Posts Tagged ‘Viognier’

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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These Australia white wines impressed our Sommeliers!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
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Taltarni T Series Sauvignon Blanc Semillon

Victoria, Australia
$17.95
VINTAGES 19471, 12.5% Alcohol

Winery owner, John Goelet grew up in a family of wine merchants in Bordeaux, France. After searching around the world for a property comparable to the great vineyards of Bordeaux, in 1972, he established Taltarni – meaning red earth in the native Aboriginal language.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A unique blend where the Sauvignon Blanc grapes were picked in two separate harvests (at night!): early harvest for fresh, zesty citrus characters & a few weeks later for blackcurrant & passion fruit flavours. The Semillion adds in straw & guava notes for a truly refreshing wine.

Suggested Food Pairing: This is definitely a wine to pack for a picnic, steamed mussels or shrimp on the barbie!

Tahbilk Estate Viognier

Victoria, Australia
$18.95
VINTAGES 271387, 14.0% Alcohol

Viognier (pronounced vee-on-nyeh) is a grape variety that has deep roots in France.  Now California, Canada & Australia are growing this ‘hidden gem’. In fact, in Australia, Viognier is often blended with Shiraz to add a little body & sweetness.  At Tahbilk meaning place of many watering holes –  they commit to use Viognier not for blending, rather to craft the ultimate wine, that has now become a benchmark Viognier wine in Australia.

Now this is impressive! Tahbilk was nominated by Australian Vignerons magazine in 2004 as producing one of the “Benchmark” Australian Viognier releases. And if that was not enough, the wine has gained great recognition on the Australian Wine Show Circuit.  The wine has numerous awards since the inaugural 2000 vintage, 2 Trophies, 14 Gold, 18 Silver & 47 Bronze Medals.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: “OMG! One of the finest Viogniers I have tasted”, remarks Savvy Sommelier Debbie…and Julie agrees too! Striking aromas & tastes of tangerine, mango, pineapple & even banana with honeysuckle that continues into a delicious creamy finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Delightful on its own, with cheeses (try the Parmasean Crisp recipe below), spicy foods & seafood.

 

 

An easy recipe that will be delicious with these sipping wines

There are so many versions of this recipe but nothing could be simpler, or more delicious to match with this sparkling wine. The fruity bubbles in the wine compliment the saltiness in the cheese and just send you back nibbling for more. I sometimes serve them a little red pepper jelly on the side. A perfect hors d’oeuvres – beware, folks inhale these!

Parmesan Crisps

From the kitchen of Savvy Sommelier Julie

Ingredients
1-1/12 cups of grated Parmesan depending how many crisps you would like to make.

Should yield about 20 small crisps.

Method

  1.  Preheat often to 400 degrees and put a heaping tablespoon of the Parmesan onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I would space the spoonfuls about an inch apart.
  2. Bake about 8 minutes or check them after 5 and they should be just slightly golden.

 

Eager to go to Australia?

Come with me on Taste Your Way Around Australia trip that I will be co-hosting in March 2013 organized by Aussie Travel.  It’ll be a 23 day extravaganza of delicious Australian cuisine, winery tours, dinners with chefs, boutique hotels & unique cultural excursions.

Warning: you may not come back!

 

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Wines for fabulous Easter feasts

Posted by Susan

Thursday, March 29th, 2012
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Easter weekend follows this LCBO Vintages release & offers some excellent choices for a springtime brunch or dinner along with a small selection of Ontario wines to serve with your meal. For brunch, or just to celebrate, there’s a range of sparkling wines available, from a Grand Millésime Champagne, to an appealing South African Blanc de Blanc Brut and a classic extra dry Prosecco. Main courses at this festive time often include turkey, ham or lamb & there’s a choice of Chardonnay, such as First Press or Amayna, or Yalumba’s Viognier to go with your roast turkey or glazed ham, or split the difference with Zuccardis Chardonnay/Viognier blend.

If you’re a red wine lover, try the Oregon or Chilean Pinot Noir with these lighter meats. Should lamb be your choice, consider the range of red wines available, including Cabernet Sauvignon from California, a well-priced Merlot-dominated Bordeaux, a Bonarda from Argentina or a fine Tempranillo from Spain. Looking for something really special – choose Domaine Galevan’s outstanding Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or the Terre Nere Brunello di Montalcino.

And for dessert, don’t miss that unique Italian dessert wine crafted from air-dried grapes, aged years in barrel and released just in time for Easter, Sorelli Vinsanto del Chianti Classico. Want to ‘go local’ for your Easter celebration? On the lighter side consider a crisp, fresh unoaked Chardonnay from Fielding Estates or the versatile Tawse ‘Sketches’ Rosé. If you’re looking for a weightier offering, then choose the juicy structured Pinot Noir 2007 from Château des Charmes or the warm well balanced Vintage Ink Merlot-Cabernet.

Rejoice in the early spring weather, as the crocuses poke their heads up to take in those warm early rays of sunshine—and hope that the vines don’t start to leaf out just yet!


Cheers & Enjoy! – Susan




If I only had $100, I would buy …
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, March 31, 2012


 

Tenuta S. Anna ‘Extra Dry’ Prosecco n/v

DOC Prosecco, Italy
$15.95 (Vintages #169128) 11.5% alcohol

Offering a fine frothy persistent mousse, this is a lovely crisp Prosecco that delivers an outstanding balance of crisp fresh fruit flavours—apple, pear and lemon-lime to the fore—and a bright invigorating texture. The finish is clean, long lasting and refreshing. Match this classic to another—prosciutto and melon. An excellent value, pick up a few bottles to enjoy with friends.



Tawse ‘Sketches’ Rosé 2011
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

$15.95 (Vintages #172643) 12.5% alcohol
Charming salmon pink, this perennial favourite is produced from a blend of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Gamay. An appealing fresh floral note and cherry/berry aromas rush from the glass. Dry, medium bodied, deftly balanced, it’s clean, fruity and lively on the palate, the red fruit and juicy texture offering a delightfully tasty, crisp and flavourful finish. Sip away! 



Zuccardi ‘Serie A’ Chardonnay/Viognier 2010

Mendoza, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #262097) 13.5% alcohol

This finely crafted award winner offers tempting aromas—floral, stone fruit, mineral and citrus. Dry, ample and round, it’s well balanced and flavourful, fresh acidity and minerality balancing orchard fruit and citrus zest, notes of spice-infused toast lingering on the extended finish. An excellent value and a good choice for Easter dinner.


Hecht & Bannier Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2008

AOC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, France
$22.95 (Vintages #142802) 15.0% alcohol


This blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Syrah offers depth of colour and of flavours. There’s complexity on the nose—smoke, herbal and floral aromas, a mineral component and rich dark fruit. An intriguing wine that brings you back for another taste, it’s subtly structured and satiny in texture, showcasing dark fruit and enticingly complex flavours of herbs, toast and tangy pepper. It finishes dry and tantalizing. Pick up a few bottles to enjoy now and to sample over the next few years.



Finca Sobreño Crianza 2008

DO Toro, Spain
$17.95 (Vintages #40360) 14.5% alcohol


This Tempranillo is an excellent value, whether to enjoy now or in the future. Deep ruby garnet, it’s produced from hand-harvested grapes from the producer’s oldest vineyards and aged in American oak. It entices with aromas of cedar, balsamic, sweet ripe dark fruit and subtle floral notes. Dry, medium-full bodied, structured and robust, the perceptible tannins and lively acidity are a match for the ripe fruit, exotic spice and notes of espresso roast. The lasting finish is warm and spicy. Enjoy with roasted stuffed peppers, or a classic paella.


Grand Total: $87.75



Worth the splurge:
An outstanding cellar-worthy Châteauneuf-du-Pape . . .


Galévan Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009

AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France
$41.95 (251603) 14.5% alcohol

This is quite a striking Châteauneuf from winemaker Coralie Goumarre, whose Rhône blend ‘Paroles de Femme’ was featured in an earlier Vintages release. Grenache forms the base, with Mouvèdre and Syrah in support for this dry, full bodied and earthy wine. The nose is autumnal in character—forest floor, mushroom, herbs. The palate is structured with perceptible tannins, fresh acidity and compelling flavours of cherry/berry fruit, plum, herbs, spice and cocoa. Weighty yet fresh on the finish, it’s a match for rich roast meat dishes and will cellar medium term.

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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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