To Age or Not to Age

In the past I have talked about how and where to store wine but today I will tackle the issue of understanding the time wine needs to reach its peak and the length of time a wine can be cellared before it begins to deteriorate. 

The experts have conflicting views on this topic as the choices are somewhat based as much on opinion and perception as science.  The one point that everyone seems to agree on is that most wine isn’t meant to age; in fact only 1% of wine should be cellared for a long period of time.  Most wine is released within 2 years of the grapes being harvested and then drunk within 6 months of purchase.

As long as the wine is stored properly it won’t expire in the same manner as a carton of milk.  It just means that there is no additional benefit to aging it.  Generally, experts agree that there is a common misconception that aging a mediocre wine will transform it into something extraordinary when in fact it only become an average aged wine.

Some experts suggest that wines priced around thirty dollars and under are meant to be drunk within five years or so of purchase. After that time the wine may actually start to deteriorate and lose many of its qualities.  Even the majority of wines priced over thirty dollars should be consumed within five years.  However, my thoughts are that there are many factors that go into determining price and therefore a price threshold cannot be arbitrarily used to determine when a wine is suitable for cellaring.

More importantly, I find that vintner and reviewer notes are very beneficial when determining which wines to hold and which to drink.  Most quality wines are made with aging in mind but so are some less expensive ones. It is the structure of a wine that determines how long it will last, not the price.

If you buy your wine directly from a winery you have an opportunity to ask the producers of the wine if the bottle you are buying will benefit from aging. They are the best people to ask how long they think it will last and should be able to give you some indication of the wine’s cellaring potential.

The winemaker’s techniques and style can have a large effect on how long you can age a particular wine. Not all wine is made in the same way. The structural elements are key to determining whether a wine will age well or not. 

In red wine, acidity is an essential characteristic of highly rated, great tasting aged wines.  As wines mature they lose acidity so there needs to be a high level of acidity in order to cellar it.

Tannin levels need to be moderately high but not so high that they overshadow the other flavours in the wine. You should still be able to taste the fruit, along with the grip-like sensation of tannin and bitterness on the front sides of your tongue.

The amount of volatile acidity (VA) must be low.  VA will cause wine to degrade quickly. It causes 2 types of aroma compounds to become too high.  One smells like acetone (nail-polish remover); the other aroma smells like bruised apples in a white wine and a nutty brown sugar-like note in red wines. VA should never be higher than 1.2 grams/litre (g/L) in any wine, and lower than .6 g/L in most age-worthy wines.

Most age-worthy wines need to have an alcohol level between 12% and 14%.  This is necessary to prevent the oxidization that occurs in the bottle from degrading the wine too quickly.

In white wine a high level of acidity is necessary for longevity while alcohol levels need to be low to medium.

Aged wine isn’t necessarily better than young wine, it is just different. Time in the cellar can have a great benefit in transforming the wine from something fruit-forward with a tight structure into a mellow, yet complex drink. The colour, smell and taste of a wine will change. Reds lose their colour while whites gain colour and take on a deep golden hue. Acid and tannins drop away and fruit flavours become savoury, soft and rounded. Decanting aged wine has the benefit of letting the aromas and flavours mix with the air to bring out the very best.

Drinking a well-aged wine has a romantic appeal. An old wine gives us a way to re-experience a past year that had special memories, or maybe just to sit and reflect on life in general.  Also, when a wine that was meant to be aged is drunk, the aging of the wine helps create flavours and textures that would never be experienced had the wine not undergone aging.

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Cork Versus Screw Cap

Corks have been the traditional choice since the 1400’s for preserving wine. Cork bark is one of the few natural products that is malleable enough to hold the contents inside a glass bottle.  However, today there is great debate as to whether cork is actually the best way to preserve wine.  The most prominent opponent is the screw cap.

Photo credit: wineanorak.com

The pro cork side of the debate usually begins with the fact that tradition dictates that cork is the way to go.  It has been in use for hundreds of years.  Screw caps on the other hand are a 20th Century invention.  

For many of the more mature members of our society there is a sense of enchantment in maintaining tradition, including the ritual of uncorking a bottle of wine, which adds to the enjoyment and experience.

Cork bark is a natural ingredient, as well as a renewable resource. Cork is harvested from the bark of cork trees, which continually replenish themselves.

One of the properties of cork is that it does not have a completely airtight seal, which allows the wine to slowly oxidize in the bottle. This oxidization allows the wine to continue to age while it sits in the cellar, developing more complex flavours over time.

The down side of using cork is that cork allows cork taint, otherwise known as TCA or Trichloroanisole, a flaw that can happen when a wine is exposed to a particular yeast during production. If you’ve ever swirled and sniffed a glass of wine and smelled something like wet dog, then you have experienced cork taint. Because corks are permeable, bottles sealed by a cork can be vulnerable to damage.

Another downside to cork is the cost as cork is more expensive than screw caps.

Finally, there is the irritation you feel when the cork breaks off or crumbles into your wine when you try to open the bottle.  To help prevent this from happening, the bottles need to be stored horizontally in order to keep the corks moist.

In the past, screw caps were associated with cheaper wines since they are less expensive than corks and were the obvious choice for budget-friendly wines. However, those days are long gone. Screw caps have their own benefits, so some high-end wineries have abandoned the cork. Some winemakers even prefer them to cork.

Screw caps do not allow TCA to occur in the wine after bottling. This doesn’t mean the wine is always free of TCA, since it can be exposed prior to bottling, but it does mean if it hasn’t happened before bottling there is no chance of exposure until it is opened.

Screw caps are much easier to open. A cork screw is not required so that means one less thing to pack when travelling.

On the down side, the airtight protection that is provided by a screw cap prevents the wine from breathing and slows down the aging process.

Also, while screw caps are recyclable they are neither biodegradable nor are they made from a renewable resource.  They typically include PVDC plastic which is made from petroleum, making them a far less eco-friendly option.

Ongoing innovation in wine packaging means that natural cork and screw caps are not the only two options for bottle enclosure and storage. Plastic, can, cardboard and plant-based polymer cork are now being introduced into the marketplace.

While natural cork adds character, heritage and custom to your wine experience but is not necessarily a reflection of quality. Screw caps are a convenient modern option, but they have their own drawbacks.

You will have to decide for yourself which you prefer. Personally, it is the wine itself that determines whether I buy it, not whether it is sealed with a cork or a screw cap.

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Wine Shipping Delays

Photo credit: dw.com

I have found myself frustrated many times over the past number of months when the wines I am hoping to purchase from the liquor store are not available. The reason I have been told is a result of the pandemic.  COVID-19 has affected shipping companies and dock workers hard, resulting in huge backlogs and skyrocketing shipping costs.

The global wine supply chain generally starts with the grape grower -> producer -> packer -> exporter -> shipper -> importer -> trucker -> wholesale distributor -> retailer/restaurant/bar.  The time to complete this process has increased from 30 days to 3 months or more.

Wine importers are having trouble bringing wine not just from Europe but also from Chile, Argentina and South Africa. Wineries are also experiencing a shortage of bottles, many of which are imported from China.

Many distributors historically operated on a just-in-time basis whereby goods were received as close as possible to when they are actually needed, to keep costs low. However, today just-in-time processing is not working because of all the delays.

Shipping costs have increased by over 50% during the past year.  Along with a lack of shipping containers available to ship the wine, the containers get delayed at the dock resulting in additional charges, and there is a lack of truck drivers available to deliver the wine to its final destination.  In preparation for the upcoming holidays wine merchants have planned their shipments at least 3 months in advance. However, there is no guarantee that the wines will reach their intended destination in time for the holidays.

It is expected that volume-driven wines will most likely bear the brunt of the skyrocketing costs. Chilean and Argentinian wines will most likely suffer the most from the soaring freight costs. It is felt that these less expensive wines will lose their competitive advantage with the extensive increase in freight cost.

However, there is optimism that the situation will eventually improve, though probably not until mid-2022, as countries come out of lockdown and more truckers are hired. It is now feared that inflationary pressures will take quite a while longer to come back into proper alignment.

It’s hard to imagine an upside for anyone for the foreseeable future, from producers to importers to distributors to retail and hospitality outlets to customers. The impact will soon become apparent on wine store shelves and restaurant tables as we end-consumers will eventually bear the added costs. Isn’t that always the way?

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Sugar Levels in Champagne & Other Sparkling Wines

Given that that New Year’s is fast approaching it seems like a good time to talk about sparkling wines; in particular the amount of sweetness in these wines.  Sweetness levels range from super dry to very sweet. Because of this extreme variation, the experts have developed a standardized sweetness scale that has been divided into seven levels.

Photo credit: ScientificAmerican.com

The sweetness level varies due to a step in the wine making process referred to as “liqueur d’expedition” where producers add a small amount of grape must (sugar) before corking the bottle. Since sparkling wine is so acidic, the sweetness is added in order to reduce sour flavours in the final product.

The sweetness scale for sparkling wines consists of the following levels:

Brut Nature (Brut Zero)

  • 0-3 grams (g) of natural residual sugar (RS) / litre (L)
  • 0-2 calories and up to 0.15 carbs for a total of 91–93 calories per 5 oz. (~150 ml) serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

Extra Brut

  • 0-6 g/L RS
  • 0-6 calories and up to 0.9 carbs per 5 oz. (~150 ml) serving for a total of 91–96 calories per serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

Brut

  • 0-12 g/L RS
  • 0-7 calories and up to 1.8 carbs per 5 oz. (~150 ml) serving for a total of 91–98 calories per serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

Extra Dry

  • 12-17 g/L RS
  • 7-10 calories and 1.8–2.6 carbs per 5 oz. (~150 ml) serving for a total of 98–101 calories per serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

Dry (Secco)

  • 17-32 g/L RS
  • 10-19 calories and 2.6–4.8 carbs per 5 oz (~150 ml) serving for a total of 101–111 calories per serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

Demi-Sec

  • 32-50 g/L RS
  • 19-30 calories and 4.8–7.5 carbs per 5 oz (~150 ml) serving for a total of 111–121 calories per serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

Doux

  • 50+ g/L RS
  • 30+ calories and more than 7.5 carbs per 5 oz (~150 ml) serving for a total of more than 121 calories per serving of 12 % ABV sparkling wine.

Brut has a fair amount of variation in sweetness, whereas Extra Brut and Brut Nature have focused sugar content. Therefore, if a dryer wine is your preference it is best to select either an Extra Brut or Brut Nature wine.

Something to keep in mind when considering the sweetness of sparkling wine is how little sugar is required to make it taste sweet.  The amount of sugar in these wines is comparatively low to other beverages.

Drink Comparison (sugar levels in grams)

  • 0 g in Vodka Soda
  • 0.5 g in Brut Nature Sparkling Wine
  • 2 g in Brut Sparkling Wine
  • 8 g in Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine
  • 14 g in Gin & Tonic
  • 16 g in Honest Tea Green Tea
  • 17 g in Starbucks 2% Milk Grande Latte
  • 20 g  in Margarita on the rocks (made w/ simple syrup)
  • 33 g in Rye & Coke

Happy Holidays!

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Scotch Whisky Single Malt Vs Blend

I did not know this but there are five types of Scotch whisky, each with a slightly different definition.  Until now I thought there were only two, single malt whisky and blended whisky.  The definitions of the five types of whisky are:

  • Single Malt Whisky – whisky made at one distillery using pot stills and only malted barley.  Example:  Glenlivet 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • Single Grain Whisky – whisky made at one distillery using a continuous still, or using any type of still and grains other than malted barley.  Example:  Strathclyde Single Grain
  • Blended Malt Whisky – whisky made by combining single malt whiskies from different distilleries. Example:  Ballantine’s Finest Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
  • Blended Grain Whisky – whisky made by combining single grain whiskies from different distilleries.  Example:  Teacher’s Highland Scotch Whisky
  • Blended Whisky – whisky made by combining malt whisky and grain whisky.  Example: Chivas Regal 12 Year Old Blended Scotch Whisky

Each bottle of Scotch whisky you buy will have one of these five types indicated on the label.

Only about 10% of the Scotch whiskies on the market are single malt. However, single malt Scotch made up nearly 28% of the whisky exported from Scotland.

For all Scotch whisky the age indicated on the label refers to the number of years the whisky spent in casks. Very few whiskies come from a single cask. The mixing of spirits of different ages is permitted.  The age indicated on the bottle indicates the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle, which has matured in oak casks in Scotland for a minimum of three years.

Are single malts better than blends?  Well that comes down to personal taste. Many blended whiskies are cheaper than single malts but that doesn’t mean that single malts are better. Blended whisky can have a great range of flavour and can rival single malts not only for complexity and flavour, but also for price.  Case in point: Macallan Estate single malt has a price tag of $349.50 while Chivas Regal 25 year old blend currently sells for $359.75.

Those new to the world of Scotch whisky usually begin by trying one or more blended whiskies, especially since they generally have a more favourable price point. It’s easy for single malt fans, like me, to write them off as cheap and uninteresting.  However, after some discussion with a Scotch blend enthusiast and tasting some of his recommendations, I made some new discoveries and had to admit that there are some good blended whiskies.

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2021 & the B.C. Wine Industry

2021 presented lots of challenges for British Columbia’s vintners.  The spring was one of the driest on record with very little rain from late May to the end of June. Temperatures in June climbed up to 47 degrees Celsius.  The combination of these things resulted in the grapes maturing faster and earlier than normal.  The grape yields were low but the quality was good, producing small, very ripe fruit bursting with flavour.  It is hoped that this high concentration of flavour will translate into an excellent, though a low yield vintage.

Photo credit: TourismKelowna.com

The wild fires also wreaked havoc on the harvest in some areas, particularly the Thompson and Okanagan Valleys.  Fortunately, the worst of the smoke exposure occurred before the grapes began to ripen so the impact is believed to be minimal.

The recent flooding in B.C. has affected all residents either directly or indirectly.  With major transportation routes being blocked or damaged, supply chains and mobility have been severely restricted.  At this point it is still too early to know what additional burden will be felt by B.C.’s wine industry as a whole because of the flooding.

This year was without a doubt a season with its challenges because of the smoke, heat and floods.  However, early indications suggest that the 2021 vintage of British Columbia wines will be very flavourful.  Unfortunately for consumers the prices will most likely be higher due to the smaller than normal yields produced.  These are some things to keep in mind when the 2021 B. C. vintages begin hitting the store shelves in a year or two.

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Ontario’s Top 10 Wineries at the 2021 Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC)

Ontario had 79 wineries enter this year’s National Wine Awards competition, second only to B.C.  With such a strong field of competitors, earning a position in the top 10 is truly an accomplishment.

The wines were presented to the judges without displaying the producer, origin or price.  The wines were identified and organized by grape variety or style. The top medalists were tasted in multiple rounds by many different judges.

All ten wineries were from the Niagara region.  There were no winners from Prince Edward County, the North Shore of Lake Erie, Norfolk County, Georgian Bay, Huron Shores or the Toronto Wine Region.

The wineries identified in green periodically have their wines available for sale in local liquor stores. The award winning wines identified in blue are available in Ontario through the LCBO.

1. Malivoire Wine Company, Beamsville, ON (1st overall)

Malivoire Wine Company is the National Wine Awards Winery of the Year as a result of their earning 3 Platinum, 1 Gold, 8 Silver and 5 Bronze medals.  This was the first year that a winery has received 3 Platinum medals.  Malivoire’s wines may be purchased from their website at www.malivoire.com.

Platinum Medal Winners

2020 Le Coeur Gamay – Category: Gamay – $27.95

N/V Bisous Rose – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

2020 Analog Demo Series – Category: Red Blend – $27.95

Gold Medal Winner

2020 Small Lot Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $19.95

Silver Medal Winners

2019 Mottiar Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $39.95

2019 Small Lot Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $29.95

2020 Genova Gamay – Category: Gamay – $27.95

2020 Small Lot Gamay – Category: Gamay – $21.95

2019 Mottiar Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $34.95

2020 Moira Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $49.95

N/V Bisous Brut – Category: Sparkling Wine – $34.95

2020 Moira Rosé – Category: Rosé – $24.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2018 Stouck Farmstead Red – Category: Red Blend – $29.95

2020 Wismer-Foxcroft Gamay – Category: Gamay – $27.95

N/V Che Bello, Ontario – Category: Sparkling Wine – 17.95

2020 Ladybug Rosé – Category: Rosé – $16.95

2020 Vivant Rosé – Category: Rosé – $19.95

2. Trius Winery, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (4th overall)

Trius Winery was awarded 2 Platinum, 1 Gold, 7 Silver and 5 Bronze medals at this year’s event.  Their wines may be purchased from their website at www.triuswines.com.

Platinum Medal Winners

2019 Showcase Late Harvest Vidal – Category: Late Harvest – $29.95

Brut Rose – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

Gold Medal Winner

2019 Showcase Riesling Ghost Creek – Category: Riesling – $29.75

Silver Medal Winners

2020 Distinction Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $19.75

2019 Red The Icon – Category: Red Blend – $24.95

2019 Reserve Syrah – Category: Syrah – $25.75

2019 Showcase Cabernet Franc Red Shale – Cabernet Franc – $54.80

2020 Distinction Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $19.75

N/V Brut – Category: Sparkling White – $29.95

N/V Showcase Brut Nature – Category: Sparkling White – $55.00

Bronze Medal Winners

2019 Showcase Pinot Noir Clark Farm – Category: Pinot Noir – $36.75

2020 Distinction Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $19.75

2019 Distinction Divine White – Category: White Blend – $22.75

2019 Reserve Viognier – Category: Viognier – $23.75

2020 Rosé – Category: Rosé – $18.05

3. Peller Estates, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (5th overall)

Peller Estates received 2 Platinum, 2 Gold, 5 Silver and 3 Bronze medals at this year’s awards.  Their wines are available at retailers across Canada, as well as from their website at www.peller.com.

Platinum Medal Winners

2019 Private Reserve Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $23.75

2019 Signature Series Riesling – Category: Riesling – $29.95

Gold Medal Winners

2018 Andrew Peller Cabernet Franc Icewine – Category: Icewine – $108.90

2019 Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $24.75

Silver Medal Winners

2018 Signature Series Vidal Blanc Icewine – Category: Icewine – $74.85

2019 Private Reserve Gamay Noir – Category: Gamay – $21.75

2019 Signature Series Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $54.80

2018 Signature Series Vidal Blanc Icewine – Category: Icewine – $74.85

2019 Andrew Peller Riesling Icewine – Category: Icewine – $24.99

Bronze Medal Winners

2020 Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $20.75

N/V Ice Cuvée Rose Signature Series – Category: Sparkling Pink – $36.75

2020 Private Reserve Rosé – Category: Rosé – $22.75

4. Thirty Bench Wine Makers, Beamsville, ON (9th overall)

Thirty Bench earned 5 Gold, 6 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available online at www.thirtybench.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2019 Small Lot Gewürztraminer – Category: Gewürztraminer – $29.75

2019 Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2018 Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2018 Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2017 Small Lot Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $75.20

Silver Medal Winners

2017 Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $50.00

2018 Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2019 Small Lot Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $36.75

2019 Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2019 Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2019 Winemaker’s Blend Riesling – Category: Riesling – $22.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2019 Winemaker’s Blend Red – Category: Red Blend – $24.95

2019 Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2018 Effervescent Riesling – Category: Sparkling White – $38.95

5. 13th Street Winery, St. Catharines, ON (15th overall)

13th Street was awarded 1 Platinum, 1 Gold, 5 Silver and 14 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available at retailers in Ontario, as well as from their website at www.13thstreetwinery.com.

Platinum Medal Winner

2015 Premier Cuvee – Category: Sparkling White – $39.95

Gold Medal Winner

2020 Cabernet Franc June’s Vineyard – Category: Cabernet Franc – $24.95

Silver Medal Winners

2013 Grande Cuvee Blanc de Noir – Category: Sparkling White – $59.95

2019 Gamay – Category: Gamay – $19.95

2019 Blanc de Blanc – Category: Sparkling White – $29.95

2020 Riesling June’s Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $19.95

2020 Gamay Whitty Vineyard – Category: Gamay – $24.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2018 Essence Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $49.95

2019 Cabernet Merlot – Category: Red Blend – $19.95

2019 Expression Cabernet Merlot – Category: Red Blend – $17.95

2019 Gamay Sandstone – Category: Gamay – $34.95

2020 Gamay – Category: Gamay – $17.95

N/V Burger Blend Gamay Pinot Noir- Category: Red Blend – $14.95

2019 Chardonnay L. Viscek Vineyard – Category: Chardonnay – $34.95

2019 Reserve Pinot Gris Home Farm – Category: Pinot Gris – $29.95

2020 Chardonnay, Creek Shores – Category: Chardonnay – $24.95

2020 Maximum Intervention Riesling – Category: Orange Wine – $24.95

2020 Pinot Gris Market Vineyard – Category: Pinot Gris – $19.95

N/V Burger Blend Riesling Pinot Grigio – Category: White Blend – $14.95

2019 Gamay Blanc de Noir – Category: Sparkling White – $34.95

N/V Cuvée Rose – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

6. Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, St. Davids, ON (21st overall)

Ravine Vineyard earned 3 Gold, 4 Silver and 6 Bronze medals at this year’s event.  Their wines are available online at www.ravinevineyard.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2020 Botrytis Affected Riesling – Category: Late Harvest – $38.00

2019 Lonna’s Block Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $55.00

2018 Reserve Red Category: Red Blend – $65.00

Silver Medal Winners

2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $65.00

2019 Nancy’s Block Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $55.00

2020 Patricia’s Block Riesling – Category: Riesling – $35.00

2019 Cabernet Franc Icewine – Category: Icewine – $45.00

Bronze Medal Winners

2018 Reserve Merlot – Category: Merlot – $65.00

2019 Meritage – Category: Red Blend – $32.00

2019 Small Batch Riesling – Category: Riesling – $28.00

2019 Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $35.00

2020 Gewürztraminer – Category: Gewürztraminer – $25.00

2020 Rosé – Category: Rosé – $25.00

7. Fielding Estate Winery, Beamsville, ON (22nd overall)

Fielding achieved 3 Gold, 5 Silver and 12 Bronze medals this year.  Their wines are available at retailers across Ontario, as well as from their website at www.fieldingwines.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2018 Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $39.95

2019 Cabernet-Syrah – Category: Red Blend – $29.95

N/V Sparkling Brut – Category: Sparkling White – $37.15

Silver Medal Winners

2019 Estate Bottled Riesling – Category: Riesling – $16.25

Fielding 2020 Chardonnay Unoaked – Category: Chardonnay – $15.95

2020 Estate Bottled Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $18.15

2020 Estate Bottled Gamay – Category: Gamay – $25.95

2020 Rosé – Category: Rosé – $15.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2017 Syrah Lowrey Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $34.95

2019 Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $24.95

2019 Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $39.95

2019 Red Conception – Category: Red Blend – $14.75

2020 Gamay Category: Gamay – $19.95

2018 Riesling – Category: Riesling – $16.95

2018 Rock Pile Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $36.95

2019 White Conception – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Category: White Blend – $25.95

2020 Estate Bottled Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris – $21.95

2020 Pinot Grigio – Category: Pinot Grigio – $16.95

2020 Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $19.95

N/V Sparkling Rosé – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

8. Creekside Estate Winery, Jordan Station, ON

Creekside was awarded 2 Gold, 5 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available from their website www.creeksidewine.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2017 Iconoclast Syrah – Category: Syrah -$25.00

2020 Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $15.95

Silver Medal Winners

2017 Broken Press Syrah Reserve Queenston Road Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $55.00

2018 Iconoclast Semillon Sauvignon – Category: White Blend – $23.00

2018 Laura’s Red – Category: Red Blend – $25.00

2019 Syrah – Category: Syrah – $15.95

2020 Backyard Block Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $22.00

Bronze Medal Winners

2017 Laura’s Red – Category: Red Blend – $25.00

2019 Cabernet Merlot – Category: Red Blend – $15.95

2020 Red Tractor Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris – $19.95

9. Tawse Winery, Vineland, ON

Tawse received 2 Gold, 12 Silver and 7 Bronze medals at this year’s awards.  Their wines are available from their website www.tawsewinery.ca and from retailers across Ontario.

Gold Medal Winners

2019 Riesling Limestone Ridge-North – Category: Riesling – $21.95

2018 Meritage – Category: Red Blend – $67.95

Silver Medal Winners

2016 Merlot Laundry Vineyard – Category: Merlot – $49.95

2019 Growers Blend Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir -$25.95

2019 Pinot Noir Quarry Road Vineyard – Category: Pinot Noir -$35.95

2018 Riesling Carly’s Block Category: Riesling – $31.95

2018 Riesling Limestone Ridge-North – Category: Riesling – $21.95

2019 Pinot Gris Lawrie Vineyard – Category: Pinot Gris – $27.15

2019 Riesling Quarry Road Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $24.95

2020 Skin Fermented Pinot Gris – Category: Orange Wine – $26.95

2019 Spark Rose Quarry Road Vineyard – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

2014 Spark Chardonnay David’s Block – Category: Sparkling White – $39.95

2019 Spark Limestone Ridge Riesling – Category: Sparkling White – $20.95

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine – Category: Icewine – $35.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2016 Meritage – Category: Red Blend – $67.95

2018 Cabernet Franc David’s Block – Category: Cabernet Franc – $49.95

2019 Gamay Noir Cherry Avenue – Category: Gamay – $28.95

2019 Pinot Noir Tintern Road – Category: Pinot Noir – $44.95

2018 Riesling – Category: Riesling – $15.88

2019 Riesling Carly’s Block – Category: Riesling – $32.15

2020 Sketches Rosé – Category: Rosé – $17.95

10. Redstone Winery, Beamsville, ON

Redstone received 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 2 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available from their website at www.redstonewines.ca.

Gold Medal Winners

2019 Brickyard Riesling – Category: Riesling – $13.95

2017 Meritage Redstone Vineyard – Category: Red Blend – $67.95

Silver Medal Winners

2018 Syrah Redstone Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $40.15

2019 The Club Riesling Limestone Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $23.95

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine – Category: Icewine – $36.05

Bronze Medal Winners

2017 The Club Syrah Redfoot Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $39.95

2018 Merlot Redstone Vineyard – Category: Merlot – $39.95

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British Columbia’s Top 10 Wineries at the 2021 Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC)

British Columbia had 148 wineries entered in this year’s National Wine Awards competition; the highest of any province.  With such a strong field of competitors, earning a position in the top 10 is truly an accomplishment.

The wines were all served to the judges without displaying the producer, origin or price.  The wines were identified and organized by grape variety or style. The top medalists were tasted in multiple rounds by many different judges.

The wineries identified in green periodically have their wines available for sale beyond British Columbia. The award winning wines identified in blue are available in Ontario through the LCBO.

1. La Frenz Estate Winery, Penticton, B.C.  (2nd overall)
In addition to being the top B.C. winery, La Frenz was declared the Best Performing Small Winery of the Year.  They previously received the title in 2017.  This year they earned 2 Platinum, 6 Gold and 5 Silver medals.  La Frenz wines are available online from their web site www.lafrenzwinery.com.

Platinum Award Winners

N/V Liqueur Muscat – Category: Fortified Wine -$22.00

2019 Reserve Ensemble – Category: White Blend – $29.00

Gold Award Winners

2019 Reserve Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $32.00

2018 Cabernets Rockyfeller Vineyard – Category: Red Blend – $32.00

2020 Riesling Cl. 21B Freedom 75 Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $22.00

2020 Sauvignon Blanc Wits End Vineyard – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $24.00

2020 Semillon Knorr Vineyard – Category: Semillon – $25.00

N/V Tawny Port – Category: Other Fortified – $22.00

Silver Award Winners

Syrah Rockyfeller Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $32.00

2019 Pinot Noir Desperation Hill Vineyard – Category: Pinot Noir – $30.00

2019 Reserve Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $30.00

2019 Reserve Vivant – Category: White Blend – $29.00

2019 Vintage Port Style – Category: Other Fortified

2. Blasted Church Vineyards, Okanagan Falls, B.C.  (3rd overall)
Blasted Church received 2 Platinum, 6 Gold, 5 Silver and 11 Bronze medals. There wines are available from their website at www.blastedchurch.com.
Platinum Award Winners

2019 Big Bang Theory – Category: Red Blend – $24.00

2019 Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $36.90

Gold Award Winners

2017 Nectar of the Gods – Category: Red Blend – $75.00

2017 Holy Moly Petit Verdot – Category: Petit Verdot – $50.00

2018 Cabernet Merlot – Category: Red Blend – $34.00

2018 Small Blessings Malbec – Category: Malbec – $40.00

2018 Small Blessings Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $50.00

2020 Blaufrankisch Rosé – Category: Rosé – $26.00

Silver Award Winners

2017 Cross to Bear – Category: Cabernet Franc – $50.00

2017 Nothing Sacred – Category: Red Blend – $50.00

2017 Syrah – Category: Syrah – $32.00

2020 Viognier – Category: Viognier – $24.00

2016 OMG – Category: Sparkling Wine – $30.00

Bronze Award Winners

2017 Merlot – Category: Merlot – $22.95

2018 Holy Moly Petit Verdot – Category: Petit Verdot – $22.95

2018 Merlot, Skaha Bench – Category: Merlot – $34.00

2018 Nectar of the Gods – Category: Red Blend – $75.00

2018 Nothing Sacred Category: Red Blend – $50.00

2018 Syrah – Category: Syrah – $32.00

2020 Big Bang Theory – Category: Red Blend – $24.00

2019 Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris – $24.00

2020 Hatfield’s Fuse – Category: White Blend – $20.00

2020 Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris – $24.00

2020 Unorthodox Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $22.00

3. Road 13 Vineyards, Oliver, B.C. (6th overall)

Road13 Vineyards earned 1 Platinum, 3 Gold and 3 Silver medals.  Their wines may be purchased from their website www.road13vineyards.com.

Platinum Award Winner

2019 GSM – Category: Red Blend – $36.99

Gold Award Winners

2019 Syrah Malbec – Category: Red Blend – $36.99

2020 Cabernet Merlot – Category: Red Blend – $23.99

2019 Jackpot Malbec – Category: Malbec – $64.99

Silver Award Winners

2017 Sparkling Chenin Blanc – Category: Sparkling Wine – $39.99

2012 Jackpot Sparkling Chenin Blanc – Category: Sparkling Wine – $86.99

2020 Rosé – Category: Rosé – $23.99

4. Quails’ Gate Estate Winery, West Kelowna, B.C. (7th overall)

Quails’ Gate Estate Winery received 1 Platinum, 3 Gold, 9 Silver and 4 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available from their website at www.quailsgate.com.

Platinum Award Winner

2019 Rosemary’s Block Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $63.35

Gold Award Winners

2019 Richard’s Block Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $64.99

2019 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $45.00

2018 The Boswell Syrah – Category: Syrah – $69.99

Silver Award Winners

2018 The Connemara – Category: Red Blend – $84.99

2019 Queue – Category: Red Blend – $49.95

2019 The Boswell Syrah – Category: Syrah – $69.99

2019 Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $24.95

2020 Clone 220 Chenin Blanc – Category: Chenin Blanc – $39.99

2020 Clone 49 Riesling – Category: Riesling – $34.99

2020 Orchard Block Gewürztraminer – Category: Gewürztraminer – $26.99

2020 Lucy’s Block Rosé – Category: Rosé – $26.99

2019 Riesling Icewine – Category: Icewine – $44.99

Bronze Award Winners

2019 Dijon Clone Pinot Noir – Category” Pinot Noir – $45.00

2019 Old Vines Foch Reserve – Category: Other Red – $50.00

2019 Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $34.95

2019 Dry Riesling – Category: Riesling – $19.95

5. Mission Hill Family Estate, West Kelowna, B.C. (8th overall)

Mission Hill earned 6 Gold and 8 Silver medals at this year’s event.  Their wines may be purchased from their website at www.missionhillwinery.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2017 Legacy Collection Quatrain – Category: Red Blend – $80.00

2017 Legacy Collection Compendium – Category: Red Blend – $80.00

2019 Legacy Collection Perpetua – Category: Chardonnay – $65.00

2019 Terroir Collection Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $60.00

2019 Reserve Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $21.95

2020 Reserve Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris

Silver Medal Winners

2018 Legacy Collection Prospectus – Category: Pinot Noir – $80.00

2019 Reserve Meritage – Category: Red Blend – $29.95

2019 Reserve Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $29.99

2019 Reserve Syrah – Category: Syrah – $26.99

2019 Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Syrah – Category: Syrah – $60.00

2019 Terroir Collection Reed Creek Organic Merlot – Category: Merlot – $60.00

2020 Terroir Collection Bluebird Passage Viognier – Category: Viognier – $35.00

2020 Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon – Category: White Blend – $35.00

6. Nk’Mip Cellars, Osoyoos, B.C. (10th overall)

Nk’Mip Cellars earned 5 Gold, 4 Silver and 8 Bronze medals at this year’s event.  Their wines may be purchased from their website www.nkmipcellars.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2018 Qwam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $34.99

2019 Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $28.99

2019 Mer’r’iym Red Meritage – Category: Red Blend – $63.35

2018 Qwam Qwmt Syrah – Category: Syrah – $34.94

2020 Mer’r’iym White Meritage – Category: White Blend – $31.99

Silver Medal Winners

2019 Merlot – Category: Merlot – $21.99

2019 Qwam Qwmt Merlot – Category: Merlot – $25.00

2019 Qwam Qwmt Syrah – Category: Syrah – $34.95

2020 Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $34.99

Bronze Award Winners

2019 Qwam Qwmt Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $40.35

2020 Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $28.99

2020 Qwam Qwmt Riesling – Category: Riesling – $28.99

2020 Winemakers Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $18.99

2020 Winemakers Dreamcatcher – Category: White Blend – $21.99

2020 Winemakers Pinot Blanc – Category: Pinot Blanc – $17.99

2020 Winemakers Rosé – Category: Rosé – $22.99

2020 Qwam Qwmt Riesling Icewine – Category: Icewine – $74.99

7. Meyer Family Vineyards, Okanagan Falls, B.C. (11th overall)

Meyer Family Vineyards was awarded 1 Platinum, 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 1 Bronze medal.   Their wines are available online at www.mfvwines.com.

Platinum Award Winner

2019 Tribute Series Dr. Bonnie Henry Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $35.00

Gold Medal Winners

2019 Chardonnay McLean Creek Road Vineyard – Category: Chardonnay – $35.00

2019 Micro Cuvee Chardonnay McLean Creek Vineyard – Category: Chardonnay – $65.00

Silver Medal Winners

2019 Micro Cuvee Pinot Noir McLean Creek Vineyard – Category: Pinot Noir – $65.00

2019 Stevens Block Chardonnay Old Main Road – Category: Chardonnay – $36.95

2019 Pinot Noir McLean Creek Rd Vineyard – Category: Pinot Noir – $36.37

Bronze Award Winner

2019 Old Block Pinot Noir McLean Creek Vineyard – Category: Pinot Noir – $50.00

8. Maverick Estate Winery, Oliver, B.C. (12th overall)

Maverick Estate received 1 Platinum, 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 2 Bronze medals.  Their wines may be purchases online at their website www.maverickwine.ca.

Platinum Award Winner

2019 Bush Vine Syrah – Category: Syrah – $34.58

Gold Medal Winners

2020 Amber Pinot Gris – Category: Orange Wine – $34.48

2019 Rubeus – Category: Red Blend: – $28.73

Silver Medal Winners

2020 Cross Road Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $31.03

2020 Carbonic Syrah – Category: Syrah – $40.23

2020 Provenance Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $32.18

Bronze Award Winners

2020 Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $22.98

N/V Ella Brut Rosé – Category: Rosé – $35.00

9. Spearhead Winery, Kelowna, B.C. (13th overall)

Spearhead achieved 4 Gold, 5 Silver and 4 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available online at www.spearheadwinery.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2018 Coyote Vineyard Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $41.50

2019 Riesling – Category: Riesling – $21.99

2019 Saddle Block Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $40.35

2019 Coyote Vineyard Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $41.50

Silver Medal Winners

2018 Saddle Block Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $41.50

2019 Golden Retreat Vineyard Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $40.35

2019 Chardonnay Clone 95 – Category: Chardonnay – $30.00

2019 Saddle Block Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $35.00

2020 Golden Retreat Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris – $23.10

Bronze Award Winners

2018 Cuvée Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $40.00

2018 Golden Retreat Vineyard Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $41.50

2019 Cuvée Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $48.40

2020 Pinot Noir Rosé – Category: Rosé – $26.55

10. Painted Rock Estate Winery, Penticton, B.C. (14th overall)

Painted Rock received 4 Gold and 4 Silver medals this year.  Their wines are available from their website at www.paintedrock.ca.

Gold Medal Winners

2019 Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $44.99

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $44.99

2018 Merlot – Category: Merlot – $39.99

2019 Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $42.99

Silver Medal Winners

2019 Malbec – Category: Malbec – $44.99

2019 Merlot – Category: Merlot – $39.99

2019 Red Icon – Category: Red Blend – $64.99

2020 Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $42.99

Next week I will review the awards achieved by Ontario wineries, the other major player in this year’s competition.

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National Wine Awards

This year was the twentieth anniversary of the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC).  The country’s largest competition of Canadian wines is usually held in June each year but this year the event was moved to October due to COVID-19 and took place in Penticton, British Columbia.  The final results were not released until November 12th.

The judges’ panel consisted of 14 men and 12 women who tasted 2,075 wines from more than 260 wineries.

This year’s Winery of the Year is Niagara’s Malivoire Wine Company.  Malivoire earned 17 medals at this year’s Nationals, including 3 Platinum, 1 Gold, 8 Silver and 5 Bronze.

It is the first time in NWAC history that a single winery has won three Platinum Medals at the Nationals.  Equally incredible is that the medals were won in three different wine categories.

The NWAC top 10 wineries for 2021 are listed below, including their Platinum and Gold winning wines.  The lion’s share of this year’s awards went to British Columbia.

In order to be considered for inclusion on the list, the winery must enter a minimum of five wines. The five top-scoring entries (not including Icewine) from each winery are used to determine the order.

  • Malivoire Wine Company, whose awards included 3 Platinum, 1 Gold, 8 Silver and 5 Bronze.  The winning Platinum and Gold wines included:2020 Le Coeur Gamay (Platinum Award)
    • No Vintage (N/V) Bisous Rose (Platinum Award)
    • 2020 Analog Demo Series (Platinum Award)
    • 2020 Small Lot Chardonnay (Gold Award)
  • B.C.’s La Frenz Estate Winery was awarded Best Performing Small Winery of the Year. They earned 2 Platinum, 6 Gold and 5 Silver awards. The Platinum and Gold  award winning wines included:
    • N/V Liqueur Muscat (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Reserve Ensemble (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Reserve Chardonnay (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Cabernets Rockyfeller Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Riesling Cl. 21B Freedom 75 Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Sauvignon Blanc Wits End Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Semillon Knorr Vineyard, Okanagan Valley (Gold Award)
    • N/V Tawny Port, Okanagan Valley (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Blasted Church Vineyards was awarded 2 Platinum, 6 Gold, 5 Silver and 11 Bronze medals.  The Platinum and Gold award winning wines included:
    • 2019 Big Bang Theory (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Cabernet Franc (Platinum Award)
    • 2017 Holy Moly Petit Verdot (Gold Award)
    • 2017 Nectar of the Gods (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Cabernet Merlot (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Small Blessings Malbec (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Small Blessings Cabernet Sauvignon (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Blaufrankisch Rosé (Gold Award)

  • Ontario’s Trius Winery received 2 Platinum, 1 Gold, 7 Silver and 5 Bronze awards.  The Platinum and Gold award winning wines included:
    • 2019 Showcase Late Harvest Vidal (Platinum Award)
    • Brut Rose (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Showcase Riesling Ghost Creek (Gold Award)

  • Peller Estates Niagara-on-the-Lake were awarded 2 Platinum, 1 Gold, 2 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.  The Platinum and Gold winners are:
    • 2019 Private Reserve Cabernet Franc (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Signature Series Riesling (Platinum Award)
    • 2018 Andrew Peller Cabernet Franc Icewine (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Road 13 earned 1 Platinum, 3 Gold and 3 Silver medals.  The Platinum and Gold award winners are:
    • 2019 GSM (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Syrah Malbec (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Cabernet Merlot (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Jackpot Malbec (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Quails’ Gate Estate Winery received 1 Platinum, 3 Gold, 8 Silver and 4 Bronze medals.  Their Platinum and Gold wines are:
    • 2019 Rosemary’s Block Chardonnay (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Richard’s Block Pinot Noir (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay (Gold Award)
    • 2018 The Boswell Syrah (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Mission Hill Family Estate earned 6 Gold and 8 Silver medals.  The Gold winners are:
    • 2017 Legacy Collection Quatrain (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Legacy Collection Perpetua (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Terroir Collection Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc (Gold Award)
    • 2017 Legacy Collection Compendium (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Reserve Pinot Gris (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Reserve Chardonnay (Gold Award)

  • Ontario’s Thirty Bench Wine Makers who were awarded 5 Gold, 6 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.  The Gold medal winners are:
    • 2019 Small Lot Gewurztraminer (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2017 Small Lot Cabernet Franc (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Nk’Mip Cellars won 1 Platinum, 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 1 Bronze medal.  The Platinum and Gold winners are:
    • 2018 Qwam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Mer’r’iym Red Meritage (Gold Award)

During the upcoming weeks I will review the top 10 B.C. winners and top 10 Ontario winners in more detail.

Sláinte mhaith

Wine with Comfort Food

With the warmer weather becoming a distant memory and the dark cold days of winter coming, thoughts turn to hunkering down in front of the fire and indulging in comfort foods. When pairing your wine to your meal there are 5 factors about the wine to consider: tannins, the body or ‘weight’, acidity, intensity and sweetness.

Tannins

Tannins are the components in red wine that make your mouth feel dry and give a wine its texture.  When served with food tannins will soften proteins and provide a good balance to fatty foods.  Therefore such wines go well with rich meats and cheeses.

Body

Body is the perception of weight in a wine.  A light body wine will feel lighter in your mouth than a wine that is full-bodied. When pairing with foods, it is best to pair full-bodied wine with heavier foods.

Acidity

Acidity in wine generally ranges from being soft and light, like a pear, to crisp and bright like a lemon.  Acidity will cut through rich and fatty foods.  Wines with crisp acidity pair well with rich meats and cheeses, creamy sauces and oily foods.

Intensity

Intensity is the speed in which the wine’s aromas and flavours react to your sense of smell and taste.  Wines with more intense flavour and aroma (bouquet) will be best with subtly flavoured foods like creamy pasta, risotto or mild cheeses.

Sweetness

Sweetness relates to the taste of the wine rather than the actual amount of sugar content.  When pairing a wine with food the wine should taste as sweet as, or sweeter than the food.  Sweet wines also pair well with spicy foods.

Based on this information it can be a simple process to pair wine with your favourite comfort foods.  For example here are some suggested wines to pair with my own comfort foods:

  • Homemade Mac & Cheese
    Light unoaked Chardonnay goes well but if you like to add lobster or crab then a white Burgundy or Chenin Blanc may be more to your liking
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
    A red wine such as Sangiovese, Chianti, Barbera, a fruity acidic Merlot or a Zinfandel
  • Homemade Pizza
    Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Merlot
  • Grilled Cheese
    Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio), Gewürztraminer or Riesling
  • Meat Lasagna
    Primitivo, Sangiovese, Barbera or Valpolicella
  • Chicken Noodle soup
    Pinot Blanc, unoaked Chardonnay or light-bodied, low-tannin reds such as Beaujolais, Gamay, Baco Noir or Pinot Noir
  • Beef stew
    Red Bordeaux, Malbec, Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chicken and dumplings
    Oaked Chardonnay
  • Chili
    Malbec or Zinfandel
  • Shepherd’s pie
    Syrah (Shiraz) or Zinfandel
  • Chicken pot pie
    Chardonnay or Merlot

Comfort food and a nice glass of wine; what better way to brace yourself for the cold weather ahead!

Sláinte mhaith