Canada’s recent gold medal haul is certainly helping me cope with the polar vortex. I guess if it’s cold here we might as well get outside and skate on short tracks and get the gang together for some coed moguling.
Having neither the inclination to go upside down on skis, nor the knee cartilage to land safely on my feet, I have found my own way to come to grips with a long cold winter.
Nothing says “summer is around the corner” like a crisp Niagara Riesling.
Also, I’ve been making cooking videos and posting them on YouTube. My daughters do the filming and the eating. Check out my food videos here – because who doesn’t need more offal in their life?
So who won the Olympics? I would say that I did, since I tried 5 different Canadian wines and watched 1500 hours of TV coverage. Also, congratulations to Canada for winning the 2010 Winter Olympic games. What? Didn’t we come in third? Trust the wine consultant with the PE degree one last time.
There is no “official” winning country as far as the IOC is concerned (some crazy “everybody wins” idea). Our bumper sticker philosophers tell us that he who has the most toys when he dies wins. Does this world view make anyone else a little nauseous? USA and Germany, you won the most medals – congratulations on finishing 2nd and 3rd so many times. You officially have the most toys.
Now Canada – Congratulations on being the best in the most events (we call those GOLD medals). In my world view having quality is more desireable than having the most. In fact, 13 gold medals is the most ever won by one country in a Winter Olympic games! Too bad we’re so polite up here because part of me wants to shout “we’re fantastic” to the rest of the world. And now it’s time to celebrate.
TRIUS BRUT VQA
LCBO 451641 | Price: $ 21.95
The tiny bubbles in this sparkling wine remind you that “champagne” is for celebrations. Watching them can be mesmerizing. The proper way to open champagne is to slowly turn the bottle while holding the cork, gently easing the cork out so that there is very little sound made when it is finally opened. Forget this, it’s a celebration – pullthecork, make a little noise, and have some spillage.
The wine has a lemony finish with the toasty, yeasty flavours that you would expect from a sparkling wine.
I guess I’m a sports snob as well. Somebody tell me why we are pairing the lengthy tradition of the Olympic games with the X-games? Seriously, let’s put the snowboard halfpipe back on ESPN 7 where it belongs. This is a medal sport? Ridiculous
It looked like an act of desperation when the Fonz appeared on Laverne and Shirley. Is it that bad Monsieur Rogge that we have to cater to the X-treme sport fans just to increase our ratings? Even the ski cross should be run after all the medals have been awarded, just for exhibition, just for the fans – like they do with figure skating. Anyone who wants to race to the bottom can enter – even the fans – like a pro-am golf event.
Now to the wine pairing. For the halfpipe I would recommend a bottle of Wild Irish Rose - you can pick it up at any gas station in South Carolina for $3 US. The aroma is sweet but the taste is a lot like the gas station you bought it at. If your tastes are a little more refined you could pair the halfpipe with a bottle of homemade wine that has been stored beside your furnace for the past 5 winters.
The sounds of the Winter Olympics remind me that I love being Canadian. I love the sound of sharp metal crunching into the ice – pond hockey. Similarly, the sounds of the sleds speeding down the ice tracks take me back to fearlessly going far too fast on my toboggan – no helmet, airborne crashes, good times.
These sounds remind me of a Riesling. Larch Tree Hill Riesling is produced in the Okanagan Valley of BC. Riesling grows very well in cool climate wine regions such as Germany, Alsace, and Canada. Come to think of it, cool climate regions produce the best winter Olympic athletes (outside of the Jamaican bobsledders).
This is a great Winter Olympics wine because Riesling is versatile, a little daring, and is best served cold (for maximum coldness). It’s being served this month at the Red Brick Café in Guelph – and it is going fast. That’s right, fast – just like the skaters, bobsledders, luge, and skeleton events that I am pairing it with. Skin tight suits are optional. Don’t tell us about it if you do wear one - nobody wants to know.
LARCH TREE HILL RIESLING Prospect Winery 2007
LCBO 145136 | Price: $ 13.95 Okanagan Valley, BC 12.5% Alcohol
This wine has aromas of lime and peaches and has a nice long finish – much longer than a typical Riesling. The producer’s tasting notes mention hints of fennel and honeysuckle. You will taste the honeysuckle more as the wine warms up.
Larch Tree Hill stands well on its own and would make a great apéritif – serve it very cold while watching the madness that is short-track speed skating and the absolutely terrifyingly insane (or daring) skeleton and luge events – and for the record there is no evidence that “luge” refers to the greek sport of sliding “nude” down ice slides. That was a complete fabrication on my part.
Are you trying to effectively pair wines and Olympic events? Looking for a wine consultant with a degree in Physical Education? Tired of my questions? Look no further and lend me your ears and palate - it’s time for an Olympic Merlot. Canada has already won a gold medal so we can all relax and enjoy the next couple of days with a smooth red wine from BC. This is the 2nd J-T wine I’ve selected ( Jackson-Triggs Methode Cuvée ) but the first from the Okanagan Valley. I’m not usually a fan of Merlot – they often come across as soft and plummy – however, this one has won me over. It certainly has a time and a place and the time is now and the place is in front of my TV watching figure skating (the highest rated Olympic TV event in America). I also selected this wine for February’s tastings at the Red Brick Café .
JACKSON-TRIGGS Proprietors’ Reserve Merlot 2006
LCBO 543867 | Price: $ 14.95 Okanagan Valley, BC 14.5% Alcohol
The first things that strike me about this wine is that it is dark, dark red in colour with a very distinct nose of dried plums. The flavours of strong concentrated fruit with a touch of smoky oak on the finish are delicious. It is nicely balanced with some acidity, long velvety tannins, and an even longer finish.
This wine has figure skating written all over it – especially pairs. Smooth, lovely, mellow – can you think of another Olympic event that compliments Merlot better than that? Maybe curling, if they weren’t yelling “hurry hard – hurry” at me the entire time.
The real art of being a sommelier is pairing wine with food. This past weekend we bought two terrines from Ouderkirk & Taylor – one of Guelph’s best fine food stores. One was pheasant with hazelnuts and the other venison with pistachio.
So what to serve? A dry Riesling seemed in order so I chilled a bottle of Jackson-Triggs 2007 Delaine Vineyard Riesling and found a great marriage with the venison and a good pairing with the pheasant. We overwhelmingly declared the venison terrine the winner. One of our guests casually commented that she wasn’t convinced that it was the Riesling which tipped the scales in favour of the pheasant. The gauntlet had been thrown.
I quickly declared a dry sherry in order for this experiment of the senses (Brillat-Savarin would be proud) and opened an Alvear Amontillado ( see archives Surely that’s a Sherry ). Guess what? Everyone declared the pheasant the winner with this wine. This pairing food with wine is easy!
So now I come to my real challenge. Wine and sport. Over the next two weeks I plan to pair wines with the Winter Olympics. I feel qualified – I have a degree in Physical Education from York ( nobody ever seems impressed by that combination – I should really stop saying it ) and I have taught PE for 20 years. That’s a lot of experience. In fact I dare you to find a sommelier with that kind of resume.
So check in over the next two weeks as I pull myself away from the 3 billion hours of TV coverage (or is it 3 billion viewers?) to tell you what wines pair well with the events that I am watching.