Posts Tagged ‘Carmenere’

It’s that time of year…dinner party season!

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
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Whether you have cabin fever or mid-winter blues, warm your house with the delicious smells wafting from the kitchen & the constant ringing of the doorbell as friends & neighbours arrive. Here’s an article Debbie wrote that appeared in the latest issue of Ottawa at Home Magazine. 

Pondview Rose with foodHosting a gathering of any kind – dinner party, potluck or cocktails – can be hectic & unnerving even for the best prepared host.  Having the evening fully catered definitely takes the weight off the menu but really part of the fun is planning the menu & cooking for your guests.  With this underway, you are then faced with the looming question – what drinks to serve and should it be white wine or red wine –  or something else entirely?

“I have been called on numerous times for suggestions of crowd pleasing wines that won’t break the bank…yet will impress”, says Debbie Trenholm, Sommelier & founder of Savvy Company.  “I even had someone call me from the Spanish wine aisle at the LCBO & couldn’t decide which ones to buy.  So they texted me photos of what was on the shelf & we shopped ‘virtually’ together!”

 Debbie’s tips for your next fun wine & food filled evening:

wine_tasting_sparklingPop the corks!  Greet your guests with a glass of bubbly – it is a great way to kick off the evening.  Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava are sure fire bets of sparkling wines priced under $20.

The 30-70 rule – buy 30% white wine & the rest red wines, especially in the winter when it is natural to want a glass of heavier wine

Chill your wine in the snow!  No need for bags of ice when there is lots of snow around. Shovel the white stuff into a wine bucket or place bottles in the snowbank at the front door or on your back deck.

Have a mini wine tasting.  Give each guest or set each place at the table with 2 or 3 wine glasses and a sampling (2 oz or so) of different wines in each.  Throughout the evening ask your guests which wine they think is best with the food.  Guaranteed that this will become a lively conversation!

A quick Wine & Food Pairing 101

grapes Niagara-on-the-Lake Sept 2013 low res“Stay close to your roots. Or, rather, stay close to your wine’s roots. Wines are always best matched with foods from the regions where they are made”, says Debbie about pairing wine and food. “Uncork a bottle of wine from Italy with a meal of Italian cuisine – afterall, both the wine and food from this country were meant to go together.  Same with French, German, Spanish fare…and Canadian too!”

White or red wine? Toss out the idea to match your wine with the meat. Fish, chicken and meat is the canvas — what matters is flavour. Make your choice on the spices, marinade or sauce—choose the wine that will make your meal sing. Debbie offers these ‘rules of thumb’:

Wine and…

…spicy food – look to the hard-to-pronounce white wine
If you’re tucking into an Indian curry, Thai dish or Mexican dinner, uncork a bottle of Gewürztraminer – the light and naturally sweet wine will play with the exotic spices and ingredients that will add WOW to your meal.

…salad – go bone dry
Think dry and crisp when matching to salads. The acidity of the vinegar in the dressing can play havoc with the wine, making it taste more acidic or ‘tinny’. Pinot Grigio from Italy or Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand are always safe bets.  Or Debbie suggests to simply skip serving wine with this course to take a break and cleanse the palate for the rest of the meal to come.

…grilled fish – smell the flowers & roses
With grilled fish you can swing both ways by serving a glass of a medium bodied floral white wine like Viognier (pronounced vee-oh-NYAH) that complements the flavours of the fish or a light bodied red wine such as Gamay or Pinot Noir – one that has notes of red roses – to amplify the charred flavours.

…heavier meats – need heat & smoke
Warm spice (think cinnamon and cloves), smoke and plum aromas and tastes in a red wine go superbly with the marinade on lamb chops, saucey spareribs or a herb encrusted roast beef.  Add to your shopping list a bottle of Carmenère from Chile (pronounced car-men-EHR) or a red Zinfandel from California.

Looking for a shopping list of wines?

Savvy Company’s Sommeliers give ‘must buy’ recommendations every two weeks in their blog ‘If I only had $100, I would buy at Vintages…’. 

Cheers & bon appétit!
-Debbie

 

 

 

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Wine class #3 – What’s the story behind these bunches of grapes?

Posted by Amanda

Monday, September 9th, 2013
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From working with the Sommeliers at Savvy Company, I have noticed that there seems to be a story behind every bottle of wine and history about the thousands of different grape varieties too.  In this Wine 101 blog, we share with you the background on some interesting wines & grape varieties.  These are tidbits that you can drop into any dinner party conversation!

In fact, over a glass of wine, Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm told her friend Dale Morris of Ascribe Marketing about these 4 grape varieties.  Here are the notes Dale captured in her napkin!

Wine 101 – A few white grapes with a story

Viognier

Viognier (pronounced Vee-on-yeah!) is a grape variety that has a deeply rooted heritage in France. Debbie fell in love with this unusual white while at wine school (aka the Sommelier accreditation program). Expecting to find some while she touring France, Debbie was disappointed there was no Viognier to be had: it seems the French enjoy it so much they often keep it for themselves. Now that word has gotten out about this hidden gem, winemakers in Argentina, California, Australia and Canada are taking up the cause, growing and crafting elegant wines full of delicious aromas.

In Australia, Viognier is often blended with Shiraz to add a little body and sweetness to reds. Some winemakers have told Debbie that Viognier could become the next it white – “If only people could pronounce it correctly.”

Only a few wineries in Niagara are growing this varietal. Prepare to be WOWed by Fielding’s wine. But be warned: if you like it, you’ll be hooked!

TIP: Fielding Winery in Niagara currently has their Viognier wine on sale for $19.95 (that is $5 off per bottle). This special price is only available through our Savvy Bin Ends.  Click here to order >>

Sauvignon Blanc

Lailey Vineyard’s Sauvignon Blanc (pronounced So-veen-yon Blah-nk) – is a family affair – sort of. Created by winemaker Derek Barnett, the son of a brewmaster, from Kent, England, Derek is renowned throughout the Canadian wine industry for his innovative styles and impressive flavours.

To achieve them, Derek takes the unusual step of a ‘double-harvest’ of grapes. The first picking is done when the grapes are just ripe – this gives his wine its refreshing and crisp aromas and tastes. Derek then lets the remaining ‘Sauv Blanc’ grapes hang on the vines until they‘re well over-ripe – almost brown – before picking the bunch. This gives them nice tropical-fruit notes. Grown from the same patch of vines, these two diverse grapes are blended together for a very complex and delicious summer sipping wine.

 Wine 101 – A few red grapes with a story

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir (pronounced PEE-no Nwar) is often referred to as the “Prince of Grapes” or the “heartbreak grape.” Why? This grape varietal needs care and nurturing around the clock. It’s difficult to grow, and the wine it produces has a tendency to actively evolve in the cellar. As a result, crafting a good Pinot Noir is the pinnacle of any winemaker’s personal achievement.

In New Zealand, some winemakers go so far as to have helicopters hover over their vineyards to warm the air on cool nights! Many also babysit their barrels, 24/7.

There are two classic styles of Pinot – cherry or earthy. Depending on the winemaker’s preference, the Pinot can be crafted to emphasize the terroir.

For a classic combination, you can lightly chill a Pinot Noir and enjoy a glass with grilled salmon. 

Carmenère

Carmenère (CAR-men-yere) is a relative newcomer to North American palates. Recently, it was determined to be a long-lost grape varietal from Bordeaux, France, and not just a Merlot, as was previously believed. Grown only in Chile, it has quickly become the region`s signature wine, with winemakers using it to craft excellent, big and bold flavours. Once you’re exposed to Carmenère, you’ll be hooked.

This wine is begging to be served with something hearty off the barbecue – steak, lamb, burgers and grilled mushrooms come to mind.

Savvy Sommelier Debbie recommends you save your last sip for desert, to enjoy with some dark chocolate cake.

 

Reviewing the Week’s ‘Wine’101 Lessons

 

I hope you had a little fun with our 3 back-to-back Wine 101 ‘Classes’ in what can be a stressful time for everyone. You can consult our Wine 101 – Pairing Food & Wine to help you with some quick & easy meals all year long; check the rules & regs in Wine 101 – Tasting, Storing & Ordering Wine and lastly in Wine 101 – The Story Behind the Grapes you can now pass the test when it comes to grape varietals.

I hope you have enjoyed being back at school this week with Savvy Company– and perhaps learned a thing or two!

Cheers!

Amanda

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D is for Dessert! A Delicious Chocolate Terrine

Posted by Patti

Monday, September 10th, 2012
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This is the last week in our ABCD blogs where A is for Australian wines, B is for BBQ recipes, C is for Chilean wines and D…well it is for Desserts of all kinds.  Whether you have a sweet tooth or not, we have a treat to serve after every meal.

For starters…Chocolate.  Honestly, who doesn’t like chocolate? Here is a favorite (and easy dessert) from Savvy Sommelier Patti who always gets rave reviews when she makes this dessert.

Bon Appetit!
Patti

Bittersweet Chocolate Terrine

From the kitchen of Savvy Sommelier Patti Petty

Ingredients

14oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup plus 2 tbsp. Unsweetened cocoa
5 tbsp. strong espresso coffee
2 tbsp. brandy
6 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream chilled

Method

  1. One loaf pan, 8½” x 4½” x 3”, greased and lined with baking parchment
  2. Heat oven to 325 degrees
  3. Put the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl with the cocoa and coffee. Set over a pan of barely simmering water and melt gently, stirring frequently. Remove the bowl from the heat, stir in the brandy and let cool.
  4. Meanwhile put the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until frothy. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is pale and very thick.
  5. In another bowl, whip the cream until it holds a soft peak.
  6. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs. When combined, fold the whipped cream in.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, then stand the pan in a bain-marie.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 for about 1 hour to 1 ¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the center of the mixture comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven, let cool in the bain-marie for about 45 minutes, then lift the pan out of the bain-marie and leave until completely cold.
  10. Chill overnight then turn out. Serve dusted with confectioner’ sugar or alternately prepare a bittersweet chocolate ganache and smooth over entire surface.
  11. Store, well wrapped in refrigerator.

 

What bottle of wine to uncork?

As the food & wine pairing tip says on the business card of Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm – “A rich, dark chocolate cake & a big, bold red wine – a heavenly match.” Serve a California Zinfandel or velvety Chilean Carmenere or a jammy Cabernet Franc from British Columbia or Ontario.  If you rather a sweet wine with chocolate, then a tawny port or a Hungarian specality – Tokai – would definitely fit the bill.

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Two outstanding Chilean red wines

Posted by Susan

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
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At a recent wine tasting featuring Chilean wines, Savvy Sommelier Susan Dejardins learned that the modern wine industry began in Chile during the 1980’s with the arrival of Miguel Torres from Spain. He introduced state of the art technology, including stainless steel fermentation tanks and French oak barrels, and began transforming the vinification process. Chilean winemakers soon followed suit and the wine export industry began to flourish.

Today, winemakers and viticulturalists are searching for new ways to create wines with a unique sense of place, matching vines to soils, introducing new techniques, and planting vines in more challenging areas such as the higher slopes of the Andes.

 

Cono Sur ‘Reserva’ Syrah 2011

Colchagua Valley
$13.95
LCBO#221820
14.0% alcohol

Blended into this deep purple Syrah are small amounts of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère. Aged 12 months in French oak, the rich ripe aromas of berries and black cherries, sweet spice, vanilla and pepper lift from the glass. Dry, mid-full weight, the wine is loaded with ripe dark fruit and the tang of black pepper. Subtly structured and nicely balanced, this is a tasty, approachable, easy-drinking wine.


Arboleda Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Aconcagua Valley
$18.95
LCBO#606764
14.0% alcohol

Blended with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Syrah, this delicious wine spent 12 months in a combination of French and American oak. Alluring aromas of rich ripe spice-infused fruit, dried herbs and floral notes, cedar and vanilla tantalize the nose. Dry, medium-full bodied, it’s satin smooth and mouthfilling. There’s good complexity to the flavours—raspberry and blackcurrant, toasty oak, herbs and spice and a hint of pepper—and a fine balance of round tannins and fresh acidity. On the finish, it’s dry with lingering flavours of spiced fruit. Savour now or cellar short term. This wine was a hit at the wine and food pairing created by Sidedoor’s chef Korecki’s Dry aged striploin with raspberry pepper.

 

Enjoy!
Susan

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Chile’s history in the Making

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
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Chile has a long history of winemaking, dating back to the arrival of Spanish, who found an ideal environment to grow vines. The soil was and is still free of phylloxera (a blight that decimated many of Europe’s vineyards in the late 1800s), and the climate provides the type of growing season that ensures full ripening of the fruit. Wealthy Chilean families looked to France as a model and soon imported a selection of rootstocks, just before the outbreak of phylloxera. In this manner, Carmenère came to Chile, where it prospered, misidentified as Merlot for decades.

Savvy Sommelier Susan Dejardins discovered during a wine tasting this delicious Carmenère red wine that she recommends picking up next time you are at the LCBO

Carmen ‘Reserva’ Carmenère 2011

Colchagua Valley
$11.45
LCBO#169052
14.0% alcohol

Dense and darkly hued, this is an aromatic wine with surprising complexity of aromas—spice, plum, blackberry jam, earth and notes of smoky roasted red peppers. Dry, medium-full weight, the round tannins and soft acidity frame ripe berry fruit garnished with notes of grilled spice, pepper and coffee bean. Another approachable, fruity wine that offers great value.

 

Enjoy!
Susan

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Coffee on your steak?

Posted by Debbie

Monday, August 27th, 2012
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One summer while visiting Niagara, Charlie Pillitteri of Pillitteri Estates Winery invited me to a backyard BBQ where he served his guests steaks using this delicious dry rub. Now, the beginning of summer BBQ season is always marked in my house by making a ‘batch’ of this rub to ensure that I always have some on hand.  This recipe can easily be doubled & I’d recommend to store in a jar or Ziploc container in the fridge.

The coffee beans caramelize while BBQing, offering a rich earthy flavour that will be enhanced with a robust red wine.

Coffee Steak Rub


Ingredients

½ cup whole coffee beans
¼ cup black peppercorns
¼ cup Montreal Steak spice
4 juicy steaks – any cut

Method

  1. With an electric coffee grinder, whiz coffee beans and peppercorns lightly. The result should be a coarse mixture. In a bowl add ground mixture with Montreal Steak spice. Sprinkle mixture over steaks. Gently rub into the surface of the meat, patting down to secure the coffee bean mixture in place. Flip steaks over and repeat on other side.
  2. Cover steaks and place in fridge until BBQ is ready (The steaks can ‘marinade’ for a couple of hours or simply a few minutes).
  3. Serve BBQ steaks to your liking. Enjoy!

What bottle of wine to uncork?

Steaks are best with a big bold red wine. Try Carmenere from Chile, Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia or a Red Zinfandel from California.

Enjoy! – Debbie

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