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The other day a girlfriend and I got on the topic of wine. Mind you, she’s not much of a drinker unless I put a caesar in front of her but on occasion I like to go on a wine tangent. I asked her if she had any particular questions about it and she replied, “How do you know what’s a good wine?”. This may seem like a silly question but surprisingly I get asked quite often. Since working in a wine store I can point out two of the most common questions I’m asked: One, "how do you know what’s a good wine?" and two, "what’s your favorite wine?" These are two questions that I don’t have a direct answer to but allow me to explain why.
In regards to question one, there is no simple way to tell (without trying) what’s a good wine. Although, I do wish I could tell you it’s as simple as choosing the bottle with your favorite label, that’s usually not the case. The key to choosing a good wine is taking advantage of tastings and the tasting bars in your local wine store. Everyone’s pallets are different so it’s important that you get to know yours and there’s no better way than to let it explore the diverse flavors that wine have to offer. This way you know what flavours (eg: oak, earth, fruit) you enjoy and which ones you don’t!
To answer the second question, I don’t have a favorite wine or even a favorite grape. This may just be personal preference but I am what I call a “mood drinker”. I choose what I want to drink based on what I crave or how I’m feeling in the moment. For example, if I’m craving chocolate I like Cupcake Petit Sirah or The Elegant Ocker Cabernet/Shiraz to satisfy my craving. On hot days I usually opt for the Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Blasted Church Big Bang Theory Red Blend or Sumac Ridge Gewurztraminer to make me feel refreshed. On colder days I like a heavy shiraz like Punch In the Face or an oaky, rich cab like the Rock n Vine because they make me feel cozy. This is not to say that I would never drink a riesling on a cold day, it just really depends on how I feel!
Again, this is all personal preference and everyone is different so this is why I urge people to use the tasting bar whenever they get the chance. BottleJockey has wine tastings everyday (you can choose between 8 and try up to 3) and beer tastings on Sunday if wine isn’t your thing!
Have fun and let your palates explore!
Cupcake Petit Sirah (California) $19.99
Elegant Ocker Shiraz/Cab (Australia) $19.99
Kung Fu Girl Riesling (Washington) $29.99
Blasted Church Big Bang Theory (BC) $26.99
Sumac Ridge Gewurtztraminer (BC) $16.99
Punch in the Face Shiraz (Australia) $24.99
Rock n Vine Cabernet Sauvignon (California) $24.99
Alright, let’s talk Scotch.
First thing you’ll need to know is I am and have always been a lover of whisky. My weakness in particular is Scotch. Though I believe the disease to be genetic, passed to me by my father, there are other theories to how this sickness can be contracted. I once heard a man say, “You do what you want to me, as long as the apology includes a bottle of single malt.” Though not sure I completely agree, I thought it was a good demonstration of the cult like appreciation of Scotch whisky.
I remember my first dram fondly, as it was the moment I first found the new love of my life.
Ever since then I have devoted myself to a lifelong quest to truly understand and appreciate the world of scotch. So here we go… but first-
There is a stereotypical image in your mind you must shatter, the image of the typical scotch drinker. Imagine for me, if you will, the typical scotch drinker. Are they… Old? Snobbish? Sitting in a red velvet chair whilst a cozy fire crackles in the hearth? Bollocks I say! Scotch is hip, it’s happening and even, dare I say it… cool.
If you’re new to Scotch, start at the bottom. There’s no point in spending a hundred plus dollars on a bottle of Scotch if your palate is untrained to it. A decent bottle of blended scotch is a good place to start. I recommend Johnnie Walker Red Label. From there move up to the Black Label or simple single malts such Glenlivet 12yr or Glenfiddich 12yr. Glenfiddich 12yr is my staple scotch just because it’s the best bang for your buck that I have found.
That being said, scotch is about experimentation. Trying new scotches broadens your knowledge and soon you will be able to pick out the characteristics and styles you like most from the heavy peated malts to the light and floral and everything in between. Like fine wine, there is a seemingly endless variety.
Feel like spoiling yourself a bit? The Balvenie Double Wood 12yr is a sure bet. Matured in both bourbon and sherry casks, it has subtle fruitiness and vanilla notes.
Never be afraid to try something new.
My grandpa always told me if you just do one thing then do it really well. As I grew up I thought only I had this special pep talk but it turns out we all got this talk. No one seemed to take it more to heart then the good folks at Steam Whistle Brewing. Lets make one beer but make it the best beer in the world, and that's what they did. Steam Whistle Premium Pilsner is a proud Canadian craft beer that has been taking the nation by storm. Cut to true story! I gave it to my uncle (a hater of anything in a green bottle) and is now on team, I won't print the swearing words he said when he saw the bottle and thought it would taste like tar mud beer for fancy city people or then the new swearing to describe the great taste! If Uncle Wynn likes it then it will win over any one. Just to add to the coolness of this brand they have a fleet of amazing rides include the Retro Electro http://www.steamwhistle.ca/retroelectro/
A vintage hot rod driven by 100% green energy, you may have seen it around here in Vancouver, designed by Steam Whistle Mike, a legendary dude around town.
So to wrap it a up a crisp clean european craft done here in Canada by people who care for people who like to have fun and drink refreshing beer.
Some old friends came by my patio this past weekend, Granville Island Brewing's Brockton IPA & Kitsilano Maple Cream. Its was good to reconnect, I told them not to take it too personal that I've been spending time with their co worker False Creek Raspberry Ale but its only around for the spring / summer (that's another post, I just keep drinking it before I can write about it). I remember when Vern & the GIB gang launched Brockton a few years ago, I was hooked and attended 4 IPA launch parties with Mr. Roberts, in 1 week. As stated in other posts I'm pro hop but if your new to world of IPA this is a great start crisp, clean and a good hop finish! Aside from GIB being in the game for 25 years, from Vancouver and it's one of the O.G. Micro Brewers from Canada, they do it right. Using quality water from the Vancouver mountains mixed with quality local ingredients and following the laws of 1516 they keep the integrity in all their beers. Don't believe me? Go down to Granville Island and visit Vernon in the brewery, always fun. At this point I should state I'm out of words and haven't event talked about Maple Cream, but I think you get the picture, old friends show up and you start talking about the good times!
This is a blog to share my lovely, palate-pampering experience!
After a few weeks of anticipation, three of my lucky co-workers and myself had the privilege of taking part in a rare opportunity. We were included in a Wagner Family private wine tasting at the Joey Wine Bar hosted by none other then Joseph Wagner himself! Son of Charlie Wagner, (Founder of Caymus in 1972), Joseph has been the Vineyardist and Winemaker for sister companies Belle Glos and Meiomi since 2002.
Joseph is a lovely, younger gentleman with an undeniable amount of passion for what he does! After hearing him describe a few of the wines, and before even touching the first glass to my lips, I could feel my taste buds were restless, eager to experience some of their amazing gems.
Here’s a recap of the tasting menu…
Conundrum ‘09 – (Winemaker: John Bolta) A beautiful, lively yet crisp white, with a Riesling feel but a stunning floral nose from the Muscat and Viognier they’ve included. Will definitely treat myself to that one this summer!
Mer Soleil Vineyard Chardonnay ‘08 – (Winemaker: Charlie Wagner) Smokey Oak and sweet almond aromas, with a very rich mouth feel. We’re told these grapes came from the cooler coastal regions of California, which give the wine more concentrated flavours (in this case, juicy ripe apples and tropical fruit...delish!)
Mer Soleil Unoaked Chardonnay ‘09 - This was unique and I loved it! Made in ceramic barrels, and bottled in it as well, the wine is created without any malolactic fermentation in the process, which gives it an incredibly light and clean feel. Soft grapefruit flavours, but still packs enough acidity to give it a lingering finish.
Belle Glos ‘Meiomi’ Pinot Noir ‘08 - I have an improved opinion of P.N. after trying this amazing example! It’s a blend of grapes from three appellations, which gives it a much broader, more complex profile. A hint of spice (a welcome surprise), and bright, with more body than any I’ve tried before. Great cocoa, berry, vanilla, dark spice and smoke notes, with flawless balance front to back. I’ll recommend this to anyone who wishes to change their mind about the typically ‘light and dainty’ red.
Belle Glos ‘Las Alturas’ Pinot Noir ‘09 - Again the region and climate are the main focus when this red is explained. The amount of sun, wind and cooler temperatures give the grapes a thicker skin, and the wine more backbone than your average. Called a ‘Cab-drinkers pinot noir’, this pinot could actually be paired with a steak! Black cherry and cinnamon aromas, with dark fruit flavours and fairly bold tannins.
Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ‘08 - The real treat. This is the only wine to ever win the prestigious “Wine of the Year” award twice (‘87 & ‘91)! An undeniable depth and complexity in this Cab, made from grapes grown in fourteen different regions! Everything a Cab lover could ask for; rich, smooth mouthfeel, bold tannins, a touch of spice at the end, hints of tar and tobacco notes followed by a very generous finish.
Caymus Vineyards ‘Special Selection’ Cabernet Sauvignon ‘08 - A softer Cab than the Napa Valley, with similar notes, but bolder tannins. The toughest part of the event was tasting tastefully. With some of the most beautiful wines I’ve ever tried lined up in front of me, let’s just say it took a lot of restraint to only sip enough to write a good tasting note!!