Six gifts and gadgets for the wine connoisseur you love

What do you get the wine lover on your list?  There are plenty of options from the conversation piece to the essential accessories or tools that every connoisseur should have.

Here’s our six amazing gifts and gadgets to look out for:

1. Waring Chiller: With temperature playing a huge part in wine appreciation, this amzing little gadget makes it really easy. The Waring Chiller will chill or warm a bottle to the ideal temperature for maximum enjoyment – whether it’s dialed in manually or by wine type.

2. Final Touch Wine Funnel: Rosehill Wine Cellars has a ton of cool gadgets and it was hard to pick one for this post (so check out all their accessories!) For those that don’t have the space for a proper decanter, the Final Touch will breathe some life into younger reds and white wines. Even better – it traps sediment so it stays out of the glass.

3. Wine Out Stain Remover: Who hasn’t spilled red wine all over their favorite shirt?  Overzealous swirlers and quaffers alike will appreciate the freedom from a stained shirt or the embarrassment of leaving their mark on a friend’s carpet after a party. Yes, white wine is the age-old remedy to take out red wine stains, but what a waste of good wine!

4. Wine Refrigerator: Yes, the wine rack in the kitchen looks quaint and adds to the decor, but it makes wine connoisseurs cringe to see wine exposed to heat like that. A fridge calibrated to the right temperature for your wine will ensure a perfect glass anytime. Continue reading

What you need to know about icewine

Say “Canadian wine” to anyone and the first thing they will do is roll their eyes back and rave about ice wine. Icewine is a rare gift from a magical Canadian winter. Picked at the coldest moment of a winter’s night, each frozen grape creates just one drop of Icewine.

From bottles that sell for $300 to the Queen of England to a more humbly priced one from a newcomer, Icewine is special no matter how much you spend or which winery it comes from.

Here’s a little cheat sheet on Canada’s most treasured wine:

How it’s grown and made: Icewine grapes are kept on the vine in the winter months. The thawing and freezing results in a sweet, complex and concentrated juice. The water portion of the grape is frozen and when pressed, what comes out is a concentrated and thick juice. Typically Riesling, Vidal Blanc and Seyval Blanc wines are used for ice wine, but reds are finding their way into icewine bottles.

Why it costs so much: a vine will usually produce a bottle of wine. With icewine, a vine will produce one glass because the only liquid that is pressed is the juice. As well, because the grapes are left so long on the vine, they are more vulnerable to birds and other scavengers in the vineyard. But that said you can find bottles for as little as $14 at local wineries like Angels Gate Winery. Continue reading

How to host a chocolate tasting

There are few people in the world who don’t love chocolate. This post is a tribute to “all things devine” – and what is more divine than chocolate? If you’re wondering what to do for your next get together – a chocolate tasting might be a great idea. And because we love chocolate as much as everyone else, Michelle’s Devine Wine Tours always includes a trip to a chocolate shop called Chocolates Etc.

But that said, it’s a while before the next tour in the Spring, so here is how to host your own chocolate tasting:

Variety is key – you’ll want to have at least six different types of chocolate. This would include:

Milk Chocolate: a combination of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar and milk or cream but contains 10% chocolate liquor. Continue reading

Raise a glass with 13th Street Winery

It all starts with the best grapes, according to 13th Street Winery. Only the best will do for their wines and they scour Niagara for the finest grapes for their wines, using a blend of the grapes they grow themselves and those grown by other vineyards.

It’s a system that has worked well for wine-maker  Jean Pierre Colas who is an accomplished producer of world class Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Gamay and Syrah. Two elements that make up Jean Pierre’s unique wine-making  philosophy are ‘experimentation’ and ‘blending’. Every new vintage offers him an opportunity to try a new technique or vineyard so that we might learn how best to capture the very best of that particular vintage.

I had the pleasure of tasting their 2010 White Palette recently. It’s a gorgeous white blend of  Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay Musqué, Riesling, Pinot Gris with hints of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Chardonnay. It’s a gorgeous white wine that first made me think about the first delicate rays of morning sunshine when I saw it. I immediately picked up grapefruit and a hint of herb on the nose. One taste though, and I was in love. The grapefruit became more pronounced and was joined by lychee  notes.

This is a great wine that can be enjoyed on its own or with spicier fish or chicken dishes. I would recommend checking out all of 13th Street’s wines – you won’t be disappointed!

Wines to watch for this Thanksgiving

There is nothing like a brawny Gerwürztraminer alongside your turkey and cranberry sauce. The Germanic wines, which Niagara is celebrated for, shine on the Thanksgiving table and are gentle enough for even the “non-wine drinkers” (yes, unfortunately they exist!) at your holiday feast.

Süssreserve is a type of Riesling where unfermented Riesling grape juice is added back just before bottling increasing complexity, character, structure, natural acidity and of course natural sweetness.

Rosewoood Estates makes several Rieslings including their 2009 Süssreserve Riesling. With vibrant notes of lemon, lime zest and mandarin orange and medium weight palette with citrus fruits, fresh acidity and balanced sweetness, this one will have your guests swooning. 

Angels Gate Winery  makes fresh, punchy whites with an Aussie flair, with their Winemaker hailing from Down Under. Their version of Süssreserve Riesling strikes the right balance between fruit and acidity with gorgeous apricot tones. Like most Angels Gate wines, the price is right.

There are a lot of popular Gerwürztraminer and Riesling blends out there and they give you the best of both worlds – a fruity and cheerful wine with some amazing complexity! Continue reading

What’s the deal with organic wine?

If you’ve been faithfully eating organic meat and vegetables you’ll be delighted to learn that you can extend your love of chemical-free indulgences to your wine glass.

What is really important when choosing an organic wine is to make sure that they’re made with 100% certified organically grown grapes. That’s the key. Inspect the label and be sure that an agency has certified the vineyard’s organic practices. Do not be content with vague terms. (Terms like sustainable, natural, and green can be misleading.)

The best way to do this is to choose wine made from third-party certified 100% organically grown grapes. If it doesn’t say it on the label, don’t buy it. Organic wine, like organic carrot or orange juice, is made from grapes grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. The two types of wines typically bundled in this category are “Wines Made With 100% Organic Grapes” and “No Sulfite Added Wines.”

 Wines made with 100% organic grapes are made with just that and an additional preservative (elemental sulfur dioxide,) so the wine has structure enough to last the journey to your table.

Here are seven things you should know about organic wine (According to Canadian Living) Continue reading

How food and wine pairing is like getting dressed in the morning

When facing the decision of selecting a wine for a meal, or even talking about it, terror usually takes over. I don’t know how many times people have confessed to me that they don’t know how to pair wine and food.

Sure, there is the expert opinion, just like with anything. We all get dressed in the morning and put on clothes we like. We’re not all professional stylists but most of us end up looking pretty good when we hit the streets. The same can be said for food and wine pairing. If you have a nose and the appropriate taste buds, you should do just fine if you consider the following:

Weight – you wouldn’t pair a chunky scarf with a summer dress or your winter coat with swimming trunks. The weight of the food needs to be considered. A big meaty roast will dominate a Pinot Noir. But that said, a big jammy Zin would give it the one-two punch needed to bring that side of beef to its knees and melt in your mouth. Likewise a big Cab with a delicate miso soup would be a disaster in your mouth. Pick an aggressive wine for a ballsy meal. Continue reading