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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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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Finding Your Sole-mate: Pairing Sparkling Wine and Seafood

By Melissa Pulvermacher The Vino Enthusiasts wine club is a gathering for people who appreciate wine and want to learn more about it. The group gets together to taste, pair and learn on a monthly basis. At the most recent wine club, the group drank sparkling wine paired with seafood to discover the array of types and how they all pair differently with food. The goal was to compare and contrast the most popular sparkling styles with local, Ontario options that are made and accessible in our own backyards. The food pairings included crab and goat-cheese crostini, lemon-butter calamari, salted […]

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Best LCBO Wine Reviews and Ratings: Vintages January 24

You can access the 56 wines that I reviewed for January 24 as a text wine list with my complete tasting notes, scores, food matches. You can also see my wine reviews for January 10. If you are a Paid Member, you can add my wine picks to your custom shopping list with one click and access that list on your smartphone to find the stock for each wine in your closest LCBO store. These are just some of the benefits of supporting out wine community as a Paid Member. Inventory stock numbers are usually posted online a day or […]

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Which Wine Pairings for turkey, fruitcake or cheese?

The holiday countdown is on and Canadians are scrambling for last-minute gifts for their hosts and loved ones. Wine and food seem like a natural option at this time of year, but with thousands of bottles lining the shelves at liquor outlets, where does one begin? “I’d start with pairing the wine that you’re going to bring to go with the dinner. Wild guess, might be turkey,” says sommelier Natalie MacLean, editor of the wine review site nataliemaclean.com. She suggests a sparkling wine like Cava from Spain, a Pinot Noir from New Zealand, a dry rose from France or a […]

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Sparkling Wine for New Year’s Eve versus Champagne

Most people think of champagne as the drink of choice to ring in the New Year. But when the price of one bottle averages $60, you might want to consider sparkling wine, which offers great taste for a fraction of champagne’s price. Although champagne only comes from the Champagne region of France, almost every other region of the country and many countries around the world produce sparkling wines, often using the same techniques and grapes as champagne. Most sparklers are a blend of the traditional champagne grapes—Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Like champagne, they’re labeled according to their dryness, […]

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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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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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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 […]

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

Tempranillo is a native grape from Spain, and many believe, the most important grape for Spanish wine. The name Tempranillo comes from the Spanish word “temprano” which means “early” and is a reference to the fact that this grape ripens earliest of all other grapes in the country. You’ll find my most recent Tempranillo reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Tempranillo: 1. Tempranillo is most commonly known as Tempranillo, but it does have as many synonyms, as there are dialects of Spanish. Here are a few more of its names: Tinto Fino, Tinto del Pais, Ull de Llebre, […]

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