Does Price Influence Taste?

Studies have shown that there is a common perception that the higher the price of a bottle of wine, the better the taste and the more enjoyable it is.

Image credit: Fix.com

During one of these studies the participants were provided with incorrect information regarding the price of the various wines tasted.  It was discovered that the participants found that an inexpensive wine was far more enjoyable when it was believed to have a higher price.

The study took place at Switzerland’s University of Basel where 140 participants were provided with six different wine samples which they had to rate for pleasantness and intensity.  Three of the samples provided no price information while the others displayed a price; a low, a medium and a high price.

The three wines indicating price had none, one or two of the wines incorrectly priced.  The mislabeled wines were either four times higher or four times lower than the actual price.

When the price of the wine was not displayed the study showed no difference in the pleasantness rating, irrelevant of the actual price.  However, the mislabelled wines showed that the level of enjoyment was directly related to the indicated price.  Low-cost wines displaying an erroneous high price were found to be more enjoyable than the true higher priced wines.

In another study researchers used MRIs to scan participants’ reactions while tasting deceptively labeled wines.  The research indicated that as the label price increased so did the enjoyment of the wine.  During a subsequent study the same results were achieved.

The studies also showed that decreasing the displayed price of an expensive wine did not affect the overall rating for its pleasantness.  However, when the price was deceptively increased most participants preferred the wine more.

Even when one wine has a legitimate higher price it should be kept in mind that the higher price can often be attributed to being produced by a prestigious winery or vintner, being a rare vintage, being produced from exceptionally old or historic vines or wines consisting of varietals that are not in abundant supply.  None of these reasons necessarily noticeably impact the flavour or quality of the wine; food for thought when perusing the aisles of your local wine merchant.

Sláinte mhaith

The European Floods

July 13th saw the beginning of torrential rains that resulted in devastating flooding in parts of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The rivers were unable to withstand the volume of rain which resulted in rivers overrunning their banks, flooding some towns and villages. Some wine regions in northwestern Germany suffered extensive damage, with the full impact still to be determined. Even vintners in regions less impacted by the flooding have to contend with water in their cellars and mildew on grapevines.

Photo credit: TheTimes.co.uk

According to meteorologists, some parts of Germany received the equivalent of two months of rain in a 24 hour timeframe. Parts of the Rhine and its tributaries in Germany and the Meuse River in Belgium and Holland quickly overflowed their banks. The Ahr Valley, a Rhine tributary, was particularly ravaged. The steep slopes on both sides of the river contain Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) vines, which are some of Germany’s best.  The Germany’s Mosel region also experienced flooding that was compared to a tsunami. It came quickly and totally surprised everyone.

To date there have been upwards of 300 deaths attributed to the flooding with many more people still missing.  Wineries in the region have all but been destroyed. All that remains in many cases are the bare walls of the structures.  Furniture, cars, tanks, presses, tractors and other equipment are all lost.

With the equipment gone, the vintners will need a great deal of manual labour to maintain the vines for the balance of this season and then to harvest the grape crop. Then once it is harvested they will need to determine how they will press the grapes and ferment the juice.

Teams from the unaffected areas are organizing to help the grape growers in the devastated areas. The Verband Deutscher Prädikatsund Qualitätsweingüter (VDP), Germany’s association of top-quality wine, is organizing charity events. A wine festival is taking place this weekend where all of the proceeds will go to relief efforts. 

It is worth making a mental note that when the 2021 vintage of German wines reach the shelves in a couple of years, the quantity will be less and the price will be relatively higher than in previous years. This will be due to the reduced supply and increased costs in getting these wines to market. There may also be some spoilage do to mold.

My thoughts are with everyone affected by this devastating situation.

Sláinte mhaith

The All Canadian Wine Championships

With COVID seeming to be lessening its grip, life as we used to know it is once again beginning to slowly return. Part of that are the various wine competitions.  The 40th edition of the All Canadian Wine Championships was held from July 6th to 8th.  In total, 208 wineries submitted 1,327 wines to assess.

Assessments and awards were based as follows:

Trophies : “All Canadian Best Wines of the Year”

All wines are judged using the 100-point system. Trophies are awarded for each of the following categories:

  • Best Red table wine
  • Best White table wine
  • Best Dessert wine
  • Best Sparkling wine
  • Best Fruit wine

The award for Best Red Wine of the Year went to BC’s Dark Horse Vineyard for their 2016 Red Meritage ($60.00).

The Best White Wine of the Year was the 2020 Gewürztraminer ($20.69) from BC’s Wild Goose Vineyards and Winery.          

The Best Dessert Wine of the Year went to Ontario’s Peller Estates Winery for their 2019 Andrew Peller Signature Series Riesling Icewine ($89.85).

BC’s Forbidden Fruit Winery won the Best Fruit Wine of the Year award for their 2020 Flaunt Organic Sparkling Plum ($22.00).

Finally the Best Sparkling Wine of the Year award went to BC’s Gray Monk Estate Winery for their 2018 Odyssey Rose Brut ($29.90).

Double Gold medals / Best of Category were awarded to the single highest rated wine (using an average of the aggregate judges’ scores) from each of the categories. These wines were all submitted for the Trophy round.

Medals of Merit: Gold, Silver, Bronze were awarded in the following manner:

  • Gold awards were awarded to those wines scoring in the top 10 percentile.
  • Silver awards of merit were issued to those wines scoring in the second 10 percentile.
  • Bronze awards of merit were given to those wines scoring in the third 10 percentile.

The overall results by province were as follows:

  • BC          4 Trophies / 29 Double Gold / 81 Gold / 75 Silver / 88 Bronze (759 entries)
  • ON         2 Trophies / 22 Double Gold / 38 Gold / 50 Silver / 40 Bronze  (465 entries)
  • QC          1 Double Gold / 7 Gold / 6 Silver / 4 Bronze (57 entries)
  • NS          3 Gold / 2 Bronze  ( 14 entries)
  • NB          1 Double Gold / 1 Gold / 5 Bronze (23 entries)
  • PEI         1 Double Gold / 3 Silver /  1 Bronze   (10 entries)
  • AB          3 Double Gold / 2 Gold / 1 Silver (11 entries)
  • MB          1 Double Gold (4 entries)
  • SK           1 Double Gold / 1 Gold / 3 Silver / 3 Bronze (18 entries)
  • Yukon     0 (4 entries)

All of the results are available at https://allcanadianwinechampionships.com/acwc-2021-results/

With the All Canadian Wine Awards completed, I look forward to the National Wine Awards that were deferred until the fall.

Sláinte mhaith

British Columbia’s Movers and Shakers for 2021

I have put together my 2021 list of British Columbia wineries to watch for.  Not all of these wines will be available at your local wine store; some are available in British Columbia wine stores, but most may be purchased online or directly from the winery. 

My selections are based on my interpretation of recent trends, the wineries successes and the quality of their wine, their wine-making practices and what makes them stand out above their competitors at the present time.  My list is presented in no particular order.

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, West Kelowna

Mission Hill uses sustainable organic farming practices with the use of modern technology. Their wines are carefully aged with new and Old World techniques.  They employ the use of bees, falcons, and chickens in lieu of pesticides and insecticides. Cover crops, earthworms, and compost are used in place of chemical fertilizers.

Their winemakers’ practices are fundamentally rooted in Old World techniques that are supported with modern technology.  Drones provide a high-level view of the vineyard’s health. Soil science pinpoints the areas where best to plant the vines.

The winemaking team strives to be continually innovative, combining fermentation and maturation vessel traditions with future trends.  The equipment and processes are designed to best serve the wines.

Mission Hill has 3 collections of wines: the Reserve Collection, Terroir Collection and the Legacy Collection.

Reserve Collection

The Reserve Collection expresses hand-selected blocks of grapes, extreme viticulture management, longer barrel time, and increased lees stirring, which is a process to handle the yeast during the fermentation process.

Terroir Collection

Only the top 3% of all of the winery’s fruit is hand-selected for these wines and each individual lot is carefully tasted throughout the winemaking process to ensure its quality level before the final blend.

Legacy Collection

The grapes are hand-harvested and hand-sorted, consisting of the top 1% of the harvest from all of their vineyards. They benefit from extended barrel aging which is followed by a 24-month period in-bottle prior to release.

These wines are small lot and limited production collectibles. Cellar-worthy, they may be aged for decades. The collection includes Compendium, Quatrain, Prospectus, Perpetua and their flagship wine, Oculus.

Covert Farms Family Estate, Oliver

Covert Farms Family Estate practices organic farming with minimal intervention winemaking.  Regenerative agriculture offers many benefits to the farming ecosystem such as increasing soil organic matter, greater water holding capacity, improved nutrient cycling, pest and disease suppression through enhanced soil biology, and ultimately higher nutrient density in the vines.

They hope to introduce Dry Farming to the vineyards within the next few years which would provide such benefits as enhanced resiliency to climate change and potential increase in wine quality attributes.

They practice regenerative farming, which is based on five principles that need to be implemented together: no-till or minimal tillage, keeping the ground covered, species diversity, keeping living roots in the soil as much as possible and integrating livestock.

Regenerative agriculture offers many benefits to the ecosystem such as increasing soil organic matter, carbon capture, greater water holding capacity, improved nutrient cycling, pest and disease control through enhanced soil biology, and ultimately higher nutrient density within their crops.

Minimizing tillage is challenging in organic agriculture as this is one of the only means to manage weeds. They have been adapting their systems and processes and have had good success in the vineyards.  Interestingly, the longer the soil is undisturbed, the fewer weeds there are. 

Tantalus Vineyards, Kelowna

Tantalus Vineyards put incredible care into everything they do, from farming to winemaking and including the winery being Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.  It is also LIVE certified.  LIVE has independently certified the sustainable practices of winegrowers in the Pacific Northwest, using the latest in university research and internationally accredited standards.

Riesling is the major focus at Tantalus; it is an Okanagan icon.  However, their Pinot Noir is very good as well. 

Final Thoughts

Obviously these are far more than just 3 good wineries in British Columbia.  In fact I have purposely excluded some of my personal favourites from this list as they were not what I consider as the innovative leaders this year. Included in that list would be Osoyoos Larose, Quails Gate and Gray Monk.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you will find many of the wines produced by these wineries outside of British Columbia.  However, lucky for us many of the wineries offer online ordering.

Sláinte mhaith

Ontario’s Movers and Shakers for 2021

With COVID-19 finally starting to loosen its grip over the country and the hopes that people will be able to begin moving more freely again, I have put together my 2021 list of wines to watch for.  Not all of these wines will be available at your local wine store; some can only be purchased online or directly from the winery. 

One significant indicator of which wineries are making an impact is usually the Ontario Wine Awards.  However, COVID-19 caused the 2021 awards to be cancelled.  The 2020 awards were conducted virtually but the organizers decided to forego the 2021 awards with the exception of the ‘Winemaker of the Year Award, which will be announced sometime during the summer.  A second indicator is the National Wine Awards, which for 2021 has been deferred from June to October.

Selecting a list of top wineries is very subjective.  Depending on the reviewer, ratings may be based on any or all of:

  • Customer visit experience at the winery
  • Overall service of the winery
  • The winery facility and amenities
  • The variety of wines offered for sale
  • Price point
  • The quality of the wine

For the purposes of this review I have based my opinions on my interpretation of recent trends, the wineries successes, and the quality of their wine, their wine-making practices and what makes them stand out above their competitors at the present time.  My list is presented in no particular order.

Rosehall Run Vineyard, Prince Edward County

Having won the 2020 Ontario Wine Awards “Red Wine of the Year” for its 2018 ‘JCR Pinot Noir Rosehall Vineyard’ I am looking forward to seeing what Rosehall Run will do this year.  I was fortunate enough to visit The County last fall and taste this prize winner, as well as bring a few bottles home.  Based on last year’s performance, I would think that this year’s Pinot Noir release will be worth getting a hold of.

2020 was not the first time Rosehall Run has received an award.  Their recognized achievements go back to 2006 and they have even had their wine included on the menu for a Royal visit.

Angels Gate Winery, Niagara

Winemaker Philip Dowell was named 2020’s ‘Winemaker of the Year’ at the Ontario Wine Awards. Dowell has a simple philosophy on winemaking; it’s all about balance both in the vineyard and in the actual wine. It’s about bringing together the ‘terroir’, ‘elevage’ and ‘typicity’ of wine. The ‘terroir” is the character of the grape from a specific vineyard site; ‘elevage’ is the progress the wine takes through the cellar during its maturation; and ‘typicity’ is the distinctive vinous character each wine has.

Angels Gate Winery produces Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Shiraz.

Karlo Estates Winery, Prince Edward County

Karlo has rebounded after some struggles following the 2014 death of its founder and winemaker, Richard Karlo.  Karlo has redeveloped its vision, which is to promote sustainability and show that it is possible to be respectful of the planet while producing award-winning wines. Karlo was the first certified vegan wine in the world. Not only is the wine in the bottles certified vegan but all the vineyard practices are vegan as well.

Personally, I am a big fan of both the Van Alstine white and red Port, as well as their Quintus which is made using Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

The Picone Vineyard, Niagara

The Picone Vineyard was a complete mystery to me prior to their winning the White Wine of the Year award at the 2020 Ontario Wine Awards for their 2017 ‘Charles Baker Riesling’.  The vineyard is small, only 10 acres.

In addition to the Riesling, they produce Fogolar Cabernet Franc, which is made from a one-acre block with prized vines that are 30+ years old.

Being committed to enhancing the environment by using sustainable practices in their winery and vineyard, the Wine Council of Ontario has certified Picone for sustainability management of their vineyard.

Interestingly, the owner, Mark Picone, is an internationally trained chef.  As well as owning the winery, Mark is a Chef Professor at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute.  What better way to showcase his wine than by pairing them with his own food creations.

Picone Vineyard may be small but it seems to have great future potential to become mighty.

Final Thoughts

Obviously these are not all the good wineries in Ontario, in fact far from it. However, these are the ones that caught my attention this past year.  Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you will find any of their offerings in your local wine or liquor store.  However, if you find yourself in either the Niagara region or The County, visiting these wineries could be a fruitful (no pun intended) experience. Most of the wineries offer online ordering as well.

Sláinte mhaith

Red Varietals Grown in Canada

Photo credit: WinesInNiagara.com

This week I conclude my review of the grape varietals grown in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia.  The focus is on red wine grapes grown in these 3 provinces.

Baco Noir

Baco Noir is a hybrid red wine grape variety created by Francois Baco.  In 1951 the variety was brought to the cooler viticulture regions of North America, such as British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New York, Michigan, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Oregon.

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is one of the major black grape varieties worldwide. It is principally grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style, but can also be vinified alone. In addition to being used in blends and produced as a varietal in all 3 Canadian provinces and the United States, it is sometimes made into ice wine in these regions.

Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon making a bright, pale red wine that contributes finesse and lends a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on the growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper, cassis, and violets.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. It became internationally recognized through its prominence in Bordeaux wines where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. From France and Spain, the grape spread across Europe and to the New World where it found new homes in places like California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles, Napa Valley, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Chile, British Columbia and Ontario.

The classic profile of Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be a full-bodied wine with high tannins and noticeable acidity that contributes to the wine’s aging potential. In cooler climates like Canada, Cabernet Sauvignon tends to produce wines with blackcurrant notes that can be accompanied by green bell pepper notes, mint and cedar which will all become more pronounced as the wine ages.   In more moderate climates the blackcurrant notes are often seen with black cherry and black olive notes while in very hot climates the currant flavours can veer towards the over-ripe and “jammy” side.

Castel

The grape was created in 1953 by Ollie A. Bradt, at what is now the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. Today the grape is widely planted in Nova Scotia with some plantings in Ontario. The grape is hardy, early-ripening and disease resistant.

De Chaunac

De Chaunac is a French-American hybrid wine grape variety used to make red wines. The grape was named after Adhemar de Chaunac, a pioneer in the Ontario wine industry.

De Chaunac is known to have a very vigorous growth habit and good resistance to mildew. It is grown in varying amounts for wine production across northeastern North America, especially in the winegrowing regions of New York, Pennsylvania, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Michigan and Ohio.

Gamay

Gamay is a purple-coloured grape variety used to make red wines, most notably grown in Beaujolais and in the Loire Valley of France.  It has often been cultivated because it makes for abundant production.  It is grown in all 3 of the Canadian wine provinces.

Leon Millot

Léon Millot is a red variety of hybrid grape used for wine. The variety was named after the winemaker and tree nursery owner Léon Millot.  The grapes are grown in Nova Scotia.

Lucie Kuhlmann

This is a Kuhlmann hybrid variety, with growing and ripening characteristics similar to Leon Millot and Marechal Foch, though less widely grown. The wine, like Leon Millot, is capable of deep colour with a pronounced berry-like fruitiness. Wines made from Lucie Kuhlmann tend to have a slightly firmer tannic structure compared to Leon Millot.  These grapes are grown in Nova Scotia and Ontario.

Malbec

Malbec is a purple grape variety that creates a dark red intense wine with robust tannins.  In addition to being bottled on its own it is also commonly blended with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the red French Bordeaux blend or is blended with Cabernet Franc and Gamay. Other wine regions use the grape to produce Bordeaux-style blends.

In addition to France, Malbec has become an Argentine varietal but is also becoming popular in British Columbia and Ontario.

Marechal Foch

Marechal Foch is a hybrid French red wine grape variety. It was originally known as Kuhlmann 188-2.  The vines were imported to North America in the mid 1940s, where it was subsequently renamed Marechal Foch in honour of Marshall Ferdinand Foch, Supreme Allied Commander during the First World War.

Marechal Foch ripens early and it is cold-hardy and resistant to fungal diseases. The quality of wine produced is dependent on the age of the vines, and the flavour profile associated with many new-world hybrid varietals is much reduced in comparison to wine made from older vines.

Today Marechal Foch is grown in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Ontario.

Marquette

Marquette is a blue/black-berried variety introduced in 2006 by the University of Minnesota in the United States. Marquette is the cousin of Frontenac, a well-known French-American hybrid.

Marquette is promising for cold-climate producers in North America, and a number of plantings have been established in Minnesota, Vermont, New York and Nova Scotia.

The grape has high sugar levels and moderate acidity. Marquette wines are typically medium bodied, with aromas of cherries, blackcurrants and blackberries. In some cases more complex aromas such as tobacco and leather may also be exhibited, with spicy pepper notes on the finish.

Merlot

Merlot is a dark blue wine grape variety that is used by itself, as well as a blending grape and for varietal wines. Its softness and fleshiness, combined with its earlier ripening, makes it a popular grape for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin.

Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Merlot is one of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux wine, and it is the most widely planted grape in the Bordeaux wine regions. Merlot is also one of the most popular red wine varietals.

While Merlot is made around the world, there tends to be two main styles.  There is the International style that produces inky, purple coloured wines that are full in body with high alcohol and lush, velvety tannins with intense, plum and blackberry fruit.  The second style is the Bordeaux style where the harvesting of the grapes takes place earlier to maintain acidity. This style produces more medium-bodied wines with moderate alcohol levels that have fresh, red fruit flavours of raspberries and strawberries.

In Canada Merlot is grown in British Columbia and Ontario.

Mischurnitz

This vine is from Eastern Europe but is now being grown in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia. In 1983 a wine from Nova Scotia was voted the ‘best wine of Canada’ in a blind competition to supply the Canadian Embassies around the world. More recently two other Nova Scotia wineries, Jost Vineyards and Sainte Famille, are making notable wines with Michurinetz.

This extremely cold-hardy and vigorous vine typically produces red wines with tannic strength. The grapes also typically have extremely high natural acidity, and low sugar levels.

Petit Verdot

Petit Verdot is a variety of red wine grape that is mainly used in classic Bordeaux blends. It adds tannin, colour and flavour, in small amounts, to the blend. Petit Verdot has attracted attention among winemakers in the New World, where it ripens more reliably and has been made into a single varietal wine. It is also useful in ‘stiffening’ the mid palate of Cabernet Sauvignon blends.  It is grown in British Columbia and Ontario.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a red wine grape that is grown around the world, mostly in the cooler climates.  It is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France. Pinot noir is now used to make red wines around the world. Regions that have gained a reputation for red Pinot Noir wines include Oregon, California, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the wine regions of Canada.

When young, wines made from Pinot Noir tend to have red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. As the wine ages, there is the potential to develop more vegetal and barnyard aromas that can contribute to the complexity of the wine.

Syrah

Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is a dark-skinned grape variety grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce red wine.

The style and flavour profile of Syrah wines are influenced by the climate where the grapes are grown.  Moderate climates tend to produce medium to full-bodied wines with medium-plus to high levels of tannins and notes of blackberry, mint and black pepper. In hot climates, Syrah is more consistently full-bodied with softer tannin, jammier fruit and spice notes of licorice and earthy leather.

Syrah is used as a single varietal, as well as in blends. It can be found all over the world from France to Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, California, Washington, British Columbia and Ontario.

Zweigelt

Widely planted in Austria, Zweigelt vines have made inroads in Washington and the Canadian wine regions of Ontario and British Columbia.  There are some plantings in Hungary. In the Czech Republic it is known as Zweigeltrebe and is the third-most widely planted red-grape variety, comprising approximately 4.7% of total vineyards. It grows in most of the wine regions in Slovakia and now in Belgian and Polish vineyards.

Sláinte mhaith

White Varietals Grown in Canada

Photo credit: WinesInNiagara.com

In Canada, the two main commercial grape-growing areas are southern Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula and British Columbia’s Okanagan and neighbouring Similkameen valleys.   Smaller industries have been established in the other eastern provinces, most notably Nova Scotia and Québec.

For the purposes of this article and the following one next week I will focus solely on British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

This week the focus will be on white wine grapes grown in these 3 provinces.

Bacchus

The Bacchus is a white wine grape that was created by the Geilweilerhof Institute for Grape Breeding in Siebeldingen, Germany in 1933.   In Canada it is grown in British Columbia.

Bacchus wines can have powerful flavours and character.  It is low in acidity, which does not always make it very well suited for varietal wines under typical German growing conditions. Bacchus is often used for blending with other varietals.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is said to be the world’s favourite white wine.  It can be produced in a youthful, fruity style that’s ready for to be drunk soon after bottling, or as a complex, barrel-fermented wine capable of aging for years.

Chardonnay wines are medium to full-bodied and pair with a range of simple or complex foods.

In France, Chardonnay is labelled by the region in which it is grown, like Chablis. It is also a key variety in Champagne.

Chardonnay is native to the Burgundy region of France but is now grown in all 3 of Canada’s wine provinces.

Chasselas

Chasselas or Chasselas blanc is a wine grape variety grown mainly in Switzerland, France, Germany, Portugal, Hungary, Romania, New Zealand and Chile.  In Canada it is grown in British Columbia and Nova Scotia.

Chasselas is usually used to make a full, dry and fruity white wine. However, it is also suitable as a table grape.  It is grown in Turkey and Hungary for this purpose.

Ehrenfelser

Ehrenfelser is a white wine grape variety of German origin. Outside Germany, Ehrenfelser has found some success mainly in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. B.C. wineries including Cedar Creek, Lake Breeze, Gray Monk, Gehringer Brothers, Mount Boucherie, Quails’ Gate and Summerhill make both still and ice wine styles using this grape.

Geisenheim

The Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute was founded in 1872 and is located in the town of Geisenheim, Germany. In 1876 Swiss-born professor Hermann Müller joined the institute, where he developed his namesake grape variety, Müller-Thurgau, which became Germany’s most-planted grape variety in the 1970s.

In Canada Geisenheim is grown in Nova Scotia and Ontario.

Gewürztraminer

Gewürztraminer is an aromatic wine grape variety used in white wines and performs best in cooler climates.

Gewürztraminer is a variety with a pink to red skin colour, which makes it a white wine grape as opposed to the blue to black-skinned varieties commonly referred to as red wine grapes. It has a high amount of natural sugar.  The wines are usually off-dry.

In Canada, Gewürztraminer is grown in British Columbia and Ontario.

Kerner

The Kerner grape is an aromatic white grape variety.  It is the 8th most planted variety in Germany.  Kerner is most commonly planted in Germany but it is also grown in Austria, Switzerland, the island of Hokkaido in Japan and Italy.  It is now grown in Ontario.

L’Acadie Blanc

L’Acadie Blanc is a white Canadian wine grape variety that is a hybrid crossing of Cascade and Seyve-Villard. The grape was created in 1953 in Niagara, Ontario at what is now the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. Today the grape is widely planted in Nova Scotia, with some plantings in Ontario. It is considered to be Nova Scotia’s equivalent to Chardonnay.

Muscat Ottonel

Muscat Ottonel was created in Loir, France.  It is a white grape that is easier to cultivate in cooler climates than the other Muscats, as it ripens early and produces more delicate wines than Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains or Muscat of Alexandria.

It is popular in Alsace, France, Austria, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Hungary and Ontario.

New York Muscat

These grapes are used in dry wines and Icewines. Bold and exotic, New York Muscat produces aromatic but dry, full-bodied white wines with intense aromas of roses, grapefruit and exotic fruit.  These grapes are grown in Nova Scotia.

Pinot Blanc

Pinot Blanc is a versatile white-wine grape variety that is used in the production of still, sparkling and sweet dessert wines.  It is grown in all 3 wine provinces.

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio or Grauburgunder is a white wine grape variety. It normally has a grayish-blue fruit, but the grapes can have a brownish pink to black, and even white appearance. The wines produced from this grape also vary in colour from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink.

Pinot Gris is grown around the world including in all 3 of the Canadian provinces.

Riesling

Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and sparkling white wines. It is one of the top three white wine varieties along with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

It is grown in all 3 Canadian wine provinces.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape variety that originates from the Bordeaux region of France. Sauvignon Blanc is planted in many of the world’s wine regions, producing a crisp, dry, and refreshing white varietal wine. The grape is also a component of the famous dessert wines. Sauvignon Blanc is widely cultivated in France, Chile, Romania, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Bulgaria, the states of Washington and California and the 3 Canadian wine regions.

Depending on the climate, the flavour can range from aggressively grassy to sweetly tropical. In cooler climates, the grape has a tendency to produce wines with noticeable acidity and the flavour of green grass, green bell peppers and nettles with some tropical fruit and floral notes. In warmer climates, it can develop more tropical fruit notes.

Sémillon

Sémillon is a golden-skinned grape used to make dry and sweet white wines, mostly in France and Australia. However, it is also grown in British Columbia and Ontario.

Seyval Blanc

Seyval Blanc is a hybrid wine grape variety used to make white wines. It is grown mainly in England, the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, Oregon, as well as, to a lesser extent in Nova Scotia.

Seyverni (NS)

Seyverni is the name of a Russian red-grape variety. The variety has been imported to the Finger Lakes area of New York as well as Nova Scotia.  The grape is very resistant to frost.

Vidal

Vidal is a white hybrid grape variety. It is a very winter-hardy variety that manages to produce high sugar levels in cold climates with moderate to high acidity.  Due to its winter hardiness, this grape variety is cultivated most extensively in the Canadian wine regions of Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia where it is often used for ice wine production.

The wine produced from Vidal tends to be very fruity, with aroma notes of grapefruit and pineapple. Due to its high acidity and sugar potential, it is particularly suited to sweeter, dessert wines. In particular, because of the tough outer skin of the fruit, it is well adapted for the production of ice wine.

Viogner (BC, ON)

Viognier is a white wine grape variety. It is the only permitted grape for the French wine Condrieu in the Rhône Valley. Outside of the Rhône, Viognier can be found in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, the United States, British Columbia and Ontario.

Viognier has the potential to produce full-bodied wines with a lush, soft character. It has aromatics that include notes of peach, pears, violets and minerals.

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Wine and Cheese to Prevent Alzheimer’s?

A study has been completed suggesting that the foods you eat can have an impact on your cognitive ability in the future.  It suggests that eating cheese and drinking red wine may actually improve your brain’s cognitive abilities  Diet has long been considered a marker for our health later in life and studies have shown a link between diet, Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Photo credit: gourmetcheesedetective.com

The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, analyzed data over a 10-year period from 1,787 people between the ages of 46 and 77 in the United Kingdom. The researchers specifically looked at participants’ ability to think quickly, as well as their diet and alcohol consumption over time.

Researchers found that certain foods and drinks, including red wine and cheese, seemed to have protective effects against cognitive decline. Moderate consumption of red wine and cheese was found to have the best correlation for participants who had no genetic risk of developing cognitive diseases.  However, the experts caution against going overboard. The researchers were able to explain up to 15.6 percent of the variation in cognition over time.  They did go on to say that they were only able to see what the participants were eating and drinking during the 10-year study.

Though the findings are encouraging from a wine lover’s perspective, the researchers did say you shouldn’t load up on wine and cheese just yet as more research is needed.  They warn that the correlation does not equal cause. We shouldn’t leap to the assumption that drinking wine and eating cheese lowers our risk of cognitive decline over time as the study did not examine which components in cheese and wine were beneficial. Further clinical trials would be needed to determine if explicitly changing diet could impact brain health.

Diet and exercise remain as the two most important things that a person should manage for body health and brain health.  Doctors say that active people with good body weights are far more likely to retain good brain function, regardless of genetics.

Regarding the link with alcohol in this particular study, doctors warn against being too zealous. All things should be consumed in moderation.  While it’s nice to think that modest red wine consumption could have benefits, it’s also important to remember the harm that can result from over-indulgence.  However, it is good to know that eating cheese and drinking wine in moderation has potential benefits beyond just helping us cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Summertime Wine Drinks

Photo Credit: WeSpeakWine.com

Wine cocktails make a light and refreshing summertime drink.  Whether you have a bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine on hand, you can use it to mix up some great wine cocktails. From fruity sangrias to imaginative cocktails, these drink recipes are cool and refreshing for summer.

Simple Syrup

Several of these recipes contain simple syrup.  Simple syrup is made by combining equal parts of sugar and water, which is stirred over low heat (or microwave) until the sugar is dissolved.  It is then cooled to room temperature before using.

Fragole on Ice

Ingredients

  • 1 strawberry
  • 1½ oz. vodka
  • ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz. basil simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Rosé
  • Fresh strawberry slice.

Steps to Make It

  • Muddle a strawberry in a shaker
  • Combine vodka, fresh lemon juice, basil simple syrup and ice in a shaker
  • Shake well
  • Pour into a cocktail glass with ice
  • Top with chilled Rosé
  • Garnish with a fresh strawberry slice

Grapefruit Spritz

Ingredients

  • 1 ½  oz. grapefruit juice
  • ½ oz. sweet vermouth
  • ½ tbsp. simple syrup
  • 4 to 5 oz. Prosecco

Steps to Make It

  • Add grapefruit juice, sweet vermouth and simple syrup to cocktail shaker
  • Fill cocktail shaker with ice
  • Shake until chilled
  • Strain the liquid into an iced glass
  • Top with Prosecco
  • Garnish with a slice of grapefruit

Ice-y Martini

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. Cabernet Franc ice wine
  • 2 oz. vodka

Steps to Make It

  • Combine ingredients in a glass and stir

Pinot Noir-tini

Ingredients

  • 1 ½  oz. Pinot Noir
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • ½ oz. dry vermouth
  • Ice
  • Amarena cherries

Steps to Make It

  • Pour Pinot Noir, vodka and dry vermouth in a mixing glass
  • Add ice
  • Stir until the glass is chilled
  • Strain into a martini glass
  • Garnish with a couple of Amerena cherries

Sangria

Peach Sangria

What is different about this one is that it uses fruit liqueurs instead of fresh fruit so there’s no need to make it the day before. The recipe yields about 8 1/2 cups or about 16 four-ounce servings. Since the liquors and juices are all poured equally, it’s easy to increase or decrease as needed.

Ingredients

  • 1 (750 mL) bottle dry white wine (Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 1/4 cups mango rum
  • 1 1/4 cups peach schnapps
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 1/2 cups lemon-lime soda
  • Fresh peach slices
  • Fresh mango slices

Steps to Make It

  • In a punch bowl or large pitcher, pour the wine, mango rum, peach schnapps, citrus juices, and lemon-lime soda. Stir well
  • Fill with large pieces of ice
  • Serve in glasses
  • Garnish with peach and mango slices

Pineapple Sangria

Ingredients

  • 1 750 ml bottle of Moscato
  • 1 cup coconut rum
  • ¼ cup Triple Sec
  • Splash pineapple juice
  • Splash orange juice
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Sliced orange
  • Sliced lemon

Steps to Make It

  • Mix the bottle of Moscato, coconut rum and triple sec together
  • Add pineapple juice and orange juice
  • Stir in strawberries
  • Garnish with  orange and lemon slices

Raspberry Lemonade Moscato Sangria

Ingredients

  • 1 (750 ml) bottle white wine
  • 12 ounces/1 1/2 cups lemon-lime soda
  • 12 ounces lemonade
  • 2 lemons (sliced)
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries (frozen can be used)
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Steps to Make It

  • Mix the wine, berries, lemons, lemonade and sugar in a pitcher
  • Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight
  • Add the lemon-lime soda just prior to serving
  • Add ice in either the pitcher or individual glasses
  • Garnish with lemon slices

Sauvignon Blanc Summer Sangria

Ingredients

  • 1 750 ml bottle of Sauvignon Blanc
  • ¾ cup of vodka
  • ½ cup tropical fruit juice
  • 6 tbs. thawed frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 package fresh raspberries
  • 1 package fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups club soda

Steps to Make It

  • Mix the Sauvignon Blanc, vodka, tropical fruit juice, lemonade concentrate, sugar, raspberries, blueberries and club sod

Spicy Summer

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ oz. tequila
  • 1 ½ oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • 2 1-inch cubes of watermelon
  • 1 slice of jalapeño pepper
  • Sparkling Rosé wine

Steps to Make It

  • Combine tequila, lime juice and simple syrup in a shaker
  • Add cubes of watermelon and circular slices of jalapeño pepper to the shaker
  • If you want it less spicy, omit the pepper seeds
  • Muddle until thoroughly blended
  • Add ice and shake for at least 30 seconds
  • Double strain into a wine glass over a large ice cube
  • Fill a glass to the top with Sparkling Rosé
  • Garnish with mint, rose, and jalapeño

Strawberry Rhubarb Sangria

Ingredients

Rhubarb Syrup:

  • 2 cups rhubarb (diced or roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Sangria:

  • 1 bottle Pinot Grigio
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup St. Germaine Liquor
  • 1 cup strawberries (sliced)
  • 1 lime (sliced)

Steps to Make It

  • Begin by preparing the rhubarb syrup. Heat the water, sugar, and rhubarb in a small saucepan  Cook for about 5 minutes on medium low heat, until the mixture has thickened and turned a light pink
  • Strain the rhubarb out of the liquid.; place the strained liquid in the refrigerator to cool
  • Combine the bottle of wine, vodka, St. Germaine liquor, strawberries and limes in a large pitcher. Once the rhubarb syrup has cooled, add it to the wine mixture. Let the sangria sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days. 
  • Garnish with sliced strawberries and limes

Tequila Sangria

Ingredients

Hibiscus Syrup:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar (white granulated)
  • 1 tea bag hibiscus tea

Sangria:

  • 1 1/2 cups tequila
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 3/4 cup hibiscus syrup
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 1/2 liter club soda

Steps to Make It

Make the Hibiscus Syrup

  • In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the sugar and stir until it’s completely dissolved
  • Remove from the heat, add the tea bag, and steep for 10 minutes
  • Discard the tea bag and let the syrup continue to cool. Bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks

Make the Tequila Sangria

  • In a pitcher or punchbowl, combine the tequila, wine, hibiscus syrup, and orange and cranberry juices
  • Stir well
  • Add ice and fill with club soda
  • Garnish with orange, lemon and lime slices

Source the Raleigh

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. watermelon juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • Soda water

Steps to Make It

  • Fill cocktail shaker with ice
  • Add Sauvignon Blanc, vodka, watermelon juice, simple syrup, and lemon juice to the shaker
  • Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice
  • Top with soda water

Strawberry and Rosemary Rosé Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle of Brut Rosé Champagne or Sparkling Wine
  • 1 cup strawberry-flavored vodka
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda
  • Strawberries for garnish
  • Rosemary for garnish

Steps to Make It

  • Pour Brut Rosé Champagne or dry Rosé Sparkling Wine over ice
  •  Add strawberry-flavored vodka and lemon-lime soda
  • Garnish with strawberries and rosemary

Tropical Twist

Ingredients

  • ½ oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ oz. honey syrup
  • ½ oz. rum
  • 2 oz. Prosecco

Steps to Make It

  • Combine lime juice, honey syrup and rum in a cocktail shaker
  • Add ice and shake
  • Add Prosecco
  • Strain into Champagne flute
  • Garnish with lime peel

Watermelon Wine Cooler

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. watermelon juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • ½ oz. lemon
  • 1½ oz. soda water

Steps to Make It

  • Combine ingredients except soda water in a cocktail shaker filled with ice
  • Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice
  • Top with soda water

White Wine Spritzer

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces chilled white wine (Riesling, Pinot Grigio, or Sauvignon Blanc are used most often)
  • 1​ ounce ​cold club soda (or mineral water)

Steps to Make It

  • Fill a white wine glass or highball glass with ice
  • Pour in the wine
  • Top with club soda or mineral water
  • Garnish with lime wedge or orange peel

Enjoy your summer while sipping one of these cool refreshing wine beverages!

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Virtual Wine Events

The times are changing in part due to changes in technology and in part due to COVID-19.   A lot of gatherings and meetings will work well using Zoom, Google Meets or another online meeting facility.  The wine industry has been forced to find alternatives to hosting in-person events and wine tastings and even award ceremonies have to now follow this practice.

In order to participate in a wine tasting each attendee should be prepared to do some work ahead of the virtual gathering.  Attendees will need to obtain the list of wines to be sampled and then purchase a bottle of each of the wines.  Obtaining these wines may prove to be a challenge given that they may not be readily available from the local wine store.  Some may need to be obtained directly from the winery and if the winery is not located in the same vicinity as you, you will have to order the wines a couple of weeks ahead of the event.

In attending a tasting without having access to the wines to sample, you have to solely rely on the host’s verbal description. I think the value of the information would be lost without the opportunity to sample the wine yourself. I think it would be about as enticing as watching paint dry.

But if you have the wines being tasted, given that tastings involve only a small sampling of each wine, you will be left with a significant portion of each of the wines that you will then need to try and preserve until they can be consumed.

The same challenges are faced by anyone attending a wine award ceremony who wants to taste any of the wines eligible for or that received a reward.

Making the most of the current environment, there are now companies and wineries that will sell you a wine tasting kit.  These kits consist of a bottle of each wine to be tasted, reviewer’s notes on each wine, and a link to a video of the expert conducting the actual wine tasting.  This gives you the opportunity to invite your friends over (assuming there isn’t a lockdown) for a private wine tasting event hosted by a wine expert.   In some cases you can arrange for a “live” tasting using a remote meeting site like Zoom.

Without a doubt some events and activities are best attended in person rather than virtually. However given these strange times that we live in, virtual events are probably better than no events.

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