Monthly Archives: September 2010

Wine Selection Night at the Red Brick

One of my sweet gigs is picking wines for the Red Brick Café here in Guelph.  Friday night was selection night – kinda like America’s Got Talent, except the wine is auditioning and I’m not on TV. So in another very real way it’s not like America’s Got Talent at all.  My wife and I met with 5 Red Brick employees, 5 red wines, and selection night began.   

Red wines up for consideration

Selecting wines is like being the Westminster Kennel Show judge.  All the dogs you inspect are fine animals but do they properly represent their breed?   Beagles are  to be compared with the ideal Beagle, Huskies with the ideal Huskie,  and  so on.   One of the  good things about selecting wines is that you don’t have to inspect a dog’s bum. 

Back to my point – If you pick a Cabernet Sauvignon it needs to taste like a Cabernet. The one we tried was tasty but it would have been misleading to put on a wine menu.  It was too grassy and green for a Cab Sav.  We also tried a Shiraz that was good but not  big enough for what I want an Aussie Shiraz to taste like. 

In the end we chose 2 great red wines to go with the harvest white wine we selected back in the Spring.  They unveil later this week at the Red Brick Café.   


Racing at the Wine Festival

Guelph, the town I live in, is a town crazed with runners.  If you live here you have probably been invited to watch “a friend” race.  I was invited to drive an hour to watch my brother-in-law run a half-marathon last weekend.  The race started at 8 am.  I could then drive somewhere in the country and possibly see him at the 12 Km mark maybe and then later see him finish the race, close to barfing and out of breath.  “Wow!  That sounds like a great time” I remarked. “But you know what … (insert polite excuse here)”.

Then he tells me that the race is called run for the Grapes, or something like that, and that it’s part of the Niagara Wine and Food Festival.  Now THAT sounds like a good idea.  It was.

Yes, my brother-in-law was in rough shape after the race (actually better than I expected anyone to be after almost 2 hours of running) and while he waited in line and got a 20 minute free leg massage I worked my way through the local winery tents  ~ Tawse, Mike Weir Winery and Strewn ~ before he made it back to the wine fair.  Now that’s what I call a good day of running.

My wife and I tasted a Cabernet blend that smelled like a goat farm but was our favorite to drink (Coyote’s Run ~ cool logo).  We drank, and enjoyed, the Cabernet blends from both Mike Weir and Wayne Gretzky vineyards (yes, they are famous and have wineries and that’s why I tried them but I drew the line at trying a wine featuring the Designer Guys Steve and Chris).  An interesting blend of Merlot, CabSav, and Syrah called “Solstice” from Marynissen was very good and interesting.

It was worth “watching a half-marathon”.  Thanks for running Brad.

Coyote's Run ~ winner of the half marathon


CABERNET MERLOT LCBO 26757 | $ 16.95

Stuck in my head – Bardolino

Ever get a tune stuck in your head?  “Stayin’ Alive” by the BeeGees was in my head all afternoon after I visited to a pawn shop downtown.  There really should be a warning on the door of stores that play music like that.  Sticky music.

Everytime I think of the word Bardolino I sing it like the showtune “Oklahoma”.  “Baaar —dolino where the wind comes sweeping o’er the plain – Bardolino”.  See there it is.  It will not come out of my head.

I discovered and wrote about the wine Bardolino this past summer in Genova (see my post Italy ~ Let’s get ready to argue).  Bardolino is a light / medium bodied wine that is easy to drink but fights back just enough for me to like it.  I promised to review a couple from the LCBO. 

FOLONARI BARDOLINO LCBO 12344 |  Price: $ 11.95 

Folonari is easy drinking and light but doesn’t fight back with sour cherries like I wanted it too.  A short finish.  Simple but good.

NEGRAR BARDOLINO LCBO 39701 | PRODUCT DISCONTINUED??*??Price: $ 9.95 –  I investigated this further.  The LCBO website says Product Discontinued but the Speedvale store has 16 bottles so race to get them because this one is really good! It tastes like the Bardolino I drank in Italy.

I had to do it

It’s rainy, 13 degrees, and my body is craving  the warmth of the sun.  That’s why I had to post this photo – sorry.

Yes, that is the Mediterranean. Yes that is the sun shining on a chilled bottle of Rosé. And yes, that was my bottle of Rosé.

Pairing wine with Corn on the Cob

Saturday was a perfect fall day.  Farmers Market, espresso, a nice walk, I discovered a wine that pairs with corn on the cob and I cooked butter.  Yes, I cooked butter – not cooked with butter – I cooked butter.   

My dinner was Sole Meunière and it required me to both clarify some butter and brown some butter.  If you have never browned butter then I advise you to do so now and dip a baguette into it – you won’t be sorry.    

The rule is “white with fish”.  Well, that’s not always right.  I chilled a Chardonnay and proceeded to create my Sole Meunière.  A light white fish cooked in clarified butter and served with brown butter and parsley on top (maybe the French think parsley counts as salad in this dish).  The Chardonnay wasn’t quite right for the fish – not acidic enough to deal with the meal that was really butter two ways.  What it did pair beautifully with was the corn on the cob.    

The corn was sweet enough to eat without butter (always my preferred eating) and the Chardonnay was perfect with the sweet corn.  I am buying this wine again for the next time we buy a fresh dozen.   

LCBO 92296 | Price: $ 14.95   

This Chardonnay is a great balance of fruit and acidity. It is lightly oaked (the only way to oak in my opinion) a lovely straw colour with the aromas and taste that will make you think of  the farmers market stand that sells both apples and pears.   

Browned butter - it is so tasty that I am considering starting a new blog dedicated only to browned butter

Labour Day Classic – Comfort Day

If you live in Ontario then you know that the Labour Day Classic features the Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger Cats.  Other parts of Canada have similar “classics” that actually feature much better teams but I like my CFL local.

Labour day is the ultimate comfort day if you have anyone in your house that starts school tomorrow or teaches again after a summer in Europe.  I have short ribs, from Valeriotes Market, braising in the oven (4 hours at 25o) and am making mashed potatoes to serve with them. This is a comfort wine day – the day when you reach in the cellar, or cupboard, and pull out an old favorite. These are the wines that I recommend becoming your old favorites.

1. Nero D’Avola  LCBO 143164 | Price: $ 9.95 from Sicily – a simple red at a great price.  Leave a couple in your basement at all times.

2. Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier LCBO 624494 | Price: $ 14.95 South Australia – a manly Shiraz on a cool day but she’ll like it too.

3. Bouchard Pere & Fils Gamay Macon  LCBO 164582 | Price: $ 13.95 France. If it warms up outside today I may lightly chill my new favorite from the LCBO.

Go Argos!

My trials with Pinot Noir

Enough of my European adventures.  Let’s get Canadian for a while.

If you follow my blog then you probably notice two things.  One, I don’t write negative reviews (except for the one against those “water people“) and two, I haven’t recommended any Pinot Noir wines from Canada – until today. 

I do love Pinot Noir and will gladly go out of my $comfort $zone for a bargain Burgundy – which still runs you $30.  The fact is that I have never been happy with Canadian Pinot Noir – until today. To borrow a road hockey term, it’s “game on” for Pinot Noir in Canada. One bottle has turned me 180 on the grape.

LCBO 145128 | Price: $ 16.45

Notes from the winemaker

This lovely Pinot Noir opens with ripe strawberry, cherry and nutmeg notes. Bright fruit on the palate with a hint of oak in the finish brings nice balance to this versatile, medium-bodied wine.

This is a great bargain – I know you may not think that $17 is a bargain but compared to a  Burgundy … 

More importantly I have another Canadian gem to share with my American friends – besides our 13 gold medals from the Winter Olympics.