Liquor up Your Lover on Valentine’s Day

I’ll be chatting with the hosts of the CBC radio drive-home shows from coast to coast this Thursday and Friday about wines for Valentine’s Day. But we’re going to depart from the usual natter about which wines are most seductive or how to pair them with chocolate. We’ll go straight to the heart of the matter: how do you liquor up your lover on February 14? More specifically, we’ll talk about why wines are getting more alcoholic these days and how does that affect their taste and ours? Is this just a cultural trend of winemakers responding to the market? Is […]

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A Fuzzy Vine-acular: 3,000 Descriptors for Drunkenness Makes My Head Spin

By Natalie MacLean Last night’s startling discovery: there are more adjectives for drunkenness than there are Inuit words for snow. And I’m not just talking about being intoxicated or inebriated, or even blotto, blasted or bombed. There are well over 3,000 descriptors—just looking at the list makes me feel tipsy.  What’s more interesting is the difference between the words used for men and women, young and old, bodily and behavioural effects—and how expressions vary across cultures and languages to reveal both positive and negative views. I had lots of help researching this subject from friends who came up with a bandwagon […]

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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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How Sweet is My Wine? What do Sugar Codes Mean for Wine?

How sweet is your wine? Have you ever wondered what those sugar codes mean on the liquor store shelf? There are several different sweetness charts and coding systems on the market, but they’re not that far apart from each other in describing the residual sugar level in wine. I believe that it’s critical to list the sweetness level of a wine with every review that I write to give more information about each wine to my readers, some of whom look for a bone-dry wine while others have a sweet tooth. Posting the sugar codes are also vital for health […]

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Does Wine Make You Fat? Looking Through a Glass Thinly

My dieting heroine is Bridget Jones from the movie of the same name—not because she was that successful in losing weight, but because she never abandoned her glass of chardonnay (and still managed to snag Colin Firth). For me, dieting is unbearable if I have to give up all the sweets and my wine. (And if I stopped drinking, I’d be out of a job.) The good news is that you can drink wine without getting fat. When it comes to both calories and carbohydrates, moderate wine drinking won’t ruin your diet. Wine has no cholesterol, sodium or fat, and […]

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Can You Drink Wine on a Diet? Are Dry Wines Better Than Sweet?

Continued from Part 1 Wine Calories Alcohol contributes more calories than sugar. For example, a six ounce glass of slightly sweet German riesling, with just 7% alcohol, will still have fewer calories (about 110) than a dry, robust Australian shiraz with 15% at about 175 calories. Over the past five years, the level of alcohol in many wines has been increasing steadily. This is particularly true for wines from warm climates such as Australia, Chile and California. Grapes are being picked later in the season when they’re riper and laden with sugar, and consequently get fermented into higher-alcohol wines. The […]

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Bridget Jones Chardonnay Diet: Pairs Well With Neuroses

Continued from Part 2 Wine Diet Within two weeks of announcing their new low-carb wines, Brown-Forman received orders for more than 200,000 cases. The beer market has had similar success: since Michelob Ultra low-carb beer was launched in 2002, it has become Anheuser-Busch’s fastest-growing brand ever. Low calorie light beers comprise about 40% of the U.S. beer market. Is it even worth trying to save a couple of carbohydrates by drinking these wines? While every carb may count for some dieters, carbs from wine represent a small fraction of the total 50 to 60 carbs recommended in the Atkins Diet. […]

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Some Like It Hot: Do You Like High Alcohol in Wine?

My head pounds. My lips burn. My teeth sting. How could I have been so naïve? When the invitation arrived for “a tasting of one hundred blockbuster reds from the new vintage,” I was pleased, even a bit excited. Now I feel as though I’ve spent two hours with a drill-crazed dentist who thinks anaesthetic is for wimps. At this tasting, five local importers are showcasing their wines to a handful of writers. The room is thick with the sweet smell of alcohol. On a long table in front of me are 65 bottles of powerhouse Australian shiraz. The next […]

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The Rising Tide: Alcohol in Wine Creeps Up the Glass

Continued from Part 1 of High Alcohol Wine … Otherwise, drinkers have to wait years for all of the wine’s disjointed elements to knit together. They also claim that it’s unfair to judge New World wines by Old World standards. Wines from hot climates, they point out, are being true to their locale by being riper and more alcoholic. Grapes in these regions, such as zinfandel, shiraz and grenache, only start to express themselves at 14 or 15 percent alcohol. Similarly, chardonnay from these areas at 12 percent alcohol would taste green and stemmy, and is best at 14 and […]

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