Living life, one glass at a time

Category: Wine and food pairing

Have you tried this affordable bubbly red wine? The lowdown on Lambrusco.

Hello my wine-loving friends!

I know it must be a shock to see Wining with Mel re-appearing out of the blue like this after such a long absence. Five months, to be exact. Rest assured that despite the lack of posts, you have not left my thoughts. I have been battling a heavy dose of guilt for not writing. Did you think of me a little while I was gone?

It goes without saying that coming back to the “real world” after a year off – first traipsing around Europe, then sailing around the Caribbean – has been a bit of an adjustment. I have gone from a completely unstructured life on a boat to being back in an office 5 days a week. I have gone from wearing flips flops or going barefoot to donning high heels. Continue reading

Intro to Bordeaux: an afternoon with Dourthe

On a beautiful, spring sunny day, I headed to the Andaz Hotel in Ottawa’s Byward Market for an exciting afternoon of wine tasting with Dourthe, a long-standing Bordeaux winery which prides itself on excellence and quality achieved by respecting the land. Established in 1840, the winery owns nine gorgeous châteaux in the Bordeaux region, each representing a distinct sense of place, i.e. terroir.

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Resurfacing…with big news

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Friends!

I know, I know. It has been a while. My excuses are valid, I assure you, but I don’t want to bore you with them. Let’s just say that I have been struck with a case of shifting priorities, and unfortunately this blog was one of the things that got shuffled to the bottom of the list, along with many other things that are dear to me. But it was all for a good cause! Read on, and you will see: this is a post of big news…

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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

Pig Roast Pairings

Fellow wine lovers!

It has been a busy few weeks! Is it just me, or do busy work weeks lead to increased wine consumption? No? Just me? Oh well, at least it means I have a whole slew of wine insights for you.

Last weekend we headed down to southern Ontario to attend the husband’s cousin’s annual pig roast, in the thriving metropolis of Embro, ON. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and when David told me to pack my jean skirt and cowboy hat, I got nervous. I began to expect the worst.

Besides the pig on a spit, it was a potluck. I used to love potlucks. In my student days, if there was free food, I was all over it. But now that my own cooking skills have improved and I am less desperate for food that I don’t have to cook or pay for, I am less interested in dishes of varying degrees of quality.

Even more importantly, if you don’t know what you’re going to be eating, how the heck do you pick out a wine to go with your meal??

As usual, this will have as much to do with your personal tastes as your budget. The first question is, red, white or maybe rosé? Since I knew the staple of the meal was going to be pork, I decided to eliminate red from the options. So that’s good, that only leaves 46% of LCBO wines to choose from!

If you’ve ever been to the LCBO with me, you’ll know that it’s not something I take lightly. Very rarely do I spend any less than 15 minutes in this fine establishment. I’m like a kid in a candy store, and I like to see what’s new, and what’s on sale, and what will go with my meal, and what will I feel like next Wednesday, and what would go with a sunny Saturday afternoon in the backyard, and are there any occasions coming up I need to buy wine for…etc. Needless to say, I could spend hours in there. Have I also mentioned that my decision-making skills are crap? This means that I tend to walk away from LCBO excursions with no less than 2 bottles each time. Which is great because the two-bottle paper bags they give you are fantastic as compost bin liners. You’re welcome.

So when we got to the LCBO Saturday evening, my husband, who knows me and my exasperating LCBO tendencies well, gave me a 5-minute time limit. My desicion-making abilities put to the test, I had to think quickly: something that pairs well with pork, that will go with most other foods that could potentially end up on the hillbilly potluck table and something that won’t take me half an hour to pick out.

That last bit made me park myself in front of a rosé promo section at the end of an aisle. There I found a bunch of rosés all in one place and I didn’t have to roam up and down all the country-based aisles in search of one I liked. Excellent time management, I thought! Especially since rosés account for less than 5% of the table wines in the LCBO general list. And as we already know, I love drinking rosés in the summer, since they go well with food and are easy to drink on their own as well.

I didn’t want anything too sweet, so that meant I was looking for a dry or even extra dry wine. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the LCBO’s sweetness codes found on the bin tags, here they are:

Source: LCBO

Source: LCBO

This sweetness criteria seemed to eliminate many of the rosés in the display. With time running out (I still had to get through the cash), I quickly selected a Spanish rosé made of one of my favourite grapes: garnacha. This dry wine was nice and light, yet had enough fruity flavour to stand up to most foods. For $12 a bottle, it was the perfect wine for a pig roast where most of the revelers were drinking Coors Light. Plus it was an excellent exercise in quick decision-making and self-restraint. I managed to limit my LCBO visit to less than five minutes AND left with only one bottle in my possession!

Gran Feudo rosé, perfect for any BYOC (bring your own chair and cooler) gathering.

Gran Feudo rosé, perfect for any BYOC (bring your own chair/cup/cooler) gathering.

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The pig-roasting contraption. I was very sorry to have missed the spit in action. Note my father-in-law in the background, caught red-handed at the dessert table.

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The food table

The dessert table, with beer backdrop.

The dessert table, with beer backdrop.

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