Posts Tagged ‘wine tips’

DIY Wine Tasting – tips from our Sommeliers

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015
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Have you been renovating all winter? Show off your new digs by having friends and neighbours over for a do-it-yourself wine tasting?  It does not need to be an overly grand production, rather a novel ‘reason’ to have people over to ooh and ahhh about your handy work.

Like hiring a designer or contractor, you can call on a Sommelier (check out our 17 Savvy Sommeliers who are there to help you) to take care of all the details and work with a caterer to prepare a menu paired with each wine.   Here’s our tips & trick on hosting your own wine tasting:

Savvy Company - GiancarloStep 1 – It’s all about the experience

Depending on how formal and structured you would like the experience to be, a wine tasting can be conducted at a large dining room table with rows of wine glasses waiting to be sampled.  For a more casual experience, try a reception style in your family room, but the reality is that everyone may end up in the kitchen. This way they can help themselves to a table full of different wines and platters of hors d’oeuvres throughout the evening.

Step 2 – What’s your theme?

Your wine tasting event can focus on exploring wines of a certain country or region or can examine one type of wine such as Pinot Noirs, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnays from various wine regions around the world.

The top 5 themes for wine tastings that our Savvy Sommeliers design & host are:

A Trip Around the World in 5 Glasses
Cheese, Chocolate & Wine!
An Endless Night of Bubbles! (showcasing different styles of sparkling wines)
Passionate about Pinot (featuring Pinot Gris & Pinot Noirs from around the world)
Be Adventurous – wines under $20 you’ve never tried

Step 3 – Wine shopping made simpleCathy Law with glasses

With your theme in mind, now comes the fun part of selecting the wines.  Here are tips from the pros at Savvy Company:

Welcome your guests into your newly-renovated home with a glass of sparkling wine.  The popping of the cork sets the mood for a party (watch that it does not spray onto your freshly-painted walls or hit the ceiling!) and a glass of bubbly cleanses and refreshes your palette, preparing it for the evening ahead of delicious wines and foods.

Feature 5 to 7 wines as too many wines will ‘numb’ your palette. Each sampling of wine should be approximately two ounces (about one inch in an ISO wine tasting glass…more about glasses below).  This equates to serving 10 people per bottle of wine.

Step 4 – What about food?

Wine is made to be enjoyed with food.  At a minimum, offer your guests sliced baguettes and water crackers to cleanse & refresh their palettes between wines.  To augment the food selection, have an artisan cheese board with an assortment of hard, soft and blue veined cheeses.  Go a step further and enhance the wine and food experience by pairing each wine with hors d’oeuvres.

Tip from the pros:  leave pickles, dips & vegetable sticks for another party and serve foods like grilled vegetables, hearty meatballs, chicken satay, roasted nuts & olives …and don’t forget cheese!

Now…Let the fun begin!

Savvy Company - AmandaEnjoying wine engages all of your senses.    There are no rules to wine tasting as everyone’s impression is personal and this makes for interesting conversation. I always say, “Wine tasting is as easy as eyes, nose and mouth.” With each wine, take note of the colour (eyes), the aromas (nose) and the flavours (mouth).

Let’s taste a wine together… Pour approximately two ounces into your wine glass.

Eyes…

Tilt the glass 45 degrees away from you, using a white tablecloth as the backdrop and notice:

The colour and clarity of the wine. 

What colour does it remind you of:
Whites – pale straw or golden
Rosés – cotton candy pink, salmon or terracotta
Reds – garnet, fire engine red, cherry, purple, ink or opaque 

Nose…

Aromas or bouquet, however you call it, Sommelier pros suggest to hold the ISO tasting glass by the stem, swirl the wine in a steady circular motion to introduce air into the wine to release the aromas.

What does the wine smell like? 

Basic descriptors are:
Sparkling wines – nutty, refreshing, crisp
White wines – dry, floral, citrus, tropical fruit, pineapple, pears, apples
Reds – cherry, strawberry, blackberry, earthy, vanilla, leather, dried fruit

Mouth….

And now to taste! Take a sip, chew the wine (as if it were mouthwash) to coat your entire mouth.

Take note:
Is the wine light, medium or full bodied?
Does the wine taste the same as it smells?
Do the flavours linger or disappear?
Try each wine with food and note how the food changes your enjoyment of the wine.

Repeat…Repeat…Repeat!

After an evening of swirling, sipping and perhaps spitting, it is no wonder that a wine tasting is a fun way to explore the world of wines as well as socializing in your newly renovated home.

 

Tools of the trade

ISO wine tasting glasses: These tulip shaped glasses (right) allow you to easily swirl 2 ounces of wine and the narrow rim captures the aromas.  ISO glassesFor a formal tasting, one glass per featured wine is needed per person, or a casual cocktail style event requires one glass per person to re-use throughout the event.

White tablecloth:  drape your table with a basic white tablecloth so that your guests can use it white background to really see the colour of the wines

Pitcher of Water: for rinsing the glasses and refreshing your palette in between wines

Spitoon or bucket: used to empty unwanted wine and rinsing water.

Don’t forget the corkscrew!

 

Savvy Company - ShawnLet the experts do it for you!

If you are DIY-ed out and want a Sommelier to design and organize a fun wine event in your home, call on our Savvy Sommeliers us anytime 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926).

Or join us at our Taste & Buy events to sip and sample Ontario wines which are not available at the LCBO.

Next event: County in the Capital – Wednesday April 8th- featuring hard-to-find wines, craft beers & ciders from Prince Edward County. Tickets $65 + bring a friend for $1.  Buy your tickets quickly – this event will sell out fast!>>

Cheers!
Debbie

 

This article appears in the ‘Spaces’ issue of Ottawa Life Magazine – March/April 2015

 

 

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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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Wines to discover at Terroir Wine Festival in The County

Posted by Debbie

Monday, May 14th, 2012
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To prepare you for wine discoveries at next weekend’s Terroir Wine Celebration, our Sommeliers share with you tasting notes of more Prince Edward County wines.  Whether you enjoy white wine, red wine or are in the mood for a glass of Rose or sparkling wine, these wines will WOW you!

 

Huff Estates Vidalessco Sparkling VQA 2011

There is no better way to begin a dinner party (or any meal for that matter!) than with the pop of a cork of a bottle of bubbly!  This unique wine is made with Vidal grapes.  Vidal is often left on the vines to make icewine, yet at Huff Estates winemaker, Frederic Picard (originally from Burgundy France), decided to do something completely different – create a crisp & refreshing sparkling wine fashioned after the Italian Prosecco.  

Savvy Sommelier Debbie interviews Frederic  in the vineyard – watch the video

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Dry with fine mousse (winespeak: bubbles) elegant aromas & tastes of citrus (can you find mandarin or lime?) & toasted almond.

Suggested Food Pairings: For fun, serve sparkling wine with salty potato chips (the saltier the better!). The salt reacts with the bubbles & makes an even more lively sensation in your mouth – like fireworks!

 

The Grange’s Trumpour’s Mill Chardonnay VQA 2007

A visit to The Grange of Prince Edward County Winery is not only an opportunity to taste the wines, explore the vineyards and marvel at the historic restored buildings on site; a visit provides a Canadian history lesson too.

This month, we feature The Grange in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club.  This Chardonnay impressed our Savvy Sommeliers.  Chardonnay was among the first varietals planted on the Granger estate. A grape which lends itself to a range of styles, this exemplar is unoaked and displays the texture and complexity of extended lees contact.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Offering tantalizing aromas of jasmine, honeyed stone fruit, pear and mango, this is a balanced creamy yet dry wine, weighty with flavourful fruit and kissed with a touch of toasted nuts. It finishes slightly warm and gently spiced.

Suggested Food Pairing: Enjoy this wine with pasta in a cream-based sauce, with crab cakes or lobster, or with savoury roast chicken.

Cellaring:  Delightful now or over the next couple of years!

 

Karlo Estates Frontenac Gris Rose VQA 2011

Karlo Estates is a must visit as one of ‘The County’s’ wineries – housed in a heritage Loyalist barn. Owner & winemaker Richard Karlo has developed his career from being a wine judge to an amateur winemaker, then consulting winemaker & now winery owner. 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Last year’s Rose from Karlo was full of rhubarb & citrus aromas & tastes.  This vintage boasts watermelon, tangerine & ruby red grapefruit.  Crisp & refreshing, this medium bodied Rose feels delicious in your mouth & tastes wonderful too!

Suggested Food Pairings: This is a perfect wine to unwind with at the cottage, pack with a picnic or on enjoy while you soak up the sunshine in the backyard.  Serve on its own or with spicy food.

 

Rosehall Run Cabernet Franc Cold Creek VQA 2008

Cabernet Franc is often used in red wine blends, yet in Ontario, this grape grows so well that winemakers keep it aside to craft outstanding Cabernet Franc wines.  Rosehall Run Vineyards owner & winemaker Dan Sullivan found a parcel of land in The County – complete with a creek running through it – with outstanding Cabernet Franc grapes. 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Bright garnet red colour in the glass, bursting with aromas of ripe red berries, raspberry that packs an impressive punch of dark chocolate.   On the palate it is dry, medium bodied with soft tannins reminders of sour cherry & cassis.

Suggested Food Pairings: The lingering finish makes this wine a perfect match for both light & heavy dishes from BBQ sausages, lamb chops, roast duck & even grilled salmon. Debbie loves this wine with a chunk of dark chocolate! 

Stanners Vineyard Cabernet Franc PEC VQA 2010

Stanners Vineyard is one of the newest wineries to open in The County is run by the Stanner family & everyone in the family is involved!  Located near the town of Hillier (about 20 mins away from Picton), they are surrounded by other neighbouring wineries.  The Stanners made 2 Cabernet Franc wines – one all County while the other is a blend of Niagara & County.  This one was the favorite at the recent County in the City wine tasting event in Ottawa.  It was fun to try the 2 wines side by side – and this you can definitely do when you visit Terroir Wine Festival! 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Plum in colour, there are delicious aromas of blackberry, raspberry & plums too that fill the glass then continue into the taste.  It is dry & well balanced wine with a medium long finish.  A very impressive wine.  Well done!

 Suggested Food Pairings: An easy drinking red wine that would be good with grilled burgers, lasagna or even BBQed steak.  Stock up for the summer!

We look forward to seeing you in The County at Terroir on Saturday May 26th!

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Who drinks Rosé wines? Women & smart men!

Posted by Julie

Monday, May 31st, 2010
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A winemaker was recently asked who was drinking rosé and he replied “mostly women and smart men.”

 

As the curtain closed on Canada’s 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralymic Games, Canada’s largest wine festival, the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival opened up last month, with the emphasis on wines from New Zealand and Argentina as well as shining the spotlight on rosé wines.  There were 45+ wines from different countries, with varying styles showing a kaleidoscope of colour from copper to cranberry. As that could make yet another wine wheel, the genre was indicative enough to show that rosé is more than wines that are “just pink with tastes of strawberries” (my reaction to this overused comment: argg!).

 

Although rosé has long been associated with being born in the south of France and made largely from Grenache grapes, in the past year rosé it was reported that consumption in France has increased by 22%. Currently, every wine producing country now produces their own version. For every red grape varietal, a rosé is being made. I was amazed by the quantity and quality of many rosé’s at the Festival. Winemakers from Germany, Argentina, Spain, France, Canada, New Zealand, the U.S.A, Chile and Australia spoke of and promoted their respective rosés from how it was made, to the body of the wine and even to the time of day to drink it! 

 

When winemakers were asked when to serve their rosé, responses varied from breakfast to fore-noon, to afternoon to late evening; concluding that rosé was an any time of day refreshment and not just for the summer barbeque or picnic. Most agreed that rosé should be served just below room temperature as opposed to the boney cold which many, including myself are guilty.

 

On the pairing side with food, rosé frequently mates with the uninventive salmon along with an assortment of other seafoods that tend to put the mind in neutral, (depending of course on preparation). However, I experienced brilliant innovative pairings such as shredded lamb over polenta, and an orzo pasta with beets and greens, topped with a pink cotton candy – Executive Chef & Sommelier Tony Lawrence deserves kudos for this innovation – that complimented a myriad of dark cranberry coloured rosé’s especially those made from the Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz grapes.

  

This year more noticeably than others, all you have to do is walk into the LCBO to be overwhelmed with the variety of rosé wines. Although being a rosé lover, I have no need of a sales pitch to try yet another delicious dry rosé wine. But to say that rosé has now found its way into the international genre of the serious wine world is an understatement. We can no longer assume that if it’s cranberry or pink, that it is sweet and without the complexity of a full bodied wine. 

 

The time has come for us to stop looking suspiciously at these vibrant, fresh coloured wines since it is obvious we can no longer judge a rosé by its cover and that’s not looking at the subject through rosey rim glasses. 

 

Some Rosé wines that I recommend to try this summer:

de Venoge Brut Pink Champagne

M. Chapoutier Tavel 2008

Bastianich Rosato 2008

 

Santé,  Cheers,  Cin cin, Salute !

Julie Stock

Accredited Sommelier & newest member of the Savvy Team

 

You are invited!

Join Julie & the Savvy Team of Sommeliers at Clink & Drink Pink – a Rosé wine tasting on Wednesday July 14th. Click for more details about this fun wine & food event

We look forward to having you join us!

 

 

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Le Clos Jordanne – a fabulous Ontario Pinot Noir

Posted by Susan

Friday, December 5th, 2008
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Looking for a unique gift for the holiday season?  Don’t miss the LCBO Vintages Wine of the Month, Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve (#33894, $30), released December 6, 2008.  This Pinot Noir is an excellent value Ontario Pinot Noir, which can be cellared for 3-5 years.

I had the opportunity to participate in a tasting let by Thomas Bachelder, Le Clos Jordanne winemaker.  Thomas is a native Montrealer who developed his winemaking expertise in Burgundy, while pursuing a formal education in Viticulture and Oenology in Beaune.  He has tremendous enthusiasm for Le Clos Jordanne terroir, for the winemaking team, and for his wine. 

Le Clos Jordanne’s approach to the vines and the land is to allow the wine to express its ‘sense of place’.  In order to ensure this, the vines and fruit are tended and harvested by hand, and no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides are used.  In 2005, the winery received its first Ecocert Canada certification for organic farming.

Last summer, I had the opportunity of a private visit to Le Clos Jordanne winemaking facilities in Niagara,   This winery was established in 1998 as a joint venture between Vincor and the French firm, Boisset.  They were convinced that the Niagara property had similar characteristics of slope, climate, soil and terroir to the Cote d’Or in Burgundy.

The focus of Le Clos Jordanne is on premium Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes are grown on several properties which are uniquely situated; they include La Petite, Talon Ridge, Claystone Terrace and Le Clos Jordanne vineyards.  The wine from each of its properties in unique, as I discovered during a barrel tasting.  For instance, Claystone East produces a fairly robust Pinot, which may be blended with Talon Ridge, along with deselected barrels of the other single vineyards, to produce Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve.

If you love fine Pinot Noir, as I do, visit the Vintages section of your LCBO, or contact us regarding the opportunity to purchase a case directly from Le Clos Jordanne. 

Happy holidays

Susan

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