Tag Archives: drinks

White Russian and Eggnog Cocktail

Kickstart the Holidays With This Easy White Russian and Eggnog Cocktail

Putting a holiday twist on the classic White Russian cocktail, this decadent and surprisingly easy to make cocktail is a star at any occasion. Given that this That’s the Spirit cocktail uses only three ingredients, I highly recommend using good quality vodka and eggnog as we’re aiming for decadence. Equally appropriate before or after dinner, this creamy festive cocktail is one you’ll be making again and again. Cheers!

Related: Travel Back in ‘Thyme’ With This Seasonal Twist on a Classic Aperol Spritz

White Russian with Eggnog Cocktail

White Russian and Eggnog Cocktail

Prep: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1

White Russian Cocktail with Eggnog Mise en Place

Ingredients:
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Kahlúa
Splash of Eggnog

White Russian Eggnog

Directions:
1. Fill a rocks glass with ice.

White Russian with eggnog

2. Pour vodka and Kahlúa into the glass.
3. Using the back of a bar spoon, pour eggnog on top and serve.

Apple cider Moscow Mule

Kick Off Cozy Season With This Autumn-Inspired Apple Cider Moscow Mule

As the weather changes and the autumn apple cravings kick in, this cider twist on a Moscow mule is a must-try cocktail to celebrate the start of fall. The spicy flavour of the ginger beer (a key ingredient to a traditional Moscow mule) pairs perfectly with the sweet mulled cider. So throw on your favourite fall sweater and shake up the latest That’s the Spirit cocktail!

Apple cider Moscow Mule

Apple Cider Moscow Mule

Prep: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1

Related: Travel Back in ‘Thyme’ With This Seasonal Twist on a Classic Aperol Spritz

Apple cider Moscow mule ingredients

Ingredients:

2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 pinch ground cinnamon
3 ounces apple cider
3 ounces ginger beer
Apple slices, to garnish
Fresh rosemary, to garnish
Lime wedge, to garnish

Related: This Blood Orange Negroni is the Perfect Summer Cocktail

Apple cider Moscow mule with cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker or cocktail mixing glass with ice. Add vodka, lime juice, ginger, cinnamon and apple cider. Shake or stir until well combined, about 30 seconds.Hand stirring apple cider Moscow mule
  2. Strain over a moscow mule glass filled with ice. Finish with a splash of ginger beer. 
  3. Garnish with apple slices, rosemary and lime. Cheers!

Apple cider Moscow mule

Like Marcella’s Moscow mule? Try her refreshing Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

two glasses of wine clinking for a cheers

How to Order Wine at a Restaurant Like a Pro

After a long (and sad) hiatus from restaurant visits, it feels incredible to be back on sunny patios and in cozy booths. Don’t get us wrong, the takeout nights were fun, but nothing beats having fresh, warm food brought to a table full of your closest friends. One thing we didn’t miss, however, is our adversity to ordering wine. There’s just something so intimidating about it!

To help cork that fear, we spoke to Master Sommelier, Jennifer Huether about how to order wine like a pro. Jennifer has been loving (and drinking) wine for over a decade. Her passion for the grape has brought many adventures, including her current role as head sommelier and director of alcohol curation at Fresh City Farms. Read on for her best advice.


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What are your best food and wine pairing tips?

The basics of food and wine matching is complex, but there are three main things to consider on your own: What is the main protein? How is it cooked? And what are the sauces and or spices?

Ultimately, what you’re trying to do is even the playing field between the wine and the food. You’re trying to go for that balance. For example, let’s say you have a beautiful, sweet dessert and a dry light wine. The fruit and the sugar in the dessert is going to overpower that light little dry wine. It needs something that is full and rich, and probably has as much sugar, if not more, than the dessert. Look for flavours that complement or contrast each other.

 

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What are some rules for pairing wines with plant-based foods?

Generally white wine, rosé, and lighter, wet reds work well. And I’m going to add in something else here: orange wines. I’ll be playing with a lot of orange wine going into the fall, just because I also love color matching with food and wine.

Related: 20 Easy Plant-Based Recipes for Beginners That Will Make You Drool

What is colour matching?

It’s literally matching the colour spectrum of wines to foods. We know that overall white meats work with white wine and red meats work with red wine. If you have that in the back of our head, you can just take it a step further and have fun with it. 

For example, if you take a lovely butternut squash soup with roasted pecans and pair it with a nice orange wine, it’s just visually spectacular. Remember, the whole eating process starts with seeing the food.

How important is the price of a wine?

If we’re looking at wines by the bottle, the cheapest wines have the highest markup. Where you’re going to find value is at what I call the heart of the list. The heart of the list is where most of the people will shop. Let’s say the wine list starts at $30 a bottle and goes up to $150 a bottle. The middle section will be where most people buy and therefore there will be lots of turnover in that section and usually some decent value. That being said, usually, the most expensive bottles do not receive the same markup as the rest of the list, so there can be value there too, as long as you’re willing to spend more.

Related: Meet the Canadian Women Helping to Bring Gender Equality to the Wine World

What’s the best way to use your server or in-house sommelier when ordering?

Ask yourself, what do I want to spend? What do I like to drink? And what am I eating tonight? If you can answer those three questions, you should be telling the sommelier. Nobody wants to sell you a wine that’s more than you want to spend, because then you end up with a customer that’s not coming back because they feel ripped off.

 

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Is there a discreet way to tell your server or sommelier what you want to spend without saying it?

I will have the wine list open, and I will point to something [in my price range]. And that way [the sommelier] will get the price right away. They might go up by $10 or $15, but at that point they know what you’re willing to spend.

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

After you have picked your bottle and the server brings you the first sip to try, what are you really looking for? Is it to see if you like the wine?

It’s not a question of, “Is this your favorite wine ever?” it’s a question of “Is the wine healthy?”. You’re checking to see if the wine is stable. Are you getting tons of wet cardboard or a musty basement from the wine? That could be an indication that the wine has cork tank, or any of the other 20 things that can go wrong. That’s what you’re checking for. It might be a little bit more tannic than you really wanted, but that’s just the wine.

And if it [doesn’t taste healthy] no problem, send it back. A lot of times sommeliers are pretty good! Even if they suspect that the wine is fine and you just don’t like it, they’ll try to steer you to a different wine.

Thyme Aperol Spritz

Travel Back in ‘Thyme’ With This Seasonal Twist on a Classic Aperol Spritz

Thyme Aperol Spritz

Thyme-Infused Aperol Spritz

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings:  1

Related: Savour the Best of the Season With This Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

This That’s the Spirit Aperol spritz is a classic summer cocktail. It’s light, refreshing and truly tastes like summertime in Italy. Take this cocktail up a notch by incorporating a little thyme-infused simple syrup. The thyme really complements the orange and herbal notes in the Aperol tying this cocktail together. Perfect for a hot summer day (or eve), this spritz is one you’ll want to keep making again and again! Cheers. 

Related: Savour the Best of the Season With This Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

Ingredients:

Thyme simple syrup (makes 0.5 oz)
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs

3 oz Prosecco D.O.C
2 oz Aperol
0.5 oz Thyme simple syrup
Splash of soda
Garnish: Orange wedge and fresh thyme sprigs

Related: This Blood Orange Negroni is the Perfect Summer Cocktail

Directions:

Thyme-Infused Simple Syrup

  1. Add ½ cup sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Stir until sugar is dissolved. 
  3. Remove from heat and add 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme. Let steep for 10-15 minutes, depending on how strong you want the thyme flavour to be. 

Related: This Earl Grey Mar(tea)ni is the Cocktail You Need

Thyme Aperol Spritz

Cocktail 

  1. Fill a white wine glass with ice. 
  2. Pour 3 parts of Prosecco D.O.C, followed by 2 parts of Aperol and 0.5 oz. thyme-infused simple syrup. 
  3. Top with a splash of soda and stir. 
  4. Garnish with an orange wedge and fresh thyme sprigs. 

Like Abhi’s summer cocktail? Try his refreshing Brazilian Lemonade Margarita

 

Marcella DiLeonardo's strawberry rhubarb spritzer

Savour the Best of the Season With This Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

Marcella DiLeonardo's strawberry rhubarb spritzer

Strawberry Rhubarb Gin Spritzer

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

Related: Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Marcella DiLeonardo's strawberry rhubarb spritz ingredient shot

Strawberry rhubarb pie in a cocktail? Yes please! This That’s the Spirit cocktail is a sweet-and-sour-lover’s dream. It features freshly picked local strawberries and vibrant pink garden rhubarb. However, if you only have frozen fruit on hand, that works too. Just adjust the honey based on the sweetness of the strawberries. Lastly, don’t throw away the leftover fruit compote, enjoy it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or mixed into your morning yogurt. Cheers!

Ingredients:

1 tsp lemon zest
½ cup fresh or frozen rhubarb, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, diced
2 tbsp honey
1 pinch salt
¾ cup water
4 oz gin, divided
Sparkling water, to finish
Sliced lemon, to garnish

Strawberry rhubarb compote

Directions:

  1.     To a saucepan over medium heat add the lemon zest, rhubarb, strawberries, honey, salt and water. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 10 minutes, until the fruit breaks down.

  1.     Using a fine mesh sieve, strain mixture to release the syrup. Set aside in a glass jar until ready to use. This syrup can be made up to a week in advance. 
  2.     Fill 4 cocktail glasses with ice. Evenly divide the syrup and gin amongst the glasses. Top with a splash of soda water, garnish with lemon and serve!

Related: Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Abhishek Dekate's Brazilian Lemonade

This Refreshing Brazilian Lemonade Margarita is THE Drink of Summer

Looking for summer in a cup? Look no further. This Brazilian Lemonade Margarita is a combination of two popular summer drinks that is super refreshing and a perfect way to cool off on those hot summer afternoons. Made with fresh limes, this That’s the Spirit drink is not only tangy and sweet but deliciously creamy too. Lose the tequila and this can easily be enjoyed as a non-alcoholic bevvy  as well. Cheers!

Abhishek Dekate's Brazilian lemonade margarita cocktail in a rimmed glass

Brazilian Lemonade Margarita

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1

Related: This Refreshing Brazilian Lemonade Margarita is THE Drink of Summer

Ingredients to make Abhishek Dekate's Brazilian Lemonade Margarita

Ingredients:

Brazilian Lemonade
4 limes
½ cup condensed milk
½ cup granulated sugar
4 cups cold water

Cocktail
4 oz Brazilian Lemonade mix
1 oz tequila
Garnish: salt rim + lime slice or wedge

Related: Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Directions:

Brazilian Lemonade

  1. Mix cold water and sugar and chill until ready to use. This step can be done ahead of time.
  2. Wash limes thoroughly with soap and cut each lime into 8ths.\
  3. Add cold water and sugar mixture into the blender along with limes and condensed milk.

Straining of Brazilian lemonade

4. Pulse blender a few times (10 seconds max. each cycle) until ingredients are fully integrated. Do not over-blend as this will cause the limes to break down leaving a bitter aftertaste.
5. Strain liquid through a fine-mesh strainer using a spoon.
6. Serve over ice and enjoy!

Abhishek Dekate rimming a rocks glass

Cocktail

  1. Rim rocks glass with salt and set aside.
  2. Place ice cubes in your rimmed glass.

Adding Brazilian lemonade to the rocks glass

3. Add tequila and Brazilian Lemonade mix.
4. Stir and garnish with a lime slice or wedge. Enjoy!

Like Abhi’s summer cocktail? Try his Blood Orange Negroni.

Abhishek Dekate's blood orange negroni

This Blood Orange Negroni is the Perfect Summer Cocktail

A twist on the classic Italian cocktail consisting of three liquors: gin, Campari and sweet vermouth with a splash of freshly squeezed blood orange, this cocktail is both vibrant and refreshing. This rich That’s the Spirit bevvy incorporates this seasonal fruit — not only are blood oranges the perfect combination of sweet, juicy and tart, but the colour itself is mesmerizing. Cheers! 

Abhishek Dekate's blood orange negroni

Blood Orange Negroni

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1

Related: Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Ingredients:

1 oz gin of choice
1 oz Campari
1 oz sweet vermouth
1 oz freshly squeezed blood orange juice + slice for garnish

Abhishek Dekate's ingredients needed for a blood orange negroni, including sliced blood oranges, and more

Directions:

1. Fill a mixing glass with ice, gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and freshly squeezed blood orange juice. Stir stir stir.

Abhishek Dekate squeezing a blood orange into a mixing glass

2. Add a large ice cube to a rocks glass and strain the cocktail into the glass.

Abhishek Dekate straining his blood orange negroni

3. Garnish with a thin slice of blood orange. Enjoy!

Like Abhi’s summer cocktail? Try his Earl Grey mar(tea)ni.

Orange-coloured mar-tea-ni against an orange background

This Earl Grey Mar(tea)ni is the Spring Cocktail You Need

Earl Grey is a breakfast tea staple often served with cream and sugar, but when shaken with gin, it’s even more delicious. This easy That’s the Spirit cocktail is a tea-infused variation on the classic gin sour. The floral notes of Earl Grey tea pairs perfectly with the botanical notes of the gin — making this the ultimate spring cocktail for your next “tea time.” Cheers!

An orange-coloured frothy MarTeaNi against an orange background

Earl Grey Mar(tea)ni

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:

½ cup sugar + extra for rimming
½ cup water
1 Earl Grey tea bag + loose tea leaves for rimming
2 oz gin of choice
¾ oz lemon juice
1 egg white

Ingredients required for a MarTeaNi, including a martini glass, a shaker, glass tray, loose earl gray leaves and more

Directions:

1. Add sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

2. Remove from heat and add 1 Earl Grey tea bag. Let steep for 10-15 minutes, depending on how strong you want the tea flavour to be.

Related: Whiskey, Green Tea + Honey = The Only Cocktail Recipe You’ll Ever Need

3. Rim martini or coupe glass with sugar and loose tea leaves, set aside.

4. Add gin, lemon juice, Earl Grey simple syrup you made earlier and egg white to a shaker without ice. Shake vigorously (10-15 seconds).

5. Add ice to the shaker and shake again until chilled. Strain into rimmed martini or coupe glass. Enjoy!

Hand pouring out the mar-tea-ni cocktail into a rimmed martini glass

Here are more warm-weather cocktails you’ll love.

Punjabi cha straining in glass

Classic Punjabi Cha (Not Chai) Straight From a Punjabi Mom

Some say chai, others say chai tea, which is completely wrong as it translates to tea-tea. People from Punjab called it cha (not chai). Every Indian family has their own way of making cha, but this is the real deal — an authentic cup made by my mom, which is the backdrop of many childhood memories for me. My mom grew up in a small village in Punjab in the ’60s. Back then, simple spices such as cardamom pods were a bit of a speciality item used in tea when guests came over, as the pods would perfume the house. Note this isn’t masala cha, just an everyday cha that is so flavourful and easy to make.

Punjabi cha straining in glass

Punjabi Cha

Prep Time: 3 ½ minutes
Cook Time: 3 ½ minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

1 tsp fennel seeds
4 cardamom pods
1 ¼ cup water
1 Tbsp loose leaf black tea
1 Tbsp jaggery
½ cup homogenized milk

Punjabi cha ingredients

Directions:

1. Crush the fennel seeds and cardamom pods together in a mortar and pestle, until pods open up and their aroma is released.

2. Over medium heat, pour water into the pot and simmer, not boil. Add spices to the water. Simmer for about 1–2 minutes. Add tea. Simmer for 30 seconds.

Related: Sweet and Savoury Matcha Recipes to Give Your Plate a Boost of Green

3. Add jaggery. Turn up the heat to boil for 45 seconds. Add milk. Boil for 30 seconds. Watch to make sure the cha doesn’t boil over.

Punjabi cha boiling on stovetop

4. Using a mesh strainer, strain cha directly into two teacups evenly.

5. With the back of a spoon, squeeze out the extra spices and tea flavour from the strainer directly into the individual cups.
Enjoy!

Punjabi cha in two glasses

Like Deepi’s cha recipe? She tried a $45 takeout meal that comes in a jewellery box.

Meet the Canadian Women Helping to Bring Gender Equality to the Wine World

It’s clear within minutes of our three-way phone chat that Emily Pearce and Jennifer Huether love talking about wine, from the terroir to the nitty-gritty details of winemaking. In a traditionally male-dominated industry, there’s something refreshing about hearing two women at the top of their game speak passionately about the grape. Not only do the Toronto-based entrepreneurs boast an encyclopedic knowledge on the subject, but they’ve also enjoyed massive success with Femmes du Vin — a  non-profit organization that launched less than five years ago.

“The story of Femmes du Vin is really about grassroots growth. It started in 2016 in my backyard in Toronto,” says founding president Pearce. “I got this idea to have a social event that was a safe space for women in the wine industry to come together to have a place to network, discuss successes and analyze challenges.”

What started as a small gathering has since transformed into the massively successful Harvest Seminars where speakers and attendees tune in from around the world to talk wine and culture.

For decades, women sommeliers or wine enthusiasts have been few and far between, with men dominating the conversation and top positions. Now, Pearce and Huether, master sommelier and  director of education at Femmes du Vin, are pushing for more inclusion of women in the wine world.

Related: Ren Navarro on Diversity in the Beer Industry – and How Companies Can Improve

Emily Pearce

Tell us about the genesis and evolution of Femmes du Vin and why it’s needed in the wine industry today.

Emily Pearce: “Eventually, [the backyard event] outgrew me setting up a tent and making homemade sushi in my backyard. We had our first brick and mortar event [in 2019] and it continued to grow out of community demand to what it was [in 2020] — which was an amazing virtual event with speakers and attendees from across the world. It speaks to the hunger in our industry for these safe places in our community for women to connect. While there are still challenges women face — be it wage discrepancies that still exist or issues around discrimination or harassment — I really just wanted to create a place where women could build stronger networks.”

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus, What Canadians Can Do About It)

What were your earliest experiences in an industry dominated by men?

Jennifer Huether: “That’s a great question. Personally, I started out in the wine business about 22 years ago. I fell in love with wine, started taking some courses and became a sommelier. I can honestly say to you that, back then, I would look around and I could name maybe two other women sommeliers in Toronto — a massive, metropolitan city. And that certainly felt like the case wherever I went — whether I was flying to England for exams or on wine trips that were led by different countries, we [women] were always a very small minority in the group. At that time it was also a bit surprising for people to come across you, so they would unintentionally start mansplaining wine to you because they didn’t understand that you’d studied it or worked in it for several years.”

Related: Celebrating 10 Female Chefs That We Love, From Anna Olson to Molly Yeh

What shifts have you started to see since starting Femmes du Vin in 2016?

EP: “It’s two steps forward, one step back. I look at the top positions in our area [of Toronto] and we’re seeing a proliferation of women in top positions. But, on the other side, you see a continuation of discouraging things — whether that’s discrimination against women or perhaps harassment or other obstacles that still exist. I’ve worked very hard and I’m grateful for the positions I’ve held in the wine industry, but I’ve been on the other side of the table. I still think there are clear obstacles facing women. Having a family, for a woman in our industry, is tremendously challenging [for example].”

Jennifer Huether

How can Canadian wineries work toward including more women?

JH: “Some confidential conversations I’ve had with [female] winemakers said it was a really, really tough road for them. What they’ve done, sort of like what we’re doing, is create a bit of a community for each other where they’ll get together and chat and support each other.”

Related: Metis Herbalist and Educator Lori Snyder on Urban Foraging and Food Sovereignty

EP: “And what Femmes du Vin is doing is we’re working on a really exciting project with two wineries [The Grange from Prince Edward County and Benjamin Bridge from Nova Scotia] and we’re going to be doing a private label Femmes du Vin wine which is very exciting. We’re working with a local winemaking school to offer internships for women — hopefully BIPOC women — to work with head winemakers for these custom private labels for Femmes du Vin. It will provide them with professional one-on-one experience with head winemakers that they can actually put on their resumes to make them more professionally competitive when it comes to the market… It’s a small thing that might only help a handful of women each year, but we’re really excited to be able to leverage our network and work toward change. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of those wines will also be going into our scholarship fund for women in wine.”

Related: 10 Facts That Will Shock You About Racial Injustice in Canada 

What is your favourite wine?

JH: “Can we give you a wine region or a style? [laughs] For me, we’ve got to go to France and we’ve got to go to Burgundy. Then we have to go with white wine — a Chardonnay. They’re the most intriguing wines in the world.”

EP: “I would have to concur — a beautiful Chardonnay from Burgundy. Anything with the word Montrachet in it. It’s so expressive with its terroir [the natural environment where it’s produced] and it’s versatile with food. It’s something that is a treat — a desert island wine that is irresistible.”

Related: Top Pinot Gris Wines to Sip Right Now

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Feature photo courtesy of Unsplash; second and third photo courtesy of Emily Pearce and Jennifer Huether.

Festive vegan latte

We Tried 3 Seasonal Vegan Lattes at Your Favourite Coffee Shops. Here’s the Winner

Holiday latte season is one of my favourite seasons. You can indulge in the best coffee beans, but with a shot of sugary flavour and warm, frothy milk. And now thanks to an increased popularity of veganism and food allergies, plant-based milk (soy, almond, oat) is also typically on the menu.

This year I wanted to sample all of the best seasonal vegan lattes to see which one held up best. However because of the pandemic it felt like the options for such bevvies has been limited as many smaller joints have had to shut down. The good news is that some of the coffee franchises we all know and love did step up to pump out the special syrup and spices this season. And while I’m always a fan of supporting local, for the purpose of Canadian readers everywhere, here’s my hot take on the best vegan lattes from three of the more widely available cafes in the country.

Related: Coffee and Hot Chocolate Recipes to Warm Your Belly

Chestnut Praline Latte With Almond Milk, Starbucks

Available across Canada

Festive flavour: Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, perhaps? Just ordering this drink, which promises “caramelized chestnuts and spices” is enough to make me want to bust out the Nat King Cole.

Sweetness: A grande comes with four pumps of syrup, which was a touch on the sweet side. Next time I might stick with two or three.

Real talk: To make this version vegan, I omitted the whipped cream. Because of that, they also left off the “specialty spiced praline crumbs.” It doesn’t matter — I fell in love with chestnut lattes years ago. To be honest, it’s one of the first drinks my husband and I order every holiday season when they make their way to Canada.

Related: Famous Recipes We’re Making at Home, From McDs Hash Browns to IKEA Meatballs

Verdict: This year did not disappoint. While my drink was overly sweet (it took me a while to finish the whole cup) I did love how smooth and velvety it was. It also came piping hot, which was a bonus because I’m also that girl who microwaves her coffee if it’s not steaming. And as for the almond milk substitution? The syrup actually overpowered that chalky taste you can sometimes get with almond milk — and I think the drink would have been even sweeter with the regular stuff. So I’m calling this one a glorious, vegan win. Now if only they made chestnut lattes available year-round…

Gingerbread Latte With Almond Milk, Coffee Culture

Available in Ontario and Manitoba

Festive flavour: Gingerbread is kind of the ultimate holiday flavour, don’t you think? So drinking it in latte form (rather than biting into a tooth-chipping piece from the stale house my kids always insist on decorating) makes sense.

Sweetness: This one wasn’t nearly as sweet as the chestnut latte, but it definitely left me with a bit of a sugar rush.

Real talk: Full disclosure: I’m pretty picky about how I like my gingerbread. I love fresh ginger, so if we’re talking cookies, I prefer the warm and chewy kind.

Related: Our Fave Food Trends to Come out of Quarantine, From Pancake Cereal to Bread Art

Verdict: As a drink, this gingerbread latte had a pretty great balance of coffee to ginger — and just smelling it was enough to bring a warm and fuzzy feel to my hectic afternoon. But one cup was definitely enough to last me for the entire season. I’m of the camp that gingerbread is special because it’s a once-in-a-while treat. But if they made this drink in candle form? Well that’s something I’d light up all season long.

Cinnamon Toast Latte With Almond Milk, Second Cup

Available across Canada

Festive flavour: I feel like cinnamon is a year-round flavour, so I wasn’t necessarily getting a festive vibe from this drink. But it did feel special and new, especially since I got to sip it in a fully decorated cafe while my toddler nibbled on a croissant.

Sweetness: Once again this latte was slightly too sweet for my personal preference, so next time I would ask for one less pump of syrup.

Real talk: Growing up my dad used to make me cinnamon toast and it was one of my favourite breakfasts. So I was immediately excited to try this grown-up version. I sipped it while watching my kid take in the experience of having a snack at a cafe (something he hasn’t really gotten to do yet in his life, especially with this pandemic) and it just reminded me of traditions, holiday shopping and taking a timeout to savour the season. Yes, I got all that from a drink.

Related: We Tried Popeyes’ Famous Chicken Sandwich That Finally Arrived in Canada — Is It Worth the Hype?

Verdict: I appreciated that while the other cafes were happy to offer up vegan milk in any of their lattes, Second Cup specifically put a plant-based version of its Cinnamon Toast Latte on the menu. They usually make theirs with oat milk (because oats and cinnamon are another memorable combo), but in order to be completely fair to the other shops, I had mine with almond milk. That suited me just fine and it was delicious, but next time I’m there I’m definitely trying to recommended version.

Winner

While the chestnut latte was delicious and the gingerbread latte was memorable, I have to go with the cinnamon toast latte. Are you surprised? I believe the season is all about the memories we make — and to me, the drink was a mood. Add in the fact that Second Cup put effort into branding the latte as a vegan drink and it had to win — hands down.

That said, this year has been strange and weird for so many reasons. Restaurants have been struggling to stay afloat, let alone sink money into new products. So I’m calling this a tentative win for now and here’s hoping that by this time next year, we can all over-imbibe on caffeine and more holiday-themed, sugary goodness.

Photos courtesy of Amber Dowling

We also tried the KFC Cinnabon Dessert Biscuits. Are they worth the hype?

Ina Garten’s Fresh Whiskey Sours Will Be Your Go-To Cocktail

Although the holiday season might feel a little less celebratory this year, there’s no reason we still can’t raise a glass of Ina Garten’s refreshing and tangy whiskey sour concoction. This five-ingredient indulgence from the Barefoot Contessa is ready in 10 minutes – just don’t forget to top it all off with a Maraschino cherry!

Related: Ina Garten’s Classic Cocktail Recipes, From Margaritas to Mojitos

Ina Garten’s Fresh Whiskey Sours

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 cocktails

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
2/3 cup sugar syrup (see below)
Maraschino cherries

See More: Dinner Etiquette Tips That Would Make Ina Garten Proud

Directions:

1. Combine the whiskey, lemon juice, lime juice and syrup. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice and fill two-thirds full with the cocktail mixture. Shake for 30 seconds and pour into glasses. Add a maraschino cherry and serve ice cold.

2. Sugar syrup: Put 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Chill thoroughly before using.

Watch Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

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.

iced-coffee-pour-feature

How to Make Easy Flash Brew Iced Coffee All Summer Long

Cool down in a flash with this simple iced coffee recipe that is crisp, refreshing, and delicious. Instead of waiting hours for cold brew, or chilling hot brewed coffee, this easy method requires brewing a coffee concentrate directly over ice. The result is an instantly chilled coffee that is ready to serve in less than 10 minutes.  The best part is that you don’t need fancy equipment—almost any manual drip or pour-over style brewing device with a filter will do. This easy method can also work with some automatic drip machines.

flash-iced-coffee-pouring

Easy Flash Brew Iced Coffee

Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2.5 cups

Equipment:
A coffee brewer like a Chemex or a similar brewer that you use to make filter/drip coffee at home.
Kettle
Kitchen scale
Timer
Spoon

flash-iced-coffee-setup

Ingredients:
1 ¾ cups (14 oz) hot water,  just finished boiling
2 cups (300 g) ice
1/2 cup (50 g) coffee grounds, medium

Directions:
1. Add ice to the carafe.
2. Place the coffee filter in the brew basket and add coffee grounds.
3. Position coffee brewer on top of a kitchen scale and set value to zero.
4. Start the timer and pour first 1/2 cup (4 oz) of hot water over coffee grounds in about 30 seconds. Gently stir the grounds with a spoon, making sure all of the coffee is fully soaked.

pour-over-flash-iced-coffee
5. After 1 minute, pour an additional 1/2 cup hot water (4 oz) over wet coffee grounds.
6. After 2 minutes, pour the remaining hot water over the coffee grounds for a total of 1 ¾ cups (14 oz).
7. Brew will finish dripping through coffee grounds after about 4:30-5 minutes.
8. Serve freshly brewed cold coffee over ice and enjoy!

final-iced-coffee-pour

Looking for more coffee knowledge? Learn how to brew the best cup of coffee ever.

10 Perfect Red and White Drinks for Canada Day

If you plan on throwing the ultimate Canada Day bash, you might be stumped as to what to serve when it comes to drinks. With the exception of domestic beer, it can be difficult to think of “Canadian” drink recipes — besides the Caesar of course. Spice up your drink menu by incorporating these red and white cocktails your guests are sure to love.

strawberry-sour

1. Strawberry Sour

Start your Canada Day bash right with this gorgeous red and white cocktail from Chef David Hawksworth. Nothing says summer like strawberries!

cranberry-kir-royale

2. Cranberry Kir Royale

Tyler Florence combines frozen cranberries, orange juice and Champagne for the ultimate summer drink. Bring

shuggieJPG

3. Shuggie

Why is this drink called a Shuggie? Your guess is as good as ours, but we’re certain you and your guests will love this rum-based cocktail infused with rhubarb, ginger, lime and Thai basil flavours.

citrus-berry-spritz

4. Citrus Berry Spritz

This sweet fizzy drink from Giada De Laurentiis is filled with berry ice cubes and a hint of mint for freshness.

WATERMELON-­STRAWBERRY SANGRIA, Bobby Flay, Barbecue Addiction: Bobby’sBasics/Bobby’s Basics: Simply Skewers, Food Network, Watermelon, Strawberries, RoseWine, Vodka, Orange Juice, Orange Liqueur, Orange, Lime

5. Watermelon Strawberry Sangria

Bobby Flay’s sweet, citrus-infused summer drink is ideal for a party or get-together with friends.

lava-flow-mocktail

6. Lava Flow Mocktail

What’s more Canadian than the combination of red and white? These sweet dessert-worthy drinks start with a base of raspberry purée, then a milky topping, a generous amount of whipped cream and finished with sugared frozen raspberries on top. Don’t forget to rim the glasses with red-coloured sugar!

rum-punch

7. Rum Punch

Try this refreshing booze-infused punch filled with tropical flavours and Jamaican white rum from Bobby Flay.

Cranberry-Mojito

8. Cranberry Mojito

To keep with the red and white theme, don’t forget to serve this fizzy bevvy with floating cranberries and fresh, muddled mint leaves.

watermelon-martinis

9. Watermelon Martinis

Sure to quench your summertime thirst, Bobby’s fruity martini is loaded with tons of fresh watermelon and melon liquor for the utmost melon flavour.

Classic Canadian Caesar
10. Classic Canadian Caesar

The ultimate Canadian drink — thanks to our nation’s love of Clamato juice. This classic drink is a must-have for any Canada Day celebration. This version adds fresh sage and lime for a fresh new twist.

Looking for more recipes for your party? Try these Great Canadian Desserts.

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.

The New Year, New You Easy Green Smoothie You Need

It’s a new year and chances are you are A) still nursing one heck of a hangover or B) making a resolution of some sort to eat healthier. Smoothies are a great way to pack in lots of veggies when you don’t have the time or appetite to munch on a salad and unlike a juice, you get all the healthy fibre from the skin and pulp, making you feel fuller longer. In this smoothie, the sweetness of the apple juice helps temper the bitterness and grainy texture of kale, while the frozen blueberries keeps the smoothie cold and adds a tinge of tartness. Ginger has long been used as a home remedy to help with an upset stomach, but more importantly, its spice adds a nice kick to every sip.

Related: Cold-Busting Citrus Smoothie That’ll Save You When Sick Season Hits

Feel free to adjust the amounts of each ingredient to your taste and experiment with other greens and fruits you have on hand. Smoothies are also a great way to use up greens that are starting to wilt and would otherwise look sad in a salad. If you want to cut down on the amount of sugar, replace the apple juice with almond or coconut milk and add an additional teaspoon of maple syrup or honey. A scoop of unflavoured protein powder would also make this a nice breakfast option on the go.

Green Smoothie

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:

1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 ½ cups kale, stems removed and chopped finely
½ cup baby spinach leaves, chopped finely
½ cup frozen blueberries
1 cup apple cider or juice
1 tsp maple syrup

ATT61427

Directions:

1. Peel ginger by scraping the skin off with the edge of a spoon.

KaleSmoothie_peelingGinger

2. Blend all the ingredients in a blender until everything is well mixed and liquefied. Drink immediately.

Published January 5, 2015, Updated January 1, 2018

The Boozy History of the Caesar Cocktail

Spiking a vodka and tomato juice with clam essence is cocktail bliss for Caesar-swilling Canucks, but the combination in this oh-so-Canadian cocktail wasn’t always so obvious. In fact, according to Alberta researchers, it took months for Calgary bartender and Caesar inventor Walter Chell to hit the perfect proportions.

A mixologist at the Calgary Inn before mixologist was a title, Walter was tasked with creating a cocktail to celebrate the 1969 opening of the inn’s new restaurant, Marco’s Italian. Inspired by his favourite Italian dish, spaghetti vongole, Chell set out to create a cocktail that would capture the pasta’s hearty clam and tomato flavours.

Three Caesar cocktails on wood countertop

Eventually he came up with the recipe Canadians have come to love: vodka mixed with clam-infused tomato juice, lime, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, with a delicious celery salt rim. If we’re being honest (and after a few Caesars, who can lie?), the thought of a clam-based cocktail is a little strange — even for those of us who know how good it is. But surprisingly, Walter Chell wasn’t the first to come up with the concept. As Michael Platt notes in an article for the Calgary Sun, a 1900 copy of Modern American Drinks contains a recipe for a clam juice cocktail, as does a 1951 Betty Crocker cookbook. “So then what did Calgary’s beloved father of the Caesar really do?” asks Platt. “That’s like asking what Henry Ford did for the motor car or The Beatles did for music.”

Simply put, Chell perfected the recipe, taking it from clammy outlier to a red hot hit. Soon after, Mott’s beverage company released what is arguably the world’s best-known clam-infused tomato juice, Clamato.

Related: Sensational Canadian Cocktails

Chell invented the Caesar, but widespread distribution of Clamato brought it to homes and bars across the country. According to an Ipsos-Reid poll commissioned by the company in 2009, the Caesar or Bloody Caesar, is the most popular cocktail in Canada; Mott’s estimates that more than 350 million are consumed each year.

But beyond the occasional American article praising the “Canadian Bloody Mary,” Chell’s blend of sweet, salty, sour, spicy and bitter notes hasn’t gotten much love beyond our borders. Never mind — here, it’s not only a source of pride, but it’s a symbol of Canada’s changing demography and Canadians’ expanding palates.

Modern variations reflect international influences, substituting or enhancing British Worcestershire sauce with horseradish, wasabi, kimchi, chipotle, sriracha, teriyaki, tandoori, jerk spice, Dijon mustard or any number of flavours. A staple at Canada Day celebrations and weekend brunches and a drink as red as our flag, the Caesar is a cocktail that can rightly claim that it came, it quenched, and it conquered Canada.

Craving a Caesar? Learn how to make these tasty cocktail garnishes.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

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.

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.

Related: Crowd-Pleasing Canadian Wines for Under $15

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.

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.

Related: Must-Try Local BC Wines

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.

Photos courtesy of Allison Day