Category: Wine

Say Cheese & Say Cheers: Black Creek Pioneer Village Beer Workshop

Last night, I went to Say Cheese and Say Cheese at Black Creek Pioneer Village for the first time. (Full disclosure, I work closely with BCPV) I haven’t been back to Black Creek since I was in grade 6! So it was a unique experience. The beer workshop is hosted by the lovely Julia Rogers, cheese society member and all around awesome person.

The tour started off with one of Black Creek’s cheerful animators leading us around the village. Each person was assigned a character card, and we learned a lot about what the beer scene was like in the 19th century. The principal beer makers were women!  They made beer for the whole family. Also, women could only own property if they were widowed.

After learning a bit about everyone’s characters, we traipsed into the mill. We took a look at barley and other things needed to make beer. Barley looks like coffee when it’s all ground up! Barley also is what gives beer it’s colour and most of it’s flavour.

After the tour, we headed down into the brewery and pub. Julia had arranged a nice selection of Canadian cheese and beer.

The first pairing was St. Albert’s Cheddar and Black Creek India Pale Ale. This cheese was my favourite! It was medium textured and creamy. It’s available in various stores, and also at Pusateri’s fruit market.  Black Creek IPA is made on site and is available at the LCBO.

The next pairing was Lankaaster cheese from Glengarry Cheese. It was an hard aged cow milk cheese, and reminded me a bit of Parmesan. I liked it. It was paired with Creemore Springs urBock, a strong German lager, from Creemore, Ontario. A great ale for winter.

Next up was C’est Bon Chevre, which I enjoyed. This goat cheese was from Transvaal Farm in Saint Mary, Ontario. It was  light and delicious! One of the things that I loved about this event was hearing stories about the cheese maker. This particular goat came from Riverdale Farm! And now it’s happily living on Transvaal Farm. The cheese was paired with a festive fall Pumpkin Ale from Great Lakes Brewery, in Etobicoke.

(PS: These sweet potato “root chips” were delicious! And made in-house. )

Mouton Rouge was next, a raw sheep milk cheese from Ewenity Dairy Co-op, in Fergus, Ontario. This cheese wasn’t my favourite. It was supple and a bit gritty. This cheese was paired with Black Oak Nut Brown Ale, made at the Black Oak Brewery in Oakville! This brown ale goes well with meat and bitter chocolate.

Last but not least was Celtic Blue Cheese, a creation from Glengarry Cheese, in Glengarry, Ontario. This firm cow milk cheese was served on a dollop of strawberry jam. The contrast between the sweet jam and nutty cheese was perfect.  This was paired with a whopping 10% beer, Trois Mousquetaires Imperial Baltic Porter, from Les Trois Mousquetaires in Brossard, Quebec.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience! This was the last session for the year, but more workshops will happen in 2012, and each pairing is different!

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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