Living life, one glass at a time

Category: Reds (Page 1 of 2)

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

One last time before I go

Friends!

It has been quite a whirlwind since my last post, which seems like a lifetime ago. The last four weeks have included my last day of work, packing up the entire house, last-minute arrangements for the logistics of life and home ownership in our absence, trying to fit everything I need into a carry-on bag (yes, we are going to do 2 months in Europe with only carry-on), many teary goodbyes with loved ones, and not surprisingly, lots of wine. Continue reading

Rainy-day Oregon pinot noirs

Oh spring. You are such a tease. Last week, it was 26 degrees Celsius (let me translate that for my American readers: 79 degrees Fahrenheit), which is amazingly warm for April in Ottawa. I even biked to work for the first time this season, and it was glorious! But this morning when I woke up, it was cloudy and cold, and when I let the dog out, I kid you not it was freezing rain. Really, spring? Really?? Come ON!

Rainy Day

For the purpose of this post, let’s just pretend it’s still beautiful and sunny, like spring is not holding out on us. 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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Serendipitous Saturday Pairings: tilapia and chardonnay

As you know, I am in total denial that winter is here, so lately I have insisted on drinking summer-y wines, generally from the Southern Hemisphere. The sun sets at 4:30 these days, so you have to find ways to trick your body into not falling into a depression. Obviously, wine is the answer. Delicious food helps too. Put the two together and you can occasionally succeed in your anti-depressive measures.

This happened in a completely serendipitous way on Saturday night. Continue reading

Ripasso love

Fellow wine lovers,

Today I am very excited to be sharing one of my favourite wines styles with you. I often forget about it, but today’s bottle has served as a delicious reminder.

Ripasso wines are made in the Veneto region, which is the area in northeastern Italy between Verona and Venice.

The first step in making ripasso wines is making a valpolicella.  This table wine is made from three Italian grapes: corvina, rondinella and molinara.

The second step involves another wine called amarone. Amarone is made with the same grapes, however these grapes have been dried in a process called apassimento, whereby they are dried in the heat of the end of the summer, traditionally on straw mats.

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“Drying racks” by Tommasi

This process dries out the water and concentrates the amount of sugar in the grapes, which then yields a higher alcohol content during fermentation. Amarone is the wine created using these dried grapes, and is the crème de la crème of Italian wines. However, these bottles go for $30 and up, so are not always the most affordable choice. Ripassos (meaning re-passed), however, are a happy medium between the everyday valpolicella wines and the exhorbitantly priced amarones.

Ripasso is made by running valpolicella wines through the rich leftover amarone skins. This process adds body, texture and rich flavours to the valpolicella and makes for a consistently beautiful wine.

 

Breakdown of valpolicella wines c/o Wine Folly

Last Saturday night I made my special lasagna. It is special because I’ve adapted the recipe over time to meet my husband’s non-dairy needs. Instead of ricotta, I make my own tofu ricotta and I replace regular mozzarella with President’s Choice goat mozzarella. It’s pretty darned good, if I do say so myself. Because it was Saturday night and we didn’t have any other plans, I decided to choose a nice wine to accompany the meal. A standard rule of thumb for wine and food pairing is to go by geography, so for the lasagna, I decided to open the only bottle of Italian wine I had in the house: you guessed it, a ripasso.

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Farina “La Pezze” Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore DOC 2013

This medium ruby red was full of cherry, blackberry, raisin (from the amarone skins), cedar and menthol.  On the palate, the first thing I noticed was a juicy, mouthwatering acidity that makes you want to drink more!  This wine is medium bodied and surprisingly light in tannins. It’s got really nice fruit flavours like fresh respberry, blueberry, blackberry and cherry,  and is also heavy on the dried fruit (raisin and fig) as well as some nice refreshing mint. It finishes off with a  lovely medium-long cherry finish.

In conclusion, drink ripasso. This particular one, although much lighter than the benchmark ripasso, went extremely well with my lasagna. Sometimes goat cheese does funny things with red wines, particularly tannic ones, but this Farina ripasso’s medium body and fruit-forward character, not to mention high acidity, made it a perfect match. Don’t forget, wines with high acidity are great food wines, so this guy is a great food-friendly candidate that would make a great contribution to dinner parties. Plus now you have lots of fun ripasso facts to share with the other guests! And did I mention the price? In the valpolicella diagram above you will notice that the price range for ripasso starts at $20, so this one is a steal at $15.90!

BONUS: Again, I am ahead of the curve. This ripasso is now on sale at the LCBO until February 3 for $11.90!! That is a $4 savings! I tried to pick up a few bottles at my local store tonight but they said a guy had come in and bought their last 100 bottles earlier (!!). I guess that means I need to scour the city tomorrow for a case! The race is on folks. Get ’em while they’re hot! (I hope all the exclamation marks properly express the urgency of the situation).

 

Happy weekend and happy wining!

Testing the LCBO’s Customer Favourites – Part 2

Hello fellow wine lovers!

As you will recall, a few weeks ago I blogged about an LCBO article listing its 2015 Customer Favourites. I ran out and bought 3 of the 4 most-bought wines to see what all the fuss was about. In the blog post I reviewed the Beronia Tempranillo, and last weekend I brought the 2 remaining customer favourites to dinner at my sister-in-law’s place. All in all, I think Ontario and I have different tastes, but I can see the appeal of both the wines I tried.

Let’s break it down!

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Testing the LCBO’s Customer Favourites – Part 1

Happy New Year fellow wine lovers!

I hope 2016 is treating you well thus far. Have you tasted any good wines lately? I’m always looking for new wines to try, so please share in the comments!

Speaking of new wines, as I was doing some Facebook stalking perusing the other day, I came across an ad for the LCBO’s Customer Favourites of 2015.

Faves captureIntrigued, I clicked on it, hoping that Ontario’s tastes would be in line with my own. According to the LCBO, here are the supposed fan favourites:

I was shocked to see that I had never had any of the chosen wines. Not a single one! Was I missing out? Did the rest of Ontario know something I didn’t?? Obviously, I had to find out. Luckily, my local LCBO had 3 out of 4. I am still on the look-out for the shiraz, which is dwindling rapidly here in Ottawa.

Last night, I opened the Beronia Rioja, and here are my notes:

Beronia

Colour: Deep ruby red

Aromas: Yummy: Black cherry, tobacco, chocolate, strawberry

Palate: Fairly fruit forward: tart cherry, strawberry at the outset, evolving into vanilla, liquorice (Google disapproves of my Canadian spelling, btw) and cedar.

Structure: Medium-bodied, medium tannins and high mouthwatering acidity – the perfect structure for food!

We paired this rioja with a hearty beef stew, and it was a hit! When a red wine has light–medium tannins and high acidity, it often pairs well with most foods, and this wine was no exception.

Conclusion: I think Ontario bought this in such large numbers precisely because it is such a food-friendly wine. On its own, the wine is so-so, but it goes really nicely with a wintery beef roast or stew. Also, is it just me or is there an aura of mystery surrounding Spanish wines? I feel like they tend to be lesser known wines that are often surprising in terms of their price-quality ratio. That said, I’m not sure I would buy this one again. But don’t take my word for it; that is simply a reflection of my personal preferences. Remember: wine tasting is an incredibly subjective venture, so I would encourage you to try this wine for yourself to see if you like it. Plus, it is $2 off until January 31, so at $13.95, now is the time!

Post-conclusion thoughts: I was asking myself why the category for this wine was “Most Surprising Twist”. The description in the article explains “This unusually barrel-fermented Tempranillo from Spain began as an experiment and turned into a commercial hit”. Is that it then? Was the surprising twist that it ended up selling so well? I think they need to hire better category creators.

Stay tuned. I’m sure I’ll be reviewing more so-called customer faves soon!

 

P.S. I also bought a bottle of the Beronia Rioja Reserva, which I think is this winemaker’s standard rioja (not the experimental version). I’ll let you know how it is!

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