For my next blog series, I’m going to talk about one of my favourite subjects…wine (which I endearingly refer to as vino)!! I am still a bit of an amateur, but I’m learning, so go easy on me you wino’s this blog is for the newbies who want to also grow in their appreciation for wine!
My love for wine started in my teenage years when I fell in love with the sugary pink White Zinfandel. This wine would be my drink of choice many years to come as it was an easy staple for parties and hangouts, until slowly my pallet started to change and I met my Australian friend Wolf Blass and there began a love for the Shiraz varietal. Once again, this wine stuck with me for many years and although I tried many other types, again my love stayed true to this varietal. Occasionally, I would think back to my former crush White Zin, but I had moved on and I could not even fathom taking another sip of my past friend.
A funny story about this is actually from my wedding day where the server kept visiting me at the head table and would excitedly tell me that they had blush wine. I said “thanks, that is great”, and sit with an awkward pause as he waited a further response from me… which I did not have anything further to say about! And again, and again he would return to tell me about the blush wine that he seemed to be so proud of and I would just keep congratulating him for this accomplishment while being extremely confused as to why he was so proud of having this now too sweet wine from my past. It wasn’t until some time later that I was having a conversation with my father that he asked me if I had the blush wine on my wedding day. I responded with a “oh no, I don’t drink blush wine anymore, that was like 5 years ago” and then soon realized that it was my Dad who thought that I still loved blush wine, who was badgering this poor fellow serving me to keep making sure that I had enough blush wine… ha ha!
As I was growing older I really came to LOVE wine. I love the special and incredibly unique charisma that emulates from each and every bottle, that the same varietal from the same area can taste completely different from its neighbour. That the flavours can make your mouth pucker or salivate for more, and that each and every flavour can be so perfectly paired with the flavours and type of food and can make or break the wine served with the meal… and can be such a compliment to food- my other favourite indulgence in life.
It’s really incredible when you see the passion behind each and every bottle, the people that can (pretentious or not) find such extreme enjoyment in creating or tasting a bottle. And I love how wine can somehow create an experience so memorable that you will be able to remember that moment due to the flavour in that bottle.
In my early days when I started looking into buying wine, I would go off recommendations like everyone else, or stick to what I had tried previously, or buy for the label, but that is all that you know to do when you don’t understand wine, what you like, or what type of grape to buy. It wasn’t actually until my first trip to Napa and Sonoma that I really started to learn about the flavours and what they actually taste like in a wine. From here I was hooked! I wanted to try “all the wine” and learn all that I could about it. From here I visited and re-visited the Okanagan, Italy, France, and Spain, went back for a more in-depth trip through other wine regions of California. I never really understood the idea of collecting wine before as I thought- well you buy it… you drink it!! But our last trip through California really hooked me as some of the wines that we bought were just too special and fabulous to drink unless it was a really special occasion.
Now that I had acquired a taste for wine of a certain caliber I started to see that wines with catchy names and bold labels were really meant for a less refined pallet, so great when your are starting out on the wine trail, but not after you had acquired a taste for finer wines. So here are my general thoughts when it comes to buying wine, of course there are many exceptions, but these are just some guidelines to get started…
- Always spend at least $20 if its a nice evening and you really want to appreciate the wine, its hard to find good wines under $20 (except in the Spanish section).
- Select a wine that has a tasteful label but doesn’t have a catchy name. Generally these wines cater to the less refined pallet. Just ask my nemesis, Apothic ;)
- If pairing with food, select a wine that pairs nicely with it- A bold red like Cabernet Sauvignon goes nicely with steak, a Syrah or Malbec with pork, a Chianti with a tomato sauces, a Pinot Noir or white wine with lighter, fresher fair such as raw veggies, seafood, that sort of thing.
- Download the app “Vivino” and check out their top 20 wines list. Plus you can use this app to track wines you like, and see reviews on others.
You may also want to consider some other opportunities to try new wine. In town there are great wine tasting events available at different venues such as Coop Liquor Store, Wine Premier Showcase, and Romancing the Vine, just to name a few. I am also apart of 2 wine clubs- one is called Optimum, while the other is a club membership from Quails Gate winery in BC.
Here are a some of my go-to favourite wines (lightest to heaviest):
Sauvignon Blanc- Kim Crawford (NZ)
Pinot Gris- Gray Monk (Canada)
Pinot Noir- Fog head or Foppiano (both US)
Inexpensive Easy Reds- Castillo de Almansa Reserva (Spain), Alamos Malbec (Argentina), Chateau Canada (France)
Tempranillo- Montecillo Reserva (Spain)
Cabernet Sauvignon- Marques de Casa Concha (Chile)
Old Vines Zinfandel- Boggle (US)