Back to basics

Spring has FINALLY sprung here in Ottawa, and besides making me ecstatic to see the end of winter, it’s making me take a step back and reflect. Both mornings this weekend, I sat in my backyard with my coffee, basking in the sunshine, taking the time to just be. I forget to do that sometimes. I forget to take time for myself. I get so caught up in work, in my various extracurricular activities, in the never-ending house renos, general housekeeping tasks, maintaining some semblance of a social life, and of course, keeping up with this blog.

So about that. Over the past couple of weeks, this wine blogging thing has taken up a lot of my headspace. Every time I taste a different wine, I put everything on hold to jot down a tasting note. My food goes untouched to keep my palate neutral, the conversation gets interrupted so I can concentrate, all for a silly tasting note that most of the time just sits in a notebook or on my phone. It makes me really annoying at dinner parties. Or when we go out for dinner and I have to tell my husband to stop talking for a minute while I taste this wine. Essentially, I’ve become a wine tasting monster.

I went to two trade tastings recently (you can read about them here, here, and here) and in exchange for being on the guestlist, I needed to review some of the wines I tasted. No big deal, right? That’s generally what I do, regardless of whether I’ve been to a tasting. But the pressure of it all seems to be building up and weighing me down lately. I’m always in a rush to get all my ideas down and get a post out before I lose all my ideas, much in the same way I attempt to identify all the flavour components before a wine’s clean finish evaporates from my palate. I put a lot of pressure on myself to not only write reviews, but to make them sound nice. And in so doing, I get the impression I am coming across a bit like a wine snob. Disclaimer: ok, I am totally a wine snob. But that was never the aim of this blog.

I am realizing that I am slowly veering away from the original intention of Wining with Mel, which was simply to write about wines that I enjoyed drinking, the context of the moment that made the wine so enjoyable, maybe touch on some interesting geographical/winemaking/vinification factoids, and share my love of wines with friends and family in a way that even non-wine-lovers could relate to. And if I’ve picked up some other followers in the process, well that’s just a bonus.

Writing this blog was supposed to be FUN. And in the past couple of weeks, I have noticed that I am treating it as an obligation. And that defeats the purpose. So that stops right now.

As of right now, I’m bringing it back to the basics. I am going back to writing this blog for the sheer #pleasure of it. Because I love drinking wines, whether they are old faithfuls or new discoveries. And I want to share the winners with you. That’s it. It’s so simple.


So maybe I won’t post every week, and maybe not every post will be perfect. But that’s not the point. The point of Wining with Mel is a) to write for the fun of it, because it’s such a great outlet for me, and b) to keep thinking critically about wines, even though my wine courses finished almost a year ago now. Maybe I won’t blog about every wine I drink. But I also need to give myself permission to not taste every wine, and to just enjoy some.

So in that same vein, here are some lovely wines I’ve both tasted AND enjoyed lately.

  1. Domaine Houchart Côtes de Provence Red (2013)

houchartI picked this great bottle up a few months ago from Vintages, and now wish I had bought more. This Côtes de Provence was sourced from grapes grown near Aix-en-Provence, the town in the south of France where my dad was born. I think I am genetically hard-wired to love this wine. This incredibly versatile red goes well from anything from beef stew to salty asian-inspired dishes. It is easy to drink on its own as well. Medium-bodied, good acidity, cherry, blackberry, black currant, plum and a hint of cedar and licorice. Smooth and soft. If your local LCBO has a bottle or two left, could you pick one up for me? It is going for $16.95. This bottle is also available across the river at the SAQ for $17.25.

2. The Foreign Affair The Conspiracyconspiracy

Remember ripassos? Here’s the Ontario version. Using the apassimiento technique perfected in the Veneto region of Italy, this Niagara blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot presents black cherry, delicious plum, black pepper, the telltale green apple mentos flavour of cab franc, and blackberry. Now is the time to try it: it’s $2 off at the LCBO until April 24 ($17.95). Pairs perfectly with Italian fare (pizzas/pastas) or red meats off the grill.

Happy wining!


This post is being submitted to the Drunken Cyclist’s Monthly Wine Writing

Its logo’s resemblance to my own, which will be revealed soon, is purely coincidental, I assure you.

Thank you to the organizers for reminding me what Wining with Mel is all about.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider voting for it here! And be sure to read the other contenders while you’re there. There are a lot of inspiring posts on the theme of wine and pleasure, some taking it to a whole new level! Happy reading!

8 thoughts on “Back to basics

  1. Good one, as usual, Mel but glad for your new resolution.
    A particular thanks for referencing the SAQ possibility for the Provence choice of the day!

    bisous galore


    • Sharon, you’re in for a treat! Thursday I’m going to a tasting of organic wines at the SAQ, so I hope to come back with at least a few suggestions that you’ll be able to find in La Belle Province. It just might not be right away. No pressure, right?


  2. I think you’ve done a great job with the blog, i.e. you’ve been updating fairly consistently with good articles. It’s not about the number of articles, really, but just about regular updates. I used to post three times a week, now I’m posting twice a week because… I feel like it? I’d rather write (and read) good articles then see daily meaningless updates, like “eh guys, still here, just no time to post!”

    Anyway, it shouldn’t be burden. Just write about whatever you like, whenever you want. I think you found your voice 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: #MWWC24 Time to vote! | the drunken cyclist

  4. Pingback: La terminologie du vin – 1ère partie | Wining with Mel

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