A Noble Steed, and the Fireside Pizza 🔥

Is it the Riesling, or is it still National Pizza  Day? I guess it doesn’t matter since  I’m enjoying both either way.

My research today led me to a chart about pizza and wine pairings. One of the more intriguing was Riesling and Hawaiian pizza; the key element being img_9508pineapple. I’ve never been a fan of pineapple on pizza. Ever. But for the sake of furthering my wine pairing education…

As it so happened, we had a nice 2012  Firesteed Riesling in our collection, and chilling in our fridge (so handy!) and looking on the menu at our local PizzaFire   I found a Za that looked pretty interesting: Free range chicken, red onion, barbeque sauce, and yes, pineapple.

The wine was a lovely, light offering; tasting of tart lemon zest, green, fresh fiddlehead, with just a whisper of white pepper. It paired so nicely with the sweet of the pineapple, and cut a swath through the tang of the barbeque. It really was an unexpected treat. The lack of floral and sweetness in this case worked to enhance the savoury tang of the pizza. Nice!

Whether you observe Pizza Day or not, it’s always good to find new ways to enjoy wine with everyday dining.


©TheWineStudent, 2017

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.


©TheWineStudent, 2017

My homemade marshmallows!

My homemade marshmallows!

Happy Australia Day!🇦🇺


G’Day M8’s!

I’m sure any one from Australia who reads that will be about as happy as a Canadian who hears, “EH???” or “oot an aboot”. But since it is #AustraliaDay, I am here to celebrate and enjoy a blend I found while out and about hunting for an Aussie wine. The 2011 Schild Estate Old Bush Vine GMS (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Shiraz) was a vintage I wasn’t familiar with, but the Aussie spirit is one of adventure so I scooped it up.

But first a little background one of the grapes and the growing region of Barossa. Most of you are pretty familiar with Shiraz and I’ve written about Grenache in a previous post, so I’ll focus today’s study hall on Mourvèdre grape, and what is an old bush vine. But please be careful if you Google ‘old bush’. In fact, I’ll save you the trouble, don’t Google it at all. Trust me.

The Mourvèdre grape is a tough little contender, and some of the oldest vines in the world are located down under in Australia. Thick-skinned and drought tolerant, it can do very well in hot growing regions and ripens late in the growing season. That makes it a perfect grape for the Barossa appellation (growing region) of South Australia. Barossa is one of six wine producing zones, with two specific regions: the Barossa Valley and the Eden Valley. The Barossa Valley has moderate elevated areas with flat valley floors that succumb to very hot summers with temperatures hitting over 95F (30C). Rainfall is modest and with sparse natural water in the soil, irrigation is critical, even though many varietals can sustain and produce amazingly complex wines in drought conditions. While its main varietal is Shiraz, Barossa is home to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Semillion and Voignier. Grenache and Mourvèdre thrive and blend well with Shiraz. If you’ve enjoyed Châteneuf De Pape, you’ve enjoyed this blend.

Barossa old vines are protected under the Barossa Old Vine Charter, instituted to register vineyards by age, ensuring that older, beautifully gnarled vines are preserved, retained and protected from being destroyed.

  • Barossa Old Vine ~ => 35 years. The root structure and trunk thickness are very well established, encouraging increased character and diversity of flavor.
  • Barossa Survivor Vine ~ => 70 yrs. These vines have weathered very tough storms and are a tribute to the growers and winemakers who prize structure and quality of old vines.
  • Barossa Centenarian Vine ~ => 100 years. These vines are resistant to phylloxera, allowing vines to mature into their stunning, gnarled sculpture. They have a lower yield but intense flavor,and are cultivated using dry farming techniques.
  • Barossa Ancestor Vine ~ => 125+ years. This is the great, great grandaddy of them all. These vines have been standing loud and proud and are a living tribute to Barossa’s earliest European settlers. The old stocks are the buttress of this wine region, and are some of the oldest producing vines in the world, are dry grown, have low yield but very high intensity in flavor.

What’s an old bush, you ask? It’s any parcel of land in Australia that’s undeveloped or close to the forest or desert.

So how did this wine taste? The nose had a lovely, bright floral vibe with notes of violet. It had a medium mouthfeel and tasted of plum, blackberry compote, rich, Luxardo maraschino cherry, with hints of leather and tobacco on the finish.

Some wines tend to need to sit a while to get their groove on, this one seemed more old world in style; the first sip tasted as good as the last.

Proof positive that things really do get better with age.


©TheWineStudent, 2017

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! 



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!


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! 🎃👻