Quebec City Wining

We were in beautiful Quebec City over the Family Day long weekend. And it was cooooooold. Not just the regular need-to-wear-a-toque-today cold, but the pull-out-the-long-underwear-and-balaclava kind of cold. It was the second year in a row with these same frigid temperatures over the long weekend. I remember, not only because my Facebook feed was filled with Memories from a year ago side-by-side with similar cold-related posts, but also because we had been on our same annual ski weekend, so the cold was particularly memorable. Now, I should mention that I am not in any way a skier. I tried it a couple of times when I was younger, but since I hate the cold, it turns out it wasn’t really my thing. So for the past three years, we have gone on an annual ski trip over the long weekend, which generally involves me hanging out by the fire with the cottage to myself while everyone else freezes their nuts off on the ski hill all day. I love it!

For this year’s ski trip, my husband and I, along with another couple had rented a really cute AirBnb in a quaint hillside town halfway between Quebec City and Mont Ste-Anne. We left Friday night right after work in, of course, a blizzard. Typical start to the long weekend. Needless to say, it took us much longer than expected to get there, and only arrived after midnight. We had a quick drink (a glass or two of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, in case you were wondering) then went to bed.

My husband was sick with a cold, so he passed on skiing on Saturday. Our friends took off first thing in the morning to take advantage of the fresh powder, while my husband and I had a much-needed sleep in. Our big adventure for the day was getting bundled up for the -30 °C temperatures with the wind chill and walking the 500 metres to the grocery store and back. I put together a beef stew in the crockpot and opened up a bottle of The Show. Yes, that’s right, the failed rib pairing (see link for wine description). You will be happy to hear that this rich Californian red was fabulous both in and with the beef stew. The rest of the evening was spent opening more bottles (including a bottle of my go-to cava, Segura Viudas) and playing various games, including Code Name and our family favourite, Cards Against Humanity.

The next morning involved another sleep-in.  Once we eventually got moving, we headed to the Chutes Montmorency, a beautiful half-frozen waterfall a ten-minute drive from where we were staying. It was just as cold that day, so you’ll have to excuse me if I didn’t risk getting frostbitten fingers to take pictures, if only to keep my typing skills (and by extension, this blog) intact. Here’s a stock photo instead:

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Source: quebecvacances.com

Luckily, my husband has heartier fingers than I do (or what is known as “man hands” in our household) and was able to doff his gloves momentarily to snap this lovely selfie.

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As some of you may recall, the Sunday of the long weekend was Valentine’s Day. And since we had just celebrated our “real” 8-year anniversary (real because it commemorates when we became a couple, not our wedding, and is therefore really where it all began), a nice dinner out was in order. Quebec City has an excellent selection of nice restaurants, so after getting a few recommendations from a friend, we finally settled on Chez Boulay.

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Cocktail hour with friends

We started off with some cocktails. They had some very interesting concoctions, and I of course chose something with a local sparkling wine in it, seeing as the restaurant’s mandate is to offer traditional nordic fare using regional ingredients.

We ordered some appetizers to start: some bison tartare as well as the salmon tartare. We all chose our mains and my sommelier skills were going to be put to the test when choosing a bottle of wine to go with all four meals. We were ordering the following:

  • Confit goose and duck parmentier with scalloped parsnips, sautéed green cabbage, herb pesto with Labrador tea, cooking jus
  • North Atlantic scallops with cranberry powder, navy bean and leek ragout, cooking ju
  • Cod fillet, gaspesian broth infused with Kombu and smoked cod, potato purée with seaweed from Gaspésie, green onion emulsion
  • Pan seared milk-fed veal medallion from Quebec, liver meatloaf, fried jerusalem artichokes, brussel sprouts, gnocchi with black walnuts and mustard cream sauce

Are you drooling yet?

So what did I have to work with? Two dishes that traditionally paired with white (fish/shellfish) and two that generally went with red (red meat). Also, my fellow diners were in the mood for a white, so that was tipping the scales as well. Plus I wasn’t super familiar with many of the wines on their list, so I happily enlisted the help of our server, who suggested a versatile Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley from Henry Pellé.

I even discovered a new appellation I’d never heard of before: Menetou-Salon. It’s the one right next to Sancerre, home of perhaps the most famous French sauvignon blancs.

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Menetou-Salon, located right-dab in the middle of France

This bottle was so lovely that I didn’t care that I was drinking a white wine with my red meat (goose and duck – YUM). It was light-medium bodied with a lot of apple flavours. I also got a bit of pear and definitely a lot of citrus. You could also see the terroir coming through in the wine’s subtle minerality. It also had plenty of acidity, so it was great with all of our dishes. Everyone was happy (though I was maybe the only one who really cared about what we were drinking ;-)). I was even happier when I discovered that this wine is available across the river at the SAQ! But it looks like stocks are limited, and at the $24+ price point, I’m not sure that I will be trekking across the bridge solely for that bottle. However, with the 15% bulk discount offered at SAQ Depots, my arm could be twisted.

What bottle did you open for Valentine’s Day? Or simply to beat the cold? Whatever the bottle, and whatever the occasion, I hope it was a lovely one.

 

Happy wining!

 

 

 

 

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The best ways to take wine tasting notes

Do you have “a thing”? You know, that quirky activity that no one else in your social circle seems to do, so they always associate it with you? Maybe it’s yoga, or knitting, or perhaps something a little more trendy like axe-throwing or adult colouring books. They’re the sort of things that are incredibly helpful to your friends and family when they need to buy you gifts. For example, I have a friend who went through a gin phase. She became the ‘gin girl’ among her circles, and as a result received so many different bottles as gifts for various holidays and birthdays that she now has more gin than she will ever drink.

Obviously, my “thing” is wine tasting. But instead of receiving more wine than I could ever drink (a. is that possible? and b. I am open to this idea), I now have more wine journals than I know what to do with.

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3 samples of the wine journals in question

Each wine journal is different. For instance, some leave a space for the labels, others don’t. Some encourage some sort of personal rating system, and some allow you to write down how and where you acquired the bottle. That said, every single wine journal will provide a space to record the following information about the wine:

  • Name and vintage (year of production)
  • Appearance
  • Aroma
  • Taste
  • Price

And that, in essence, is what makes up your basic tasting note.

If I learned anything in my wine courses, it is that there is no right or wrong way of taking a tasting note. Every single teacher I had in my classes had a different way of doing it. Over the years, I have tried different things, but I have yet to come up with a set system for note-taking. Originally, I used one of my many wine journals:

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Wine journal sample (also, week 6 of shellac nail polish – time to take it off)

 

I then started keeping just a regular lined notepad on the table, but my husband wasn’t a huge fan of that.

 

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When not at home, I am that anti-social girl at the table on her phone. But I’m not on Facebook, I’m obviously taking tasting notes. Admittedly, it’s not very civilized, but it gets the job done. Plus then I have a record of it whether I am at home or not.

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My notes for Open Smooth White, taken using the InkPad app. The app can apparently be used to meet new people as well…

There also lots of wine-related apps for mobile devices designed specifically to help you keep a record of wines you taste. I have used Vivino, but there is also Hello Vino, Drync, Delectable, and lots more that I hope to review in the near future.

 

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One of my summary reviews in the Vivino app.

 

Finally, if I want to share a wine with the world, my notes will end up on this blog, for your enjoyment!

So next time you taste a wine you really like, by all means, grab your cell phone and take a picture of it. But it might also be worthwhile to take some notes, in whatever format you prefer. Whichever you choose, the point is to write something down that will give you an idea of:

a) What the wine looked, smelled and tasted like.

b) Whether you liked it.

c) If you’re really feeling adventurous, what foods it might pair well with.

 

How do you remember note-worthy wines? Do you use one of the methods above, or do you have another system entirely? Please share with the group!

 

Happy wining!

 

P.S. Alert for Ontario residents:

If you are a chardonnay fan, the two below have been discontinued at the LCBO, so stock up on these affordable bottles while you can still. Disclaimer: I have not tasted either of these wines. Is that ironic, considering this is a post on tasting notes?