Posts Tagged ‘wine’

Exploring Twenty Valley Wineries with the Discovery Pass

1-IMG_1165The entire month of January has been a month of celebrating icewine in the Niagara region. There’s been a slew of dinners, balls and festivals all over town. My favourite part of the Niagara Icewine Festival is the Discovery Pass.

Valid from January 9-11, 16-18, 23-25 for only $40 per person, the Discovery Pass lets you visit and taste pairing from 8 participating wineries of your choice. Each winery offers a unique culinary dish paired with, of course, a glass of wine.

We decided to explore the wines of Twenty Valley (Jordan, Ont & Vineland, Ont) as we usually just head straight for Niagara on the Lake. This was a nice chance to visit some new wineries!

When we first picked up our Discovery Pass, we looked at the amount of wineries and decided to split the list into two days. ….five hours later, we realized that we did 8 wineries in one day.

1-IMG_1144Our first stop was Kacaba Vineyards Winery. We watched Iron Chef Niagara, Darren Stoute. Savour prepare grilled panini with creamy brie, arugula, ripe red apple and pear topped with a drizzle of honey and Icewine. (more…)

California dreaming with iYellow Wine Club

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When I first came across iYellow Wine Club, I was intrigued. I’ve been to wine classes before (notably, the LCBO class I took a couple of years ago) but I am by no means an expert. I was very excited to be a guest at the final session of one of their classes.

Angela and Chris

Angela and Taylor

The founder of iYellow Wine Club is Angela Aiello. She designed the club to help build wine confidence. With this club, you can taste, learn and have fun with wine.

The Winter session classes were held weekly at the lovely Ritz Carlton Hotel from Feb until April. Each class ran from 6-7:30pm and is $45 per class. At each class you get to taste 6 wines all paired with (DELICIOUS) cheeses specially selected from the TOCA Cheese Cave. The theme for the winter classes was California Wines.

blind taste test!

blind taste test!

I unwittingly arrived on exam day. The class had to blind taste  6 wines, 3 white and 3 red. We had to guess the grape, vintage (how old the wine is) and region. Needless to say, I just watched. And was amazed! This class knew their stuff. The class was fun and informal. Sommelier Taylor Thompson and Angela were charming and informative as we tasted each wine.

Here are some things that I learned:

  • Wine legs are the streaks of wine the fall down the glass after you have swirled the wine. If the legs fall quickly, the wine could be from a cool climate.
  • If wines are called a specific grape, it must contain at least 75% of the grape
  • Don’t know what to say about tasting notes in a white wine? Try pear, there is almost always a note of pear in a white wine
  • If the wine is a ruby red colour, it’s a young wine. Red wine gets brown with age.
  • If the wine has less acidity, it could be a warmer wine.
  • If you taste leather or earth, the wine has been aged.

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The wines we tasted included: Entwine, Bonterra Piont Noir,and Silver Palm chardonnay. Yum.

After the quiz, our wines were accompanied with some fantastic cheese (and really good bread) from Toca’s cheese cave.

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I snuck a quick peek at the Toca cheese cave

I loved this class, and would definitely recommend signing up for their next session. In addition to classes, iYellow Wine Club organizes day trips and wine events around Toronto and outside the city. On May 25th they will be hosting a Prince Edward County Tour and they have several other Toronto events. If you’ve always wanted to learn about wine, but were too afraid, this is the club for you.

http://www.iYellowWineClub.com

LCBO Intro to Wine Class

red wine session
Here’s a secret. I don’t like wine. So when my friend mentioned taking a LCBO Wine Tasting class,
I was intrigued. Could this class help foster a love of wine? Only one way to find out!
We signed up for Intro to Wine, at the impressively massive Summerhill LCBO.

Each session focused on a different type of wine. Reds, Whites, Sparkling Wine (Champagne!) and Fortified Wines (Port, Sherry) were covered.The classes were entertaining, and our instructor, Neal Boven was energetic and passionate about wines. He had traveled all over the world tasting wines, and was responsible for selecting wine for the LCBO to sell each season.

the classroom

The classes were held in the kitchen, and had a really nice set-up. 8 glasses of wine would be set up with generous tasting amounts, with a basket of fresh bread along with spring and sparkling water. We learned all sorts of neat facts, like pinot noir (pictured below) is referred to “the heartbreak grape” by wine makers due to it’s fickle nature. Did you know that red wine get it’s colour from the grape peel? I also quickly learned that I liked wines high on the sugar scale, and did not like bitter wines at all.

the heartbreak grape

the heartbreak grape

we used this worksheet to review each wine

Here’s how to properly taste wine (according to me):

1. Take a deep sniff of the wine to see what notes you can catch.
2. Vigorously swirl your wine to mix with the air and release the scents. Sniff again.
3. Drink the wine, making sure to swirl it around in your mouth so it hits your palette.

Wine has some bizarre tastes. Some are what you’d want to taste. Honey, fruit, cake, spring blossoms, ginger Others…..gasoline, wax, cream of mushroom, Nivea cream, rubber, cat urine, mold ……definitely nothing I’d ever want to taste in my wine. Or my anything, really.

The very last session was about pairing foods with wine. We weren’t able to take this session with our regular instructor, and had to beg and plead to be allowed to take our final class at a different location. The final class was a lot of fun, and we tasted cheeses and chocolates with different wines.

Taking the course was a good experience. I now know what my favourite white wine is (Vouvray Lieu Dit Les Fosses D’Harengs) and how to pick a bottle of wine like a pro! I still don’t really like it though…
If you are interested in taking a course at the LCBO, go here! (They also offer cooking classes.)

A word to the wise…the Summerhill location is a particularly good one. When we visited another location for the final class, the instructor and class wasn’t half as interesting.

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