Gifts for Mother’s Day: Wine Trumps Flowers (and Tastes Better)

My wine column in the May issue of More Magazine Canada, with more than 500,000 thirsty readers, features three wines to celebrate Mother’s Day as gifts: three spectacular bubblies. A toast to Mom! The cover features an actress whom I admire for her depth, strength and guts, Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife, Canterbury’s Law, ER). I also love that she’s often drinking a glass of wine as she reviews her legal briefs in the evening at home. (Guess that doesn’t play so well in the ER.) At the start of the season, it was white wine, but I notice that it’s […]

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Drinking My Words: Are All Writers Wine Writers?

By Natalie MacLean Candy-coloured bottles of spirits glow against the mirrors behind the bar of the Algonquin Hotel. I’ve come to this New York City landmark on a brisk April evening to think about my journey over the past few years, and the connection between writing and drinking as a way of understanding a place and its people. I often read the work of one of the country’s beloved writers while I’m traveling in a region to sharpen my observations, whether it’s The Leopard by Sicily’s Giuseppe di Lampedusa, the short stories of Argentina’s Jorge Luis Borges or Peter Mayle’s […]

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Wine Writers Behaving Like Critics: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

By Natalie MacLean They called it a tempest in a wine glass: two of the world’s most respected wine writers facing off against one another over one bottle of wine. Of course, there’s nothing unusual about critics disagreeing, even vehemently. But this time, the debate degenerated into a rumble over the definition of wine itself—and the integrity of the critics. In the American corner was Robert Parker, whose wine scores carry so much weight that they move the market. From Britain, was author Jancis Robinson, Master of Wine and columnist for the Financial Times of London. Both have written more […]

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11 Tips for WineSense: No Nonsense Wine Lovers

By Bob Desautels 1. Get to know the best producers/wineries. This is your safest route to consistent quality. 2. Distrust frivolous names and “pretty” pictures on labels.‎ 3. Taste and know wines (and grape varieties) from their traditional home. This becomes your benchmark for all other similar wines made from the same grapes. 4. Experiment with lesser known grape varieties versus always drinking the classic varieties and blends. It makes life more interesting. 5. Drink wine with food – it’s good for digestion and it slows the absorption of alcohol into your system. 6. Buy local wines when possible (when at […]

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Billionaire’s Vinegar Movie Stars Matthew McConaughey + Wine Book Review Globe & Mail

Alright, alright, alright! It’s just been announced that Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey will star in movie adaptation of the wine book The Billionaire’s Vinegar by Ben Wallace. Will Smith bought the rights and will be directing this production along with Todd Black, James Lassiter, Jason Blumenthal, and Steve Tisch. No indication yet of which role McConaughey will play or of the release date for the film. I can’t wait to see it! Here’s my review of the book in the Globe & Mail … Reviewed by Natalie MacLean The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of […]

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How to Write a Wine Review: Tasting Notes that Tell a Story

Each week, I issue a challenge to those who post reviews on our site. If you’d like to get the latest challenge when it goes out, please e-mail me at natdecants @ nataliemaclean.com. Use All Five Senses Use all five senses to describe a wine. We tend to lean on just two as wine writers: smell and taste. But what about colour, texture (mouth-feel, weight) and even sound as you pour the wine, or other ambient sound in your environment, such as what’s playing on your stereo to make this wine even more memorable? Evoking all five senses will make […]

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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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Food and Wine Books with Wines Matched for Gifts: CTV Video

Here’s part two of our conversation about books and bottles that you can give as holiday gifts. (You’ll find part one of our conversation here.) Do you have a favourite wine and word pairing? Do you belong to a book club that likes to crack open a bottle? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Gassier Sables D’azur Rosé 2011, A.C., Côtes De Provence, France I love it! (I also just shouted that out the window to some surprised people on the sidewalk.) So very pretty with a basket of fresh field strawberries. Bask in the sun and pretend you are […]

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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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Romancing the Score: What do Wine Ratings Really Tell Us?

The biggest problem with wine scores is that they evaluate the obvious: how a wine tastes. What really matters is how interesting the wine makes your dining companion. Now that would be worth rating. Indeed, you have to wonder why we rate wine in the first place. After all, it is just a drink. We certainly don’t rate orange juice or lemonade; we don’t have beef shank critics talking about the region from which the cows hailed or syndicated cabbage columnists talking about how the September rainfall affected the leaf set. Perhaps this scrutiny is a testament to the way […]

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