting wine—as they are about nude bathing and May-December sexual liaisons. The French call it recracher, and they have no qualms about doing it in the vineyard, down drains, or even on the barrel room floor. (Here are my top reviews for wines not to spit.) But don’t think it’s a mark of European sophistication to spit on a floor that’s finished in bird’s eye maple or covered […]

read more …

Read More

How to Get the Most from Your Winery Visit: 20 Tasting Room Tips

1. Plan your visits Visit wineries clustered together, such as the ones in Niagara-on-the-Lake area. Visit no more than three to five a day: two in the morning, one for lunch and one or two in the afternoon. That leaves you time to taste and talk. (I know, I crammed in more visits, but a drink writer in wine country is like those stunt drivers in car commercials—you’re not really supposed to do those tricks in real life.) Go to both small and large places to get a sense of the range of wines produced. 2. Designate a driver If […]

read more …

Read More

10 Best Moscato d’Asti Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Moscato d’Asti

Moscato d’Asti is a fragrant and slightly fizzy DOCG dessert wine produced in the Northern Italian region of Piedmont. You’ll find my most recent Moscato d’Asti reviews and ratings here. Surprising Facts about Moscato d’Asti: Moscato d’Asti is produced from the Moscato Bianco (white Muscat) grape in and around the town of Asti. The hub of Asti production being the tiny village of Canelli. Moscato Bianco is the fourth most planted grape in Italy and perhaps the first cultivated vine in Piedmont. Moscato d’Asti is often mentioned in the company of its relative wine Asti. The two have many differences. […]

read more …

Read More

10 Best Zinfandel Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Zinfandel

Zinfandel is a vitis vinifera red wine grape that produces deep robust wines, most famously from California. You’ll find my most recent Zinfandel reviews and ratings here. Surprising Facts about Zinfandel: 1. Zinfandel’s high sugar content means it can be fermented into highly alcoholic wines sometimes in excess of 15%.  Zinfandel is generally early ripening as compared to other grapes and grows in very tight bunches. These tight bunches are prone to bunch rot and uneven ripening. Zinfandel grows best in warm climates but there is cool climate Zinfandel. 2. The origin of Zinfandel seems to be Croatia where Zinfandel […]

read more …

Read More

10 Best Ripasso Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Ripasso

Ripasso is not a grape variety, but rather a winemaking process, made famous in Italy. This sends the wine into a second fermentation and gives the wine more tannins, body, flavour, and alcohol. You’ll find my top 10 Ripasso reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Ripasso: 1. The wine of Valpolicella, made from a combination of native Italian grapes most commonly Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, is re-passed over the leftover grape skins and seeds of the wine, also known as its pomace. 2. Some refer to the Ripasso style of wine as a “baby amarone,” more powerful than […]

read more …

Read More

10 Best Valpolicella Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Valpolicella

Valpolicella, like Chianti, is a style of wine from a specific region of Italy bearing the name Valpolicella. Valpolicella is not an actual grape variety. You’ll find my most recent Valpolicella  reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Valpolicella: The grapes that are typically used to make Valpolicella include Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. The area known as Valpolicella is a part of the greater wine region known as the Veneto and is inside the province of Verona, in the North East of Italy. Valpolicella labels can give you clues as to what wine you can expect from the wine […]

read more …

Read More

10 Best Carignan Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Carignan

It’s hard to imagine that the Carignan grape used to play such a big role in France’s wine history, yet most wine drinkers have never heard of Carignan. Today, this red wine grape is mostly used as a blending wine, known for its rich dark color. You’ll find my Top 10 Carignan reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Carignan: 1. In France, Carignan was the most planted grape variety from the 1960s to 2000.  In fact, in the late 90s there were more than 150,000 acres of Carignan vines planted in France. 2. Why so popular?  Two words: large […]

read more …

Read More

10 Best Barbera Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Barbera

Barbera is both the name of a grape and of the red wine it produces. Its ancestral home is in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, from the vineyards around the towns of Asti, Alexandria and Casale Monferrato. You’ll find my Top 10 Barbera reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Barbera: 1. Unlike Barolo and Barberesco, Barbera is not considered a classic grape. It is Italy’s most common red grape. 2. In 1985 Barbera producers added methanol to their wines. Thirty people died as a result, and many were left with affected sight including blindness. The fallout from bad […]

read more …

Read More

10 Best Cinsault Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Cinsault

Cinsaut, or Cinsault as it is sometimes called, is a dark-skinned red vitis vinifera grape that’s often blended with Grenache, Carignan and Syrah grapes to add softness and bouquet to a wine. You’ll find my Top 10 Cinsault reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Cinsault: 1. Cinsaut is the fourth-most planted grape in France. 2. A French grape in origin, it’s unusual to see Cinsaut produced as a single varietal comprising 100% of the wine. 3. Cinsaut is light in body and low in tannin, and adds lovely perfumed aromas of red berries to its blends, especially when harvested […]

read more …

Read More

10 Best Nebbiolo Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo is a red wine grape from the Northern Italian region of Piedmont. Nebbiolo makes the classic wines of Italy, Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as Gattinara, Ghemme and Nebbiolo D’Alba. You’ll find my Top 10 Nebbiolo reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Nebbiolo: 1. Compared to other Italian grapes, Nebbiolo buds early and ripens late with harvesting taking place mid to late October. 2. The Nebbiolo grape produces lighter style red wines that can be highly tannic in youth with aromas of tar and roses. Prolonged aging is essential to mellow this wine and soften tannins. Aromas such […]

read more …

Read More