Posts Tagged ‘home wine delivery’

Sure…we’ll do wine shopping for seniors

Posted by Debbie

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

Have you started your wine shopping yet?  On my fridge, I have a magnet that reminds me “So many wines, so little time”. The truth is that we are creatures of habit and despite so many options,it’s often easier to simply reach for a bottle of wine that we know. Are you like that?

What can a personal wine shopper do for you?

Savvy Company Keep Calm & Drink Canadian Wine t-shirtAt Savvy Company, we are just a phone call away. When a friend called me recently and asked me to help her buy wine for her parent,  I thought – what a great job I have!

“My parents are in their 90’s.They drink a glass of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc every day. And it’s been that way for years.” I have to admit, her parents have good taste in wine, yet I can only imagine what it is like to drink a zippy zingy high acidity wine each day. Shouldn’t it be that variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes?

I called her parents to find out what they really like and was on the ready to pick wines based on their preferences. After all, that is the role of a Sommelier!

Turns out that they buy this wine not only because they like it, they also know exactly where to find the bottles in the LCBO each time they go shopping. The net-net, they need shopping for wine to be dead easy. With both on the phone, they explained, “It is mesmerizing looking at the thousands of different wine labels. We just want to go in, pick up what we want and get out of there with our supply of wine for the next few days.”

Turns out, this ritual happens twice a week! The words on the magnet echoed in my head. Seniors, or for that matter, wine drinkers of any age, can enjoy the discovery of the world of wines without even stepping out their front door.

Keeping seniors off the streets

You know what I mean! There is no need for them to be driving on bad weather days during the winter bound for the wine store. Loblaws and Walmart have this figured out. Both have recently launched online grocery shopping service. Take it one step further, taxis and Uber will even pick up orders at the grocery stores and deliver to seniors’ residences or homes.

When it comes to delivering wine or craft beer, Savvy Company’s Sommeliers will take on this job. “It’s super easy,” explains Amanda Jackson of Savvy Company, “Our Sommeliers spend time finding out what they like in a wine, then arrange for a customized assortment from various wineries throughout Ontario. And it will be delivered right to their door – home, office or even retirement residence.”

Debbie-bottle-boxCustomized wine delivery to seniors residences

“When I learned this service existed, I was very interested.”  Catherine Strevens – Bourque, Director of Lifestyles and Community Relations at the Rockcliffe Retirement Residence. “Customized wine delivery is an impressive  luxury and a service our residents appreciate.  Sage advice, excellent suggestions and  more impressively, Savvy Company will host a wine & cheese and provide ordering options.  This  is an absolute bonus and naturally,  a well attended social event!”

“No longer do we need to call our daughter to take us to the LCBO,” explains Alwyne Greenhalgh who is 92 and lives in her own home with her husband Roy. He pipes in, “Over the years, our personal Sommelier has found delicious wines that I would never have ventured to try. With service tailored to our budget, why wouldn’t anyone have wine delivered? It’s a great way to shop.”

And not just limited to seniors

Having deliveries of wine or for that matter craft beer is a service that’s available for everyone. Slowly it is being recognized as THE new way to shop. So ask yourself (or your aging parents), why bother with traffic when a personal Sommelier can pick wines especially for you to magically arrive at your doorstep. From the comfort of your own armchair, wine shopping has never been easier.

I’ll drink to that!



Our Sommeliers recommend – outstanding red wines…with recipes!

Posted by Susan

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012


In Savvy Selections this month our wine of the month club subscribers were treated to 3 big red wines made by renown winemaker Sue-Ann Staff  – a Cabernet-Merlot that she made at her own winery – Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery that bears her own label & the other 2 red wines showcases her talent while working as a consulting winemaker at John Howard’s Cellars of DistinctionMegalomaniac Cabernet Frank & Megalomaniac Cabernet Sauvignon.

Here are the Savvy Sommelier’s tasting notes for each of these spectaclar red wines.  Enjoy!

Sue-Ann Staff Cabernet/Merlot VQA 2009, $24.00

An assemblage of estate fruit—the Cabernet Franc—and Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from a nearby vineyard whose character is consistent with the Staff terroir, this wine was aged one year in French and American oak barrels.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This blend offers depth and complexity—vanilla, toast, plum, blackberry, roasted red pepper and a notion of licorice mingle to create a taste extravaganza. Substantial, subtly structured and well-composed, the wine offers a toasty warming finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Match this wine to robust grilled meats (such as the beef tenderloin recipe we offer), or grilled vegetables drizzled with olive oil & aged balsamic served with a platter of firm cheeses.

Cellaring: Drinking well now, or cellar 2-3 years.


Megalomaniac Cabernet Frank VQA 2010, $24.95

Winemaker’s notes: Made with 100% estate grown grapes, this wine was aged for 22 months primarily in new French oak barrels (14 of the 17 barrels were new).  Sue-Ann explained that 2008 was a cool year.  She harvested the grapes late in the season – early November – to ensure that the grapes got as much ripening as possible.  She was amazed at how this wine evolved and was surprised how it became an outstanding full bodied red wine with cedar & cassis aromas that carries through in the taste with warm spices (cardamom perhaps?) in the background.

Sue-Ann’s food pairing recommendations: As she said …”oooohhhh, lamb would be fantastic, or maybe gnocchi with a rich tomato sauce.  Even Osso Bucco.  Yikes, I’m getting hungry!”

Cellaring: This wine was recently released & she thinks it is ready to be enjoyed now or could be cellared for 3-4 more years.


Megalomaniac Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 by Sue-Anne Staff, VQA $24.95

From a challenging vintage, the intensive vineyard management, including substantial leaf removal and yields in the range of 1-1.5 tonnes, has ensured a fine wine. Aged 22 months in French oak, 60% new, the wine went through malolactic fermentation in barrel as well as tank.

Suggested Food Pairing: Match this wine to prime rib, bison bourguignon or a hearty stew such as the smoky beef, potato & mushroom stew.

Cellaring:  Drinking well now, this wine will cellar for 2-3 years.


~ Recipes to enjoy with the Savvy Selections wines ~

 With Sue-Ann Cabernet/Merlot…

Sundried Tomato & Pinenut Stuffed Beef Tenderloin


Serves 6-8

6 Tbsp olive oil, divided
½ C pine nuts
½ C chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 C chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 1/3- 1 1/2 C bread crumbs
½ C chopped fresh parsley
Salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Beef tenderloin (one loin approx. 3lbs)


  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in pine nuts and cook until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon & drain on paper towels. Place shallots in the skillet. Cook & stir until tender, about 5 minutes. Mix in garlic & sun-dried tomatoes and cook 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, mix in pine nuts, bread crumbs & parsley. Season with salt & pepper & set aside to cool. 
  3. Slice the tenderloin lengthwise across the top about 2/3 of the way through the meat to create a pocket. Spread stuffing into the pocket. Wrap the tenderloin with kitchen twine to secure the stuffing & transfer to roasting pan. Combine remaining olive oil and Dijon, and rub over the surface of the meat. Season with salt & pepper & sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
  4. Roast in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350F & continue cooking tenderloin 20-30 minutes, or to minimum internal temperature of 140F. Remove from oven & let meat rest 5-10 minutes before serving with roasted root vegetable ragout. Savour & sip!


With Megalomaniac Cabernet Frank

Medallions of Venison Tenderloin with Peppercorn & Wild Mushroom Sauce

From Ottawa Citizen
Serves 6

6 6-oz venison tenderloins
1 C olive oil
1/3 C balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
fresh ground pepper
1 ½ C red wine
1 C chicken broth
1 clove garlic, crushed
10 multi-colored peppercorns, crushed
1 ½ C milk
½ tsp Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbsp butter
2 large shallots
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Fresh shitake & Portobello mushrooms, washed, stems removed & sliced


1.     Marinate venison in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic & pepper 4 hours.

2.     Combine wine, broth, peppercorns & garlic in saucepan & cook for 20 minutes or until the liquids are reduced to half. Add milk & mustard &, stirring frequently, cook for 20 minutes or until liquid is again reduced by half. Season to taste & allow to cook 1 more minute.

3.     Melt butter in a large skillet on high. Add the shallots & garlic & toss for 2 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms & cook on high heat 5 minutes or until soft. Add to peppercorn sauce.

4.     Grill venison tenderloins on BBQ over medium-high heat for 7 minutes (turning once halfway through. Cut into medallions & serve with sauce, fresh peas & pearl onions, and roasted potatoes


With Megalomaniac Cabernet Sauvignon…

Smoky Beef, Potato & Mushroom Stew

From LCBO’s Food & Drink Magazine, Holiday 2011
Serves 6-8

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 lbs. stewing beef
½ C all-purpose flour
2 ½ C stout or porter
3 C onions, coarsely chopped
4 C mushrooms, quartered
3 Tbsp garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
¾ C smoky-style BBQ sauce
4 C yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled & cut into 1” cubes
2 C celery, finely chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
½ C fresh flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
½ C green onions, finely sliced


1.      In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat & brown the beef in 2 batches until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Remove beef from pan & place in slow cooker. Add flour to pan & stir together with remaining fat, add 1 C of the beer to the pan & scrape up browned bits. Increase heat until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes, then add all of this mixture to the slow cooker.

2.      To the slow cooker also add the remaining beer, onions, mushrooms, garlic, sage, BBQ sauce, potatoes, celery & salt.  

3.      Cook on low for 9 hours. Once the stew is ready, season to taste with salt & pepper, stir in the parsley & green onions. Serve & let your ego soar, with Megalomaniac Cabernet Sauvignon!


 Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!


First a winery in Tuscany… now a winery in Niagara

Posted by Susan

Friday, June 18th, 2010


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Alvento Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

On a warm day in March this year, a team of Savvy Sommeliers – Susan, Wayne, Julie & Doug – met up with Bruno Moos & Elyane Grenier, the friendly couple who are co-owners of Alvento Winery. While the foursome wandered through the vineyards on this spring-like day with Bruno, he expressed his concern about the vines due to the mild winter & early warm weather. Like all grape growers, he is constantly watching Mother Nature’s effect in his vineyard & experimenting at every stage of the growing season. When we visit wineries, we often hear winemakers say, “wine is made in the vineyard” – what happens in the vineyard is just as (or more important) than what happens during harvest & in the cellar.


This deeply rooted couple has a rich history that helps explain how their approach to viticulture & winemaking at Alvento. Elyane & Bruno met in Montreal in 1975. Bruno was trained as an architect, yet his wine connection is with his Swiss grandparents who were winemakers & his father was a wine connoisseur. When the couple tired of city living & the long Canadian winters, their thoughts turned to living a more rural lifestyle & to living ‘from the land’. In 1983, they moved to Europe, traveling through the wine regions of Spain & Italy looking for just the right location for a winery of their own. They found it in the hills of Tuscany, near Pisa, where Soiana Winery was born – on the site of an ancient fortress that had been destroyed during the war of 1498 between Florence & Pisa. Their 100-metre cellar was beneath the castle ruins, part of the original fortification.


The 1980s was a time of crisis in the Italian wine industry – vineyards were readily available, winemakers were challenged to find buyers for their product in a marketplace inundated with inexpensive & low-quality wine. Elyane & Bruno reminisce about the great fortune they had when they met the experienced & knowledgeable local viticulturalists & winemakers, who helped them establish their Soiana. “We learned the hard way, yet were also very lucky. We met Piero Salvadori, a retired winery owner & oenologist with generations of knowledge of viticulture & wine making. He agreed to share his knowledge with one condition: that we commit to work hard & make the best wine in Italy. In addition to this wealth of information, we were fortunate to live next door to Renzo Belcari, whose family had their own winery for generations & gained his skills from notable Professor Racca – a teacher at Pisa University who had developed specialized pruning methods & other very meticulous viticulture practices after the phyloxera crisis”, recalls Bruno.


Soiana wines first become known in Northern Europe, while Tuscan wines became an alternative to French wines. With the advent of Super Tuscans, which Soiana was producing using rigorously selected grapes & low yields, the winery gained international profile & a reputation for high quality wine. Their commitment to hard work was rewarded; soon their wines had a cult following & were sold out before they were released. Soiana is the pedigree of Alvento – read on to learn about Bruno & Elyane’s move back to Canada & the creation of Alvento.


We’re pleased to featured three unique Alvento wines (from different vintages):

§   Alvento Vio VQA 2007

§   Alvento Emilie VQA 2006

§   Alvento Elige VQA 2005


Enjoy these fine wines & matching recipes – one was provided by Elyane. We’re just a click away should you wish to order more Alvento wines or others featured in the Savvy Selections. If your travels take you to Niagara, Bruno & Elyane would be delighted to welcome you to Alvento.


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team



Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins


After much consideration, Bruno & his wife Elyane decided to move back to Canada, after selling Soiana in 1999. About 10 years earlier, they had met Morrie Neiss, a Montreal businessman, philanthropist & wine collector. Over a number of years, Morrie & his wife visited the couple & participated in the harvest at Soiana. When Bruno & Elyane decided to establish a winery in Niagara, he partnered with them.

They searched for a property where they could implement some of the techniques they had learned through their years in Tuscany. In 2001, they found a 5-acre fruit orchard on the current site in Vineland. Says Elyane, “The land was planted as an orchard with cherries, peaches, pears, apples and plums. Cherry & peach trees are an indicator of good land for vines, according to Tuscan wisdom. And the property is near Lake Ontario and takes advantage of the cool breeze in the summer, facilitating photosynthesis even on very hot days.”

Most of the vines were planted in 2001: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot & Vigonier – using tightly spaced planting techniques to reduce yields but increase the concentration of the fruit. In 2002, Bruno decided to plant Nebbiolo, as he felt this grape could do well in Niagara given that it grows at quite high altitudes in Piemonte, Italy. The winery was named Alvento (translation: facing the wind) since the wind is omnipresent in the vineyard.

The wind did seem to be blowing against them for a few years! Although the vines grew quickly, the cold winter of 2003 destroyed the buds on the vines. While the roots survived, the new growth demanded substantial pruning to control the vigorous growth and to shape the vines for future production. Hard to believe, but this happened again in 2004 & 2005. Despite these setbacks, they were more determined than ever to create the wines they dreamed of at Alvento. Like their neighbours, they invested in a wind machine to protect the vines from the cold.

Finally, in 2006, the weather co-operated & they were able to harvest their first grapes & produce their first commercial vintage.

Their focus is on three different styles of Bordeaux-type blends:

          Elige is in the style of Medoc (a wine region in France)

          Sondra in the style of Pomerol

          Emilie in the style of St-Emilion.

These three blends were aged 18 months in Burgundian-style oak barrels.

In terms of white wines, only Viognier is crafted. Viognier is a popular grape variety stemming from France that is now starting to grow in other countries. The 2007 Viognier included in your Savvy Selections is unoaked unlike the previous vintage (it was interesting to try the 2 vintages side by side to taste the difference). They expect to release the 2007 reds later this year or early next. As our subscribers know from other Savvy eZine reports, 2007 was an outstanding vintage in Ontario – we look forward to tasting Bruno’s reds!

Bruno explains, “We spend many, many hours in the vineyard taking care of the vines. What we learned in Italy is that you cannot make a great wine without excellent grapes. Many of the practices of oenology consist of adding substances to the wine that in reality imitate the qualities of grapes that are fully mature. To obtain that level and character, grapes have to be continuously attended to by hand to make sure that there is no rot or that there is no over production. It takes many hours of vineyard work and it can not be done by machine. While you cannot cut corners in the cellar, or use inadequate equipment, the most sophisticated apparatus & the use of the most recent oenological innovations cannot replace good mature grapes.”

While these wines come to you, the Alvento team – Bruno, Elyane & Greg, their assistant – continue to monitor the vines. Spring warmth was followed by a cold snap, but with the help of their wind machine, the vines were saved. Greg, who completes his diploma in Oenology & Viticulture this year & who will become a father in September, is convinced this will be a good vintage – he’ll be putting aside a few bottles to open on his child’s eighteenth birthday!

Cheers & Enjoy!



~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Alvento Vio 2007 VQA, $25.95

Produced from hand-harvested grapes, this Viognier was fermented sur lie (winespeak: with the yeast) in stainless steel to retain the lively fruit aromas and flavours.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Pale gold & clear, the wine has a subtle & appealing nose of sweet stone fruit & light notes of white flowers & pineapple. It’s a dry mid-weight wine, with fresh vibrant flavours of ripe apricots, juicy nectarines & a hint of exotic tropical fruits with a splash of citrus. Lively acidity & fresh fruits linger on the finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Slightly chilled, this wine will pair well with fresh summer salads, grilled fish, or light appetizers.

Cellaring:  Drinking well now, this wine may be cellared for up to 2 more years.



Alvento Elige 2005 VQA, $24.95

A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot, this blend went through malolactic fermentation in stainless, followed by aging for 18 months in part new, part seasoned Burgundian barrels.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A regal, semi-opaque ruby, this elegant wine offers rich & complex aromas of berries, vanilla, sweet spice and some underlying notes of cedar and exotic dried fruits. It’s dry, with ripe well-integrated tannins, fresh cherry and red berry fruit—raspberry and field strawberries—and underlying notes of toast and cocoa. Medium bodied, it has lovely balance and a lengthy finish.  . 

Suggested Food Pairing: Bring on the beef!  Elyane has shared one of her special recipes for this wine on the following pages.

Cellaring:  Designed to be aged, the wine would benefit from decanting for about an hour if you plan to enjoy it now.



Alvento Emilie 2006 VQA $23.95

Grown on the sandy loam of Alvento’s waterfront property, the grapes for this unique blend were tended by hand on the vine & hand harvested – as with all Alvento grapes. The blend includes 70% Cabernet Franc & 30% Merlot, fermented in similar fashion to the Elige, & aged 18 months in French barrels, a slightly higher proportion of them being new.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Displaying a well-defined garnet hue, this wine displays alluring aromas of chocolate, exotic spice, sweet kitchen herbs (bay and sage), black fruits, vanilla & toast. It’s dry, medium-full bodied, with silky round tannins, pleasant crispness & ripe fruity flavours of field berries underlaid with tangy hints of pepper. Well balanced, with well-integrated toasty oak notes, it delivers a full-flavoured and lingering finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: A classic match for this food-friendly wine would be grilled lamb or beef, or later in the year, a hearty vegetable and beef ragout .

Cellaring:  This wine will also age well and benefits from decanting. Our tasting panel noted that the wine changed dramatically in the glass!


~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Alvento Vio VQA…

Grilled Chicken & Mushroom Salad

From LCBO Food & Drink Magazine

Serves 4-6

1/3 C extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 oz. oyster mushrooms, trimmed

4 0z. shitake mushrooms, stemmed
8 C mixed greens

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp Dijon or grainy mustard

Freshly ground pepper



1.      In a large bowl, combine 2 Tbsp of the oil, mustard, rosemary & garlic. Add chicken and turn to coat. Place on greased grill over medium-high heat & grill chicken, turning once, for about 12 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Remove to cutting board & slice thinly.


2.      Toss mushrooms with 1-2 Tbsp oil & place on greased grill over medium-high heat. Grill, turning once, for about 5 minutes or until tender and golden. Remove to plate.   


3.      Place greens on large platter and top with sliced grilled chicken and mushrooms.


4.      Whisk together remaining oil, lemon juice, mustard and pepper to taste and drizzle over salad. Enjoy!



With Alvento Elige VQA …

Tagliata with Arugula

From the kitchen of Elyane Grenier, Alvento Winery

Serves 4

¼ C balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ lb. beef tenderloin
2 Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tbsp coarse salt
2 C sliced arugula
1 lemon, halved

High quality extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese shavings



1.   Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk first 3 ingredients in a small bowl. 


2.   Place beef on platter, spoon marinade over and turn to coat completely. Let stand 1 hour. Sprinkle meat all over with salt & pepper. Heat olive oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add beef and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes (the meat may be grilled on the BBQ) 


3.   Transfer beef to platter and let rest 10 minutes.


4.   Slice beef thinly and divide among 4 plates. Drizzle any juices from platter over beef. Sprinkle with salt & top with arugula. Squeeze lemon over, then drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


5.   Enjoy with Alvento Elige!



With Alvento Emilie VQA…

Peppered Beef with Balsamic Strawberry Relish

Serves 4

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp whole peppercorns, cracked
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ lb. grilling steak (~ 1” thick)

Strawberry Relish
1 ½ C chopped strawberries
3 Tbsp chopped red onion
2 Tbsp chopped sweet yellow pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp granulated sugar
Salt & pepper to taste


1.  In a small bowl, combine mustard, cracked peppercorns, garlic; rub an even coating on both sides of meat. Grill steak over high heat or broil for about 4 minutes each side for medium-rare, or until desired degree of doneness.

2.  For the relish: In a bowl, combine strawberries, onion, yellow pepper, parsley, vinegar, oil, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Slice steak thinly across the grain and serve with a dollop of the strawberry relish.  


Cheers & Enjoy!