Laissez les bons temps rouler! 💜💛💚

What would you do for Mardi Gras beads? I stuck to tradition. No, I didn’t flash anyone; I focused on traditional food and drink. HubbyDoug and I had a great debate over what to eat: I thought Jumbalaya, he favored pancakes and sausage. A compromise was struck: Jumbalaya, with pancakes on the side. 

But the traditional Mardi Gras drink doesn’t involve wine. I puzzled over how to add wine to the Hurricane recipe I found. Do I find a fruity wine to mimic the sweetness of the drink? 🤔 With a little research I found Rhumbero, a wine-based rum substitute. It tastes just like rum, and can be used in most recipes that call for light rum. An interesting feature, other than how wine can taste like rum, is that it makes it possible for locations with limited licences (beer and wine only) to legally offer cocktails.            I can report it tasted wonderful in my Hurricane! 

Today, I earned my beads… and my honour remained intact, which is always good. I wonder how HubbyDoug will earn his??!

However you choose to celebrate, enjoy responsibly, and let the good times roll!

Cheers! 

My Own Private Ice Wine Festival 🌬🍷😄

 

snapseed-4If I can’t make it to the Niagara Ice Wine Festival, I’ll make the Ice Wine Festival come to me!

And as luck would have it, I happened to have bottles from two great wine regions; Niagara and North East Ohio. While it won’t be on a grand scale, it’ll be sweet. Literally.

For the occasion, and completely ripping off their idea, I got creative and made my own marshmallows to toast. So there goes my new year’s resolution to limit sugar, at least for today.

Today’s featured wines are a 2010 Colaneri Profundo Aumento Chenin Blanc from Niagara and 2010 Ferrante Cab Franc from Geneva, Ohio. The  2010 vintage led me to wonder if maybe they were past their prime. Like many wines, ice wine can be cellared for many years, and because of the high residual sugars and acidity it would store well. But you won’t really know until it’s opened: if it smells like vinegar or sherry, it’s spoiled.
Being the brave student that I am, I’ll push on and try them. All in the pursuit of knowledge.

According to the Canadian Vintners Association, Canada is the world’s largest producer of ice wine. In 2015, Icewine made up 25% of the total export value ($18,623,057) and 0.3% of export volume ~ 234,604 litres). Ontario is Canada’s largest exporter valued at $15.6 million.
With similar weather patterns and temperatures to Ontario, Ohio is gaining steady ground with ice wine production. Its upcoming Ice Wine Festival in March will prove to be a great celebration of their hard work.

Ice wine is a sweet dessert wine produced from grapes that are left out on the vine to freeze. Hand harvested in sub-zero temperatures (usually before sunrise when temperatures remain consistent and its coldest~ brrrrrrrrr!) the grapes are pressed outside to maintain the consistent temperature and high sugar content of the grapes. You can read more detail about it here.
The homemade mallows were ready, and I thought I’d add to the pairing some Ghirardelli snapseed-5chocolate, fruit, and a little Brie as a savory contrast. And as an added treat, our friend, Shelly brought a bottle she’d bought back on our trip to Niagara a couple of years ago, a 2010 Pilliteri Estates Cab Franc Icewine. More yum! It tasted

like the most decadent honey, with a kick. Curiously, neither HubbyDoug nor Shelly shared my enthusiasm for sampling outside. Wah. So the kitchen served as a warmer venue.

It was great to sample ice wines from both sides of the border. Each one had its own unique vibe that made them very special.

I know I’ll get to the Niagara Ice Wine Festival again, and I’m looking forward to the Ohio Ice Wine Festival in March.  Both are a great celebration of not only the wine itself but of the winemakers who struggle against all odds to create and perfect this wonderful wine.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2017

My homemade marshmallows!

My homemade marshmallows!

Merry Christmas❣️🎄🎁🎅🏻💋

And to all a good night! 

The holidays are when we can spend time with those we hold dear in our hearts. Or spend time with those wines we hold dear in our hearts. 

Tonight, HubbyDoug and I are celebrating the season with tried and true picks of LaMarca Prosecco and Elouan Pinot Noir. We’re dining on crab and homemade French Canadian Tourtiere

It’s the simple pleasures that can make the holidays very special. 

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas. And may all your pleasures this season be simple and special! 


Cheers! 

 

My New Sparkles for Thanksgiving ✨🍾


This Thanksgiving, I wanted to shake things up a little. Instead of serving three wines; a bubbler, white and a red, I’ve narrowed the field to two: Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava and a 2013 Gundlach Bundschu Pinot Noir.

But wait…what is Cava?

Cava is a dry sparkling wine that is produced in Spain using traditional, indigenous grapes from a several select growing regions. The most renown is North-East Spain, particularly Penedès.  It is made from 2-3 grape varietals: Macabea (the Viura of Rioja), Parellada, and the earthier Xarel-lo. While most wines are named after their growing region, Cava gets its name from the type of wine. Unlike other sparkling wines, it’s made in ‘Mètodo Tradicional’ or the traditional method used in creating Champagne.

I’ve written before about how sparkling wines are made but here’s a little review: The traditional method allows for  the fermentation of wine in the bottle for months (and sometimes years).  Bottles have a crown cap (think beer cap) to withstand the considerable buildup of pressure (corks would just pop at this phase and no one likes premature popping). Bottles are then slanted downward and kept in this postion to allow the yeast to settle in the neck. After a time, the next phase occurs where just the bottle necks are submerged in a freezing solution; freezing just those few inches of wine that contains the yeast. An ice plug is formed trapping the yeast. At this point, the bottle is turned upright, crown cap removed and the pressure from the gas inside the bottle expells the ice plug (don’t try blaming the dog). What remains is the sparkling bottle of perfection which is then corked and cellared. A painstaking process, it takes great care to make sure it all comes out the way it should.

This is how the traditional method differs  from other approaches to making wine sparkle. Non-traditional method means the wine goes through its fermentation in large metal tanks, is then bottled and carbon dioxide added to the mix.

Cava vs Prosecco

Cava has flavors of lemon flavors with a slightly bitter, nuttier quality on the finish with a more full bodied mouth-feel, and floral notes similar to Champagne. It has many qualities similar to Champagne except that it has a more affordable price point. Feel free to put two in your grocery basket.

Prosecco originates from around the Valdobbiadene region of Italy and is a dry, slightly sweeter, complex bubbler. It’s fermented in steel tanks and has light, crisp flavors of pear, peach, yellow apple, and apricot. Like Cava, it is an inexpensive way to get your bubble on and can be mixed without guilt in a bevy of cocktails.

Whatever you choose to celebrate this Thanksgiving, I wish you all a happy and safe holiday!

Cheers!

My 2016 Halloween Wine Picks 👻

It’s Halloween party time! And what better way to conjure some good times than with a cauldron full of bewitching wine-y potions. 

Something wicked this way comes…


Insomnia~ By far the wine with the coolest label I’ve ever seen — [seriously, press play on the video above] and probably even cooler the more wine you’ve had! The wine had a lighter red color and a crisp clarity. The nose was a light raspberry jam– fruity with hint of maple on the nose. I found it to have a slight flavor of chocolate with a bit of licorice, yet the alcohol vibe was a bit heavy for me.

 LaCantina Cab Sauv ~ This offering had a deep, dark claret color with a bouncy blueberry essence on the nose, which wasn’t as  heavy as you might expect from a Cab Sauv. The main flavor was black currant and kind of was lurking. It wasn’t as bold as you’d expect from a Cab Sauv. It was almost like a Pinot in the sense that the flavor sometimes needs to be coaxed  out of the shadows. Overall, not a bad sipper. 

 Witches Brew ~ This fortified wine (because spices are added) is a different type of wine than I’ve experienced. The label suggests warming it like a mulled wine. On the nose was a beautiful scent of vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon, which was intoxicating. If you enjoy a mulled wine, this will be a sweet treat for All Hallows. Keeping it warm is best. 

So these are my three picks for this year’s Halloween wines…no tricks, just treats. 

Whatever you choose to sip, have a very happy and safe Halloween!

Boo! 👻

My Halloween Menagerie 🎃


 It was at Castello di Amorosa where I was first bitten. Deep in those catacombs, I knew I would never be the same; I needed more. But it wasn’t just the wine that bewitched me, it was the pourer. 

Since I am a Halloween freak, I found myself quite spellbound by these pourers by Menagerie. Made of high grade stainless steel, they provide a spooky way to pour (and aerate) your favorite vintage potion. They retail for about $29.00 and are sold in select tasting rooms or online. 

And while I haven’t collected all of them yet, I’m well on my way to full possession. Bwaa. Ah. Ha! 😈

Next post:  my Halloween wine picks for this year! 🎃👻

Cheers! 

What I Did This Summer Part 2: Redemption, a Star Turn and a Little French Kiss 💋

Jordan Winery and Vineyard

After a busy few weeks of getting my daughter moved and relatively settled in at college, I’m back to my studies. Here’s the second half of my ‘what I did this summer’ report.

The second day of our excellent wine adventure took Hubby Doug and I to three vastly different wineries. One had a home-spun vibe, one had a very cinematic feel and the last took us back in time to a beautiful french chateau.

Alexander Valley Vineyard (AVV) ~ In 1961, Harry and Maggie Wetzel purchased the homestead of Cyrus Alexander (the valley’s namesake). In 1963, they planted their first grapes, and In 1968, with perseverance and resolve, their first Cabernet was bottled and a lifetime love of winemaking was born. Winemaker Kevin Hall along with three generations of the Wetzel family are continuing the family legacy of winemaking and farming.

The winery has a cosy tasting room, and an underground cave where we learned about how wines are barrel aged. Very cool (literally). 🙂
When we arrived at AVV, it was just after they’d opened for the day. And while it seemed a bit early to sample, in the name of research we summoned the ‘five-o’clock-somewhere’ rule and tried a couple of small samples. Our two favorite were the 2013 Redemption Zinfandel and the 2012 Cyrus. Both were beautifully nuanced, yet full-bodied.

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Francis Ford Coppola ~ Driving through the archway gave us the feel of what it must have been like to drive on to a movie lot (without the guard asking if you’re ‘on the list’). Coppola winery was one of the most unique I’ve experienced. It had a img_5614picturesque pool area with cabine where you can spend the day with your family. Most water areas at wineries are reservoirs, overflow basins or decorative ponds that they always kick me out of. Bocce courts and lazy hammocks overlooking the valley give a chill vibe that invite you to grab a glass and relax.

Inside the winery is the main tasting room and movie museum with select memorabilia from several Coppola classics including Apocalypse Now, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and the giant neon martini glass from One From The Heart. Our tasting experience was the Sonoma Inclusive at the main tasting bar. Our pick of the flight was the 2012 Director’s Cut Cinema blend of Cab Sauv, Zin, Petit Syrah and Syrah, and the 2012 1Mille Cab Franc.

One of the coolest wine tasting experiences that I’d love to return for is Tasting in the Dark. Small groups are led to the Coppola tasting labs, then blindfolded and led through a variety of sensory appreciation activities designed to fine tune the senses. Hoby Wedler, a UC Davis graduate, who is himself without sight, leads each group to the discovery of flavor and essence; allowing other senses to become stronger in the absence of sight. As we know when one sense is gone, others take over, and this experience would be amazing to help one begin sharpening their palate.

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Jordan Vineyard and Winery ~ our final stop of the day took us up a winding road to another world. This by appointment only winery made me think a little of Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon – beautiful, elegant and very regal.

When Jordan was established in 1972, the choice was deliberate to focus on creating only singular varietals, but doing them very well. Their Cab Sauv is produced from the Alexander Valley, and Chardonnay exclusively from the Russian River Valley. The philosophy being that by focussing on singular wines, a better continuity of style will be achieved, and a consistent realization of balance between fruit, acidity, tannin, and alcohol. Each vintage you open will generally have the same qualities time after time.

We chose the Library Tasting, a one hour tasting. The Chardonnay tasting was paired with an Ahi Poke with Quinoa and Heirloom Tomatoes. Usually I’m not into raw tuna but this was a lovely combination that beautifully enhanced the subtle notes of the wine.

On to the private tasting room where we sampled three older vintage Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a variety of artisan cheeses and a Jordan Estate Olive Oil.

Our pick? If you guessed Cab Sauv, grab yourself a glass of wine because you are very smart! Our vintage was the 2007~ something very special indeed.

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It was an amazing day of touring and tasting and I hope one day I’ll be lucky enough to go back.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2016