Tag Archives: Guelph

Bob’s Book

Wednesday I went to a book launch by local author, and Guelph celebrity in his own right, Bob Desautels – who most of us know as the owner of The Wooly [or the Woolwich Arrow as nobody calls it], or as I call it, “The Home Court”, as it is the closest pub to my house.  As usual I’m already not talking about what meant to talk about – Bob’s book.  I went to the launch, got a copy of Bob’s book, got it signed,  then sold it on eBay two hours later for a profit.  First edition? Author’s signature? eBay gold!

WineSense is the name of Bob’s first book. Subtitled “the three keys to understanding wine” it reads like a series of lecture notes on the topic of wine. Lecture notes interspersed with witty anecdotes and clever quotes.  I appreciated it both as an educator and somebody who knows just enough about wine to consider myself interesting in a wine conversation [I can hear brother-in-Spain shouting, “interesting to who?”].

Three weeks ago my daughter, wife, and I were sampling ales at the Wooly when Bob came over very excited to have had the first books delivered to him that very day. He brought one over like a new grandchild and gave us an introduction.  I have been anticipating getting a copy ever since.

Three favourite quotes for from the introduction of WineSense …

  • The one indisputable thing about wine is that it will cheer you up [agreed Bob, unless it’s mulled wine – i’ve got nothing good to say about mulled wine]
  • Wine just helps to bring people closer together [true, i pack 50 people in a space designed to seat 8 at my Beaujolais Nouveau party]
  • Champagne is known to be the only drink or food that a person who is seasick can digest without vomiting [after my bout with the flu I wish I’d know that 5 days ago]

I think you can learn a lot about the authors intentions from the introduction. Bob is unpretentious, knowledgeable, and his  good guy-ness comes through.  It’s an easy read and a great course in wine education.  Well done Bob.  You can order the book from Friesen Press, but don’t – buying at the Wooly seems only proper.


From the Friesen website …

Wine is a muse for poets and ordinary folks alike, a great seducer and lifelong friend to many. It’s integral to some of the finest cultures on earth. But as simple and lovely as wine may be, the wine world can be intimidating. Many so-called experts perpetuate an elitist approach to wine, with their explanations so jargon-filled that the wine gets lost in the analysis.

WineSense cuts through the jargon and complexities wine can present. In this common-sense guide, Bob Desautels offers straightforward information on types of wine, tasting, wine history, grape varieties, approaches to winemaking, and more. His Three Keys to Understanding Wine allow the everyday wine enthusiast and the beginner to truly grasp the subject while increasing their appreciation of wine.

The ultimate purpose of this book is to teach you how to find good and consistent styles of wine that suit your palate. You’ll be able to look beyond the safe choices and search for local wines that have the best qualities of your international favourites. With a deeper understanding of wine, you’ll gain true WineSense, offering you a newfound confidence in choosing the right wine for the right time.


Royal City Brewing is NANO

Nano is small. Really small. But don’t underestimate the power of nano – especially when it’s in your back yard. Royal City Brewery is a nano-brewery [that means tiny] right here in Guelph. They opened up on Saturday with sample tastings, a tour, and sales.

So I sampled


 And I toured

[Local coffee roaster Joe Harrison’s Grizzly Bear coffee is used in this über-local stout – click here for my exposé on Grizzly Bear Coffee]


And they sold me a Growler of Gateway IPA


The best thing about buying a growler [2 litres] of IPA is that you bring it back and then they refill it for you.  199 Victoria Rd S – GO NOW!


Phone a Friend

I had somebody text me the other day to find out if I knew where Newcastle Brown Ale was on tap in Guelph.  She referred to me as her “phone a friend” – a reference to the Who Wants to be a Millionaire game show.

It got me to thinking – how do you find out stuff like that in your city. I think Twitter is the answer to the modern “phone a friend”.  It certainly casts a wide “friend” net.  I tweeted at a local beer guy who got back to me within minutes.  Sadly there wasn’t any on tap here in Guelph.  But I thought that Mill Street Tankhouse Ale at the Wooly was a close second.

I think I would be okay if somebody tweeted me about where to find a wine.  So go ahead – “tweet a friend” @TravisOke

#Hashtag, whatever you want it to be.


Guelph Wine Tasting

Guelph has a wine tasting venue again!  And we owe a debt of gratitude to the good taste of the folks at 39 Carden St. who put out some $$ and bought an Enomatic wine serving system [sounds very 60’s doesn’t it]. What does it mean? It means I can try an oz of Stags Leap Artemis for $4! I can also try Sequillo – a GSM blend from S.Africa for $2!

I’m telling you this is great news for wine lovers. Also, I ate steak tartare and it all counted as a date with my wife.





New Neighbours

We recently got new neighbours – often a “we’ll wait and see” event.  Our first chat with them was promising.  Younger than my wife and I [a more frequently recurring theme than I care to admit] they moved here from Vancouver.

“Traded the Hipsters in for the Hippies – and I think we won” was the line that won me over.

I had to agree with them. I prefer the neo-hippies of Guelph to the Hipsters anytime. My wife gently refers to the latter as the “Look at me – I’m ironic with geeky glasses,  tattoos, and outdated facial hair” kids.

What confirmed for me that the Hipster was in fact not hip at all was this article from the NY Daily News.  To summarize – it appears that Hipsters have made Pabst Blue Ribbon beer so popular that the price of cheap [not to mention flavourless and watery] beer everywhere has gone up and up.

I do have some advice for these people – not everything that people stopped doing from the past should be considered retro. Some things just need to never come back. Go buy yourself a micro-beer! And stop growing moustaches.

Thank you.


Conflict of Interest

Live in Guelph?  Close to Guelph?  Heard of Guelph?  Have you been to the Red Brick Cafe downtown on Douglas street?  If you haven’t then shame on you.  Guelph has a great downtown and the Red Brick Cafe is one of the finest anywhere.  A European inspired cafe that displays local artists, serves espresso, baked goods, pizza and Panini, but most importantly to pullthecork readers,  it has a delicious wine list.

Here’s where the conflict of interest starts – Shelley Krieger, the owner, lets me select the wines each month so really I am shamelessly promoting myself – but isn’t that what the word “blog” means?  The wine tasting set up is one of the cleverest anywhere (Shelley’s clever idea).  For $8 you get to try three wines, there is no wine snobby person talking you through them. In place of a snooty sommelier you are provided with the tasting notes that I wrote.  The notes are informative, entertaining, easy to read … there I go “blogging” again.

Also, the wines change monthly – for less than $20 a couple you can plan a date night each month and enjoy a changing selection of wines.  Chances are you will run to the LCBO and buy a bottle of your favorite (or buy a half case like I recommended  in Y210K It’s Time to Panic).

For January the wines move to South America where it’s warmer this month than it is in Guelph.  Somehow knowing that makes me feel warmer when tasting these wines.  There is a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a reserve Malbec, and a Carmenere that will warm you inside when it’s snowing outside.

The wine tasting is daily from 11am to 11pm.  The list of wines can be found on the Red Brick Cafe website.

Wine Resolutions 2010

Here are 5 Questions that will turn into Resolutions for Y210K.

1. “Why don’t I drink more white wine?” If you’re a serious wine drinker then you owe it to your palate to have a Sancerre, a Chablis, or an Ontario riesling wine once a month. I motivated myself to do this by purchasing a great vintage wine bucket from Chat Noir in downtown Guelph.

2. “Why don’t I drink more local wines?”  Why do you think the French drink french wines? It’s not simply their almost fanatical devotion to La République that keeps them drinking close to home. A wise man once said, “When in Provence, drink from Provence. When in Guelph, drink from Niagara”.

3. “How can I try new wines and not buy a whole bottle?”   First of all this is crazy talk – the obvious answer is the wine tasting at the Red Brick Café. But if you still insist on crazy talk then go to the LCBO and sign up for the Vintages tastings events at your local store.  You get to try new wines and the Vintages product consultants are a lot of fun.

4. “Why have I never tried a …”. You fill in the blank with words such as Barolo, Chateauneuf du Pape, vintage Champagne etc. Just don’t say Cheval Blanc unless you are prepared to drop $2000.

5. “How can I read more of this clever wine blogger?”.  Okay so maybe it’s only my close relatives that are asking this – actually they are probably tired of hearing me and reading me by now – but you can sign up to receive an email every time I post – it’s at the bottom of the blog page

Let me know how your resolutions work out.


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