Well I am going to attempt to make this a weekly column but I make no promises at this point. However check back every week and hopefully you will enjoy what you read as from time to time I may use this blog as a sounding board. Please don’t mistake this for ranting or trying to pass my personal tastes or biases onto you. What I want this blog to do is to help you try to open your mind to the broader world of wine and spirits and to get people to branch out of their comfort zones and try some new things. However I know you probably don’t want to just try anything so from time to time I will try to provide some reasons and logic to help you explore and maybe make the wine shopping experience easier or more enjoyable.
So as a wine drinker you probably have your favourites. You may be a white wine lover or a red wine lover. You may even be so precise as to have narrowed down a grape variety or region you prefer. It’s pretty safe to say however that for the average drinker your preferences are none of the below options, so I encourage you to try these three areas of wine and let your tastes branch out a bit.
1.Sparkling wines as regular consumption wine
Poor sparkling wines (yes Champagne included) have gotten a bad rap always being associated with parties and celebrations and often wasted by being sprayed all over. But these are high quality wines. In fact many experts will call sparkling wines their favourite category of wine… period. Many winemakers at very prestigious wineries expend tremendous effort into the making of their sparkling wines and many garner very high prices. In fact right here at home Ontario is gaining worldwide recognition for the production of high quality sparkling wine in the Champagne method, using a primarily a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, both grapes gaining notoriety in their own right in Ontario. So go pick up a bottle of sparkling, pour it into a proper flute glass, sip and enjoy it. Taste it. Sparkling wine typically pairs very well with oysters and other seafood
2. Rose Wine
Ok I admit this one is a bit of a soapbox rant but Rose wine is completely misunderstood. Especially for those of you who already enjoy both red and white wine, there is no reason you shouldn’t give Rose wine its chance. For clarity it is not just a mixture of red and white wine that makes it pink in colour. No in fact it is probably closer to a red wine and typically made with the same red wine grapes. To get technical a red wine gets is colour from the skins of the grapes. The longer a winemaker leaves the skins involved in the winemaking process the deeper in colour the red wine will be. When they make Rose wine they remove the effect of the skins much earlier in the process therefore the colour is weaker. But really that is all. Yes the process has an impact on flavour but you have to try it first before you can judge the merits of that. Try something from France, Spain or right here in Ontario. Stay away from “Blush” wines or Pink Zinfandel and you may be surprised by what you discover.
3. Try Sweet Wines – Beyond just Ice Wine
The great sweet wines of the world are also very much under appreciated. Again people often associate good wine with body, tannin or alcohol which is not much more than false advertising. In fact many of the world’s finest and rarest wines are sweet. Ontario as we know is world renowned for the production of Ice Wine and we do a very good job of that, but don’t let that be your sole benchmark for what a sweet wine is. They can be lusciously sweet as ice wine often is, or even semi-sweet. But many are extremely high quality. The key to sweet wine is the circumstance in which you consume the wine. Much like a fine scotch you have to be in the mood and in the right situation to fully enjoy it. The first key is not to drink too much of it and that is why they are typically sold in half bottles (375ml). It is meant to be shared among friends with dessert. The second key is that the wine should be sweeter than the dessert for the pairing to match properly and for the full enjoyment to be recognized. So expand beyond ice wine. Try something from Sauternes in France, Tokaji in Turkey, or a Trockenbeerenauslese from Austria (the copycat sister of the very expensive German wine of the same name). You will not be disappointed.
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