Category Archives: Wine, Beer & Spirits

Anthony Auciello Jr., the founder and co-owner of TerraCello winery

Meet the Youngest Self-Funded Winery Owner in Ontario’s History

There are a few reasons multiple reviews refer to TerraCello as a “hidden jewel” in the heart of Prince Edward County wine region. TerraCello is a non-commercialized, artisan, farm winery. The vibe is in a laid-back bucolic setting. Outside is a rustic patio, fire pit and outdoor wood oven and kitchen. Inside boasts a wood fireplace, lounge, tasting rooms, barrel room and a second clay pizza oven imported from Naples, Italy.

Anthony Auciello Jr., the founder and co-owner of TerraCello Winery, employs traditional, old-fashioned Italian methods to make certified natural wine and authentic Neapolitan pizza. He is also the youngest self-funded winery owner in Ontario’s history. Tony is the personification of hospitality: charming, warm, generous, and radiating passion and appreciation for his trade.

Anthony Auciello Jr., the founder and co-owner of TerraCello winery

The winery is a
tribute to Tony’s late father

“People know me for my wine and my pizza, but the real story is about a son paying tribute to his dad who passed away at a young age,” Tony explained. In 2004, Anthony paid a visit to his father’s home town of Anzano Di Puglia, Italy, which the locals referred to as Il Paradiso – The Paradise. The land was in bad shape. War and famine had pushed his uncle and grandfather out of Italy, and they were forced to abandon it. Overgrown bush and dirt mounds stood where plentiful fruit trees should have been. “It was an epiphany,” Tony said. When he returned to Canada, he would create the paradise his family was meant to have.

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

At the time living in Toronto, Tony and his girlfriend (now wife) Danielle moved to Prince Edward County. “My wife got dragged along for this long, bumpy, crazy ride. She was a city girl. She wanted to stay and be a teacher in Toronto. But I had this gnawing void.” After years of working on the winery, Tony’s health began to deteriorate because of the long hours of work he was putting in. He and Danielle were deep in debt and struggling to get by.

Danielle had never had the chance to meet Tony’s dad, but one night she had a dream about him. She said he was dressed up in a suit, looking handsome and immaculate. (Tony later explained that his father always dressed up, despite having no money or status to merit it). Danielle also said that in the dream that Tony’s father was driving an orange convertible. (Tony explained that his father’s first car in Canada in 1969 was an orange convertible Camaro). Danielle said Tony’s father gave her a hug and, with an arm around her, told her: “Please don’t worry about Anthony – he knows what he’s doing.”

Related: The Most Delicious Ways to Use Leftover Wine

With the $30 they had, Danielle went to Home Hardware and picked up a flag. She put it up at the road. Fifteen minutes later, two women walked in and bought the first bottle of wine they ever sold. “When they bought that wine, I swear to god it felt like they gave me fifty thousand dollars cash. It was like I had won the lottery,” Tony said. This first purchase washed away all the self-doubt that had been building up over the last five years of work. “I never looked back,” he said. “After that first bottle of wine, I said ‘we’re going to kill it. I’m not just going to do good pizza and wine; I’m going to become one of the best in Prince Edward County.’”

Outside TerraCello winery

They searched for a new property in the County. Where TerraCello now rests, there sits a giant well that separates the patio space from the vineyard. “When the owner showed me the well, I was sold,” Tony said. “The guys [who were here] were old, old school and I could relate because my dad was so old-fashioned.”

For five years, they worked 18 hours a day to restore and build the property into the gorgeous Italian farmhouse-style winery it is today. “Little by little, we built a reputation – one pizza at a time, one bottle of wine at a time. One customer at a time,” Tony said. On July 23, 2013, at 27 years old, Tony became the youngest self-funded winery owner in Ontario.

Outside TerraCello winery

Strict traditional methods

Tony executes a purist method. He is one of the few agriturismos in the County — the Italian tradition of farm to table. Tony fondly describes himself as “fanatical.” He is not only the owner, founder and financier, he is also the head winemaker and he makes all of the pizza dough, every single day, by hand.

The clay oven that they make most of their pizzas in is from Naples, Italy. Tony explained that making pizzas at scale in front a thousand-degree clay oven is very physically demanding, and not many can handle it. Apparently, it takes ten thousand hours to achieve the status of pizzaiolo. That’s a lot of flaming hot pizza.

Pizza oven inside TerraCello winery

COVID-19 has forced Tony to pull back on some expenses — such as, his membership to an official Canadian pizza organization — so that he could continue to spend on top quality ingredients. True to form, Tony gets all of his ingredients from Italy. The flour he uses costs about $50 per bag, and is approved by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (The Pizza Association of Naples). The tomatoes he uses are also Italy-approved. Everything, down to the handmade olive oil can from Naples, comes from age-old traditions. “If you ever have a pizza, even a margherita, and it’s got no oil, it’s not classified as a pizza. Period,” Tony warned. Italians are serious about their pizza. And after tasting it prepared in this way, so am I.

Pizza inside TerraCello winery

Natural winemaker

To classify as a natural wine, the grapes must be grown without pesticides, the wine must be stabilized naturally, it cannot be filtered and it cannot have any chemical additives. Most wines are processed by heavy filtering – “which is how 94% of the world’s wine is made,” Tony says. “I don’t believe in that.”
Woman holding glass of wine outside of TerraCello winery

Most of the time, natural wines are quite cloudy. By Canadian standards, we are legally allowed to put certain products in the wine to remove the cloudiness, but it goes against natural winemaking. The cloudiness is due to crystals in the wine that need to be precipitated out. In a modern setting, you’d use a tank with a chilling system. But as we know, Tony is a naturalist, so he does it the old-fashioned way. He opens the door in the wintertime and he allows the room to dip to -2 degrees for a week.

Related: The Most Expensive Wine and Spirits Ever Sold

The Boca Nera is his signature wine. An unfiltered, three-year in French oak aged, Barolo-style wine. Often called “The King of Wines,” Barolos are produced in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. It is made from the nebbiolo grape and is often described as one of Italy’s greatest wines. Tony’s Boca Nera has notes of caramel, toffee and French vanilla. If you could bottle the feeling of abbiocco, this would be it.

Bottle of wine at TerraCello winery

“Wine is like paint by numbers these days,” Tony said. Society wants uniformity and homogenization because they want the wine to taste the same every year. According to an expose on Bloomberg, there are such a thing as wine “fixers.” These are white glove chemists, often employed by billionaires and large corporations, who fix wines that have gone awry to ensure they taste consistent across batches. “I don’t want to over-control the product. I want it to taste different,” Tony said.

All you need is the right environment

Tony doesn’t have Wi-Fi at the winery, and he is unapologetic about it. He wants people to talk to the person next to them. “And they’re liberated,” he says. “After two hours of sitting outside they say, ‘we just had the best time of our life.’ And I didn’t do nothing. I just took them away from the distractions.”

Bottle of wine and charcuterie plate outside of TerraCello winery

“I didn’t want it to be a commercial, cookie-cutter winery where you go in and you do the formal tasting, and it’s all a premeditated spiel,” said Tony, “I wanted to take TerraCello back to the way my dad and us grew up — very old school, very warm, less transactional.”

Photos courtesy of Sabrina Stavenjord @sabrinastavenjord

How to Make a Classic Manhattan Cocktail

With the holiday season in full swing, thoughts are turning to what to serve at festive parties. What better cocktail than a classic Manhattan – easy to make (and customize according to how sweet or dry your guests like it)?

perfect-manhattan-cocktail-recipe

It’s said the Manhattan was created in New York in the late 1800s. According to some, Sir Winston Churchill’s mother was throwing a party at The Manhattan Club in honour of Samuel J. Tilden (a presidential candidate at the time) and a guest was making a cocktail from rye whisky and sweet vermouth which was so popular the club made it theirs (many say this story, although entertaining, can’t possibly be true as Churchill’s mother would have been in Europe and pregnant at the time). Others believe the cocktail was invented in the 1860s by a bartender named Black who worked at a bar on Broadway. No matter who invented it, it’s become a classic all over the world and you’ve probably got all the ingredients in your liquor cabinet already.

cocktail-manhattan-in-glass

The Classic Manhattan Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:
2 oz rye whisky or bourbon
1 oz sweet vermouth (You can use ½ oz sweet and ½ oz dry vermouth)
A dash of bitters (Angostura)
Cocktail or Maraschino cherry for garnish
Ice

Directions:
1. Place the ice in a mixing glass, add the bitters.
2. Pour over the whisky and vermouth then slowly stir the drink until chilled.
3. Place the cherry in the bottom of a chilled serving glass, add more ice then slowly pour the cocktail over the ice.

Looking for more drink ideas? Try these Sensational Canadian Cocktails.

gluhwein-in-cup

How to Make Traditional German Glühwein

Glü-what? Glühwein is a spiced red wine that’s traditionally served at Christmas markets in Germany and Austria. Translated roughly as “glowing wine” which refers to the temperature the wine is heated to, this holiday drink is meant to warm you up as you make your way around the market stalls, chatting and shopping and will ensure you won’t get cold.

Mulled wine, as we call it in English, is actually really simple to make and even better, it’s easy to make large batches which makes it perfect for entertaining over the holidays.

Making mulled wine is simple but it does involve a little bit more than just heating the wine – it’s a delicate balance of spices (cinnamon, star anise, cloves), citrus fruits, alcohol and sugar. Play around with the ratios to see what you like best. Mull your wine early to fill your house with the wonderful smells of the season to greet your guests as they arrive. Keep the pot on very low heat through the party and keep an eye on it – you’ll surely need to make more at some point!

cup-of-gluhwein

Glühwein Recipe

Makes: Approximately 2L (enough for 12-24 depending on if you are serving tasting portions or full serves)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
8 cloves
2 clementines or small oranges
peel and juice of 1 lemon (approx. 1/4 – 1/3 cup)
peel and juice of 2 clementines or small oranges (approx. 1/2 – 3/4 cup)
2 x 750 mL bottles fruity red wine
1/2 cup port
1/2 cup Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1/2 cup brandy
clementine or orange slices, for garnish
cinnamon sticks, for garnish

cup-of-holiday-german-gluhwein

Directions:
1. Place the sugar and cinnamon stick in a large (2 litre) pot.
2. Stick 4 cloves into each whole clementine and place them in the pot with the sugar.
3. Add the lemon and clementine peel and juice (you should have around 3/4 – 1 cup juice in total) to the pot.
4. Pour in just enough wine to cover the clementines and heat over medium heat until it boils. Simmer for around 5 minutes.
5. Add the rest of the wine, the port, the Grand Marnier (or Cointreau) and brandy and stir well. Heat for around 15 minutes on low-medium heat. Do not allow the wine to boil.
6. Serve hot with a slice of orange or clementine and perhaps a dash of cinnamon or cinnamon stick as garnish.

Looking for more seasonal drinks? Try these 10 Tasty Mulled Wine Recipes.

Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Summer nights are made for sangria. Fresh summer fruit, chilled wine and a little bubbly make the ever-popular summer sipper. Yet, you can easily take this drink for classic to epic with the help of your freezer and blender. Trade your red wine for rosé and combined with juicy, ruby-red watermelon, cantaloupe and herbaceous elderflower liqueur. The result is a cool summer frozé that will be a hit at your next summer barbecue or dinner party. Learn how to make this easy summer cocktail with our simple 4-ingredient recipe.

melon-froze

Melon Frosé Sangria Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 4 hrs 40 min
Makes: 6 cups

Ingredients:
1 bottle rosé wine
1-½ cups chopped watermelon, plus more for garnish
1-½ cups chopped cantaloupe, plus more for garnish
3-4 ounces elderflower liqueur

rose-frozen

Directions:
1. Pour wine into a 13×9-inch baking dish or pan. Cover and freeze for 3-½ hours.

2. Blend watermelon, cantaloupe and liqueur until fully pureed. Scrape wine into blender and blend until smooth. Return to freezer and chill until thickened and slushy in consistency, about 1 hour. Serve immediately, garnished with skewered chunks of watermelon and cantaloupe.

melon-in-blender

Looking for more sweet summer drinks? Try these 30 Summery Sangrias.

How to Spend 48 Hours in the Heart of the Okanagan Valley

No matter the time of day, there is always something spectacular to sip, see or snack on throughout the Okanagan Valley. With several hundred wineries scattered among the green slopes that wind along a string of lakes, along with an array of boutique restaurants and hidden gem snack spots, it’s hard to narrow down the options.
A solid plan, featuring some must-see spots, will help.

cherries-penticton-farmers-market

Fresh fruit, BC VQA wine and samosas are just some of the tasty treats worth stopping for at the Penticton Farmers’ Market.  Photo Courtesy of ET2media.

Morning in the Okanagan Valley

Starting the day off right means getting something good to eat – and perhaps stocking up on nibbles for later with a bottle of wine. In Osoyoos, carb load with some of the fine baked goods from The Lake Village Bakery. Here, sourdough serves as the base for most of their offerings, including sticky cinnamon buns and croissants. Grab a coffee and a pastry, but also some focaccia or French baguettes for afternoon snacking.
Every Saturday throughout the summer, Penticton closes off several blocks of downtown for their weekly markets. Fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, preserves and honey are on offer. Treat it like a walkable smorgasbord, stopping for samosas, a spiralled fried potato on a stick and a bag of cherries or apricots. You can also pick up a bottle of local BC VQA Wine at the market while you’re there.
All weekends call for brunch. With his fourth restaurant, Sunny’s – A Modern Diner, Chef Rod Butters puts the focus on breakfast classics, including Cluck and Grunt (eggs with bacon or sausage), Door Stops (French toast) or BBBBenny & the Jets, Butters’ take on eggs Benedict, which can be ordered by the piece – allowing for mixing and matching.

see-you-later-ranch-vinyard

Be sure to try the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at the See Ya Later Ranch, a winery that boasts some of the highest-altitude plantings in the Okanagan. Photo Courtesy of Wines of British Columbia.

Afternoon in the Okanagan Valley

Build an appetite or work off a luxurious lunch by renting a bike – even an E-bike to help with hills – and heading up to the Naramata Bench. This 15-kilometre stretch is home to dozens of wineries, including Laughing Stock Vineyards and one of the Bench originals, Hillside Winery. Naramata Road serves as an unofficial divide between the two distinct terroirs, with glacial till on the upper side and sand, silt and clay on the lower.
Stop for a bottle of bubbles and an interesting history lesson at the Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards, an estate winery set against the lake, just south of Peachland. Once a fruit orchard, that same plot is now awash with grape vines used to make Fitz Brut, Reserve Sparkling and some still wines. Sit on the patio – which serves as a crush pad come harvest – and enjoy pizza from the restaurant’s wood-burning oven.
From the depths of the valley, wind your way up the road to See Ya Later Ranch, a winery that boasts some of the highest-altitude plantings in the Okanagan. After trying some of its offerings, including the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, head outside and look up to see the rows of vines sloping toward the sky.
A winery on the smaller side, Moon Curser earns a reputation with its unusual varietals and quirky story. The name of the family-owned winery pays homage to smugglers trying to cross the U.S. border near Osoyoos. The moon was something worth cursing when conducting illegal pursuits. Try some of their more unique offerings, like the Tannat, or sip on others based on their names, such as Afraid of the Dark or Dead of Night.

NKP-Winery-Sculpture

Nk’Mip Cellars, North America’s first Aboriginal-owned winery is a must-visit spot. Photo Courtesy of Milk Creative Communications.

Night in the Okanagan Valley

To better understand the history of the region, and the people who lived here long before grapes were first grown, a visit to Nk’Mip Cellars, North America’s first Aboriginal-owned winery, should not be missed. Begin, if possible, at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre on site at Spirit Ridge Resort to explore exhibits and take the interpretive trail that winds through the semi-arid desert that makes the terroir so unique. Follow it up with wine and dinner at the cellars – try their signature Mer’r’iym (marriage) blends and sample some traditional ingredients, such as bison or salmon.
Further north, Liquidity Wines offers its own sort of education with a limited presentation of the National Geographic Photo Ark project, which features images of thousands of creatures. This is the only place where the Photo Ark is exhibiting the work in Canada, and Liquidity has it on-site until Labour Day. Finish up with dinner overlooking the vines, and try a few of their signature wines, including the gorgeous rosé.
Overlooking stripes of vines down to Okanagan Lake, the view from Old Vines Restaurant at Quails’ Gate Winery is unparalleled. On warm summer evenings, the restaurant opens the wall of doors onto the patio, breaking down the division between inside and out. Feast on dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients, expertly cooked and beautifully plated, and take advantage of the expert suggested pairings. Lastly, don’t skip the chance to try their splendid Syrah.

Looking for more inspiration? Get a Wine Lover’s Guide to the Okanagan Valley.

Sumac Ridge Signature Cellar

A Wine-Lover’s Guide to the Okanagan Valley

Once known for fruit orchards and lakes, the Okanagan is now a destination for wine lovers everywhere. The hills and valleys are striped with grape vines of all varieties and area wineries and restaurants continue to push the envelope in their abundant offerings. Here are 10 spots that can’t be missed on your first, or next trip to this beautiful region. To plan your trip or see a complete list of B.C. wineries visit winebc.com.

Sumac Ridge Signature Cellar Grazing and Harvest Dinner, Summerland

This educational and delicious evening starts in the sparkling wine cave where guests learn about the traditional French method for transforming wine into bubbles before watching a Sabre Ceremony pop open Stellar’s Jay Brut. Private Reserve wines will be poured during the dinner that follows.

Nk’Mip Cellars, Osoyoos

Explore connections of place and people at Nk’Mip Cellars, the first Aboriginal-owned winery in North America. Winding through the process of grape to glass, the legacy tour speaks to the Osoyoos Indian Band and their work to translate desert terroir to bottle.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Kelowna

If the idea that wine from this organic and biodynamic winery is better because it’s aged in the sacred geometry of a pyramid isn’t enough of a draw, then tasting some of the award-winning Cipes Brut should be.

Nichol Vineyard, Naramata

Among the first wineries to settle on the Naramata Bench, Nichol has remained small compared to others in the Okanagan. In this case, size does matter. Most of the work here is done by hand, including during harvest when workers pluck bunches of grapes by hand from the vine.

Tantalus Vineyards, Kelowna

Matching historic vineyards with modern facilities, Tantalus brings together the traditions of wine with a progressive approach focused on sustainability. The new LEED-certified winery features enviable views from the tasting room, where you can sample their premium, single-vineyard wines.

wine-bottle-sabre

SunRock Vineyard Tour, Osoyoos

Named for its perch on a mountain slope, this is the ideal spot for a lunch and sampling of wines. Sip on SunRock and Jackson-Triggs Okanagan wines at this organized vineyard tour and barbecue lunch made with local, seasonal ingredients.

Terrafina Restaurant at Hester Creek Estate Winery, Oliver

A small slice of Italy tucked into the landscape south of Oliver, Terrafina’s menu takes classic dishes — pasta carbonara, meatballs, risotto — and twists them into something unique. (That carbonara features crisp pork belly and a rhubarb gastrique, for example.) Considering the winery’s Italian heritage, it’s the perfect marriage between the old country and the Okanagan.

The Vibrant Vine, Kelowna

A cacophony of colour, no tasting room compares to The Vibrant Vine. Sample some of the famed Woops blends with its signature upside-down labels or stop by Friday evenings and weekend afternoons to sip Vibrant Vine wine while listening to local musicians on the lawn.

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, West Kelowna

Set atop the west side of Kelowna like a crown, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery is hard to miss. The architecture — complete with bell tower and amphitheatre — is as bold and evocative as the wines Mission Hill produces.

Cocktail-Popsicles-feature-image

Chill Out with Delicious DIY Cocktail Popsicles

Your summertime cocktail hour just got a lot more fun – and refreshing – thanks to these cool adults-only boozy pops. From Strawberry-Aperol, made with summertime berries, to an herbaceous Cucumber-Gin and a marmalade-infused Orange-Negroni, you’re bound to find your preferred tipple in one of these flavours. While it is tempting to add more alcohol, resist the urge; these won’t fully freeze if you’re overly generous.

Cocktail-Popsicles-holiding-summer

Strawberry-Aperol Cocktail Popsicles

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Freeze Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Makes: 4 cocktail popsicles

Ingredients:
1 cup water
6 medium fresh strawberries, hulled
1½ oz Aperol or Campari
1½ oz ice wine
2 Tbsp granulated sugar

Directions:
1. Add all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth. Tap blender container to remove air bubbles. Fill popsicle mould, place in sticks and freeze until completely frozen, at least 8 hours. Remove from mould and enjoy.

Cocktail-Popsicles

Cucumber-Gin Cocktail Popsicles

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Freeze Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Makes: 4 cocktail popsicles

Ingredients:
1 cup water
½ cup roughly chopped English cucumber
2 oz gin
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp lime juice

Directions:
1. Add all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth. Tap blender container to remove air bubbles. Fill popsicle mould, place in sticks and freeze until completely frozen, at least 8 hours. Remove from mould and enjoy.

Orange-Negroni-pops

Orange-Negroni Cocktail Popsicles

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Freeze Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Makes: 4 cocktail popsicles

Ingredients:
1 cup water
2 oz Campari or Aperol
2 oz sweet vermouth
1½ oz gin
4 Tbsp high-quality orange marmalade

Directions:
1. Add all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth. Tap blender container to remove air bubbles. Fill popsicle mould, place in sticks and freeze until completely frozen, at least 8 hours. Remove from mould and enjoy.

Cocktail Popsicles - Birdseye

Looking for more delightful summer drinks? Try one of our 30 Cocktails to Keep You Cool This Summer.

natural wines

What is Natural Wine and Where to Find It in Canada

Natural wine is the drink du jour. The trendy, funky new kid is popping up in small and exclusive quantities in wine stores and on restaurant menus throughout the country.

This exciting frontier in viniculture, with its old-school, hands-off approach, produces some of the most beautiful bottles out there – if you can score some. But, like the term “natural” itself, natural wine is not a regulated phrase, so you best do some research before purchasing to ensure they’re getting what they asked for. If you’re looking to try this trend, bring this cheat sheet along so you know what you’re tasting.

What Is Natural Wine?
Natural wine is a different kind of grape-growing approach, one where the winemaker keeps pesticides and chemicals out of the equation, letting the grapes breathe and come into their own before harvest. Seasonal whether patterns play a big factor in the wine’s flavour.

Wine grapes

Wine grapes
Allison Day

If the weather is hotter, the grapes will have more sugar, producing more alcohol upon fermentation. If the season is cooler, the grapes will be dry (less sweet), producing less alcohol upon fermentation, and possibly fermenting slower. Unlike some mainstream wines that are built on repetition and familiar taste, natural wines go with the flow, making a dynamic and exciting range of flavours each year. Most natural wine should be sulfur-free, a big risk for oxidation, so it’s to be enjoyed fresh, not aged. Some wineries which incorporate natural processes and wild fermentation, opt to add sulphites to preserve it for shipping and storage.

How Is It Made?
Natural wineries make a point to differentiate themselves from large-scale productions, which often ferment the grapes in temperature-controlled rooms. Natural wines are made by taking what comes to them. This can include spontaneous fermentation, where wild yeasts existing in the air ferment the wine.
Using wild yeast is an unpredictable method, making this process a true challenge. With each type of yeast, comes a different flavour. Yeasts can affect the mouth feel and aroma of wine, making natural wine making a gamble. But when it turns out right, it’s outstanding.

Pearce Predhomme Chenin Blanc -- a natural wine.

Pearce Predhomme Chenin Blanc — a natural wine.
Allison Day

What Does Natural Wine Taste Like?
Because of their spontaneous nature, tastes can range from tropical to floral, skunky to sour or ultra-funky. Some bottles are clear, some are cloudy; it depends on whether the wine is filtered or not.
Red, white, orange, rosé and sparkling wine – all of which begin with their own specific flavour – are transformed into something different based on terroir (the growing region and land), climate, grape varietal and when they are picked. The best thing you can do is sample your way to a favourite.

Where Can You Find Natural Wine in Canada?
Specialty retailers, wine bars and mail-order services are your best bet for getting a taste of natural wine.
Restaurants with sommelier-run wine programs are another great place to try. For instance, The Black Hoof in Toronto has a knowledgeable staff of enthusiastic, on-trend wine aficionados who can help you find a natural wine to enjoy by the glass or bottle. In Montreal, Hôtel Herman’s lengthy, yet focused, wine list carries natural wines from around the world. Burdock and Co. in Vancouver offers a selection of natural wines served by a knowledgeable staff who can answer your toughest natural wine questions.

It’s not just found at restaurants. Pearl Morissette, a winery in Niagara’s famous winemaking region headed by a former Burgundian winemaker, is creating alluring natural wines with mystique, charm and sophistication, taking this from bohemian hipster trend to world-class treat. Their wines are available at their vineyard, online and in restaurants.
And, no matter where you are in Canada, you can order through Nicholas Pearce Wines, which carries one of my favourite natural wines, the Pearce Predhomme Chenin Blanc (South Africa). Grab a friend, order a case and split it – you won’t be disappointed.
Ask questions, request and seek out natural wine in your area. It’s worth the effort, not only for the thrill of the hunt, but the true difference in taste.

Red Rover Summer Cider

Great Canadian Ciders You Must Try This Summer

Cider has become an art form in Canada, with cider houses popping up across the country. Not only are they elevating this simple apple sipper to a  whole new level, Canadian cideries are winning international awards and showing off their best beverages on the global stage.

Whether it’s dry or sweet, hopped or barrel-aged, spiced or fruit infused, there is a cider to please every palate. From coast-to-coast, here are some of Canada’s finest ciders that you should be sampling this summer.

British Columbia

Lonetree Ginger Apple Cider

Ginger Apple Cider, Lonetree Cider Co. (Vancouver, BC)

Lonetree is a small cidery that uses apples from old-growth orchards in the Okanagan Valley to make its classic dry ciders. Their Ginger Apple is refreshing with a hint of spice, and is an excellent choice if you enjoy a Moscow Mule.

Salt Spring Wild Hopped Apricot

Hopped Apricot, Salt Spring Wild Cider House (Salt Spring Island, BC)

This cidery makes use of the wild apples that grow on Salt Spring Island and blends them with fruit from 100-year-old heritage trees and organic orchards. Made with Cascade hops, apricots, and organic apples, their Hopped Apricot will please both beer and cider fans with its Hefeweizen-esque flavour.

Blue Moon Asian Pear

Raven’s Moon Asian Pear Apple Cider, Blue Moon Winery and Ciderworx (Courtenay, BC)

The hand-crafted sparkling ciders at Blue Moon feature organic fruits from Vancouver Island, and are created with an adventurous streak of fermenting fruits to see what happens. Their off dry, bubbly Asian Pear Apple Cider pairs well with curry or a pasta in cream sauce.

Alberta

Rock Creek Strawberry Rhubarb Cider

Rock Creek Strawberry Rhubarb Cider, Big Rock Brewing (Calgary, AB)

Alberta brewery Big Rock is known for its beers, but their Rock Creek ciders are definitely worth trying. The Strawberry Rhubarb cider pours a deep red hue, and is a perfect balance of dry and sweet.

Saskatchewan
Crossmount Cider Company Citri Hopped

Citri Hopped, Crossmount Cider Company (Saskatoon, SK)

Crossmount has its own orchard of 1,500 trees featuring a selection of Prairie varietals, including the the Norkent apple. Their hop-infused Citri Hopped is like a sparkling wine, IPA or radler with notes of peach, pink grapefruit and passionfruit. It’s refreshing when paired with seafood or Mexican fare.

Manitoba

fort-garry-lucky-cherry

Lucky Cherry BC Black Cherry Cider, Fort Garry Brewing Company (Winnipeg, MB)

Made with BC black cherries and just a hint of pear, Fort Garry’s Lucky Cherry cider is for the red wine or sangria fans. The juice is fermented with lager yeast, yielding a libation that is tart and sweet.

Ontario
Collective Arts Brewing Apple & Cherry Cider

Apple & Cherry Cider, Collective Arts Brewing (Hamilton, ON)

Collective Arts takes their Local Press cider and adds Ontario Montmorency cherry juice from the Niagara Escarpment to create this easy drinking cider. It’s a fresh, juicy and well-balanced beverage that makes it perfect for warm summer days.

Tawse Sparkling Apple Cider

Sparkling Apple Cider, Tawse Winery (Vineland, ON)

Tawse Winery has taken 100 per cent Ontario apples and turned them into their delicious Spark-Apple Cider. Bottle fermented and much like a Prosecco, this is a cider made for brunches or a rich meal.

West Avenue Catalyst Mark II

Catalyst Mark II, West Avenue Cider House (Freelton, ON)

West Avenue has a great selection of ciders that they offer year-round, but they are also innovators with their barrel-aged and cask-conditioned concoctions. This summer, their Catalyst Mark II is a dry-hopped, barrel-fermented farmhouse cider with cherries that would definitely satisfy the sour beer aficionados.

Quebec
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Rosé Crackling Cider, Cidrerie & Vergers St-Nicolas (Saint-Nicolas, QC)

The Rosé Crackling Cider from St-Nicolas was made for summer sipping. Created with apples and strawberries, it’s crisp, slightly sweet and aromatic. Serve it instead of a sparkling wine, or pair it with fruit-based dishes.

Ice Cider, Domaine Leduc-Piedimonte (Rougemont, QC)

Canada is known for its ice wine, but Quebec has perfected the ice cider. Leduc-Piedimonte’s golden ice cider is ranked one of the best in the world, with hints of orange zest, butter, honey, and vanilla. Smooth, refreshing and well-balanced, you’ll want to enjoy this after a long meal.

New Brunswick
Red Rover Summer Cider

Summer Cider, Red Rover Craft Cider (Fredericton, NB)

Red Rover is leading the cider scene in New Brunswick, and you just have to add its award-winning Summer Cider to your “must try” list. It is light, crisp and dry with a tart finish that will quench your thirst on those sultry summer days.

Scow Craft Cider,  Verger Belliveau Orchard (Memramcrook, NB)

This is a clear, slightly sharp cider made from four varieties of heritage apples grown on the Belliveau orchard. Named to honour the memory of boat crews and builders from the region, it’s a simple, traditionally crafted beverage.

Nova Scotia
No Boats on Sunday Premium Craft Cider

Apple Cider, No Boats on Sunday (Truro, NS)

No Boats on Sunday makes only one cider, but they make it well. Light-bodied with notes of apple and citrus, you’ll want to serve this at barbecues, picnics or backyard bashes. Fun fact — the version available in the Maritimes is made with Nova Scotia apples, but there’s also a version made in Ontario with locally-sourced fruit.

Bulwark Gold

Bulwark Gold, Bulwark Cider (New Ross, NS)

Apples straight from the Annapolis Valley go into Bulwark’s selection of slowly fermented craft ciders. Their smooth-tasting, award-winning Bulwark Gold is infused with honey and can be served on its own or on ice. This is a cider to enjoy while sitting outside on a warm, sunny day.

Looking for more cider? Try our Cider Can Chicken recipe.

Szechuan Peppercorn

4 Quick and Easy Pairing Combos to Win Summer

This summer we’re keeping it simple, quick and easy – without compromising flavour or quality! Whether you’re hosting cocktails or a backyard party, we’ve got four tasty pairing combinations that are packed with complementary flavours and requires no prep, which means less cleanup and you can get right to your summer fete.

Ginger Teriyaki Charcuterie Board and Pairings

Complement the sweet flavours of toasted teriyaki and floral ginger with nutty cheeses and a refreshing extra pale ale to elongate the overall flavour profile.

You’ll Need: Raclette cheese, grilled pineapple, almonds, and lightly toasted bread with olive oil.

Korean BBQ Beef Charcuterie Board and Pairings

The trick to smoothing out the charred soy flavours of Korean BBQ beef is by indulging in a rich, creamy, sharp cheese, like Morbier, and a light bodied, low-tannin red wine like Shiraz.

You’ll Need: Morbier cheese, sesame seed crackers, bell peppers, and assorted nuts.

Szechuan Peppercorn Charcuterie Board and Pairings

It’s all about contrast with this pairing! Temper the sharp, rich flavours of the Szechuan peppercorns with a creamy but bold Gouda. Enjoy these with a light bodied ale, like a Pilsner, that won’t mask the sweet and sharp flavours.

You’ll Need: Gouda cheese, water crackers, olives and sundried tomatoes.

Sweet Chili Pork Charcuterie Board and Pairings

When it comes to a sweet and spicy pork, it’s best to pair with a light and creamy cheese that will complement the earthy sweet flavour and lighten the chili kick. To quench your thirst, try a sparkling semi-dry white wine to help cut through the richness.

You’ll Need: Brie cheese, roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes, and lightly toasted bread.

6 Cool Canadian Urban Wineries

Spending a weekend in wine country stirs romantic images of long drives, lush vineyards, and bed and breakfasts. Although we’ll never grow tired of swirling wine in the rural regions that grow the grapes, it couldn’t hurt to have them closer to home.

Enter: the urban winery. More and more vintners are setting up shop in the city, bringing the wine production process downtown. By outsourcing and importing grapes from the finest vineyards across the globe, wine producers are able to set up the fermenting, crushing and aging process at facilities far from the fields. These urban wineries are popping up all over the United States, and the trend is starting to spread in Canada.

From virtual vineyard tours and workshops, to delicious tastings and food pairings, wine aficionados can visit these wineries and have an authentic winery experience, without leaving the city. Check out these six wineries in Canadian cities that are making a splash in the wonderful world of wine.

Macedo Winery (Toronto, ON)
With grapes taken off vines from Italy, Portugal, Argentina and Canada, Macedo Winery produces their Evolution Wines. This family-run winery in the heart of Toronto is dedicated to sharing their vast knowledge in helping you find the perfect wine.

Courtesy of Noble Grape

Courtesy of Noble Grape

Noble Grape (Dartmouth, NS)
With seven locations across Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick, Noble Grape is an “in-store winery” that allows customers to create their very own blend. Customers choose their ingredients and add the yeast to start the fermentation process, and Noble Grape takes it from there. In four to eight weeks, you can be sipping on your very own personalized wine.

Courtesy of Pacific Breeze Winery

Courtesy of Pacific Breeze Winery

Pacific Breeze Winery (New Westminster, BC)
From grape to bottle, hand-crafted and small lot wines are produced at this “Garagiste” (Garage Winery). The first of its kind in Canada, Pacific Breeze Winery has won over 50 international awards. Try one of their wines made with carefully selected grapes from British Columbia, Washington and California, without having to endure the long commute to wine country.

Sandhill Wines (Kelowna, BC)
Located in downtown Kelowna, Sandhill Wines offers virtual vineyard tours, a wine lounge and a Small Lots barrel cellar. Visitors can sit in on educational seminars, followed by a toast at the Tasting Bar. Head winemaker Howard Soon has won multiple awards for his wines, all of which are made with the best grapes from the Okanagan.

Courtesy of Vancouver Urban Winery

Courtesy of Vancouver Urban Winery

Vancouver Urban Winery (Vancouver, BC)
Vancouver Urban Winery is a unique culinary and wine experience. In addition to producing their own wines under their namesake, they also have a wine-on-tap program where visitors can try 36 different varieties, most of which are from British Columbia. The rustic-chic winery also hosts a variety of wine education programs such as their Sunday School, where flights of wine are served blind.

Versay (Montréal, QC)
Founded four years ago by Jean-François Bieler, Versay is the only urban winery in Québec. They believe that good wine doesn’t need to involve a bottle or cork, selling wine in kegs and serves it on tap. This eco-conscious winery is all about minimizing their carbon footprint. Each keg eliminates the need for 26 glass bottles, not to mention the possibility of breakage when shipping. Who wouldn’t want wine on tap?

Clocktower Brew Pub

Beer Me Up, Scotty: Canadian Brewery Making Star Trek Beer

An Ottawa brewery is on a mission to The Final Frontier, boldly going where no Canadian beer makers have gone before. For The Clocktower Brew Pub, The Final Frontier is the name of their highly anticipated Star Trek-themed craft brew.

Much to the excitement of Trekkies and craft brew fans alike, the official Star Trek beer is being created in partnership with the Aviation and Space Museum for their Starfleet Gala on May 12, 2016. The out-of-this world event launches an exhibit on space science and includes a very special guest, the original Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner.

Ottawa's Clocktower Brew Pub is marking its 20th anniversary with a new Star Trek themed beer.

Ottawa’s Clocktower Brew Pub is marking its 20th anniversary with a new Star Trek themed beer.

The Final Frontier is based on a historic beer style called Kentucky Common; the amber ale has a light body, making it cool, refreshing and easy to drink. Traditional Kentucky Common style is corn-based, but brew-master Patrick Fiori wanted to give it a true Star Trek twist by adding triticale. The rye and wheat hybrid adds body and a cereal flavour to the beer. Trekkies will know it as a real-life version of the fictional “quadrotriticale,” the grain mentioned in the classic original Star Trek episode, Trouble with Tribbles. The episode is famous for the scene in which William Shatner is chest-deep in adorably fluffy pests.

“It took a lot of thought to come up with a name that represented what Star Trek meant to us,” Fiori said in an email.

While the labels and packaging are under wraps until the gala, the brewery is excited to reveal their newest enterprise with the museum.

“The best part of this experience is not only to be able to say that The Clocktower has added to the Star Trek mythos, but as a company, we are turning 20 this year and are able to show that we can stay current and relevant 20 years later,” said Fiori.

This isn’t The Clocktower Brew Pub‘s first foray into sci-fi themed brews. Last year, they collaborated with Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Wil Wheaton to create the ‘HefeWheaton,’  a German-style wheat beer that was launched at Ottawa ComicCon.

Can’t wait to ask the bartender for an astronomically good pint? The Final Frontier will be available for tasting at the Starfleet Gala on May 12, and at Ottawa ComicCon May 13 to 15. After that, you can enjoy it at one of The Clocktower Brew Pub’s five Ottawa locations throughout May.

Looking for more tasty craft brews? Maybe you’ll love one of these 10 New and Unique Canadian Beers to Try.

Mastering the Cheese Plate on a Budget

I think there’s a little Monica Gellar (the obsessive-compulsive one from Friends) in all of us.

If not for our organized and scrappy nature, then for our need to host the best get-togethers with our friends, we’re always looking for new ways to improve and perfect our entertaining skills.

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So, we’re going back to the basics and exploring the easiest way to build a delicious, well-balanced cheese plate — but on a serious budget. Because, if you’ve ever ventured to a nice cheese shop, you know those high-quality slabs come with a hefty price tag.

From finding just the right cheeses at your go-to grocery store to adding the perfect extras, here’s your guide for building the perfect cheese plate and staying under budget.

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It’s important to cover all the bases when putting together your cheese plate. Be sure to get something strong and sharp like orange gouda, something smooth and creamy like brie, something classic and fresh like white aged cheddar, and funky or different like herb and garlic goat cheese. These run for about $6-8 each.

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Include at least three cracker options: two different classics and something with a fun twist.

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Keep the board clean and simple, and only put a few crackers out at a time.

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I like to keep little labels in my home at all times, as they add the perfect touch to any dish you serve.

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You can add nuts and dried fruit to your plate, but I kept it classic with just a few spicy olives. I also set out my gold cheese knives set from West Elm.

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And there you have it, the whole cheese plate for under $35. But, what if you’re having only a couple friends over, or $35 is still a little too much? Try this…

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Go for two cheeses; something classic (cheddar’s a safe bet) and something fun (bubbling brie just out of the oven or herbed goat cheese), include two different cracker options, a few olives and you can do it all for under $18.

3 Things to Know About Sauvignon Blanc

Dave Edmonds of Nobilo Wines was just 15 years old when he knew he wanted to be a winemaker. He was actually born the same year the first sauvignon blanc grapes were planted in Marlborough, New Zealand, which he sees as a sign. “I’ve always had a natural affinity to whites, so I understand them. Sauvignon blanc is my passion.”

This past May, Nobilo launched its Regional Collection Sauvignon Blanc in Ontario. Recently, I had the pleasure of sampling this crisp wine — fresh notes of pineapple, passionfruit, melon and fruity flavours — and meeting Edmonds. I asked the New Zealand-native about food and sauvignon blanc pairings and the best way to store this popular white.

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1. What makes the Marlborough climate so perfect for growing sauvignon blanc grapes?

Don’t tell anybody, but Marlborough is the easiest place in the world to be a winemaker — it has a large land mass, dry climate and has perfect growing conditions. People are coming to understand that there’s a variety of wine that suits a region best, and obviously we’ve found it with sauvignon blanc in Marlborough.

2. What is the best way to store sauvignon blanc?

We store sauvignon blanc at 13°C, but if you store it cooler it will last longer, which is part of the research we’ve been doing. So even if you want to store it at 5°C — that’s a great temperature to have it at. And if you buy a good bottle, you can just keep it in the fridge. With a screwcap, it will last for several years.

One trick that I use — I’m not sure what you call it, but it’s called a Soda Stream in New Zealand — I just give it a little squirt of gas. It’s carbon dioxide and it’s what we use in the winery to exclude air from the wine. So you can have a glass every day of the week if you look after your bottle of wine by keep it in the fridge with a little bit if COT.

3. What are the best food pairings for sauvignon blanc?

I love oysters. The juicy acidity of sauvignon blanc is kind of opposite to the richness of oysters. So having that bright, juicy acidity to cut through the richness of the oyster… I love that.

In New Zealand, our Christmas holiday is over summer, and we have all of the traditional stuff — we roast turkey, we have the ham — but it’s in the middle of summer, so not only are you full, but it’s 30°degrees outside! So you can’t have a buttery chardonnay with that — that will just tip you over the edge. The sauvignon blanc is a great wine to have to sort of juxtapose that really rich food. People also love to pair the wine with Pavlova, which is a classic pairing in New Zealand.

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Check out the delicious recipes below, courtesy of Chef Tom Riley of Oliver & Bonacini in collaboration with Nobilo.

Smoked Tomato Soup with Miso Creme Fraiche
Fogo Island Crab & Kina Pappardelle with Preserved Lemon
Roasted Lamb Rump with Potatoes, Peas and Saffron Labna
Passion Fruit Cheesecake

This interview has been edited and condensed.

What to Pair with New World Reds

Follow this guide to pairing popular New World reds that range from light and fruity to bold and earthy.

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Image Credit: Jessica Witt

1. Ontario – Pinot Noir
Light, tart and bursting with cherry flavours, Ontario produces the most Burgundian of New World Pinots. Their earthy edge is in synch with vegetables like beets, mushrooms and lentils, and their natural born acidity cuts through rich orange-fleshed fish such as trout and Arctic char.

Get the recipe: Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

2. New Zealand – Pinot Noir
Kiwi Pinot is generally fruiter and more quaffable than Ontario, but it matches a similar range of foods. It’s terrific with a Sunday roast chicken, and just about any salmon preparation. Otago Pinot is more full-bodied (and expensive) than Marlborough juice, and should be opened with red meat.

Get the recipe: Salmon in Parchment with Ginger, Soy and Enoki Mushrooms

3. Chilean Cabernet – Sauvignon
Lush, fruit-forward and ready to glug, Chilean Cabs offer tremendous value, especially compared to their French and American counterparts. They’re excellent with most beef or lamb dishes, and their gentle sweetness can stand up to milder blue cheeses like Gorgonzola. It’s also nice to have a bottle on hand for take-out burgers.

Get the recipe: Blue Cheese-Crusted Filet Mignon

4. Argentine – Malbec
Originally from France, Malbec has found a spiritual home in Argentina where it produces big, affordable, age-worthy reds. It’s a natural with chargrilled steaks, which are consumed in great quantity in Argentina, and its cassis and plum flavours hit the mark with braised beef or lamb in dark, rich sauces.

Get the recipe: Braised Lamb Shanks in Red Wine and Spices

5. Australian – Shiraz
The signature red from Down Under is a great match to a wide range of foods, everything from mushroom pasta, to roast duck, to venison stew. Its residual sugar also helps it stand up to the spice of a hearty chili or barbecued meats. If you can find a lighter Shiraz from cooler Victoria, save it for grilled tuna.

Get the recipe: Peking Duck Noodle Soup

6. South African – Pinotage
A cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, South Africa’s signature red grape yields full-bodied wines with smoky, earthy undertones. The oak aging often imparts a rich mocha flavour, which flatters gamier meats like venison and liver. Pinotage is a bruiser, and it won’t wilt under the heat of a fiery curry.

Get the recipe: Roasted Venison Stew with Parsnips and Carrots

7. California – Zinfandel 
Zinfandel is the first wine grape planted on American soil by Italian immigrants, who call it Primitivo. Sweet, jammy and boozy, this muscular red is superb with slow-smoked barbecue and glazed meats off the grill. Its peppery finish also works well with spicy Italian sausages or Indian food.

Get the recipe: Sticky Barbecue Back Ribs

What to Pair with Old World Whites

Follow this guide to pairing popular Old World whites that range from crisp and light-bodied to robust and aromatic.

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Image Credit: Jessica Witt

 

1. Portugual – Vinho Verde

Dry, light-bodied and gently effervescent, this affordable Portuguese white is best enjoyed stingingly cold, dining al fresco. It’s lemony acidity demands seafood, be it a crispy mound of fried calamari, grilled sardines or those delightful salt cod croquettes sold at Portuguese bakeries. You could also open a bottle with a pre-dinner charcuterie plate.

Get the recipe: Salt Cod Beignets

2. Italy – Pinot Grigio

Light, crisp and fresh, there is a reason this easy-drinking white from northeastern Italy is so popular. It’s another excellent seafood wine when the preparation is simple, like poached halibut or steamed mussels. And it’s terrific with summery antipasto, especially prosciutto and melon.

Get the recipe: Linguine with Clams

3. Spain – Rueda

The crisp and fruity whites from Spain’s Rueda region are traditionally made from the Verdejo grape, though increasingly Sauvignon Blanc and Viura are thrown into the mix. Either way, serve it ice cold and pair with lighter appetizers such as sizzling garlic shrimp or a grilled vegetable salad drizzled with pesto.

Get the recipe: Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant with Anchovies

4. Austria – Grüner Veltliner

If you’ve noticed this signature Austrian white on many wine lists, it’s because sommeliers love selling it by the glass to pair with a wide range of food. It’s bracingly crisp with lychee and peppery flavours that hit the mark with seafood, veal and Asian spicing. If take-out sushi is a regular occurrence, chill a bottle to taste a match made in heaven.

Get the recipe: Chicken Schnitzel

5. Germany – Riesling

Riesling is the most food-friendly wine on the planet, especially the off-dry stuff from Germany. With incredible sweet-sour tension, it tends to be lower in alcohol, which makes it the perfect pour at lunch, whether you’re serving a croque monsieur or a smoked trout salad. Sweeter, late-harvest Rieslings are delicious with fruit desserts like tarte tatin.

Get the recipe: Scallop Curry

6. France – Burgundy

Made from Chardonnay, the exquisite white wines of Burgundy turn most oenophiles all misty eyed. Depending on the sub-region, of which there many, there is a startling difference in style. The lightest are from Chablis, which many consider to be the finest oyster wine in the world. More full-bodied Burgs from places like Montrachet are best saved for rich fare like shellfish in buttery sauces.

Get the recipe: Lobster Mac & Cheese

7. France – Gewürtztraminer

French Gewürtz, a specialty of Alsace, is flamboyantly aromatic, smelling of lychee, ginger and fresh-cut roses. Its unctuous texture, off-dry sweetness, and tropical flavours all help temper spicy Asian food, be it mapo tofu or a Thai curry. It can also handle other notorious wine-killers like smoked fish and piquant cheeses. Bold

Get the recipe: Sichuan Ribs

What to Pair with New World Whites

Follow this guide to pairing popular New World whites that range from herbal and citrusy to rich and bold.

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Image Credit: Jessica Witt

 

1. New Zealand – Sauvignon Blanc

Racy and refreshing, Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc is prized for its herbal and grassy undertones, which flatter the verdant vegetables of spring. Its lip-smacking acidity tempers the creamy mozzarella in a Caprese, and it’s up there with champagne and Chablis as a world-class oyster wine.

Get the recipe: Grilled Asparagus with Parsley Pesto

2. Chilean – Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc produced in Chile is softer, fruitier, and more affordable than its Kiwi counterpart. It’s still zesty and vibrant, and it’s citrusy flavours hit the mark with cilantro-packed ceviche. And like all Sauvignon Blanc, it’s a slam-dunk with goat cheese.

Get the recipe: Warm Goat Cheese Salad

3. Ontario – Riesling

Riesling thrives in Ontario’s cool climate, especially along Niagara’s Beamsville Bench. The bright acidity of dry Rieslings acts like a squeeze of lemon on salmon, scallops, and shrimp, whereas the honeyed sweetness of off-dry (aka semi-dry) bottles is terrific with roasted white meats.

Get the recipe: Thick Cut Pork Chops with Caramelized Apples and Parsnip Purée

4. South African – Chenin Blanc

The affordable Chenin Blanc from South Africa is an excellent introduction to this underappreciated, food-friendly varietal. Most of the antipodean Chenin available here is young, fresh and un-oaked with vibrant acidity that cuts like a knife through avocado, fried seafood and creamy pasta dishes. The pricier, old vine stuff demands richer fare like seared scallops or roasted pork belly.

Get the recipe: Salmon Tartare

5. California – Chardonnay

While big, boozy, heavily oaked California Chardonnay continues to fall out of favour, it still has a rightful place at the table. The rich, buttery flavours from barrel aging pair beautifully with corn, crab, lobster and veal. If you happen to find a Chard made with a lighter hand (i.e. less oak), open it with meaty white-fleshed fish like swordfish or halibut.

Get the recipe: Lobster and Corn Chowder

6. Argentine – Torrontés

Originally from Spain, this grape is gaining traction in Argentina, where it produces inexpensive, highly aromatic wines similar to Gewürztraminer. It’s silky texture and floral, peachy notes flatter Southeast Asian cuisine, and it can hold its own washing down the bold flavours of Mexican fare.

Get the recipe: Baja Fish Tacos

What to Pair with Old World Reds

Follow this guide to pairing popular Old World reds that range from vibrant and floral to robust and fresh.

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Image Credit: Jessica Witt

 

1. France – Beaujolais

Using the Gamay grape, Beaujolais produces juicy reds light enough for pan-seared fish, yet big enough to handle roast pork or rare filet mignon.
This ability to bridge a wide range of foods makes it the perfect bottle for the holiday table. Plus cru Beaujolais (from Brouilly, Moulin-au-Vent, etc.) have a peppery finish that flatters turkey.

Get the recipe: Bacon and Egg Salad

2. France – Burgundy

Made exclusively from Pinot Noir, the red wines of Burgundy are delicate and floral with considerable finesse. They go hauntingly well with any mushroom dish especially if truffles enter the equation, and there is no finer red to pour with a simple roast chicken or a yuletide bird. Open a bigger premier or grand cru with the region’s signature beef bourguignon.

Get the recipe: Pappardelle Funghi

3. Italy – Chianti

Tuscany’s most famous province pumps out some of the most food-friendly reds on the planet. Earthy, medium-bodied and bone dry, their vibrant acidity can stand up to tomato sauce, making it the ultimate pizza-pasta wine, and it’s a knockout with hard sheep’s milk cheeses like Pecorino. Chianti Classico Riserva is best saved for an august meaty main like prime rib.

Get the recipe: Chuck’s Bolognese

4. Spain – Rioja

Made from a Tempranillo-heavy blend, Rioja reds show amazing diversity at the table. Younger bottles labeled “Crianza” have the widest appeal: fresh and fruity with vibrant acidity, they are excellent with chicken and chorizo paella, or a big wedge of Manchego. Older and more heavily oaked Rioja – Reserva and Gran Reserva¬ – should be poured with game birds or lamb.

Get the recipe: Grilled Quail with Saffron Couscous

5. France – Bordeaux

The big, age-worthy reds of Bordeaux are some of the most coveted (and expensive) wines in the world. Of course there is plenty of affordable juice from less prestigious regions, and it goes really well with beef, lamb or duck. Because of the tannins in young Bordeaux, enjoy it with harder cheeses like sharp cheddar or cave-aged Gruyère.

Get the recipe: Roast Rack of Lamb with Grainy Mustard and Zinfandel Sauce

6. Italy – Amarone

Pressed from semi-dried grapes – a process called appassimento – Amarone is complex and concentrated, tasting somewhat like a dry port. These massive reds demand robust cooking like flavourful cuts of red meat slowly braised with caramelized onions and mushrooms. It’s also terrific with a postprandial cheese board laden with the strong stuff – i.e. Gouda, Gorgonzola and Parmigiano.

Get the recipe: Mona’s Brisket

How to Create a Cheese Platter with Laura Calder

In Laura Calder’s latest video, the host of French Food at Home takes us into a Parisian cheese shop where she shares some of her tips on picking cheeses — from soft to hard and everything in between. Whether you enjoy a stinkier cheese or just something subtle to snack on, satisfy your inner caseophile and get experimenting. (Don’t forget the wine!)

Topics: Laura CalderFrench Food at Home, Cheese

Ultimate Easy Peasy Wine & Food Guide

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Some of us are quite the wine connoisseurs. We know just what wines everyone will love and will complement certain foods perfectly. I, unfortunately, fall into the other category – the group that’s are completely clueless when it comes to the grape stuff.

The worst part? I have this problem where I constantly volunteer to bring the wine to get-togethers and dinner parties even though I have no idea (1) what types of wine people generally like (I think a Pinot Grigio is a safe bet?), (2) what country to pick wine from (surely, anything from Italy would be good?) and (3) which wines go with what dishes.

But being quite the problem solver that I am, I came up with answers to my questions that I thought I’d share.

First, ask the hostess if she has a wine preference. Second, just go with Italian or French wine. And three, ask what dishes will be served, and consult my easy peasy guide for choosing a wine. Or, if you’re hosting a party and know your friends prefer a certain type of wine, you can consult my list for an idea on what kind of dishes to serve.
As for my recommended recipes, check them out below!

headshot Renée Reardin is a lifestyle writer and stylist living in Toronto. To learn more about her, visit www.reneereardin.com, and follow her on Twitter @reneereardin.

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