Palate Practice

tasting with intention

Tag: champagne

There’s No Place Like Home

I recently went home for the weekend to celebrate my Mom’s birthday. She’s celebrating a milestone birthday this year so I made an extra effort to go home – and also because I had a feeling that my Stepdad would pull out some delicious wines from his cellar to mark the occasion!

Weekends like these are always a treat – it’s great to see my family, nice to celebrate a special occasion, and a big treat to taste wines from the cellar. My stepdad has been collecting for years and has great taste, which means I have the great pleasure of tasting amazing wines I would not at all be able to afford, even if I found them.

We kicked off the weekend in fine fashion with these lovely wines:

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double our pleasure!

double our pleasure!

We didn’t make it to that second bottle of La Playa, but believe me that both wines were delicious and went very well with the cheese and baguette we noshed on and the hoisin-glazed salmon we had for dinner.

Of course, this was all preamble to the big celebration the next night.

We started the party off with some Champagne – ooh la la!

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Despite singing the praises of other sparklings I do have to admit that I love Champagne – the bubbles are smaller, which makes the wine positively effervescent on my tongue. Seriously, there is truth to this famous quote about Champagne, “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!”*

From there we moved on to a lovely sparkling from Kew winery in Niagara. I thought this wine was quite lovely and plan to add the winery to my list of places to visit on my next Niagara trip.

adorable label

adorable label

A couple of glasses of bubbly in and it was time to move into the dining room for the main event!

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even our table decor is wine-y

On deck was shrimp remoulade to start and then roast lamb, cauliflower gratin, roast potatoes, and broccoli, all to be accompanied with three French reds pulled from the cellar.

not pictured - my drool

not pictured – my drool

On further label inspection we noticed that all three wines were GSM blends (Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre) which worked out very well – this blend is my mom’s favourite! Happy birthday to her!

DELICIOUS

DELICIOUS

The first red was a Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and it was my favourite of the night. The flavour was so smooth that it had a velvety quality to it – something I don’t taste a lot in wines I come across, but a trait I love.

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The second red was another Frenchie, and I thought this one tasted more like a typical GSM. It was hearty and confident in flavour and I found it slightly tannic but not so much that it gave me that mouth-puckering sensation. My mom and I compared the first two wines a bit and realized that, while I favoured the first one, she liked this one better. Just goes to show how personal wine can be – different strokes and all that!

Even though I don’t have an individual pic of it, we did manage to open the third bottle. However, after the Champagne and the sparkling and the two other reds and the delicious food (including birthday cake!) I don’t remember much from this wine except that it had good body and that I liked it. This might possibly a shame, but at the end of the day it was still enjoyed!

All in all it was a very enjoyable (and delicious) visit home. It’s always good to take some time to enjoy the things you love – in my case, food, family, and wine!

one of the corks from the weekend - great colour!

one of the corks from the weekend – great colour!

 


Have you treated yourself to any special wines lately?

The Bubbles Have Gone to my Head

I have to be honest with you, I love me some bubbles.

A few years ago I went through an extensive bubbly phase. Bubbly for any occasion, big or small (and sometimes made up), bubbly with any food imaginable (I still stand by that one), bubbly at any time of day/night/year.

YOU GET SOME BUBBLY! AND YOU GET SOME BUBBLY!

I defy you to pop open a bottle with some popcorn or potato chips and not tell me I just blew your mind. Bubbles really are the best!

But – and pay attention, because this is important – not all bubbly is Champagne.

Say it with me now – not all bubbly is Champagne!

There are many kinds of sparkling wine out there, but only a very small section of it is Champagne. Champagne is sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region of France. Made from mainly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, it also involves some very particular methods of production. In fact, the Champagne wine-making community is pretty feisty about it – they even created a professional association to formally set the rules of making Champagne. Serious business!

I know what you’re thinking. If the wine makers in Champagne are that intense about what they do nothing else must be able to compare, right? Wrong. There is a lot of sparkling wine out there that doesn’t come from Champagne, and let me tell you – it’s delicious!

 

Cava

Cava is sparkling wine that comes from Spain. I love Cava because I find it more dry and less sweet than other sparklings. Cavas also have the added advantage of being much less expensive than Champagnes.

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Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava

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Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava

 

Prosecco

Sparkling wine from Italy. I find Prosecco sweeter than other sparklings, and (though I have no scientific evidence to back this up) I find the bubbles to be a little bigger, which isn’t my preference. Of course, I will take most any bubbly over any other drink, so take that as you will. Like Cavas, Proseccos tend to be on the more affordable end of the scale.

 

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Astoria Prosecco

 

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Blue Giovello Prosecco (love that blue bottle!)

 

Crémant

Crémants are sparkling wines that come from anywhere else in France other than Champagne. Among others, there is Crémant d’Alsace (from the Alsace, duh), Crémant de Loire (from the Loire region just southwest of Paris), and, my favourite, Crémant de Bourgogne (from the Burgundy). I love Crémants because their bubbles are so small, the lovely dry wine just fizzes on your tongue and then drifts away. As soon as I finish I a sip I want more! I heartily suggest keeping an eye out for these wines at your local LCBO. While generally more expensive than Cava or Prosecco, a good Crémant still won’t set you back as far as a bottle of Champagne would.

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Chateau de Montgueret Cremant de Loire Brut

 

Canadian Sparkling Wine

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the solid sparkling wines our own country’s winemakers create. Canadian sparklings can be delicious and I recommend giving them a try, especially the ones from the Niagara region. My only caveat here is that Canadian sparklings, while delicious, are fairly high priced – they usually fall between Crémants and Champagnes on the price scale.

As you can see, I love me some bubbles.


bubbles-fish-o

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