Posts Tagged ‘wine 101’

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

Posted by Amanda

Monday, September 9th, 2013

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 (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 (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!




It’s back to ‘wine’ school! Class #1: Matching food & wine

Posted by Amanda

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

All the kids head back to school this week and you might need an extra glass of wine (or two). At Savvy Company, we want you to put your feet up and get ready for this weeks lessons while we serve up a roster of mouth-watering themes such as: Food & Wine Pairings; Tasting & Storing Wine; Ordering Wine.  Ready for this delicious time table?  Rest assured there is no homework, just practice, practice, practice!

Wine 101: Matching wine with food

Red wine or white wine?

White or red? Forget the old rule of thumb that you match to your 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.

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’re made. Uncork a bottle of wine from Italy with a meal of Italian cuisine.

Wine & Eggs…who’d have thunk it

Matching wine with egg dishes is always a sommelier’s challenge! Be gentle—match a quiche or soufflé with a light-bodied Pinot Gris or unoaked Chardonnay to avoid overpowering the delicate flavours.

Wine & Salad…go 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, Sauvignon Blanc or sparkling wine are always safe bets.

Wine & seafood…try it all

All mussels are not alike. Steamed mussels in a tomato-based sauce match brilliantly with red Italian wines such as a Valpolicella or Chianti. Mussels in white wine sauces go best with the wines they’ve been cooked in: usually Pinot Grigio or Semillion.

Wine & soup…follow the soup’s lead

If you’re serving a rich soup—say a creamy seafood chowder—go with a medium-bodied Chardonnay barrel-aged in oak.

Wine & Oysters…flavors will pop

Make the flavours of fresh oysters pop with chilled Champagne, Chablis or Chenin Blanc.

Wine & holiday feasts…go buttery

For those traditional holiday turkey dinners, a buttery Chardonnay or an earthy Pinot Noir will perfectly complement savoury stuffing, rich gravy and tart cranberry sauce.

Wine & spicy food…look to the hard-to-pronounce wine

Spice it up. If you’re tucking into an Asian dish or Mexican dinner, pop the cork on a bottle of Gewurztraminer – a classic pairing.

Wine & veggies…go dry or go home

Asparagus, spinach, goat cheese, or fish with butter lemon sauce—pair any of these with a dry, crisp, zingy Sauvignon Blanc.

Wine & fish…smell the flowers

Sure, you can enjoy the light floral and apricot aroma of a chilled white wine Viognier (pronounced vee-oh-NYAH) on its own—but why not go for a fuller savoury experience, matching a glass with roast chicken, light cheeses or grilled fish.

Wine & heavier meats…spice it up

Spice, smoke and plum go superbly with lamb, spareribs, barbecued beef and vegetables—and you will find all three flavours swirling about in a glass of medium to full bodied Chilean Carmenère (pronounced car-men-EHR).

Wine & light lunch…think fruity

Appetizers, salads, tapas foods and lighter lunches all go perfectly with the violet, cranberry and strawberry aromas of Rosé wines.

Wine & everything else…

Not too heavy, not too light—for red or white meat Pinot Noir’s often just right.

What does a glass of Aglianico (pronounced ah-LYAH-nee-koh) red wine go best with? It’s partly a question of age. A younger Aglianico has the acidity to suit pasta and other dishes with tomato-meat sauces; an aged bottle, however, goes best with heartier dishes such as stuffed beef tenderloin and veal marsala. 

Call on us for other food & wine lessons!

Our Savvy Team of Accredited Sommeliers would be happy to help you out if you have any questions on which wine to serve at your next dinner party – or better yet, we can organize your very own wine tasting from start to finish. Call us or email us to talk about wine.




Hurry! Our Savvy Seat Sale is over May 1 at midnight…

Posted by Debbie

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Our Savvy Event calendar in May is overflowing with Ontario wine, artisan cheese and craft beer events. We don’t want you to miss any of these fun nights out!

We’re having a Savvy Seat Sale!

Buy online before the clock strikes midnight on Tuesday May 1st and save $10 off any ticket to our Savvy Events in May. Simply click on the event link and quote PROMO CODE: SAVVYSALE

Hurry! There’s limited seating and special pricing ends on Tuesday May 1 at midnight.

Join us at one event or come to them ALL – with each ticket purchase, you’ll save $10 off the regular ticket price.


May 2Ontario Artisan Cheese Tasting with our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons – she will show you the ‘whey’ with plates of locally made cheese. Named as one of Ottawa’s ‘Must do events’ – only 6 seats left!
Savvy Seat Sale: $50 (reg $60)


May 9 – An Ottawa first: County in the City wine tasting featuring over 15 winemakers and winery owners from Prince Edward County who will be serving their best wines from ‘The County’. Sip, sample + stock up on new favorite wines from The County.
Savvy Seat Sale price: $45 (reg $55)


May 15Craft Beer 101 ‘class’ featuring local brews. Our most popular beer tasting event. Join us at Ottawa’s own Kichesippi Beer Co to learn the lingo, pour a perfect pint + taste an array of brews – all made in Ottawa. Homework never tasted this good!
Savvy Seat Sale price: $50 (reg $60) – only 8 seats left!


May 30 – All 28 wineries from Niagara-on-the-Lake are hitting Highway 401 and traveling to Ottawa to showcase 56 Wines from One Unforgettable Place . Taste + try wines that are perfect for summer sipping. Buy them directly from the winemaker – you won’t find these outstanding wines at the LCBO.
Savvy Seat Sale price: $45 (reg $55)

Can’t decide which Savvy Event to attend?
Buy an all inclusive ticket for these 4 Savvy Events at a SUPER SEAT SALE price of $180 (save $50).

Have you already purchased tickets to a Savvy Event this May? No worries. We’ll give you a credit for the difference in ticket prices to apply to an upcoming Savvy Event. All ticket prices include HST.

This Spring Seat Sale is a Savvy first. Hop on online to buy your tickets and join us for delicious discoveries of Ontario’s best wines, artisan cheese + craft beers.

We look forward to seeing you this month at Savvy Event.

The Savvy Team

PS – Looking for a reason to travel? Here’s our recommended getaways:

May 26Terroir – A County Wine Celebration – All Prince Edward County wineries are under one roof for this special festival – a perfect way to sip your way around Canada’s fastest growing wine region – only 3 hour drive from Ottawa + Toronto!

June 1 to 3 – Love cheese? You’ll love the Great Canadian Cheese Festival . This delicious weekend in Picton offers loads of opportunities to learn + explore that Canadian cheese is more than just cheddar!

March 9 to 31, 2013 – Pack your bags + join Debbie Trenholm on a one-of-a-kind trip to “Taste your way around Australia” . Cooking classes, winery visits, fine dining, boutique hotels + outdoor market trips to meet Australia’s cheesemakers, olive oil producers + chocolatiers – and this is just a start! Check out the itinerary + grab your passport!

Fine print: Savvy Seat Sale does not apply to these out of town getaways.

Savvy Company
613.SAVVYCO (613.728.8926)
Creative Social Experience

Like us on Facebook
our blogs:


Our 2010 prediction: It will be a delicious year!

Posted by Debbie

Monday, January 4th, 2010

All of us at Savvy Company can’t wait to share our wine discoveries with you this year. 

Our calendars are filling up with wine and food events, our wine of the month club – Savvy Selections – is growing in popularity, and we have booked trips to wine regions around the world. 

And for those of you who are eager to learn more about wine with one of our Sommeliers, why not enrol in a Savvy U class to learn the fun-damentals of wine appreciation? Homework never tasted this good!

Here’s to a delicious 2010 with a glass of great wine in hand & one of our Sommeliers by your side.

Debbie & the Savvy Team