Please bear with us as we do a little maintenance work. Wining with Mel should be back up and running soon!
In the meantime, you can see all the content here!
Please bear with us as we do a little maintenance work. Wining with Mel should be back up and running soon!
In the meantime, you can see all the content here!
And we have a winner!
Drum roll, please……
The winner is @mcdona1958!!
That’s all the information I have for our lucky contestant, so if it’s you and you want the tickets, please get in touch in the next 24 hours using the contact form on the About page so I can get you your tickets.
Thanks to all participants and welcome to our new subscribers!
Thanks for voting everyone! I am thrilled to announce that my post Somm Reflections won the #mwwc32 on the theme of translation, thereby earning me huge bragging rights and the honour of choosing next month’s theme. Leave any suggestions in the comments!
Thanks again for voting. You’re the best!
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.
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:
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:
I then started keeping just a regular lined notepad on the table, but my husband wasn’t a huge fan of that.
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.
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.
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!
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?
Warning – In the following blog post, my two favourite subjects meet: wine and translation. Oh, and it’s in French. I encourage you to brush up on your French and give it a read, scroll through the pictures, and see how much you pick up on. And for those of you whose French is non-existent, I’ll put a short summary at the end. Bonne lecture!
Aujourd’hui, on essaie quelque chose de différent : comme vous pouvez le constater, j’écris ce billet de blogue en français. Certains d’entre vous le savez déjà, mais je suis traductrice. On me demande souvent pourquoi je n’écris pas en français, et c’est franchement parce que j’arrive à mettre mes idées à l’écran plus rapidement en anglais. Mais ce n’est pas une excuse, donc voici mon premier billet en français!
J’ai fait une découverte intéressante lors d’une visite récente à la LCBO. Je quittais le magasin quand j’ai vu que le dernier numéro du magazine À bon verre, bonne table était sorti. Pour ceux qui ne le connaissent pas, il s’agit d’une revue de la LCBO publiée 6 fois par année qui met en vedette des vins, des menus, des recettes, des idées-cadeaux et beaucoup plus, le tout lié à la saison en question.
La version anglaise (Food & Drink) et la version française étaient l’une à côté de l’autre. Normalement, je prends la version anglaise, mais quand je les ai vues ensemble, j’ai remarqué que la version française était considérablement plus mince que Food & Drink. Traductrice que je suis, j’ai saisi une copie de chaque, sachant que j’avais là un nouveau sujet d’intérêt pour le blogue!
En rentrant chez moi, j’ai fait une comparaison page par page. La première chose que j’ai remarqué : beaucoup moins de publicités dans la version française. Dès la première page, on voit la vedette : le vin! Et dans la version anglaise? Plusieurs pages de pub, pour President’s Choice et pour le centre commercial Yorkdale à Toronto. Voilà une autre tendance : la publication anglaise est très axée sur la réalité torontoise – on voit des publicités pour des magasins qui s’y trouve, et même certains articles sur des produits faits à Toronto, par exemple à la page 23, une poudre de cacao du chocolatier torontois Soma. Mais c’est normal – selon cette trousse des médias, presque la moitié des lecteurs de ce magazine habitent à Toronto.
Bien évidemment, il y a des parties qui se ressemblent d’une version à l’autre. En fait, presque tous les articles, les revues, et les recettes sont pareils. Par contre, il y a un seul article dans À bon verre, bonne table qui ne figure pas dans Food & Drink. Fait intéressant : l’auteure de cette critique littéraire est traductrice!
Le seul article qui est propre à la version française (à droite)
Autre divergence : on propose dans À bon verre des disques francophones.
Sinon, tout est le même. Même certaines publicités se répètent d’une version à l’autre, surtout celles de la LCBO ainsi que celles des entreprises qui font affaire avec des marchés francophones. Plus précisément, dans ce numéro français, on retrouve des publicités de Ciot, Colgate, Zonin Prosecco, les fromages Castello, Tre Stelle et Boursin, Revlon, Campo Viejo, Segura Viudas, la tequila Sauza et bien sûr, le Centre canadien de lutte contre les toxicomanies (!). Si je compte bien, il y a ONZE publicités dans la version française, contre beaucoup plus en anglais.
Alors pourquoi cette grande divergence en ce qui concerne le nombre de publicités? Est-ce que les annonceurs préfèrent faire des économies et placer une annonce en anglais seulement? Ou est-ce parce qu’ils ne veulent pas faire traduire leurs annonces?
Pour essayer de répondre à ces questions, j’ai encore consulté la trousse des médias à ce sujet. Voici ce que j’ai appris.
Version anglaise : 513 023 exemplaires
Version française : 23 013 exemplaires (distribués principalement dans la région d’Ottawa)
Donc, la distribution française représente environ 4,3 % de la distribution totale anglais/français. Cela dit, ce n’est pas loin de la proportion de francophones au sein de la population ontarienne (4,8 % selon les chiffres de l’Office des affaires francophones).
Et pour acheter une annonce dans Food & Drink, il faut prévoir environ 22 000 $. Pour placer une annonce dans À bon verre, ajoutez encore 10 % au coût.
De toute évidence, les annonceurs préfèrent promouvoir leur produit dans Food & Drink. Pour vous donner une idée de la quantité de publicités dans la version anglaise, comparons le nombre de pages. La publication anglaise fait, en total, 256 pages. La version française? 176. Ce qui veut donc dire qu’en anglais, on a environ 80 pages de pub de plus qu’en français. Étonnant, non?
Du point de vue du lecteur, si on est bilingue, le choix entre la version anglaise et la version française, c’est très simple. Si on ne veut pas de publicités inutiles (surtout si on n’habite pas à Toronto), prenez donc À bon verre, bonne table. C’est beaucoup plus écologique, et à part quelques petites différences, vous aurez les mêmes belles photos, les mêmes excellentes recettes, les mêmes suggestions de vins, la même haute qualité d’impression, les mêmes articles principaux, et en plus, une qualité de traduction impeccable!
When it comes to the LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine, learn French and save trees.
Hello fellow wine-lovers!
It’s been a while! The three of you who read this blog must be wondering what to drink this week. This week’s post will be focusing on white wines, so if white is your wine of choice, read on! If red is your preferred quaff, read on anyway and try something new this week! I have two excellent wines to recommend, for any budget!
A medium-bodied blend that is fairly complex considering it is an under-$10 bottle of wine. It’s rich and bright, all at the same time. At first, apricot and pineapple, which evolves into a refreshing and zippy citrus on the finish (due to a stainless steel fermentation). I always thought it was mainly a chardonnay-based blend, however it’s made of malvoisie, muscat and viognier, all lesser-known grape varieties. I had to look up the first one, since I was unsure what it was. According to wine expert Jancis Robinson:
A wide range of often unrelated varieties are called Malvoisie although most are light-berried and make full-bodied, aromatic white wines. Perhaps it is most commonly encountered, in the Loire, Savoie and Switzerland, as a synonym for Pinot Gris. The Languedoc’s Bourboulenc and Maccabéo, Roussillon’s Tourbat and Corsica’s Vermentino have all been called Malvoisie in their time, however.
Well that’s a bit confusing, though the “full-bodied, aromatic” bit explains why I always thought it was chardonnay.
The best part of this wine is the price. Recently discontinued at the LCBO, it is now available, while quantities last, for only $7.95. I know you’re probably already halfway out the door, but if you are in the National Capital Region, I must warn you that you’re probably out of luck. I already went on a wild goose chase trying to scoop up the last bottles, and only managed to snag three. Those of you in the GTA will have better luck. That said, Ottawans, don’t despair. You’ll be happy to hear that the Big House is available at the SAQ, though the price is double the discontinued LCBO price. Plus, if the 750 mL format is not enough for you, there is a 3L box available. Perhaps something to keep in mind for your next Christmas dinner…
2. Auntsfield Sauvignon Blanc 2014 ($20.95)
When my husband doesn’t know what to get me for my birthday, he buys me wine. He knows that the way into a wine snob’s heart is through her palate. This bottle was part of my lovely birthday present this year. New Zealand sauvignon blancs are very popular in our household. I’ve already mentioned our love of Kim Crawford (both the unoaked chardonnay and pinot noir), and the sauvignon blanc was probably the wine that started my snobbery in the first place. Both the Kim Crawford and the Auntsfield are from the Marlborough region in New Zealand.
Let’s take a minute to talk about “terroir”. These are the geographical, environmental and climatic elements that allow the same grape grown in two different places to make two completely distinct wines. We’re talking about soil types, hours of sun in a day, amount of precipitation, type of terrain, etc. Marlborough sauvignon blancs tend to be very distinct in relation to their counterparts from other countries. And this Auntsfield serves as an excellent benchmark.
Auntsfield Tasting Note
Nose: Very grassy and fresh, with tropical fruit aromas like passion fruit. Essence of pear, and some minerality. Also, the smell is irresistible. I just wanted to keep smelling it.
Flavour: Similar to the nose, so again, very grassy, with tropical fruit, this time, more pineapple than passion fruit. Lemon. Asparagus flavours or canned peas, pear with a hint of white flower.
Body: Light-bodied. So acidic it almost feels effervescent at first sip.
Finish: Fairly long citrus finish considering the acidity, which would normally eliminate the flavours on the palate fairly quickly.
Food pairing: White fish, seafood, buttery/creamy pasta.
This is all very typical of a Marlbourough sauv blanc. These wines are often identifiable just by their aroma, which is very addictive for me. If the asparagus or grassy flavours sound unappealing, rest assured that the tropical fruit and citrus flavours balance them out nicely. Just trust me on this one and try it. You’ll be hooked at first smell.
[On a side note, the above is an example of my tasting note, in case you are interested. Tasting notes vary from person to person, but these are the main elements to take note of when tasting a wine. The food pairing is a bonus.]
Lastly, as a parting gift for those of you who, like us, have a ton of leftover Halloween candy today, here is a helpful chart from Vivino:
Happy belated Thanksgiving friends!
Yes, I know that was a week ago, and the drastic change in weather has been quite a jolt to the system and makes it feel like it was a lifetime ago. A week ago, it was sunny and warm, with no jackets required. Today it was so cold I needed to pull out a toque (for those outside of Canada, that is a winter hat, as seen here) and boots. Not. A. Fan.
Let’s go back to last week then, shall we?
Not only was the weather beautiful, but it was the national holiday where taking the day off work is mandatory to stuff yourself full of turkey, stuffing, yams and, of course, wine.
This year, we hosted my in-laws for Thanksgiving for the first time. I have to admit, I didn’t relish the idea. I don’t have much experience cooking for large groups of people. Growing up, it was just me and my mom (and I don’t think I did much cooking at the time) and now it’s just me and the husband. Usually I’m just cooking for two, and sometimes I will double a recipe just to have enough leftovers for lunch (there’s only so many times you can eat a sandwich in a week before it gets tiresome). But for Thanksgiving, I would be cooking for EIGHT. I was intimidated, to be sure.
If there was one thing I was confident about, it was the wine. I stocked up the day before with a bunch of wines I thought would go well with the meal.
This is one of my go-to white wines. Plus it’s made right here in Ontario. At $12 a bottle, you really can’t go wrong. Plus it’s one of those varietals that is a bit more obscure (especially in Ontario), and therefore more intriguing. This pinot blanc is medium bodied and nicely acidic, with lots of fruit on the nose and the palate like pear, peach and lemon. It’s easy to drink on its own, and went quite nicely with Thanksgiving dinner. Side note for you Air Miles collectors: you can get 5 bonus Air Miles until November 7 when you buy this wine at the LCBO.
This is one of my favourite bubblies, maybe because I am cheap and hello – it’s only $13.95! Also, it’s super easy to drink. I love drinking this before a meal, maybe with some canapés. One of our favourite food pairings with this is melon and prosciutto – a typically Italian appetizer. We opened this bottle right before we sat down to dinner, to get the digestive juices going. I ended up just drinking it right through the meal (bubbly doesn’t keep, might as well finish the bottle!) and was pleasantly surprised to discover that it went well with almost everything. I had a quasi-orgasmic food pairing moment when drinking this after a bite of red onion from my greek salad (I know, an unorthodox Thanksgiving item, but I was sticking with dishes I knew I couldn’t mess up). Keep this in mind people: red onion + prosecco = love. Who knew!?
I hadn’t tried this red blend from South Africa before, but I found it in the Vintages section and had heard good things, so I added it to my cart. We opened it with dinner the night before and quite enjoyed it, and finished it with Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone loved it! And I love the description from the LCBO website: “A longstanding Vintages customer favourite, this dramatically unconventional wine blends Sangiovese from Darling, Barbera and Nebbiolo from Paarl, and Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch. As a casual quaffer with summer foods, it can’t be bleat – ahem, beat.”
In the end, the Thanksgiving meal went off without a hitch, and no one got sick, so in my mind, it was a success. I even had extra bottles of wine leftover, which sadly didn’t make it to the Thanksgiving table:
I should take a moment to give a special shout-out to my mother-in-law, who made my life much easier by making a delicious brined turkey at her place and bringing it for dinner, so all I had to do was re-heat it. Thanksgiving is a breeze when you don’t have to worry about making a turkey!! Though I was sort of looking forward to trying out this recipe:
What wines did you serve with your Thanksgiving meal? Did you have the traditional turkey or did you do something different?
Hope it was a great meal with great wine! Happy wining!
The great thing about taking a long weekend, is that when you wake up on Saturday morning, you’ve already had two good nights out, yet you still have the whole weekend ahead of you! It’s a wonderful feeling, so Mere and I decided to take advantage of all this time we had…by doing absolutely nothing all morning.
We didn’t really have big plans for the day, but since it was one of those glorious fall days that still feel like summer, we decided to head to the zoo. The zoo is another free Smithsonian Museum, so on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, it was packed. It seemed like every family in DC was there. With all the crowds of small children, Mere and I didn’t last very long. I did manage to see my favourites (the lions and tigers), then we grabbed popsicles at Pleasant Pops in Adam’s Morgan before deciding to head back to Mere’s and figure out a plan for dinner.
Mere wanted to go to a nice restaurant called Red Hen. They were all booked but they said that we could try walking in as soon as they opened. So we were there at 6 and promptly seated. Success! The food was delicious. We started out with the charred octopus as an appetizer, which was perfectly seasoned. After realizing we’d never actually ended up eating pasta the night before, we both ordered pasta as our mains. Mere had squid ink pasta and I had sausage rigatoni. We were so enthralled with our meals we didn’t even take a picture. To go with our meal, we had a bottle of Nebbiolo: another food-friendly light red from Northern Italy with light berry notes and a hint of earthiness.
The problem with eating at a geriatric meal time is that when you’re done, it feels super late but it’s only 7:30 and you don’t know what to do with yourself. We hit up a bar for a cocktail to try and overcome the food coma, but it wasn’t happening. We ended up going home and polishing off a bottle of Côtes du Rhône while watching Netflix. The perfect nightcap!
The Washingtonians know how to keep the party going Sunday morning, with bottomless mimosas being served at almost every brunch place. This is a practice I whole-heartedly support. With the vitamins from the juice and the bubbles from the sparkling wine, it truly is the perfect way to start the last day of your vacation.
When we arrived at Shaw’s Tavern, we noticed that probably about 80% of the tables were working on bottomless mimosas. I figured, when in Rome…
I had no idea it was organic! I haven’t tasted many organic wines, but those I have tried were sort of bland and uninteresting. With organic farming, producers don’t use many of the growing and winemaking techniques that are normally used to make wine taste great, because they are not considered organic practices. Just like any organic crop, no chemical fertilizers or pesticides are used in the vineyards. The main culprit or source of confusion here is sulfites (or sulphur dioxide), which act as a preservative when added to wine. Although they can be naturally occurring, sulfites cannot be added to wines that wish to be designated organic. Without them, wines tend to be flat and unstable, potentially oxidizing more quickly. Some people even think that sulfites lead to headaches, but there is no proven link between the two. All this to say that this particular medium-bodied organic Tempranillo was lovely to drink on its own, and would likely have gone well with most foods, but I’m thinking it would be great with pizza or cured serrano ham (a typical Spanish pairing).
So there you have it! Washington DC is a happening place with so much going on it needed a three-part post. Have you been to DC? What was your favourite part? Did you go to a happy hour or partake in bottomless mimosas? And who do we talk to about getting some more of that here in Ottawa?
Next time on Wining with Mel: Thanksgiving Wining
This is part 2 of a 3-part series on Wining in DC. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.
Happy Hour is a bit of a ritual in DC. It doesn’t really matter what day of the week it is, but if it is between 5 and 7 p.m., you can be sure that you will be able to find a bar or a restaurant with Happy Hour specials within a one-block radius. Happy Hour is a great way for a business to attract customers, and an excellent way for customers to try out an establishment’s menu and ambiance, and potentially stay for dinner.
We started out at a wine bar called Vinoteca. It made me realize that there are very few wine bars in Ottawa, and this made me sad, but it also made me want to really take advantage of the fact that it was Friday afternoon, it was warm out, and I had a list of decent wines in front of me, all of which were only $5 a glass!
I wanted something refreshing ,so I started out with the bubbly: the Paul Louis Blanc de Blancs.
Here’s a bit of background: Champagne is a blend of three different types of grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The first is a white grape, while the latter two are red. To ensure that no red colour infiltrates champagne, the grapes are pressed and the skins (which provide the colour in a wine) are immediately removed. In a Blanc de blancs, only the white grape of the blend is used. So traditionally, a Blanc des blancs is a sparkling chardonnay made in the champagne style.
The Blanc des blancs I drank in DC was a bit different in two ways.
Theory aside, it was delicious! Perfectly refreshing and light, it was exactly what I was craving after a long day of walking.
After our first glass, we ordered a cheese plate so I asked the bartender for a recommendation. Cheese and wine pairings can be tricky. It is sometimes difficult to find a good match for both the texture and consistency of the cheese, in addition to the flavour, especially when you’re going to be partaking in several different cheeses. Plus you never want the wine to overpower the cheese, or vice versa, which is easy to do. There are some pretty strong cheeses out there. Someone once told me that beer is actually a better pairing than wine for cheeses, and the bartender at Vinoteca originally recommended a cider to go with the cheese. But let’s be honest, I didn’t come to a wine bar to drink cider.
I decided to go with the lightest red they had: the Kaltern K Rosso, a red blend from the Alto Adige region of northern Italy. Italian wines, particularly those from the North, tend to be food friendly. Which makes sense, when you think that the Italians have been making wine for so many centuries (if not millenia). Of course they are masters in wine and food pairing! This particular wine was no exception. It went well with the cheeses, and was nice on its own as well once the cheese was gone (which happened very quickly, by the way).
Happy Hour was over and I had a hankering for Italian food (perhaps the influence of Wine #2). We went to a restaurant nearby called Dino’s. Mere and I sat at the bar, both ordered a glass of Montepulciano and shared the charcuterie plate, as we chatted with other patrons and the bartenders.
This is where things start to get a bit hazy. The bartenders were friendly. We switched wines at this point, to an Italian wine I’d never even heard of before: the Piano del Cerro Aglianico del Vulture. It comes from the Italian Basilicata region, which can be thought of geographically as the “instep” of the Italian boot. The wines of southern Italy tend to be richer and fuller-bodied. The Aglianico grape has a thick skin and therefore has a lot of tannin. Throw in some fruity and woody aromas and you’ve got yourself a pretty tasty wine. I can attest that it was veeeeeeeeeery drinkable. I had the foresight to take a picture, but not enough to take any tasting notes.
Luckily, the wine is available at the SAQ, so I may grab a bottle next time I’m across the bridge and take notes this time!
Stay tuned for Part 3 of Wining in DC, where we have a delicious dinner at a geriatric hour and bottomless mimosas for breakfast.
Washington, DC is such a great place. I think it gets a bad rep as a lifeless and drab political capital, but it really is a town with lots going on. At least in comparison to our own nation’s capital here in Canada. I visited DC last in 2006, and I was surprised by how much it has changed since then. I can now attest that DC has a happening food and wine scene, with something to please everyone.
I was originally going to just do one post about this great town, but I realized I had too much to say, so this has now evolved into 3 different posts. Welcome to Wining with Mel’s first multi-post series!!
I arrived late Thursday night and took a SuperShuttle into town from Dulles airport. It was probably around 11 by the time I got to my friend Mere’s place near Columbia Heights, but luckily she had already opened a bottle of wine in anticipation of my arrival (she knows me so well). To celebrate our reunion, we drank an Oregon Pinot Noir and stayed up until 1:30 in the morning catching up. It was great!
Friday morning we lazed around, basking in the not-having-to-work-on-a-weekday glow. We drank coffee and chatted until we came up with a decent plan for the day. By the time we got out the door it was lunchtime! So we headed to this great sandwich place called SUNdeVICH. Just looking at their menu makes me drool a little. They offer delicious sandwiches inspired by cuisines from all over the world, all on freshly baked baguette. Mere and I shared the Paris (fried egg, ham and swiss with tomato and greens) and the Seoul (bulgogi beef and kimchi). YUM.
Concerned about food comas, we decided we’d better grab a coffee and keep moving. We wandered around town, eventually ending up at the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery. The great thing about Washington DC is all the FREE Smithsonian museums. There are about a dozen around the city, each with special and permanent exhibits. Which means that even if you’ve been before, there’ll probably be something new next time you go. Plus, since there is no admission fee, you can just stop in for a bit and not feel guilty if you leave after only a half hour. The Portrait Gallery is in a gorgeous building, and I feel like I almost spent more time admiring the architecture than the portraits themselves. The American Art Museum is in the same building, and there are some pretty gorgeous and/or thought-provoking pieces in there.
By this point, I was getting thirsty, and it just so happened that it was happy hour! Stay tuned for Part 2 of Wining in DC, when the fun really begins.