Top wine gifts for the holidays and beyond

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Well, it’s that time of year again. The holidays are upon us, and as usual, I am behind on my Christmas shopping. Today, the cashier at the grocery store asked me if I was getting excited for Christmas, and I was surprised that my response was a scowly face. Let me explain: I do like Christmas. I love spending time with family, eating delicious food and splurging a little on fancy wines. I love the uplifting smell of a pine tree in our living room. I love walking through our neighbourhood at night and seeing all the pretty lights shimmer against a fresh dusting of snow. I love hearing Christmas songs everywhere I go, especially now that it’s December (any stores that played Christmas music in November got blacklisted). What I do NOT love is the consumerism associated with Christmas. Continue reading

A trip to the ER – or why I don’t drink beer

A few weeks ago, I was at my local LCBO looking for a few bottles to bring to a friend’s house for dinner. She was going to be serving Middle Eastern fare, so I grabbed a bottle of dry riesling from Alsace, which I thought would go nicely with potentially spicy foods. To switch things up, I decided to grab a couple of IPAs, in case anyone wasn’t feeling the wine (scandalous!) and preferred beer.

I went for a bottle of the Fat Tug (which I reviewed here), one of the few beers from my Beer course earlier this year that I actually enjoyed. I grabbed it, and as I put it in the basket, I felt a sharp pain in my thumb.I didn’t think anything of it until about 20 seconds later, when I realized I was bleeding. I went back to inspect the bottle and noticed a small shard of glass, which looked like it had been fused to the bottle during the recycling process, on the neck. I set it aside and advised the cashier, who was nice enough to get me a band-aid, probably so I would stop bleeding all over the store. Continue reading

End-of-vacation w(h)ining

Friends,

Let us take a moment of silence to mark the end of a glorious two weeks of vacation. It was a brief staycation, cut short by my employer’s requirement that I actually return to work. Total buzzkill. This time off will be sorely missed. But it’s time to get back to saving the world, one translation at a time [translator’s note: this may be a gross exaggeration].

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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 created a wine tasting monster. Continue reading

The Wine Shower: the wine lover’s alternative to a wedding shower

I have another confession to make: I really do not enjoy showers. Be it the wedding or baby variety, there is nothing I would like to do less than sit around for an afternoon surrounded by squealing women playing ridiculous games like Guess the Mess in the Diaper or The Toilet Paper Bride. And God help you if it is a dry event. I don’t care if the guest of honour is pregnant, the rest of us should still be able to indulge so the poor girl can drink vicariously through us.

All this to say, when I was in the horrible throes of planning my own wedding, I made it clear that there were to be NO SHOWERS. However, knowing my penchant for wine, one sneaky friend managed to convince me by suggesting a novel concept: the wine shower.

How It Works

Each guest is invited to bring two bottles of wine:

  • one for immediate consumption at the shower
  • one for the couple to cellar as a souvenir of their year of marriage

You can see why I was so easily convinced. It’s a FANTASTIC idea for any wine-loving couple. First of all, you get to taste lots of different wines at the actual event, then you get to keep as many bottles as guests for your collection!

As a nice touch, my friend brought a lovely little “guestbook” where each guest wrote the name of the wine they brought and drank, and the one that they left for us.

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Our friends are the best

It has now been three years since our wine shower, and we still have a few bottles left. Last weekend we decided to open one, and we were not disappointed!

Domaine St-Pierre Vacqueyras 2009

Vacqueyras is an appellation in the Côtes du Rhône region. Located in the south of France, it is just north of the city of Avignon (famous for being the papal seat starting in the 14th century) and west of Orange. It is a region where you can still feel the influence of the ancient Romans, and it has lots of beautiful (and in some cases still used) ruins to show for it. It is an amazing area, with some of my favourite wines.

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The amphitheatre in Orange dates back to the 1st century and is still used as an outdoor music venue in the summer

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A brilliant Rhône Valley map c/o WineFolly (http://winefolly.com/review/cotes-du-rhone-wine-with-maps/)

This Vacqueyras was a blend of grenache (one of my favourite grapes) and syrah. The colour was a deep, rich ruby red that was practically opaque. On the nose, a fruit explosion. We pulled out the large Riedel glasses for this one, and the fruit aromas just filled the bowl. It was heavenly: dark fruit, plum, cherry, fig, sweet spices, cassis and mint/cedar/eucalyptus. When I finally got over sniffing my wine and tasted it, the flavour was just a continuation of all the lovely aromas, with the addition of more dried fruit like raisin and prune (a result of aging), plus some leather, sweet spice and smoke, due to the 6-12 months this wine spent aging in oak barrels. It was still a medium-full bodied  wine, with medium acidity, and after 7 years in the bottle, the tannins had softened right out. This wine was incredibly drinkable and I’m glad we didn’t leave it in the cellar any longer! If you still have a bottle of this lingering in your cellar, now is the time to drink it.

 

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The first thing I did after drinking a glass of this wine was email Erica to thank her!

So the wine shower…great idea, right? Who’s with me?

Happy wining, friends!