Best Wine for Canada Day? Blockbuster Bottles for Backyard BBQ

Our Canada Day BBQ party on the studio patio of Canada AM this morning was a blast! We revealed the winners of The Great Canadian Wine Match: BBQ Edition, as well as delicious food pairings.

(Click on the arrow to play the video above as well as on the one below for the second video.)

We had such fun out there … I could have lolled on the patio all day, especially with those wonderful wines!

Please congratulate the finalists by clicking on the social media buttons for each wine – the script and links are already there for you, though you can edit it of course ;)

You can also find out the prize winners of the Weber Summit Gas Grill, 25 BBQ Cookbooks and 3 sets of Weber grilling utensils.

In May 2013, we launched the first people’s choice awards for Canadian wines, and the first competition to fully engage social media and online, real-time voting with the hashtag #GCWM.

This year, there was a grassroots groundswell of support as thousands of Canadians nominated and voted for their favourite Canadian wines.

The media coverage of the wine competition in addition to Canada Am has included all of the major daily newspapers from coast to coast, as well as Metro News, CBC, CTV News and hundreds of wine blogs.

If you click on the wines, you can see multiple reviews and scores from passionate wine bloggers and sommeliers.

Got suggestions for next year’s competition? Let me know at natdecants AT nataliemaclean DOT com.


Best Wine for Canada Day? Blockbuster Bottles for Backyard BBQ


Marci: How gorgeous is it out here? And even better because we have wine courtesy of Natalie MacLean, wine writer, fantastic, and Naz has prepared some food. OK, so we are going to pair the wine with the food, and tell us why you’re here.

Natalie: Well this is our second annual Great Canadian Food Match. We gave it a theme this year, the Great Canadian Barbeque Edition.

Marci: I love it.

Natalie: Like last year, Canadians from coast to coast voted for their favourite Canadian wines and nominated them on and through social media. We have six food categories. So what we have here are all the finalists. Then wine bloggers got together and tasted all these wines, blind, to choose the final winners, which we are going to be announcing today.

Marci: This is so exciting. Let’s start. You are going to start over on this side, right?

Natalie: Right, we’re starting on the east coast, Nova Scotia. We have a sparkling wine from Domaine de Grand Pre, as the winner of the seafood category. When you are barbequing seafood you want something zippy, and effervescent. A swarm of bubbles goes with seafood. It’s nice that Nova Scotia is the pairing for this.

Marci: Is that a sweeter wine, or is it a dryer sparkling wine to go with the seafood?

Natalie: This is a bone dry sparkling wine, but you could have a touch of sweetness if you wanted to. You know that chariness of the grill is going to dovetail nicely with just a bit of sweetness.

Marci: That looks beautiful.
Natalie: If we keep going across the country or the table, we have Strewn Sauvignon Blanc from Niagara. This is the winner with grilled veggies. A lot of people love to grill, love all that smoky flavour, but don’t want to grill meats. Or it could be a side dish of course. This is amazing.

Marci: That’s a meal by itself.

Natalie: It is. With veggies you don’t have meat proteins, but you still have those really robust flavours. If I were having veggies not on the grill I might do something different. But with this we have a nice mouthwatering Sauvignon Blanc. So if we keep going?

Marci: Yes.

Natalie: Okay, we have grilled chicken.

Marci: We’re going to the meat now.

Natalie: Yes, we’re going to the meat. It’s getting good. We’re still in Ontario, but now we are Prince Edward County. This is a vibrant, very exciting new region with thirty wineries. Norman Hardie has won for the best barbequed chicken wine. Hehas an un-oaked cool climate Chardonnay. It is amazing. So we’ll keep on going.

Marci: Keep on going.

Natalie: So we’ll see some other finalists here from BC.

Marci: We have a lot to offer across this country don’t we?

Natalie: Look at all the styles.

Marci: It’s amazing, look at this.

Natalie: This is a cross country tour we’re having.

Marci: We don’t have to leave this country at all.

Natalie: We don’t. If we keep going, we have pork. Now we are back to Niagara and we have a Pinot Noir. This is just a spectacular winery and producer. We’ve paired it up with pork. It’s a lighter red wine. You could also maybe do planked salmon with this Pinot Noir. It’s kind of a switch hitter wine, it goes either way.

Marci: So as far as taste, how would you characterize that?

Natalie: Cherry, berry, smoky, a little bit smoky, but lighter.
As we keep going across the table here, we get more and more robust. So that’s with your pork. Now,we want to go full on with beef. This was a hotly contested category. Everybody loves their hamburgers and their steaks.

Marci: Yes, it’s barbeque season after all.

Natalie: Classic grill. You want a big honking red that can muscle in there right beside the meat. We have the winner, Henry of Pelham Baco Noir, from Niagara. Baco is kind of special to Niagara in that it’s a hybrid. It’s what we do well. Henry of Pelham does it exceptionally well.
But I should note that there were so many others from all the regions from BC to Prince Edward County here that are producing really great big nice robust reds for our grills.

Marci: You like those reds.

Natalie: I do, I’m getting into it. If you are a determined hedonist, you are also going to grill your dessert, right? We’re not going to opt out of that. We have grilled peaches on the end here. And oh my gosh, you get the sweetness, of course.

Marci: Naz added the walnuts, I love that.

Natalie: I know, I love this, I just want to get into this, can we go to commercial? So when we are looking at dessert, the rule of thumb is that the dessert wine should be sweeter than the dessert. And here at the Great Canadian Wine Match we allowed for ciders as well, hard ciders, alcoholic ciders. We have the one from Quebec that won, it’s Neige, it means snow.

Marci: Oh, it has snow flakes, oh it’s cute.

Natalie: It’s beautiful, because it has the citrus lift, with the peaches. It’s a marvellous wine. It’s not heavy on the alcohol, not what you’d expect. It’s 11% alcohol and not cloyingly sweet, but delicious with any fruit based dessert.

Marci: I’ve got to tell you that this barbeque edition was a very good idea. It was; this was lovely. It was kind of a walk across the country.


Beverly: The sun is beating down on the AM patio, and Naz, Barbeque Naz is here to talk about…

Naz: I might tan my head.

Beverly: I know! Honestly, it’s a beautiful day for a little wine, a little barbeque, and we’re going to talk about lamb.

Naz: Yup, we are going to talk about lamb. We’re going to talk about, really a very simple recipe for the lamb with some mint fused baby carrots.

But we are going to focus on the lamb right now. You get a rack, I like cutting my racks into a couple of bones rather than leaving it all. That way, when I’m grilling it, it grills all the way around. That way I get a nice caramelization all the way around.

But let’s make a marinade for it. So in here already I’ve got about a third cup of Dijon mustard, you can do the grainy. We’ve got garlic, we’re going to do about 2 tablespoon of rosemary, I’m going to add some red wine vinegar, about 2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar there.

Go ahead and start mixing that and while you are mixing I’ll add some of this oil. You can do about a third cup of oil. You are going to put it in a resealable bag and you want to make sure that this marinade gets around everything.

Beverly: This is nice and thick. So how long will you marinade this?

Naz: I’m going to let this marinate for about six hours, overnight would be perfect. I’m going to put about a tablespoon of sugar…

Beverly: Ohhh, sweetening it up.

Naz: Yes, and salt and pepper to taste. And lastly I’m going to put about two teaspoons of lemon juice.

Beverly: Fresh lemon juice, nothing better than that.

Naz: Exactly. And once you’ve got that going, you take your lamb, I’ll show you the piece of lamb that I’m using here, I cut them in two pieces of bone. So let that marinate overnight.

Now a couple of really good tips, very important tips, for when you put them on the grill. I’ve heated it up to grill, it’s very, very high. You got to make sure the grill is clean, if not, the lamb is going to stick on there.

We’ve got it all on high; I’ve got to turn it off on the one side, where I’m going to put the lamb. The lamb has got all this oil on it right, when you put the lamb down, you got to put it down fat side first. No flare up, you’ll get the sizzling, you’ll get the smoke, but no flare up. It’s still going to cook.

Beverly: But this is the side you turned off?

Naz: This is the side I turned off. It’s still going to cook. And you are going to get lots of smoke. Once you put your lid down, it’s going to rotate, and cook in an indirect method.

Beverly: Okay.

Naz: So when you are done on one side, you can turn this off, and put the lamb on that side.

Beverly: And then turn this side back on.

Naz: Exactly.

Beverly: So it’s like an indirect.

Naz: Basically, because the grids are heavy, and they’re going to retain it and caramelize nicely. Another really very important tip, if you have a smaller grill, you may want to put some aluminum foil on the bones, that way you don’t burn the bones. I have the indirect cooking method….

Beverly: How long by the way, back and forth?

Naz: We’re going to do four minutes on the fat side, and then we’re going to flip them over to the bone side, and another four minutes. And then we are again going to set them on an indirect cooking method and let them cook from about 8 to ten minutes for a nice medium rare. 140 degrees for a nice medium rare.

Beverly:  Will you go back to baste and put more of that on?

Naz: Oh yes, thank you, thank you, thank you. So the marinade, you put half of that marinade in the bag, and make sure you put a bowl underneath just in case there’s a hole, put it in the fridge.

The other half when you are using it today, you will take a basting brush as it’s grilling, just baste over it perfectly.  So I’m going to take these off…

Beverly: Oh look at those, and you have corn, we haven’t even talked about veggies yet.

Naz: Tongs, always important, always have many, many tongs. So that’s cooked, that’s raw. So we’re going take this part of this back here and I’m just going to show you…

Beverly: Look how nicely grilled those are.

Naz: And they are going to be a perfect medium rare. So we’re going to put this on here, and we’re going to cut it up. So when you take it off, another great tip, when you take anything off your grill hot, let it sit because the coolest spot is in the middle, we want it to redistribute.

Beverly: So you are not going, so normally you are going to let it cool before you cut it up.

Naz: Exactly. I would let it cool down, but I’m just going to cut these in half here because we’re hungry and I want to show you, but look at that.

Beverly: Oh gosh. Oh it’s perfect.

Naz: So that’s a perfect medium rare. So now if I left this out, you’re going to have a lot of juices start pouring out. I just wanted to show you the medium rare. Four minutes on the fat side, four minutes on the bone side, then move it over for about 8 to ten minutes and let it cook to a temperature of 140 degrees for medium rare, very simple.

Beverly:  Now the veggies.

Naz: Now the veggies, yes we cooked some veggies. They are very simple; I’m a very simple kind of guy. Salt, pepper, olive oil. Heated up, turn it down to a medium, medium- low temperature. Get some carmelization on them. You want a hot temperature to get that carmelization.

You don’t want to overcook them. If you put them at a low temperature they’re just going to sit there, wait to get cooked, and get soggy. So high temperature. A flat top would be great.

Beverly: What all do you, you’ve got asparagus in there?

Naz: I’ve got king mushrooms, king (inaudible), little baby eggplants and some asparagus in there.

Beverly: And then you’ve got mint in those carrots.

Naz: Yes, the carrots are very simple to do. Let me clean this plate up, like that. People always eat with their eyes. The carrots are very simple. You par-boil the carrots for three to five minutes in a pot of water, with some salt.

Then I took some shallots, put that in, with a little olive oil. Very simple, then cook it together with some mint and some ginger.

Beverly: We need a wine suggestion, so let’s bring Natalie over.

Naz: Yes I need some wine definitely.

Natalie: Well, there’s definitely a wine for that. You are having lamb. I picked a robust, very juicy Pinot Noir, the Coyotes Run, from Niagara. I think it goes with just about everything, but with this lovely lamb, I think it has a cherry berry flavor.

Naz: Sorry, I got right into it.

Natalie: It’s alright, I like to see excitement. It’s great.

Beverly: So that’s what you picked for the lamb.

Natalie: Yeah, I would. Either that or one of the robust reds that we looked at over on the table.

Beverly: This is awesome. Natalie, thank you so much. We’re coming back after the break.

Grilled lamb to make you drool and a great wine to pair with it ;)


This year, nominations and voting were done like last year in real-time, online, and open to anyone. However, one of the improvements we made for our second annual match was not to have another round of voting for the finalists to select the winners, which essentially would have given the same results as the nomination round.

Instead, we invited a group of 11 wine bloggers taste the finalist wines blindly. This means that the bloggers could not see the identCanadaFlagWineBottle small slimity of the wines (labels etc) as the bottles were all covered in the same bags. The wines were then poured in ISO tasting glasses to be judged as a group for each category.

So the vote counts got the top six regional wines into the finals for each category, but then every wine stood on a level playing field for that finalist round of blind tasting.

Our goal was to bring together the best of all worlds: the people’s choice in nominating the wines, the people’s voice in voting for them and the bloggers’ advice on quality.

Participation and engagement meets evaluation and quality. The blend is where the magic happens, not to mention a national conversation about the wines we make and love, since everyone is invited to the table.

bloggers tasting 1At the end of the judging rounds, we had a dilemma as everyone felt that the spectacular dry sparkling wine that was a finalist in the dessert category would be a little too dry for most desserts, but it would pair brilliantly with seafood.

Since the spirit of the competition is to provide Canadian wine drinkers with a starting point for delicious food pairings, we made an executive decision to move that bubbly to seafood. This wine shines beside planked salmon or grilled shellfish. Try it!

After the judging was complete, everyone was keen to see which wines they had tasted so we removed the bags …

bloggers tasting bottlesAnd had an interesting discussion about the diversity of styles in Canadian wine from coast to coast …

bloggers tasting 2We also had a number of technical safeguards to ensure that the voting process was both fun and fair, including limiting any one IP address to registering and using only one e-mail address to vote (so one person could vote for one wine only once a day).

As well, one person could only nominate one wine in each of the six food categories. Next year, we will further widen participation by limiting each person to one nomination only, so participants will have to choose just one category for their wine.

Read more about this year’s guidelines, and give us suggestions for how to make next year’s competition even better!

So here is the fruit of our labour, and more importantly, the fruit of the labour of our terrific wineries from coast to coast: the wine competition winners of The Great Canadian Wine Match: BBQ Edition. Crack a bottle (or three) open this Canada Day!

Posted with permission of CTV.




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