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Archive for ‘Selecting wines for a dinner party’

Tips for your Valentine’s Day dinner…

Posted by Debbie

Friday, February 13th, 2015
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Have you been wracking your brains to plan the perfect dinner night out or have been trying to get a reservation at your favorite restaurant on February 14th? Have a romantic night in.  One of our catering partners, Thyme & Again has an elegant take home menu prepared by their creative chefs using local ingredients & they’ve asked us to pair Ontario wines…and craft beers with each course.

 Here is your Valentine’s Wine & Craft Beer Shopping List ♥ 

Savvy SommeliersTo make your Valentine’s celebration easy & simple, our Savvy Sommeliers  have selected Ontario wines and our Brew Crew has added in local craft beers that will WOW your love.  The wines are available at various LCBOs in Ottawa and the beers you can drop in to the brewery to pick up a growler or two.

Cheers & Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your love!
Debbie & the Savvy Team

 

 

Special Valentine’s Day Menu with Wine Pairings

HORS D’OEUVRES

Cherry Tomato Florentine with Basil Balsamic Drizzle (Cherry Tomato with Spinach and Parmesan Stuffing) (V, GF)

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño and Cheddar Stuffed Meatballs (GF)

Seared Scallop with Champagne Jelly and Candied Lemon Zest on Rice Cracker (GF)

 

wine_tasting_sparklingKick off your special night with a bubbly! Savvy Sommeliers recommend:

Casa Dea Dea’s Cuvée Sparkling (Prince Edward County) $18.95

Huff Estates Cuvée Janine Sparkling Rosé (Prince Edward County) $29.95

Featherstone JOY Premium Cuvée Sparkling (Niagara) $34.95

 

Crack open these Craft Beers:

Beyond the Pale Pink Fuzz

Perth Brewery Euro Pilsner

 

STARTERS ♥

Tomato Saffron Bisque and Goat Cheese Crouton (V)

Baby Greens, Marinated Mushrooms, Pickled Beets and Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette (V, GF)

Crab Cake, Cucumber, Radish, Frisée Salad and Dill Mayo

 

Our Savvy Sommeliers recommend these wines:

Burnt Ship Bay Pinot Grigio (Niagara-on-the-Lake) $14.95

Malivoire Gamay (Niagara) $17.95

Fielding Red Conception (Niagara) $18.95

 

Serve one of these craft beers!

Bicycle Craft Brewery Belle River Blonde

Whiprsnapr Inukshuk Canadian IPA

 

MAIN COURSES ♥

Celtic Blue Cheese and Leek Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Garlic Thyme Jus (GF)

Herbed Potato Medallions; Heirloom Carrots and Chard

Wine to serve: Kacaba Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc VQA 2011 (Niagara)

Craft Beer suggestion: Kichesippi Wuchuk Black

 

Spinach and Shallot Stuffed Chicken Breast with Braised Fig, Orange and Port Wine Jus (GF)

Parsley Risotto; Heirloom Carrots and Chard

Wine to serve: Sue-Ann Staff Loved by Lu Riesling VQA 2012 (Niagara)

Craft Beer suggestion Beau’s St Luke’s Verse

 

Reif Estate WinesCocoa Chipotle Dusted Magret Duck Breast with Cherry Gastrique (GF)

Herbed Potato Medallions; Heirloom Carrots and Chard

Wine to serve: Rosewood Select Series Pinot Noir VQA 2012 (Niagara)

Craft Beer suggestion: Covered Bridge “Over the River Chai”

 

Togarashi Smoked and Seared Tuna with Wakame Salad (GF)

Bamboo Rice; Heirloom Carrots and Chard

Wine to serve: Redstone Chardonnay VQA 2011 (Niagara)

Craft Beer suggestion: Big Rig Brewery Session IPA

 

Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille Terrine (V, GF)

Parsley Risotto; Heirloom Carrots and Chard

Wine to serve: Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon VQA (Niagara-on-the-Lake)

Craft Beer suggestion: Cassel Brewery Honey Brown

                                                                                  

DESSERTS ♥

Passionfruit Crème Brûlée (GF)

Rose and White Chocolate Mousse, Mango Meringue & Dehydrated Raspberry

Hazelnut Crèmeaux (N)

Dulce Mousse, Brown Butter Blondie and Dark Chocolate

Apple Confit Cheesecake

Bacon Caramel Corn, Ice Wine Gelée, Spiced Shortbread Crumb and Maple Dust

Mini Sweet Selection

Red Velvet Cupcake, Spicy Chocolate Tart, Salted Caramel Macaron (N), and Passionfruit Cheesecake

 

Dessert wines to finish off the evening:

Tawse Riesling Icewine VQA 2009 (Niagara)

beercheeseStratus Red IceWine 2012 (Niagara)

 

A Craft Beer will go with dessert too!

Dominion City Brewing Earl Grey Marmalade Saison

 

Menu codes:
N = Contains Nuts or Seeds
V = Vegetarian
GF = Gluten Free 

 

Call on Savvy Company anytime…

Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day…or any day of the year – you can call on us to make your get-together a special one. For more wine & craft beer recommendations from Savvy Sommeliers & Brew Crew call 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)  or cheers@savvycompany.ca  

 

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Hosting a dinner party? Relax…we’ll select the wines!

Posted by Debbie

Friday, January 24th, 2014
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With the cold weather, it is perfect for warming the house up with the delicious smells wafting from the oven.  Hosting a dinner party can be hectic & unnerving.

fielding-logo
While you have picked out the dishes for each course of the menu, our Savvy Sommeliers have selected 6 bottles of outstanding wines from Niagara’s Fielding Estates Winery that will WOW your guests.

The best part – this Savvy Dinner Party Pack is only available from us.  Order now to save over $25 & shipping by courier is included. 


Sparkling Wine 
an elegant crisp bubbly to serve on arrival

Fielding Brut

White Wines – enjoy with soup, salad… and save some for dessert!

Melt away any thoughts of winter with these refreshing white wines
Fielding Estate Bottled Riesling VQA 2011
Fielding Viognier VQA 2011

Red Wines – Why not have a mini wine tasting over your main course?

From the outstanding 2010 vintage, these red wines will WOW your guests:
Fielding Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2010
Fielding Merlot VQA 2010
Fielding Cabernet Franc VQA 2010

Fielding winesORDER this special Savvy Dinner Party Pack > >

Now with the wines enroute, all you have to do is invite your guests….and set the table!

Grab your favorite recipe book or make your menu with these tried & tested recipes that the Fielding family, winemaker & Savvy Sommeliers recommend to serve with the selected wines.  Enjoy the meal and most of all the time with your friends & family around the dinner table.

 

Let’s get the party started!

Seafood Chowder

Here’s an idea – welcome your guests with a mug of this chowder rather than passing around platters of hors d’oeuvres before dinner. This sets a relaxed tone to the dinner party…and will be delicious with a glass of Fielding sparkling wine. 

Ingredients
8 slices bacon, chopped fine
2 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, chopped fine (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup flour
3 cups clam juice or seafood stock (or vegetable stock)
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound shucked clams
1/2 pound cod, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound scallops
1/2 pound shucked oysters
4 cups half-and-half
Fresh parsley, for garnish 

Method
In a large stockpot over medium heat, cook the bacon until browned. Add the butter and onions, and cook for 10 minutes. Add the flour and stir until well combined. Add 2 to 3 cups broth.

Then add the potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potatoes are almost fork tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the clams, cod, shrimp, scallops, and oysters and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the half-and-half and heat through (do not bring to a boil or the chowder will curdle).

When finished add parsley and serve.

 

It’s time to gather everyone at the table…

When your guests see the dinner table set with glasses of Fielding’s white wines & plates of refreshing melon & scallops, the sight will get taste buds going! 

Grilled Sea Scallop with Honeydew & Soy Glaze

Ingredients
½ small honeydew
½ English cucumber
½ long red chili
1 sprig mint, picked about four or five leaves)
1 sprig basil, picked (about four or five leaves)
1 lime
Olive oil
1 bunch arugula leaves to garnish
Salt & Pepper

Soy Glaze
¼ cup light soy sauce
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon sherry vinega
r½ teaspoon sesame oil

Method
Finely dice the honeydew, cucumber and chili and mix in a bowl. Finely chop the basil and mint. Set in a separate bowl in the fridge.

In a bowl whisk together the soy sauce, honey, vinegar and sesame oil.

Lightly oil the scallops with vegetable oil, season them with salt and pepper and cook over a hot grill until just cooked through, about four to six minutes.While the scallops are cooking, combine the herbs with the melon mixture and season with a pinch of salt and a couple drops of lime juice and olive oil.

In a bowl dress the arugula with a few drops of lime juice and olive oil.

To serve, spread the arugula out on four dishes then remove the scallops from the grill and place on the arugula. Dress each scallop with a generous spoonful of the honeydew mix and spoon some soy glaze around the plate.

 

For the Main Attraction….

fielding - curtis kingHere’s another novel idea: Have a mini wine tasting!  Just before you arrive with plates of the main course, give each guest 3 wine glasses with a sampling of the Fielding red wines in each.  Which wine is best with the dish will become a lively conversation!

A wine trivia or interesting tidbit to get the conversation started:  Did you know that Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc are the 3 grape varieties used in crafting French Bordeaux & or what the rest of the wine world calls ‘Meritage’ (pronounced Mary-tidge)?

Here are 2 recipes to consider serving for your main course.

Recipe #1:  Bacon wrapped Veal Tenderloin with Leeks & Mushrooms

Serves 4

Ingredients
4 veal tenderloin portions
1 package good quality smoked bacon, the thinner the better
2 medium leeks, trimmed and washed
1 pint button mushrooms, trimmed and washed
1 pint oyster mushrooms, trimmed and washed
1 small package dried porcini mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
300 ml of cream (35%)
1 lemon
Salt & pepper 

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees

Spread out four pieces of cling film (about 1 ½ feet by 3 feet each) on a large clean surface. On the cling film lay a piece of bacon lengthwise away from you about three inches from the left hand edge of the cling film.

Working from left to right repeat with another piece of bacon, slightly overlapping on the right side of the first piece. Repeat until you have laid out 5 strips on each piece of cling film.

Lightly season the veal with salt and pepper and place lengthwise across the bacon at the end closest to your body. Roll the bacon around the veal until it can be tucked under, then trim any excess bacon.

Place the bacon wrapped veal seam side down on the cling film at the end closest to you and wrap the cling film around the veal. Twist the ends to tighten and place in the fridge for at least one hour to firm up.

Cut the leeks in half and finely slice into half-moon shapes. Slice the button mushrooms and tear the oyster mushrooms into strips, removing the stems.

Soak the dried porcini in warm water. Once they are re-hydrated, chop them and strain the water through a fine sieve and reserve.

Place a large pan on the stove on high heat. Add a knob of butter and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. When the butter sizzles, add the mushrooms, toss to coat and put the pan back on the heat to get some colour.  Season with salt and pepper. If the pan looks dry, add a bit more oil and butter.

After a couple minutes you can toss the mushrooms. Again, if they are dry add a bit more oil and/or butter. Once they are nicely golden, turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic and the leeks. Sweat these for four to five minutes then add ¼ cup of reserved porcini water. Allow this to reduce to half its volume and then add the cream. Allow to simmer.

While this is reducing heat another large pan over medium high heat. Carefully remove the cling film from the veal. Once the pan is hot, sear the veal in oil on all sides until nicely coloured. Place the pan in the oven and cook, turning frequently until medium rare (about 6-8 minutes). Allow the veal to rest.

Once the cream has reduced to coat the back of a spoon, check the seasoning and add a few drops of lemon juice. Place a large spoonful onto the middle of four plates. Carefully carve each piece of veal in two and place onto the mushrooms mixture.

Recipe #2: Beef Tenderloin with Port, Mushroom & Stilton Sauce

Serves 6-8

One of the Savvy Sommeliers Patti Petty loves to cook.  When she took a sip of the Fielding Cabernet Sauvignon & also a sip of the Merlot, she said “I have the perfect recipe to pair with both of these wines.”  Enjoy! 

Ingredients
¼ cup butter
½ tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
2-3 lb. beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied

Reduction Sauce
1 tbsp butter
4 oz. crumbled Stilton cheese
1 cup beef broth
¼ cup Maderia wine
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup green onions 


Method
Heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a skillet melt ¼ cup butter until sizzling; stir in pepper and garlic. Place tenderloin in skillet. Cook over medium high heat until browned on all sides (7 – 9 minutes).

Remove from pan; reserve pan juices and browned particles in skillet. Line a 9×13” baking pan with foil; place tenderloin in pan.

Bake 35 – 50 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 160 F (medium). Remove from oven and let rest, tented for 5 – 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp. butter in same skillet with reserved pan juices and browned particles until sizzling; stir in blue cheese. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until cheese is melted (4 – 5 minutes). Stir in beef broth and wine; add mushrooms. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are tender. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients.

Serve over carved tenderloin.

 

A sweet way to finish off…

Whether your guests have a sweet tooth or not, the team at Fielding certainly do!  Here are some of their favorite desserts – make one…or treat your guests to both!  They are classics.

Recipe #1:  Ken’s Favourite Apple Pie

From the kitchen of Ken & Marg Fielding (winery owners) 

Ingredients

Use your favorite pastry recipe for a 9 inch double crust pie

Filling
5 to 6 firm apples (Ken prefers to use Spy apples)
juice of 1/2 lemon
sugar – white or brown if you like
1 Tbsp. butter
ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp. of Rum – yes you read that right!  (alternately 2 Tsp. vanilla extract)

Method
Wash, peel and core apples, but do not discard peel and cores.

Slice apples thinly on the side of a kitchen grater or in a food processor.  Place slices in a bowl and sprinkle very lightly with lemon juice, tossing apples over with a fork.  Starting with 1/2 cup or so, sprinkle sugar over apples, again tossing gently to coat.  From time to time taste a slice.  When it seems sweet enough for you, stop adding sugar.

Roll pastry into two rounds and fit one into the bottom of a 9 inch pie plate.  Fill the shell with apple slices, mounding them well into the centre. Roll out top, cutting a 1/2 inch round hole in the middle of the top, rather than making slits all around.

Dot apples with butter and grate about 1/2 tsp of nutmeg over them.  Sprinkle rum or vanilla over all, wet edge of bottom crust and lay top pastry over apples.  Seal and crimp.

Bake in a 425 degree F. oven 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degree F and bake 35 minutes.

 

fielding familyKen & Marg’s BIG Trick

Ken & Marg (far left & right in this photo) pass along their big secret to making this pie a delicious conversation piece…

While pie is baking place peel and cores in a small saucepan and cover with water.  Add 2 tbsp. sugar, place over low heat and simmer uncovered while pie is in oven.  After 5 minutes of cooling strain the liquid. This syrup has all the flavour from just under the apple peel.

When pie is baked, place on a rack in a location where there is good air circulation.

Pour 2-4 Tbsp of the syrup through the hole in the top of the pie as it cools and tip the pie gently from side to side to distribute the syrup evenly.  You may want to add more syrup.  As the peel is full of pectin, you don’t need to worry that this will make the filling runny.  It will tend to gel and give the filling a firmer texture.

 

Recipe #2:  Mom’s Rice Pudding

From the kitchen of Ray Cornell (Fielding’s winemaker)
“This is my Moms’ recipe. It’s really good, but not for the calorie conscious!” – Ray

Ingredients
3/4 cup short grain (arborio) rice
5-6 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar (brown or white) – Ray prefers using brown sugar
1-2 teaspoons vanilla  –  “I like vanilla so I always use 2 teaspoons” – Ray
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter

Method
Cook rice, milk, and salt in top of double boiler (approx. 1 hour).

Beat eggs and sugar.  Stir some of the pudding into eggs and stir all back into the pudding with the vanilla, nutmeg and butter (Tip from Ray – at this point you can also incorporate the raisins, but I omit them).  

Stir well, the heat of the pudding will cook the eggs.  Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours

Garnish with a dash of ground cinnamon or shaved almonds.

fielding cheers
Bon Appétit & Cheers!

 

Savvy Selections Ontario wine of the month clubRe-ordering your favorite Fielding wines is easy…

After you have enjoyed the wines we’ve selected for this Savvy Dinner Party Pack, you and your guests can re-order any of your favorites by contacting our Savvy Team directly on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or cheers@savvycompany.ca   We will gladly arrange a special shipment for you.

Here’s to another great dinner party!

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Wines for your Dinner Party…Delivered

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, December 10th, 2009
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Our Savvy Sommeliers taste oodles of wines. We want to make it easy for you to entertain with wines…so we have taken the guessing game out of figuring out which wines to serve at your next dinner party.  We have created Savvy Dinner Party Packs.  We choose the Ontario winery, sample and select a variety of wines that you won’t find at a wine shop (adding for an extra conversation piece). These wines are delivered right to your door.  Sparkling, white, red and something for dessert – all you need to do is create your menu & guest list! 

 

 

Great Stuff from Huff!

There is a buzz about Canada’s fastest growing wine region – Prince Edward County – located in on the shores of Lake Ontario.  Less than a three hour drive from both Ottawa and Toronto, it is a great weekend getaway destination.  The Savvy sommeliers visit this area often and have seen fields come alive as vineyards. Huff Estates has been integral in growing ‘The County’ as a bustling wine region.  Winemaker Frederic Picard left Burgundy, France to train with master winemakers in the four corners of the globe before deciding to join Huff Estates.  Huff’s great wines have a French influence that is being well received and numerous awards!

 

Dinner Party Pack Contains:

Cuvée Peter Huff Blanc de Blanc Sparkling VQA 2006

Huff Estates Pinot Gris VQA 2008

Stuntman Stu Red Line Merlot VQA 2008

Huff Estates First Frost VQA 2008 (a lightly sweet wine)

 

Price for ONE of each selected bottles: $99.80

Price for TWO of each selected bottles: $199.60
+ winery’s shipping fee
Order >>

 

 

Taste the Difference Terroir Makes

The vineyards at Coyote’s Run Winery in Niagara, are uniquely situated on two very distinct types of soil: red clay and black clay. To illustrate the wine term ‘terroir’ and appreciate the difference soil make on the resulting taste of the wine, the winemaker has grown blocks of Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir grape varieties in both red and black clay.  He harvested the grapes separately and processed the grapes in the identical winemaking fashion.  The result is although same grape, you can taste the difference that terroir makes. A fun gift for any wine lover.

Dinner Party Pack Contains:
Red Paw Pinot Noir VQA 2007
Black Paw Pinot Noir VQA 2007
Red Paw Cabernet Franc VQA 2007
Black Paw Cabernet Franc VQA 2007
2 little samples bags of soil to see the difference!

Price for ONE of each selected bottles: $115

Price for TWO of each selected bottles: $230
+ winery’s shipping fee
Order >>

 

 

Boutique & Unique

A delicious homemade butter tart started Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm’s discovery of this boutique winery in Niagara. “It is a winery with a wonderful story connected to farming with down to earth people involved and cult-like following wines,” Debbie reports. Recently featured in our Savvy Selections, 13th Street Wines are a joy to share with your dinner guests.

Party Pack Contains:
Premier Cuvée Sparkling VQA 2004
Cuvée 13 Sparkling Rosé VQA 2006
Sandstone Vineyard Chardonnay VQA 2006
Sauvignon Blanc – Semillion VQA 2008
Cabernet Rosé VQA 2008
Gamay Noir Sandstone Old Vines VQA 2008
Merlot VQA 2007
13 Degrees Below Zero VQA 2008 (a lightly sweet wine)

Price for this collection of 8 bottles: $176 + winery’s shipping fee
Order >>

 

 

Pioneers & Innovators

New world excellence. Old world tradition. This is a great mantra for a well rooted winery. The Bosc family are pioneers as they broke new ground in the Niagara wine region with their Chateau des Charmes winery over 25 years ago. As the December’s featured winery in the Savvy Selections, we showcased their winemaking talent along with their newly released branding and adoption of QR Code technology on each bottle. Entertain your dinner party guests with insights about this winery and the people involved in the Savvy e-Zine that every Savvy Selections subscriber receives with their monthly wine delivery.

Party Pack Contains:
– Sauvignon Gris VQA 2008
– Viognier VQA 2007
– Cabernet Franc VQA 2005
– Equuleus VQA 2007
Price for this collection of 4 bottles: $111.85 + winery’s shipping fee
Order >>

 

Have the menu already planned & trying to figure out which wines to pair?

Call on our Savvy Sommeliers to create a dinner party pack perfectly paired to your menu – what a great way to WOW your guests.  Simply email us or call 613.SAVVYCO (613.728.8926).

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Menu Matching – which wines to serve?

Posted by Gina

Monday, December 29th, 2008
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Gina –
From your bio, I see that you enjoy pairing wine with food.  Your help would be greatly appreciated to guide me in selecting wines for each course for my upcoming dinner party.

 

Appetizer: Endive boats with mango, blue cheese, candied pecans, warmed in oven.  Should I serve a Sauvignon Blanc? or perhaps a Viognier?

 

Soup Course: Butternut squash, apple, and smoked cheddar soup.  I have read alot about Quebec’s cider wine – what would you like of serving it with the soup?

 

Pasta Course: Homemade gnocchi.  My first inclination would be to serve a Valpolicella – what do you think?

 

Main Course: Grilled steak, creamy white beans, sauted green beans.  Do you have a favorite Australian Shiraz? or Cab Sauvignon to recommend?

 

Dessert Course: Flourless chocolate cake – I have read that a red Zinfandel from California is a good match with chocolate cake.  What do you think about this?

Thanks so much,
– MARY

Hi Mary,
Your menu sounds delicious and I like the direction you are going with your wine pairings.  With respect to your first wine, have you considered a sparkling?  They pair wonderfully with all kinds of foods, stimulate the palate for the dishes to come and make your guests feel special.  A dry cava from Spain or prosecco from Italy would be delicious.

I love soups!  Your Cider wine may be a good match at this point if it’s not too sweet.  A lightly oaked Chardonnay is another suggestion (but again, like sweetness in the cider, too much oak could steal the show from your lovely soup.)

Moving on…I really like your idea of a Valpolicella with the gnocchi and for the main course of grilled steaks, definitely uncork a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.

For the dessert finale, if your flourless chocolate cake is like the recipe I use, it is on the wonderfully, richer side.  A red Zinfandel from California does work well with chocolate cake, yet with your menu, it may not be as much of a statement after the Cabernet Sauvignon. If your budget allows, perhaps you might like to try an Italian Amarone red wine (one of my favourites!) or a bottle of Spanish Madeira (lightly sweet).

Enjoy your evening!  If you get a chance perhaps you could let me know what wines you selected and what your dinner guests thought of the pairing.

Cheers!
-Gina

 

Hi Gina,
Thanks very much for your help! It was great to get such personalized assitance. I took your suggestion to go with a Sparkling wine with the appetizers, and it was perfect. This was a very nice set up for the rest of the night. I also went with a Chardonnay with the soup as you suggested, which complimented wonderfully.  As I anticipated, the Valpolicella went great with the gnocci, as did the Cab Sauv with the steaks.

 

The only thing that didn’t go “perfectly”, was the dessert. The LCBO that I went to didn’t have any Amarone, so I went with a bottle of port that I had in my house already. It could be just my tastebuds… I don’t particularly love port. In any case, all in all it was a great  night and my guests appreciated my efforts!

 

Thanks so much, I hope that I may ask your assistance in the future. I also find your website very useful.

 

Thanks again,
– MARY

 

Feel free to email the Savvy Team with your menu and we will offer you suggestions of wines to serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Buying The Right Wine: 5 Easy Steps

Posted by Wayne

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008
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Some questions I think you should answer BEFORE you walk into the store (in this order of importance):

1. WHO is the wine for and what is their flavour and texture preference?
The character of the person you are buying the wine for is very important. Not everyone is impressed by high end expensive vintages that might have a complex flavour/texture profile that intimidates them because they can’t relax with the wine and just enjoy whatever it has to offer. Often, simplicity, purity and elegance prevail. Ask yourself if the recipient likes sweetness (fruit) flavours. Do they enjoy liquor over beer as an alternative drink? Do they smoke? Do they like light or heavy textured foods? Are they a person who likes to savour their food and their drink after they have eaten or drunk them?

By answering these and other questions about what they like to drink and eat, you can discover if you should be looking for light, sweet white wine with high thirst quenching acidity or a fuller-bodied red wine with a balance of fruit, acid, tannins and good alcohol that requires reflection and a strong finish. Or perhaps, a heavy, white Chardonnay or lighter, red Pinot Noir to have a combination of all these characteristics. They will appreciate your choice without knowing it was their choice.

2. WHAT event are you shopping for?
The central consideration here is: How private or public is the event and will it include food? If you are choosing wine with the intent of consuming it cocktail-style, then  I recommend that you choose a New World wine. That is what Australian Shiraz, California Zinfandel, Argentinian Malbec, South African Meritage, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc… are very good at being wines that are meant to be enjoyed as wine drinks, like a cocktail. That does not mean they do not match with food well, it just means that New World wines tend to favour drinking rather than food matching and show best when they are part of ‘Happy Hour’.

If food is intended to be an integral part of the event, then I suggest to choose an Old World Wine. This is not to say that Old World wines do not drink well alone, but Old World Winemaking has a penchant for the concept of ‘terroir’ which brings with it all the regional richness of soil, weather, harvesting and winemaking that express the culture of not only local wine, but local food as well. Most Old World wines were meant at some point to be married with food, both by nature and by the people who make and consume them. Not often do you drink wine in Europe without some sort of food accompaniment. The amount and variety and intensity of the wine you choose should take into consideration the ambience it will be served in, with or without food as a partner.

3. WHERE will we be enjoying this wine?
When you have answered this question you will have accommodated the ideas of: the temperature of the wine, how it will be opened, displayed and stored, its portability, how it will be served and by whom, what quantity will show a discretionary purchase (a wine gift of a case of wine that can never be drunk as opposed to a one bottle purchase of quality wine suggests something about expectation and the anxiety to ‘cover all the bases’), how it will be opened (cork, screw cap…) as this might contribute to tradition or ambience, how long the event will transpire… and what may follow?

You might even want to think how you might want to personalize the wine beyond matching it with the event, like ribbons, wrapping, sticker messages, personalized gifts… jewelry wrapped around the bottleneck.

 

4. What SENSE can I make of the LAYOUT and RESOURCES of the store where I am going to buy the wine to help me find the right wine? I am looking for a CHARACTER here so what STYLE will have this character?

Get familiar with how the store displays its wines. Is it by country? Price? Wine region? Varietal? Are there sale bins? Is there a Staff picks section? A Vintage section? Reds here? Whites over there? Dessert wines? Is there anyone to assist me in finding the character profile of the wine I am looking for that I have firmly entrenched in my mind by having confident answers to questions 1,2,3 above. I know what I need because I am buying wine for a person who has a particular taste preference and it is going to be served at this event. I AM DOING THE MATCHING OF CHARACTERS AND THE SELECTION OF WINE!

It isn’t necessary to find the perfect wine because there is more than one “perfect” wine so a “perfect” choice is a given.  My approach is to:
#1-Navigate the landscape of the store.
#2-Narrow the choices.
#3-Select a manageable number of finalists (I recommend tops 3 wines).
#4- READ the front and back labels of the bottles even if it is in another language and you need to ask a store clerk what it means (because even if you don’t know what it means this time, you will next time after you have tasted the wine!).
#5- Fit the drinking preferences of the person this wine is for with the style of wine described on each of the labels of your finalists off the shelf.
#6- Buy the one you think they will like. You’ll probably like it too! Especially when they do.

 

 

5.What is MY price point?
Make this your last, not your first consideration. And keep it flexible in a range you are willing to pay. NOT ALL GOOD WINE COSTS A LOT OF MONEY! Nor is all sale wine good! These are two very good reasons to give price a lesser priority than numbers 1 through 4 above. That is not to say price should not be a consideration at all. Just remember this:

 “A wine of character will help you find a good price, but a good price won’t help you find a wine with character.”

December 9, 2008

 

How do you choose wine? Write me. Share your methods. I love to discover new ways to find good wine!

Cheers!
Wayne Walker

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