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?
Want a chance to drink Riesling and support a charitable organization? That’s like a gift with purchase at the cosmetic counter – except that you get a couple of samples of Riesling instead of an obscure lipstick colour.
Saturday May 25 at the Scottsdale LCBO the 7th Annual Ontario Consumer’s Riesling Challenge takes place [noon - 4 pm. Put it in your iPhone calendar now!] with proceeds going to the Bracelet of Hope Foundation. That sounds like a good deal to me for the following reasons …
- My man Orest [Vintages Specialist at the Scottsdale LCBO] throws a great party.
- Riesling is Ontario’s finest white wine varietal [in my opinion - an opinion shared by people more knowledgable than me].
- Noon is the perfect time to start drinking white wine. Unless the doors open at 11 am.
- 14 participants are bring their best Riesling for you to try.
- $10 gets you 4 samples [and maybe more if I know my wine makers and sales reps].
- The collected admission goes directly to Bracelet of Hope.
- The Featherstone winery uses roaming sheep to prune their vines [the call it "Sheep Labour"] and will be there with their Black Sheep Riesling.
- Fact #7 is darn cute!
- There will be free food
- My man Orest is worth the price of admission [seriously]
Featherstone’s Sheep Labour
If you buy meat from your butcher – and why wouldn’t you – do you ask him how to prepare it?
I bought a rabbit Saturday. “Domestique?” you may ask? “UN LAPIN” I would reply with a loud French accent – while making that kissing your fingers movement that somehow signifies delicious food. It came cut into pieces which is nice since bunnys are cute and I was too hungry to have second thoughts about cooking my first rabbit.
I asked Andy (said butcher) how to cook it and he suggested braising it for 3 hours in white wine. I chose a Riesling from Alsace for my Rabbit - it was delicious – thanks Andy.
Riesling for my Rabbit
Cool thing about the wines of Alsace - There is a legal requirement for bottling Alsace wine in tall bottles commonly called flûtes d’Alsace.
Disclaimer – if you have a pet rabbit don’t let them drink Riesling. It’s not good for them. Besides that, rabbits prefer beer – you know because of the hops.
WILLM RÉSERVE RIESLING (V)
VINTAGES 11452 | Price: $ 15.95
Made in: Alsace, France
By: A. Willm
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.
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.
The Red Brick Café Wines are Great this December and it’s not just how they taste. They are also fun to say out loud – not usually a selection criteria for me – it just happened.
Strewn Riesling / Gewurztraminer from Niagara.
Riesling is my favorite white wine but really what is great about this wine is that I can’t help but smile when I say Gewürztraminer (you have to click here to hear it). Thank goodness for the internet. Could anyone really pronounce it based on the dictionary help (ɡəˈvʏɐtstʁaˈmi:nɐ)? Seriously, does anyone consider that helpful? Personally I like to say it in a lower guttural German sound or yell it like Dana Carvey and Steven Carell in Germans Who Say Nice Things. That just make the funnier when you know that the translation of Gewürztraminer is “perfumed Traminer”. Cute huh? Also, I woüld like to üse the ümlaüt whenever I remember (ü).
Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais-Villages from France 2008
Georges DuBoeuf is the King of Beaujolais wines and his Beaujolais-Villages is a step up from Beaujolais vin ordinaire. This is a chance to practice your pretentious French accent. DuBoeuf, as we all know, really just means “of Boeuf” (Kenn’s regular language joke)– the French have such a way with names. This Beaujolais is smooth and very quaffable. You could easily gulp this wine if you were in a hurry.
Bodegas Castaño Hécula Monastrell from Spain 2007
This is also fun to say at a wine tasting– “Now try the Hécula is from Yecla”. Yecla is a great value wine region in Southeastern Spain near the larger region of Jumilla. It is a great wine with manly tannins but she’ll like it too! The Monastrell grape is the Spanish version of the French Mourvedre so it probably will remind you of a rustic wine from the Southern Rhône region. Hécula from Yecla? – heck ya.