Living life, one glass at a time

Category: Whining

Once upon a time…

Ottawa river with sailboat

Once upon a time there was a valiant lady who won a great challenge. Her reward was to select the theme for the subsequent challenge, one that would allow the competitors an opportunity to momentarily set down the burden of their duties, have a cup of nectar and pick up a quill to pen their tales. Continue reading

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

Under the Weather Wining

Going to the dentist. Taking a flight. Going on a first date. Having no kleenex/soup in the house.

All things that SUCK when you are sick.

That’s right. Yours truly has come down with a cold. And considering the subject of this blog, I must add to the above list: drinking wine.

Just like going out for a nice meal when you are sick, drinking a nice bottle of wine when you have a cold is such a waste. It just takes all the enjoyment out of it. And yet, some research shows that moderate consumption (8-14 glasses per week) of wine, particularly red wine, may help prevent the common cold.

Now when I first read these articles’ claims, I pshawed*. First of all, that seems pretty high for a “moderate” weekly consumption. And second of all, I drank wine all week and look what good it did me! However, after a bit of thought, I realized that 8-14 glasses is likely exactly where my weekly consumption is at so I clearly need to stop being so judgmental. And secondly, I had a glass (or two) of red wine every night this week until last night, which is when the sinus explosion hit me. Maybe this research is onto something and I should be increasing my red wine intake.

So my friends, learn from my errant ways and go ahead and drink that second glass of immune-boosting red wine tonight. Otherwise soon you may be the one sitting at home in sweatpants with a blanket and a box of kleenex at 8 o’clock on a Saturday night.

* Although Google Chrome disagrees, “pshaw” is actually a word, thank you very much. The fact that the Oxford Dictionary considers it dated makes me think I maybe read too much Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie as a child.

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Luckily, I drank a couple of nice bottles before getting sick (over the course of the last week, not one right after the other in the name of prevention), so I at least have something to report this week. They may or may not have played a pivotal role in me making it through the work week before this cold hit.

  1. Gérard Bertrand La Clape 2011

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This wine was the perfect way to start a weekend. This Coteaux de Languedoc from the south of France boasts a lovely blend of syrah (aka shiraz), carignan and mourvèdre (one of my favourite varietals, FYI, and a key component of Côtes du Rhône wines). Medium ruby red in colour, there is definitely a hint of garnet, which is sometimes a sign of age (how was 2011 already 4 years ago??). On the nose, it’s quite fragrant, showing dark fruit, floral notes and spices.

The structure of this wine is really nice and quite balanced: medium bodied, medium tannins, medium acidity. On the palate, same dark fruit, with cedar, black pepper and those spices again (Kim Marcus describes them as “savory herb flavors”).

We paired this with some leftover Moroccan beef stew and the pairing was surprisingly fantastic. I wasn’t sure how the Moroccan spices would work with the wine, but they actually brought out its fruit flavours, which was delicious.

There aren’t too many bottles of this left in Ontario (we’re pretty much out in Ottawa – I bought this bottle a couple of months ago). So check stocks at the LCBO nearest you, and maybe grab me a bottle (Mom?). This wine is also available at the SAQ for those of you in Quebec.

  1. Viña Bujanda Rioja Reserva 2010

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A delicious pairing at Das Lokal

Earlier this week, the ladies in my yoga class and I decided to reward ourselves with a nice glass of a wine. A restaurant in the area called Das Lokal offers half-priced bottles of wine on Tuesday, so we decided to check it out! We were not disappointed with this decision. We ordered the abovementioned Spanish rioja and could not have been more pleased.

It was pretty dark in the restaurant, but the wine’s colour seemed dark ruby  to me, and smelled of dark fruit (by this I mean plum, blackberry, blueberry, black currant, etc.), cedar, tobacco and sweet spice. This is the type of wine aroma that makes me swoon a little. This particular rioja spent 20 months in oak so that really brings out the last three aromas.

On the palate, this rioja was very dry, but with juicy tannins. There was dark fruit here too, specifically blackberry and red currant, and it had a loooooong finish.

Though we had it with the typical German sausage dish pictured above, I found it went really nicely with the balsamic/oil the restaurant served with their sourdough bread.

Keep well, friends. Keep taking your vitamins and a healthy dose of red!

 

 

 

 

Cheers!

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“Cheers!”

In my mind, this expression should be reserved solely for toasting. When used in different contexts, it has always bothered me for some reason.

Obviously, in the UK, it is commonly used as a way of saying “Thanks”, or even “Goodbye”. But in North America, there are very few situations where “Cheers” seems natural. Unless you are British and/or you have just served me a drink and are using it synonymously with “Enjoy”, it just seems contrived and pretentious somehow.

I am clearly not alone in this sentiment. One blogger on the interwebs went on a bit of a tirade on the matter in 2007. I didn’t even make it through all the comments – half the commenters whole-heartedly agreed, while the other half accused him of being too pedantic or xenophobic.

From what I gather, this expression started gaining popularity on this side of the Atlantic in the early 2000s. All of a sudden, everyone was saying “Cheers” the British way. In bars, servers would say Cheers as a way of saying “Here you go – enjoy!” In those days I attributed this sudden appearance of the expression to the fact that I just hadn’t been frequenting bars much before that point, but now I see that its use outside of drinking establishments was also quickly spreading across the continent. Instead of saying “thanks” or even in some cases “you’re welcome,” people were using the dreaded term. Why don’t you just call me a wanker before hopping into a lorry!? What’s even worse is that these days, you see more and more people signing emails with “Cheers” as a valediction (i.e. closing or farewell) – even in business emails, which I find particularly inappropriate. Even this British blogger agrees: “Americans could use it in English pubs, but should avoid the other situations as it sounds wrong with an American accent. Sorry!”

Not surprisingly, this practice is rampant in the wine business. There are so many wine bloggers who conclude their posts with the telltale sign-off that even in that context (i.e. its original context) it feels like it’s beginning to lose meaning. I’m finding it all very problematic, since I’m often tempted to use it in this blog, but again, it seems pretentious and now so unoriginal.

All this to say, I will say “Cheers” when raising a glass with friends, but I think the English language already has plenty of excellent expressions for giving thanks, wishing enjoyment, or saying goodbye without having to resort to slang from across the pond.

But enough whining, on to wining!

This week’s discovery was the Tessellae Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre (or “GSM” in the wine world). Prominently featured in the most recent Food & Drink magazine (page 33, if you have a copy at home), this $17 bottle is being advertised as an excellent value wine. And I have to agree! GSMs are one of my favourites. While this popular blend generally hails from the Côtes du Rhône region in the southeast of France, this particular bottle is from the Côtes de Roussillon appellation, which is further west.

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Side note: I took the liberty of highlighting the town where I was born!

GSMs tend to be medium bodied with fruity characteristics (i.e. dark cherry, raspberry) and a bit of spice from the syrah (aka shiraz) grape. The most famous (and expensive) example of this type of wine is probably Chateauneuf-du-Pape. The GSM blend is an excellent, often food-friendly wine that most people will enjoy. As a result, it’s one of my go-to’s as a hostess gift when going to dinner parties where I don’t know what will be served.

The Tessellae definitely fits the bill. It is indeed medium bodied, though the aromas are less in-your-face than your typical GSM. This wine is more delicate, with the aromas needing a bit of coaxing out of the bottle. As a result, open this bottle ahead of time so it has a chance to breathe. You still get the lovely fruity characteristics, such as cherry, raspberry and blueberry, but also some licorice and something slightly floral.

In terms of food pairing, this is not a heavy wine, so not something to serve with a juicy steak. It would be a good match for burgers or pizza. Remember, you never want your food to overpower your wine, or vice versa.

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Photo credit: The Husband

And on that note, instead of signing off with the dreaded word, I will simply say happy wining!

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