Friday, March 19, 2010

Why do I drink wine?

Wine is good for your heart (in moderation).

It makes food taste better (and vice versa)

There is a grape varietal out there for everyone even if you "Don't like wine." You do, you just have not tried the right one for you yet. Have patience it is out there.

It can make unattractive people appear much more attractive.

Red wine gives you 'cougar mouth' (My best friend Melissa coined that term which I will use forever but I have to give her credit...Brilliant!)
*The purple stain on your lips, tongue and teeth*

It makes people come across more intelligent.

It is socially acceptable to have a glass of wine by yourself as opposed to a gin and tonic.

It makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside and out.

It is delicious.

It is more complex than Tiger Woods love life.

It evokes memories. Like certain songs or smells do.

It goes better with good company than anything else.

I love it. Period.


Monday, October 05, 2009

Bad blogger! You've been a bad, bad blogger!

I have been terrible at updating my blog on a regular basis, I am always terrible at updating my blog on a regular basis. I want to blog and give you information and stories about wine, I really do. For some reason I do not prioritize writing above my social time. Why is that do you think?

When I originally started my blog I was much better at updating and I believe it is because people were interested and keen to read what I might post next and would also suggest new post ideas. I received a lot of comments every time I posted something new so I had something to look forward to whenever I signed in. Over the last few years, I have let my blog fall off the radar. People do not bother checking if I have updated because chances are, I have not.

I apologize to my friends, family, and fellow wine lovers who I may have disappointed.

If anyone has any ideas/questions for new posts, please feel free to email me or leave me a message/comment.

I need you to inspire me.

:) Andrea

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wine gadgets.

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with my friend Dave, who I had not seen in years. We started the night at Stephos Greek Taverna for dinner. We shared an order of cheese balls, then I ordered their chicken souvlaki pita, and Dave ordered the chicken souvlaki. Our meals were delicious (and cheap!) and the company was even better.

After we left Stephos we sauntered down toward English Bay and popped into the Bayside Lounge which, from the outside, does not look like anything special. The bar has a circular design full of windows so everyone gets a view. We grabbed a couple of cheap drinks (they have daily drink specials) and found a table. When Dave got up to go to the washroom I started chatting with the couple sitting next to us and made a new friend, Catherine.

Catherine invited me to a networking event for start-up companies and entrepreneurs at the Lions Pub downtown. We went and had a really great time!

While at the event, I spoke with a very nice gentleman named Michael who has a company that sells miniature wine decanters designed to decant one glass at at time. This product is called the centellino. I was skeptical about the actual function of the gadget. The idea is that the wine will aerate in the centellino decanter better than it will in the glass. I do not believe this to be true. The pitch was that people do not want to decant inexpensive bottles of wine because they do not believe the long process of decanting will improve the wine. This is also false. Not to say that all wines will improve after spending a bit of time in a decanter but it never hurts to let your wine get a little bit of air before consuming it.

If you are not going to put your wine into a proper decanter anyway, you may as well just pour it into your glass to swirl (which also aerates the wine) and enjoy. The centellino is certainly impressive looking for a novice wine drinker but for me, I can not see myself using this product because I believe in the old fashioned swirl of the glass to let my wine breathe. That is not to say that the centellino does not work, it is just redundant. Michael was so generous as to give me one to try at home so if anyone would like to give it a try I would be more than happy to have a glass of wine (or two) with you using the centellino so you can judge for yourself.

I encourage you to check out the website and judge for yourself. I am only here to give my honest opinion.

Check out this link to an introductory video if you are not sure how it works. It is in Italian but there are English subtitles. It's only about 30 seconds long.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

These are tough times.

I very recently moved back to Vancouver from Calgary and have been drinking wine with my best friend Melissa quite often since being back. Mel just started a new job and got a new apartment in the west end of Vancouver and I am unemployed and looking for work while staying with my dear friend Kathy (Also in the west end). The job market here is not as terrible as I originally thought because I am getting interviews, I am just extremely impatient.

During these difficult economic times we have to be careful about spending too much money (especially since I am unemployed) so Melissa and I are on to drinking what we refer to as "Recession wine" (Which, before the recession was called "Party wine") It is not great, it is not terrible it is just cheap. You can find some pretty good wine for $10 - $12 if you know what to look for. We should be able to drink wine often without having to sell our kidneys to be able to afford it. Mel and I like to mix it up by trying new, cheap wines but have found a couple of favourites that we often go back to. One bottle that I have really enjoyed at under $10/bottle is Fuzion Shiraz/Malbec. It is an Argentinian wine with smooth soft tannins and a little bit of spice and vanilla. It is a very easy wine to drink and has been nice to enjoy with great company. I am going to try a new bottle tonight which I plan on purchasing at this great wine shop called Sutton Place Wine Merchants downtown. They have an amazing selection and extremely knowledgeable staff (What more do you want from a wine store?)

On another note, the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is coming up at the end of March and I already have my ticket for the trade tasting. This year there will be wines represented by 182 wineries around the world. Every year they pick a different wine region to feature and this year it is B.C. so 58 of those wineries will be from here. I am so excited about the tasting this year because I love a lot of the wines that have come from my beautiful province and like to support local wineries. The tickets run at $89 each but if you get a group of 8 or more people and buy in bulk the tickets are $80. This event is worth every penny and I promise you will not regret spending the money.

If you have not purchased tickets yet I suggest you do so immediately. Go. Do it. I am not kidding.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wine and food pairing.

While there are no hard-set rules about pairing wine with food, there are a few guidelines that you may wish to follow when selecting the perfect mate for your tasty dish.

You can decide whether you would like to compliment or contrast your wine to your meal. Both can make for excellent pairings. For example, if you were having sea salt and pepper chicken wings, you could pair the wings with a sweet riesling. The sweetness of the wine would provide a nice contrast while toning down the saltiness of the wings or you could also pair the same sweet riesling with cheesecake where the cheesecake would bring out the less sweet flavours of the riesling that you may not have noticed otherwise.

The old rule: Red wine with red meat, White wine with white meat does not always apply today.
If you are having steak and potatoes you will probably want to enjoy a wine that will stand up to the steak in terms of flavour and weight. You would not put Steve Urkel in a boxing ring with Mike Tyson so why would you pair a big meaty steak with a wimpy wine? Just like in a boxing match, heavy goes with heavy, light goes with light.

For steak, you might want to go with a big Cabernet Sauvignon from California, an Italian Brunello Di Montalcino, or a french Côtes du Rhône. These big wines can handle a hearty, flavourful steak.

If you are eating a mildly spicy dish, I would suggest pairing the food with a sweet or off-dry wine such as a Gewürztraminer from Germany or Alsace. The sweetness in the wine will "cut" the spice of the food making for a delicious pair. If your dinner is spicy enough to make you sweat, or make your nose run, I suggest drinking something other than wine all together. Maybe some refreshing mojitos!

When you are finished your entrée and are ready to move onto dessert remember this; your wine should be sweeter than the dessert. If you have a wine that is not as sweet as the dessert, the sugar in the dish will make the wine taste tart. For my fellow chocolate lovers, I strongly suggest you try port with your next chocolate treat, the match is heavenly!

At the end of the day, you should always follow your palate. If one of my suggestions does not jive with your tastebuds, then it may not be right for your palate. Something I love you may think tastes like spicy dirt, and vice versa. There are no right or wrong answers with wine, it is 100% personal.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wine and Stampede!

Stampede is here and the city is swarming with cowboy hats, jeans, belt buckles and boots! This is my first Stampede as we just moved to Calgary a month ago. I have purchased a hat, belt and bandannas in every colour imaginable.

I will be hosting weekly wine seminars for the serving staff at work so my blog will be updated much more regularly. My first wine seminar is this Saturday. We will be tasting 4 bottles of wine, two whites and two reds. I am going to pick two very different whites and two very different reds. My goal for the seminar is to make the servers more comfortable and confident with selling wine when they are at their tables. This Saturday I will cover the following topics, How to properly taste wine to get the full experience, How to describe specific flavours detected in a wine, and some wine and food pairing guidelines.

During the tasting process, once you are past the swirl and smell process and you actually get to taste the wine there are 3 phases once the wine is in your mouth, the front, middle, and back palate.

The first phase is the initial impression that the wine leaves on your palate. You will not notice flavours in this phase but rather weight and texture. You will feel the wine in your mouth for a second and notice whether it is light like water or heavy like milk. Whether the tannins are strong (That pucker feeling) or soft and subtle, if the wine is very acidic (tart) or flat and the overall sweetness level of the wine. Is the wine very dry or slightly sweet? If the wine's alcohol content is too high, too low, or just right. The weight, tannins, acidity, sweetness and alcohol levels should be well balanced, one should not dominate over any other. If everything is well balanced it is a good sign that you are tasting quality wine.

After the first impression you will start to notice the distinct flavours of the wine on your palate. This is the second phase. Let the wine roll around on your tongue for a few seconds and concentrate on what distinct flavours you are detecting. If you are tasting a red wine, do you taste berries, smoke, chocolate, plums, coffee, pepper, raspberry, etc...?
If you are tasting a white wine, do you taste butter, citrus fruits, grass, flowers, apples, pears, herbs, etc...?

In the third and final phase of the taste properly referred to as "The finish" You will see how long the flavour impression lasts after it is swallowed. You will also notice if any other flavours present themselves during the aftertaste. If the finish is long and pleasant, it was probably a pretty decent wine.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hello Calgary? It's me, Andrea.

I know I have been talking about the big move to Cowtown for quite some time but it's finally here and I am thrilled. Our one month visit with friends and family in Vancouver has been nothing short of wonderful but we are definitely ready for the next stage of life.

I hope to meet some fellow wine lovers in Calgary that I can share my nerdy love of the delicious grape juice with. My husband is a very good wine drinking buddy but does not have quite the same passion for it that I do.
In my search for a job in Calgary (Via google) I applied for several jobs which sounded interesting. A potential employer reviewed my resume and stumbled across the "Interests and Hobbies" section (Which until now I thought no one ever read) where I mention my wine tasting and guitar playing interests ,and emailed me telling me that he too shares a passion for wine and also plays guitar! It was a relief to hear that there is hope for me to meet people with common interests. It can be scary moving to a new city but also very exciting because it is a fresh start.

Luckily, I have Rob or the transition would be rather lonely.
Okay, on to the wine part (Because that's what this blog is supposed to be about).

One of the nights we were visiting with some good friends in West Vancouver and we shared a bottle of Hartford Court Pinot Noir (2005) which was fantastic. It had a sort of leathery nose with black cherries. The cherries followed onto the palette with a long finish of spicy mocha flavours. The tannins were pretty soft and the wine was light. It was quite a well rounded wine that I would certainly recommend to anyone who is partial to Pinot Noir.