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Rosé Wine

Rosé Wine, Wine

The Return of Cote de Roses

July 27, 2017

Remember that time I found a gorgeous bottle of rosé and found myself on my very own personal quest to find it?

Well that wine ended up becoming a Vintages Essential, meaning it’s now a mainstay of the LCBO’s catalogue. On the one hand I feel slightly sheepish for having made such a mission out of finding it, but on the other hand the adventure was fun! And it seems the world has rewarded me by making the wine readily available.

I bought a bottle of this delicious nectar last summer and didn’t have the chance to open it, so last fall I thought ‘you know what? I’m going to save it until next summer and then we’ll see how it stood the test of time’.

This is a bit of a weird thing to do.

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Rosé Wine, Wine

5 Ontario Rosés You Should Drink This Summer

June 15, 2017

I’m going to be honest here, I’m not really a fan of summer. I’m pretty sure that when most people think of summer they think of BBQs and swimming and road trips and cottages. I love those things too, but usually when I think of summer I think of sweating from places I’d rather not be sweating from and humidity so high I can barely breathe. And I don’t even have lung problems!

But one thing that can make the oppressive heat and constant sticky-skin-feeling better is indulging in one of my favourite summer treats – rosé wine. A perfect summer day for me would involve a nicely chilled glass of rosé enjoyed on a quiet waterfront dock or leafy, shaded backyard somewhere.

Lucky for me Ontario’s rosé game is on point. Here are some ones I’m particularly looking forward to sipping over the next few months.

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Red Wine, Rosé Wine, Sparkling Wine, White Wine

Wine Pairs Well with Giving Thanks

October 18, 2015

Canadian Thanksgiving was last weekend and, as I usually do on long weekends, I went home to Kingston to visit my family and yes, to drink a lot of wine.

Either because I come with all these food and wine ideas, or because my parents take my visits as an opportunity to indulge, it ended up being a multi-day food and wine affair. Either way, I’m happy!

This year especially I had a lot to be thankful for. It’s been an eventful year, both for my family and for me personally. I’ve struggled to find direction in my career and to feel like I’m making a positive impact on the world around me, which is partially why I started this blog. This year my family has been faced with illness and adversity in a much larger amount than we all wanted or are used to. It’s been a year of struggle but also one of gratitude. Suffice it to say, I now have a fuller appreciation for the good things in life.

My own ongoing personal struggles make it all the more sweeter when I visit home, and the holidays are the epitome of that. For three days I cooked, relaxed, vegged out to real estate shows on tv and enjoyed the company of my family. It was a wonderful respite from regular life.

Of course, wine was also involved – why else would I be talking about it here? Below is a brief recap of some (just some!) of the delicious wines we sampled over the weekend. In addition to all the other things I have to be thankful for this time around, I am also grateful for my stepdad’s generosity in sharing these wines – they all came from his cellar.

 

GrahamBeckBrutRose

Double the pleasure, double the fun!

 

Graham Beck’s sparkling wine is my stepdad’s favourite, and is quickly becoming mine too. It’s from South Africa, which is really not a place that comes to mind when I think of ‘places that make good sparkling wine’, but I’ve had and loved other wines there so it’s not totally outside the realm of possibility. The wine itself is light and dry, with tiny little bubbles that make the wine float around in your mouth. The flavour is subtle and goes with just about any food you can throw at it. We had it with cheese, baguette and (as if that weren’t indulgent enough) some foie gras mousse made with black truffle. Thanksgiving got off to a great start, you guys.

 

Macon-Uchizy

This label is so Old World.

We had this little gem at the beginning of dinner, with a parsnip, apple and leek soup I made the day before. My stepdad asked me what I thought would go well with the soup and I suggested something that had depth and body, that would stand up to the fullness of the parsnip flavour. He chose this Chardonnay and I think our efforts worked out wonderfully. It’s solid creaminess was a great counterpoint to the earthy sweetness of the soup.

 

Chateau Malescot St. Exupéry

Chateau Malescot St. Exupéry. 25 years old, no big deal.

 

Chateau Potensac

It’s just a little dusty – it’s still good, it’s still good.

 

StonehedgeMeritage

The baby of the red bunch.

 

After the soup it was on to the main event! We had a veritable feast of turkey, garlic mashed potatoes, mashed turnip with carrot, roasted brussels sprouts, and of course, stuffing and gravy. It doesn’t seem like much now that I’m writing it out but believe me, my belly was FULL.

With our meal we enjoyed three wines:

The two French wines were amazing. They both came from sub regions of Bordeaux (Margaux and Médoc, to be specific) and, as you can see from the labels, had been resting in the cellar for quite some time. I always get a kick out of thinking of how old I was when an older bottle was created. I was still in single digits when these wines came into the world!

Both wines were just lovely. The Potensac had a beautiful ruby colour, a bit of pepper and fruit on the nose and a smooth, slightly peppery and medium-bodied flavour. The Malescot was similarly medium-bodied and so, so smooth, but I tasted a bit of smoke on the finish with this one. Both were a bit mellow (on account of their age) but had retained much of their vim and vigor. It was a huge treat to taste them.

 

Margauxcork

The Chateau Malescot St. Exupéry cork. Good thing we opened it! That wine was slowly but surely making its escape.

 

The third wine came to us from Napa Valley. It was a Meritage, which is a fancy way of saying it’s a blend of Bordeaux-style wines but isn’t actually from Bordeaux. Long story short, Bordeaux (well, most of France, really) is incredibly protective of their wines and winemaking processes and have barred other regions from making the same kinds of wine and calling it ‘Bordeaux’. This is why you’ll see wines made in North America being called ‘Meritage’.

The Stonehedge was also delicious, but I admit that by that point in the evening the wine and tryptophan had gotten to me – I have no notes from this wine. I do remember that it’s body and flavour was in keeping with the other two reds we’d been drinking, which further proves that my stepdad is no slouch when it comes to wine choices.

 

ThanksgivingTable

In the immortal words of Julia Child, ‘bon appetit!’

 

A Thanksgiving for the books, I think. How was yours?

Rosé Wine

The Quest for Côte de Roses

September 30, 2015

A few weeks ago I inadvertently embarked on what became a surprisingly epic quest.

I was perusing the upcoming Vintages release and noticed an interesting looking rosé. It was called Côte de Roses and was from the French maker Gérard Bertrand. I’ve had reds from this maker before but never a rosé. The bottle for this wine was so elegant I wanted to get my hands on it. After talking to my mom and discovering that she was looking forward to it too, I knew I had to make it happen.

 

CotedeRosesLCBOpic

Sleek. Elegant. From Southern France. And a glass stopper? I am in.

 

Alas, alack! Release day came and went and this bottle was nowhere to be found! Not in Toronto, not in Kingston, where my parents live, not anywhere! Despairingly I learned that this wine was hidden within the great depths of the impenetrable citadel known as the LCBO warehouse.

Sorry, but our princess is in another castle.

And so, I had no choice to but begin stalking this wine via the LCBO website. Near daily searches proved futile. Staff at my local shop didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. Hope was fading, seeping out of me like sand through a broken hourglass.

Just as the last of my faith was slipping away I took yet another trip to my local LCBO. Battle-weary from so many attempts to find this beautiful bottle with pretty the glass stopper, I wistfully shuffled through the aisles, debating whether to even attempt another potentially fruitless search.

And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a beautifully shimmering display of light pink liquid over by the Vintages section. Was is a mirage? Some cruel deception my eyes and heart had created? No! There it was – an entire table of Côte De Roses!

 

CotedeRosesLCBO

Cue Hallelujah chorus…

 

Sweet merciful universe, there it was! Sitting so demurely, like it wasn’t some sort of holy grail. I looked around, surprised that no one else seemed to realize the treasure in front of me. Not wanting to be greedy and tempt the wrath of the lcbo fates, I took two bottles only and quickly made my exit.

 

"BeausOktoberfestMixpack"

She will be mine. Oh yes. She will be mine.

 

CotedeRosesBottom

Even the bottom of this bottle is gorgeous!

And let me tell you, this wine was worth the trial. Light and subtle, the nose and flavour dance on your tongue, sharing with you hints here and there of the essence of Southern France. The Gérard Bertrand website says that Côte des Roses celebrates the Mediterranean lifestyle and I couldn’t agree more. If I can impart any wisdom from this experience, it is to buy this wine if you ever see it in the wine store.

 

goldeneyeinvincible

Red Wine, Rosé Wine, Sparkling Wine, White Wine

How I Taste Wine

September 20, 2015

I’ve talked in the past about how to taste wine in general, but it recently occurred to me that I haven’t talked about how I, specifically, go about tasting a new wine.

UNTIL NOW

I should preface this by saying that this isn’t how I taste wine every time I open a bottle. There are definitely some days where I come home from work, pour myself a glass, and turn my brain off as I laze back on the couch, happy that the day is over. In those instances the wine is merely there as a delicious cherry on top of a relaxing, television-filled evening. I mean cake. Or something.

But when I am being intentional about my wine, when I really want to get to know it, this is how I taste.

 

How I Taste

  • I don’t usually pair food with the wine. Some might think this is an error, but when I’m meeting a wine for the first time I want to meet just the wine, not how the wine affects or is affected by food. It’s like meeting a blind date – I want to know how they act around me before getting to know how they act at a party.
  • I’m usually alone. Sad, I know! There are many people in my life who share my love of wine, but I can’t always find someone to sample a new bottle with me on a random Tuesday night.
  • I usually do it at home, on the couch, in front of the tv, with my macbook in front of me, jotting down anything that comes to mind as I sip, sniff and swirl.
  • I start by looking at the colour. I love wines that are so dark they become opaque, and ones that take on a purpleish tone – Malbecs and Carménères from Chile and Argentina often look like this.
  • Then I give the wine a good sniff. Often when I’m tasting I’ve just opened a bottle so getting something off the nose is a challenge for me. I often feel like I should pour the glass and let it sit for a bit, but in all honesty I’m an incredibly impatient person and can’t usually resist starting the process once the wine is poured and sitting next to me.
  • Next, and FINALLY, I get to taste it! I alternate between taking quick sips and long ones because the flavour can change depending on the two. While sipping I think about and try to discern the differences in flavour depending on where on my tongue the wine is hitting. I also pay attention to the flavour I’m left with as I swallow (the finish) and how lingering the wine is once it’s gone. I love when a wine stays with you!

 

Let’s be real. Some days I can’t get past ‘yep, tastes like wine’. And actually, I read an article recently that mentioned a study where they concluded that you can’t really taste more than three or four things in one go. I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel MUCH better about times when I’m able to get much off a wine.

That being said, I do love the endless possibilities of flavour and enjoyment that come with each bottle. It’s a game I like to play. What am I actually tasting here? What’s going on on my tongue right now? And when I get stuck (because I do get stuck – OFTEN!) I do as Jancis Robinson says and try to pay attention to the dimensions of the wine, asking myself “how tough/tart/powerful/sweet/ready is it?”

I try to be methodical about tasting, mostly because I get a kick out of that process and am genuinely interested in the world of wine, with all its complications and vagaries.

 

I’m nowhere near these guys though, they take tasting to a whole other level. Underripe green mango? Crushed hillside?? FRESHLY OPENED CAN OF TENNIS BALLS?! COME ON!!

No, I fully acknowledge that the only real question worth asking is – do I like it? The rest is simply learning ways of learning whether you do/don’t or will/won’t like a wine.

So really, it’s not that complicated after all.

Rosé Wine

It’s Mid-August, Do You Know Where Your Rosés Are?

August 15, 2015
Yes way, rosé!

Yes way, rosé! (image from Valerie Hinojosa on Flickr – click through for more info)

They should be hanging out in your fridge,waiting to be enjoyed, because they’re delicious. Rosés are refreshing and perfect for summer and, though you might not already know it, they’re also pretty variable, just like red and white wine.

“But Meg,” you might say, “pink wine? That’s weird!”

Please. Don’t even talk to me about how it’s not cool to drink rosé. If you seriously think that you are missing out big time. I dare you to read on and tell me you’re not interested.

Contrary to popular belief, most rosé wine is not simply mixing red and white wines together. That’s like the swamp water way of making wine – no one does that!

Maybe you can get away with it if you’re this guy.

Maybe you can get away with it if you’re this guy.

There are four main methods of making rose wine, and the most common one is a method called maceration, which has to do with the length of time the wine spends with the grape skins.

  • The least time = white wine
  • The most time = red wine
  • Somewhere in between = rosé wine

So really, rosés are like the Goldilocks of the wine world. And who doesn’t like Goldilocks? No one, that’s who.

Fun fact: You can make rosé out of any grape. This is one of the biggest reasons why I think rosés are so interesting. You think they’ll all be the same, but then you realize that since rosés can be made with red or white varietals, they’re as varied as red and white wines put together.

Mind = blown.

Generally speaking rosés work the same way whites and reds do when it comes to varietals. A rosé made from Cab Sauv grapes will be more full bodied and have a different flavour profile than one made from Pinot Noir grapes.

A good place to start when it comes to roses is France, especially Provence. Think about it – a little southern French town, everyone enjoying their summer by the sea, and what better way to enjoy it than with a glass of something that looks like the beautiful sunset in front of you?

My friend Cori jokes that any French rosé with a chicken on the label is a good pick, and I think she’s on to something. For an inexpensive (and French!) good time I usually go with what I call the La Vielle Ferme (note the label!), but this Famille Perrin Tavel is also a good bet. Tavel is a French wine Appellation (fancy word for a place certified for wine-growing) known for making great rosés.

If you want to veer away from the wine behemoth that is France I recommend travelling to Spain (at least in your glass) for some Muga rosé, or to Niagara for their Eastdell rosé. The Muga is lighter in body and flavour and the Eastdell is more full bodied, which you can also see in the saturation of colour – the Muga is a lighter pink and Eastdell is almost a strawberry shade of pinky red.

Cheap and cheerful, that’s what rosés are all about. Interested yet?

yumgiphy

 

Red Wine, Rosé Wine, Sparkling Wine, White Wine, Wine Thoughts

Why I Love Cheap Wine

March 21, 2015

I have a somewhat unpopular confession to make – I like cheap wine. I love it, in fact, and let me tell you why.

All wine tasting and buying is a game. There are some circumstances – occasion, season, personal preference, amount available to spend – and an objective – buy a great bottle of wine. The game would be too easy if the sky was the limit in terms of price. Sure, If money allowed I’d drink lots of Veuve Clicquot, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and big California reds, but something tells me it would get a little too deliciously simple after a while. Where’s the experimentation? Where’s the intrigue? How can you know you’ve truly hit the mark on a good bottle if you’ve never missed it?

Full disclosure: In addition to being a big wine-lover, I am also a huge bargain-hunter. I relish spending the least possible amount on the largest possible return.

TGIT (can that be a thing?) with one of my fave Sauv Blancs #wine

A post shared by meg (@maggieoshannon) on

 

Everything you see in any given store is offering you something, and wine is no different. Each bottle offers its own version of value, but not every bottle’s offer will match the value you expect from buying it and tasting the sweet nectar it holds. On top of that, some wines will want you to pay more because of the name on the bottle, or the specific adorable little hillside its grapes were grown on. Francis Ford Coppola really wants you to think his wine is valuable, and so does the Champagne region in France, for example. Are you going to agree or disagree with what they’ve offering you?

Each bottle is a decision, and a gamble. How much do I think I’ll like this wine? Would I bet $10 to find out? $20? $50? More? For me, the more I invest in a wine the more I expect to love it. But it doesn’t always work like that, which is why I keep my gambles low. If wine was Vegas, I would be at the $1 buy-in tables, turning up my nose at the high-roller tables and private back rooms.

learning about wine in Niagara. hard work, but someone's gotta do it 🙂

A post shared by meg (@maggieoshannon) on

 

And that, my friends, is why cheap wine can be so exhilerating. It’s like Russian Roulette, except nothing is dying. Well, maybe a few brain cells – we are drinking, after all.


What’s your price limit with wine?

Learning About Wine, Red Wine, Rosé Wine, Sparkling Wine, White Wine

Every Wine Journey Begins With a Single Sip

January 24, 2015

My family was a liberal one by North American standards, and as soon as I turned twelve I had crossed the threshold into acceptable wine-drinking territory. My family began offering a tipple of vino as part of the weekly ritual – it was at my Grandmother’s dining table that I began developing my palate.

It might not be a surprise that I didn’t like wine much at those dinners. The taste was often overpowering, or bitter, or just downright unpleasant on my tongue. But, like coffee and olives, I acquired the taste and eventually came to love the flavour of fermented grapes.

Even though I’d been tasting for a while, it wasn’t until meeting my Stepdad that I got serious about wine. An experienced wino himself, he introduced me to the five Premier Cru wines of France, taught me how to choose a wine based on my personal taste and budget, and demystified how and why to choose a bottle to cellar. In short, he turned me from casual admirer to lifelong learner and full-in enthusiast.

I have spent many hours and many bottles in the last few years sipping and learning, and have added winery tours and structured tastings to my self-made roster of wine lessons. Now that I’m well on the path to wine nirvana I want to bring my novice knowledge to the wider world and get to know other wine geeks out there who are just like me.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s get tasting!