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The Okanagan Spring Wine Festival

Mar 31, 2010

The Okanagan of British Columbia is one of Canada's largest wine regions so it's no surprise that it hosts a wine festival in the Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. With Spring upon us, it's almost time for the Annual Okanagan Spring Wine Festival. 

The Okanagan of British Columbia is one of Canada's largest wine regions so it's no surprise that it hosts a wine festival in the Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. With Spring upon us, it's almost time for the Annual Okanagan Spring Wine Festival. 

 

The Okanagan Spring Wine Festival is a perfect marriage of wine and culinary tourism. For the first ten days in May each year, it offers a tantalizing experience for anyone who loves fabulous wine accompanied by fine cuisine. Guests can choose from an incredible 100 plus events throughout Okanagan Wine Country at a time of year when it is absolutely delightful to savour Spring in the warm sunshine. 

 

The festival runs from April 30th-May 9th.

 

For more information on The Okanagan Spring Wine Festival visit their website here

 

(Information and photo courtesy of The Wine Festivals.com)

 

Saving Leftover Wine

Mar 31, 2010

They say a glass of wine a day is good for your health so in the absence of drinking with company it's inevitable that we will have leftover wine. That brings up the question of the best ways to store an open bottle of wine. It is rather important in an attempt at maintaining the quality and final taste of the wine because once you remove the cork, oxygen can greatly affect the quality of the wine. Storing conditions do matter and there are a number of things you can do to help in the process.

They say a glass of wine a day is good for your health so in the absence of drinking with company it's inevitable that we will have leftover wine. That brings up the question of the best ways to store an open bottle of wine. It is rather important in an attempt at maintaining the quality and final taste of the wine because once you remove the cork, oxygen can greatly affect the quality of the wine. Storing conditions do matter and there are a number of things you can do to help in the process.

 

Refrigeration is key as the cooler temperatures slow down the degradation of the wine so tightly re-corking the bottle and storing it in the fridge is the simplest and most important step. Half bottles of wine are available for purchase and if you happen to have a spare empty half bottle (375 ml), pour the leftover wine into the bottle and re-cork. This way the amount of oxygen that is allowed to come into contact with wine is substantially diminished. 

 

A rather more debatable method of storage is the use of a hand pump vacuum accessory. There are some that believe the vacuum method to be ineffective and even detrimental causing the wine to become flat and dull. The same argument surrounds the use of a compressed nitrogen device that squirts nitrogen into the bottle and is supposed to displace oxygen. Both have their naysayers and enthusiasts alike and both are good accessories in theory and certainly worth personally trying but there are varying reports on either of their effectiveness.

 

Another popular storage option for open wine is, believe it or not, in the freezer where individual servings can be frozen in ice cube trays and used at a later date for cooking. And if freezing isn't  for you, why not go ahead and plan a meal cooking with your leftover wine right away? There are many delicious dishes that are made with wine.

 

One last thing to note is the ideal maximum storing timeline. Some are adamant that  leftover wine be consumed the next day and no longer while others follow a 3-4 day rule. This is where your palette makes the decision but note that older wines will deteriorate in quality much quicker than younger wines. Also, make sure to remove red wine from the fridge a couple of hours before consumption to allow it to come to a suitable temperature. These are just a few tips to ensure your wine experience continues to be even that much more enjoyable. One glass at a time.

 

(Photo Credit: pizzeriaventi.com)

 

Spotting Corked Wine

Mar 30, 2010

There has likely been a time or two when you've opened a bottle of wine and it has smelled and tasted a little off, perhaps a lot off. In these cases it is not your taste buds rebelling against the wine in question, it is probably because the wine is "corked". Now, corked is not a term that is used to describe those bits of cork that sometimes make their way into our glasses. Corked is a wine term used to describe a bottle that has been contaminated and is essentially undrinkable.

There has likely been a time or two when you've opened a bottle of wine and it has smelled and tasted a little off, perhaps a lot off. In these cases it is not your taste buds rebelling against the wine in question, it is probably because the wine is "corked". Now, corked is not a term that is used to describe those bits of cork that sometimes make their way into our glasses. Corked is a wine term used to describe a bottle that has been contaminated and is essentially undrinkable.

 

There are various reasons for this and it's often debatable. Some people are staunch believers that corking happens strictly from a bad cork while others believe in the thought that the tainting may occur from wooden barrels, storage conditions of the wine and even transportation of the corks and wine. It's important to note that a corked wine has nothing to do with the original quality of the wine. Cork taint can affect wines irrespective of price and quality level. There is one undisputed reason for cork taint and that is the the contamination of a chemical called 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole or TCA for short.

 

Cellar Notes has a good explanation detailing TCA comntamination:

 

A 'Corked' wine is a wine that has been bottled with a cork that is contaminated with TCA (2,4,6-Trichloroanisole). TCA contamination usually comes from corks but can also come from barrels, other cooperage or even, apparently, from wood within the cellar including walls or beams. The term 'corked wine' is applied to all wines with TCA contamination because corks are the souce of most of the problems. The wine industry estimates that as many as 3% to 7% of all wines have TCA contamination at levels that can be detected by consumers. Because most people are not trained to recognize the smell and taste of TCA, only a very small fraction of these bad bottles are ever returned to stores or sent back at a restaurant.

 

Even a very tiny amount of TCA in a wine can ruin it. Most people become aware of TCA in quatities as small as 5 parts per trillion and some individuals are even more sensitive. When TCA is present in quantities high enough to be evident to a person, it comes across as 'musty' aromas and flavors. Even when TCA is not evident in the smell or taste of a wine, very small quantities can subdue the aromas and flavors of fruit that the wine would ordinarily exhibit.

 

TCA does not pose a health risk (at least in the levels found in wines). It just imparts the aromas and flavors that are objectionable when found in sufficient quantity. Many wines have levels of TCA that are below the threshold of perception. Wine is not the only place you can find TCA. It is also found in some municipal water supplies as well as in some teas.

 

A great deal of work continues in the cork industry as well as at wineries to develop methods to eliminate corked wine. So far, no completely reliable method has been found.

 

There are other causes of bad bottles of wine, but TCA contamination is the primary fault you will find in otherwise well-stored bottles. Other faults can include wines that are oxidized, lightstruck or have undergone unplanned secondary fermentation.

 

Detecting corked wine can sometimes be fairly easy with just a sniff of the wine. It will have a characteristic odor described as resembling a moldy newspaper, mushrooms, wet dog, damp cloth, or damp basement. However there are times when it's a little more challenging to detect and the only way to do so is by tasting the wine. If this is the case, it will taste like all of the similar qualities above as well as tasting astringent and with a raspy finish. 

 

Sadly there is no easy way to avoid a corked bottle of wine. Cork is a natural product and can be fair game for microorganisms. And if nature has taught us anything it's that not everything can be perfect all of the time. 

 

(References: New York Magazine, Cellar Notes, The Wine Doctor. Photo Credit: RSC.org)

 

Mother's Day Gift Ideas for the Wine Connoisseur

Mar 30, 2010

 

 

Does your mom appreciate the finer things in life like enjoying a perfect glass of wine and curling up with a good book? If your mom knows the difference between a moelleux and a Merlot, we’ve got great gift ideas for her! Depending on your age, you might not be able to buy her a bottle of her favorite vintage for Mother’s Day, but there are lots of other wine gifts and accessories that she’ll love. 

 

Gifts up to $20

  • Wine charms - If your mom loves hosting parties, wine charms are a great way for her guests to tell which glass is theirs. Look for charms that complement her design style or relate to her hobbies. Most wine charms clip around the stem of the glass, but some are built with tiny suction cups to hold them to the glass.
  • Bottle opener - Say goodbye to boring, hard-to-use corkscrews. Check department stores and other gift shops for ergonomically designed bottle openers that lift out corks with a flick of the wrist. Techie Moms will love some of the battery operated designs too!

Gifts up to $50

  • Decanter - Wine decanters are a great Mother’s Day gift idea for women who like to dress their tables elegantly for formal dinners. Pouring wine into a decanter before serving it can improve the flavor of the wine and will allow sediment to settle.
  • Stemware - There’s a good chance your mom is still using her first set of stemware. No matter how careful we are, everyone loses one or two glasses to clumsy elbows or uneven tables. Give your mom a new set of stemware in a contemporary design to update her collection. Fashionista Moms love fancy stemware too.
  • Wine tasting kit - These clever kits let your mom throw a fabulous party for all her wine-loving friends. Kits usually come with a black bag to disguise the wine bottle and scoring pads so each guest can guess where the wine is from and what kind it is. Give your mom gift certificates that she can use to buy bottles for the party.

 Gifts up to $100

  • Wine chiller - A table top wine chiller guarantees your mom’s favorite vintages are served at the ideal temperature every time. Just set the bottle in the chiller and in a matter of minutes, it’s ready to serve. Wine chillers are great Mother's Day gift ideas for foodie Moms who love gourmet cooking.
  • Wine rack - Choose a sophisticated design that matches your mom’s decorating tastes. A wine rack that can be displayed in the dining room or that offers refrigeration is a fantastic Mother’s Day gift idea.

Gifts up to $200

  • Winery tour - Most winery tours are actually free or are available at a very small cost. But if you’re going to do it, do it right. Get Mom a voucher for a bed and breakfast close to the winery or a gift certificate for the winery’s restaurant. Different tourist companies also offer creative ways for Mom to tour multiple wineries. Check for different tour companies that offer bicycle or bus tours of multiple wineries.
  • Bottle her own wine - On Premise Winemaking is going strong. Mom can make her very own wine at a Just Fine Wine and enjoy bottling and labeling it herself - or better yet, with your help! You’ll be surprised how many bottles she’ll get for a reasonable price. Just Fine Wine has gift certificates available for any denomination!

If you know your mom’s favorite type of wine, pick up a bottle for dinner or ask someone to pick it up on your behalf. Don’t forget a well-worded toast to thank your mom for being such a lovely person.

(Article from Mothers Day and More. Photo Credit: Sparkling Direct.com)

 

Italian Brunello is Here!

Mar 30, 2010

April may bring showers but it also brings us the final Limited Edition of the year!

April may bring showers but it also brings us the final Limited Edition of the year!

 

 

Pacific Quartet

April: Italian Brunello

(Originally offered in April 2007)

The Wine: Italian Brunello is a large-berried variety of the Sangiovese grape, most famous in Brunello di Montalcino. The flavour profile of Sangiovese is fruity, with strong natural acidity, a firm and elegant assertiveness and a robust finish that can extend surprisingly long. The aroma is generally subtle, with cherry, strawberry, blueberry, and violet notes. Medium-bodied but boldly tannic and intense, this gripping wine will begin to open up after six months, but the richer flavours will take at least 18 months to show, with cherry and spice dominating the long, fruity finish.

The Food: Brunello shines in the company of assertively flavoured foods. Hard cheeses such as Asiago and Parmigiano Reggiano are splendid accompaniments and the wines backbone of acids and tannins make it work well with rich and spicy foods like Italian sausages or lasagna.

Sweetness Code: 0

Fashionable Wines for Spring

Mar 28, 2010

Spring has sprung and that means it's time to lighten up. The days are longer, the flowers are blooming and the weather finally permits patio lounging time and there is no better way to enjoy that time than with a nice cool glass of wine.

Spring has sprung and that means it's time to lighten up. The days are longer, the flowers are blooming and the weather finally permits patio lounging time and there is no better way to enjoy that time than with a nice cool glass of wine.

 

It's true that wine should never be considered based on whether it's fashionable or not. After all, for many the word fashionable translates to trendy and that is certainly no way to choose your wines but there is good reason to relate wine to seasons. Spring for example embodies rejuvenation and invigoration and these characteristics call for young, light wines.

 

So what then are excellent choices for this beautiful season? Crisp Rieslings, an elegant floral Pinot Gris, a refreshing, zesty Sauvignon Blanc or a fruity German Muller-Thurgau are all supremely satisfying for Spring and otherwise. The ease in which these wines can be enjoyed are perfect choices for the refreshment that is Spring.

 

(Photo Credit: Seaside Florida)

 

The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival

Mar 21, 2010

Mark your calenders Vancouver because the ever popular, highly regarded Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is on its way. The festival runs from April 19-25th and this years regional themes are New Zealand and Argentina. 

Mark your calenders Vancouver because the ever popular, highly regarded Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is on its way. The festival runs from April 19-25th and this years regional themes are New Zealand and Argentina. 

 

The festival is one of the oldest beginning in 1979 as a fundraiser by then Playhouse Board Memeber John E. Levine. Its first year featured one Vintner and attracted just 1000 people. Today the festival is one of the largest in North America and attracts aproximately 25,000 wine lovers from all over the World with 197 Wineries participating in 61 events.

 

Featuring wine tastings and food pairings, educational seminars, culinary competitions, luncheons, dinners and so much more, the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival has something for everyone, from novice to expert.

 

For more information on the festival click on the link to the official website: The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival 

 

 

Food and Wine's 125 Reasons We Love Wine

Mar 14, 2010

The contributors over at Food and Wine.com compiled a list of their favorite things in the world of wine. The list ranges from some of their favorite wine regions, International wine country hotels, Urban Vineyards, quaint country Inn cellars and Italian villas.  The list also delves into the eccentricities of the wine world, say for example if you are in the market for a $5000 antique corkscrew, it's on the list. Looking to serve the world's most exotic raisins at your next soiree? They're on the list too.

The contributors over at Food and Wine.com compiled a list of their favorite things in the world of wine. The list ranges from some of their favorite wine regions, International wine country hotels, Urban Vineyards, quaint country Inn cellars and Italian villas.  The list also delves into the eccentricities of the wine world, say for example if you are in the market for a $5000 antique corkscrew, it's on the list. Looking to serve the world's most exotic raisins at your next soiree? They're on the list too.

 

While there are certainly a few elaborate entries, for the most part the list is a huge source of information for any wine lover.

 

Click here for the full article on Food and Wine.com.

 

(Photo Credit: Linda Paul)

 

March is Here...and so is Pacific Quartet!

Mar 2, 2010

Just how do you follow up Olympic Gold? With Pacific Quartet of course! This March Limited Edition is now in stock. If you pre-ordered this superb white wine, please drop by the shop and get yours started today.

Just how do you follow up Olympic Gold? With Pacific Quartet of course! This March Limited Edition is now in stock. If you pre-ordered this superb white wine, please drop by the shop and get yours started today.

 

Pacific Quartet

March: Pacific Quartet

(Originally offered in March 2007)

The Region:The Pacific Coast of North America has micro-climates that match those of the blazing sunshine of the Mediterranean to the crisp mountain air of the upper Rhine. With so much range and variety, there is a perfect terroir for almost any grape you can name.

The Wine:This wine showcases bright fruit, excellent structure and a long finish. Vidal from British Columbia gives spiciness and stone fruit. Chenin Blanc from California gives a wonderful melony-honeyed aroma with hints of apple. Gewürztraminer from Washington contributes lychee, rose petals and floral notes, and Muscat from Australia’s Murray- Darling Valley gives wonderful grapey notes with dried fruit and hints of orange peel.

The Food:This wine has a range of fruit character and enough acidity to stand up to a wide range of foods, particularly spicy and savoury dishes, including Thai cuisine, grilled fish, herbed roast chicken or barbecued salmon. Although delicious right on bottling day, drinking it early would prevent it from showing it’s best–after six months the Muscat and Vidal will dominate with spicy/grapey notes, after a year the Chenin Blanc’s honey and melon will come out, and at 18 months to two years the Gewürztraminer will show a perfumed floweriness and lush structure.

Sweetness Code: 1 (off dry)

Decanting: When, Why and How-To

Feb 19, 2010

Decanting wine is essentially the process of transferring wine, usually older wines or port, into a different vessel than its original bottle. It is a simple process with considerable benefits. Decanting is used to remove the sediment that may have accumulated in older wines but it is also a useful tool that allows wine to successfully breathe.  

Decanting wine is essentially the process of transferring wine, usually older wines or port, into a different vessel than its original bottle. It is a simple process with considerable benefits. Decanting is used to remove the sediment that may have accumulated in older wines but it is also a useful tool that allows wine to successfully breathe.  

 

The most common reason for decanting is to remove the sediment from an older wine, particularly red wine. The reason sediment occurs is because wine naturally has particles from the grape skins and seeds but with the aging process those particles have had the opportunity to separate from the wine and settle in the bottle. By using a decanter you can easily separate the sediment from the wine. This is a very desirable quality of decanting as the sediment is not something one would want to consume. While it is a natural result of the aging process and completely harmless, sediment is not exactly appealing to the eye or the mouth.

 

Another benefit of decanting is to let the wine breathe which simply means letting oxygen mingle with the wine, usually younger wines, to open up the the aroma and revealing the full potential of the wine by softening its young bite. Simply uncorking a bottle will not permit enough air exposure because of the small opening of the neck.

 

Finally, from a strictly vain perspective, using a decanter is a beautiful way of presenting your wine. In most cases, decanters are designed to look charming and attractive. The old saying holds true that we eat with our eyes first and the same can be said for enjoying wine. Color is an important factor in wine drinking and for that reason alone, serving wine in a decanter is fabulously alluring. 

 

When decanting to remove sediment there are a few steps to follow:

 

  • Stand the bottle upright for several hours or the day before you plan on decanting so the sediment can settle on the bottom of the bottle.
  • In addition to removing the cork you will also want to remove the foil seal surrounding the top of the bottle. This allows you to see the entire bottle and thus, when the sediment reaches the top you will know when to stop pouring. Some people choose to do the pouring process with a lit candle behind the bottle to further assist in noticing the sediment in the neck of the bottle. To do this, place the lit candle directly behind (but not touching) the neck of the bottle.
  • Gently and slowly pour the wine into the decanter trying to avoid any of the sediment sneaking in. You will notice the presence of the sediment when you see it as it is much thicker and darker than the actual wine itself. Once you see the sediment in the neck of the bottle while you are pouring this is the time to stop pouring. Place the bottle down to rest for a minute or two then carefully pour once again just to be sure.
  • After you have successfully decanted the wine you may serve it immediately.

 

In the absence of sediment if your goal is to let a younger wine breathe, simply pour the wine into the decanter and let it breathe an hour or so.

 

When choosing a decanter you'll want to look for a clear glass carafe. There are many different decanters on the market and they can range from simple glass to exquisite crystal. They come in an array of shapes, sizes, even upright or sideways versions. And while the more elegant decanters can run fairly pricey, a basic decanter will retail for an average of $20-$30 and that is all one really needs for effective decanting. These can usually be found at any gourmet kitchen shop, specialty wine stores or are widely available online.

 

Decanting is not absolutely necessary by any means but it does have its benefits and if for just a few reasons it certainly adds an extra element to partaking in a delightful bottle of wine.

 

(Photo Credit: Riedel.com)