You've asked us for tips and advice to enhance your wine experiences, and here they are -- from wine-related travel to wine and food pairing ideas to wine recommendations and wine events. This is also our holiday issue, with specific features for the season.
A special welcome to those new subscribers who signed up at one of our recent wine-tasting events, including the Gourmet Food & Wine Show, the London Club Wine Fair, the Spanish Wine Society Dinner (great event), Feast of Fields, and the Broadway Farms customer appreciation evening.
We're happy to answer any of your wine questions, either in a future issue or directly via e-mail.
Ric Kitowski Jocelyn Klemmric@thewinecoaches.com firstname.lastname@example.org
|Great Wine-Themed Gifts |
Or for you...
Wine Aerating Systems: We have been intrigued by the various by-the-glass wine aerating systems that are now on the market. Do they work? Is one better than the other? We've tested question 1, and look out for our article in January on the TWC Imports Web site for a comparative review.
The claim is that aerating systems provide smooth and rapid exposure of the wine to air, bringing out fuller aromas and flavours in red wines, especially young red wines. We did a blind tasting with Galasso's 2006 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and the new Decantus system (see photo), one poured directly into the glass and the other poured through Decantus. The aerated wine was noticeably smoother and the aromatics more pronounced. We both noticed the difference.
For older red wines, there's a small filter that fits into Decantus to catch any sediment. This is a real plus if you don't have time to decant.
You can find Decantus in Caledon at Broadway Farm's Market, or contact the distributor Strictly Cellars for a retailer near you.
Stemware: We've been writing a lot about using proper wine glasses lately, and when enjoying wine at home we are converts to the Riedel line. Good wine glasses, regardless of the brand, enhance the wine tasting experience, and when well looked after, can last a lifetime.
You can spend a lot of money on proper stemware, but glassmakers like Riedel, Speigelau, Eisch, Schott Zweisel, and Bormioli have entry-level series of stemware for every budget. Look for glasses in a minimum 12 oz capacity. And the thinner the glass -- less between your lips and the wine -- the better.
For those on your list who are more serious about wine, there are individual glasses designed to showcase specific grapes (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon) and wine regions (e.g Burgundy). Find out wine what they prefer to drink, and buy a couple of glasses designed specifically for that wine. You can pick up good buys on Riedel at The Bay across Canada, or if you live north of Toronto check out Stems Canada in Aurora for a wide selection of stemware.
Glass Cleaning Cloths: Riedel's microfibre cleaning cloth is perfect stocking stuffer. Use either dry or slightly damp, the cloth cleans thoroughly and scratch-free. Removes grease and dries at the same time. Fluff free, makes your glaases shine like new, and they are machine washable! Available at From The Kitchen to the Table in Orangeville.
Magazine Subscriptions or Books: There are a number of Canadian wine magazines on the market (Vines, Tidings, and Wine Access). Pick up the latest issue as a gift under the tree, and fill out the subscription card so they can enjoy the articles throughout the year.
Shameless plug here...our best-selling book, Clueless About Wine
is available at better bookstores across Canada, and in the US.
|TWC Imports.com Ordering wine for the holidays just got a whole lot easier.
If you need wine for the holidays, and don't want to line up at the LCBO, consider buying wine though our new Web site: www.twcimports.com . Due to licensing requirements this service is only available to Ontario residents of legal drinking age. And to ensure you get your wine by the holidays, December 18th is the cut off date for GTA residents. If you live outside the GTA, please contact us for delivery information.
When you click on the link you will see there are four main parts to the site. The first is a database of all the wines we currently represent. You can search for these wines in a number of ways -- by style, by grape, by region, for example -- and filter your results by price. There's a note about each wine, describing how it's made, what it taste like, how to serve it, as well as notes about the grape varieties that make up the wine. There's a tab for more information about the producer, including an address and map in case you want to visit them, a tab for the reviews, and a tab listing the restaurants where you can try the wine.
To order a wine, you create or log into your account, adding the number of cases you want to purchase in the space provided, then click "buy". If you want to shop some more, you can put the wines in your shopping cart and click "buy" at a later date. When you're ready to order, a Pdf Order Form will be created with all your information filled out and the wines you've selected to purchase. Review the form to make sure it's correct then send into us by fax. We need this step for LCBO purposes and to confirm your agreement to the order.
If you aren't interested in purchasing a case of wine at this time but would like to try our wines, the Restaurant Database is the place to go. The database has descriptions of the restaurants that we work with, the style of food they offer, as well as address information and a map, all linked to the wine database. When you find a wine you like, open the tab marked "Where To Taste" and look for a restaurant near you where it's offered. You can also search the restaurant database for a style of cuisine and location that suits you, then open the "TWC Wine" tab and see which of our wines is on their list. Either way, we are fortunate to be working with some terrific Ontario restaurants and every one comes personally recommended.
This past year has been challenging for the restaurant industry and we are sure they would all appreciate your support. A gift certificate from one of these restaurants would make a perfect gift for the holidays.
Finally, there is the "Learn" part of the site. Using blog-based platform technology we will be adding, on a regular basis, interesting information about Wine, Wine and Food, and Travel. Over the holidays we'll be adding more entries to this section and so the categories will evolve. All postings will be archived for future reference, so you can check back every few weeks to see what's been added. Over time, this section will become a rich knowledge base of wine, food, and travel information that is unique, useful, and reflects the Wine Coaches philosophy of food and wine. If you have any suggestions for this part of the site, please let us know.
|Feature Recipe |
Festive Chocolate Bark
Chocolate bark makes a perfect hostess gift, or stocking stuffer. Sure you can buy bark at any chocolate store, but isn't it more fun to make it yourself? Using different ingredients, you can personalize the bark to each person on your list.
Each batch is a sheet 25cm by 35cm (10x15"), which makes approximately 4-6 packages. Festive Chocolate Bark
500g good-quality chocolate (white, milk, semi-sweet, or dark)
1 cup nuts, toasted (almonds, pecans, and/or hazelnuts)
1 cup dried fruits, chopped (apricots, cherries, cranberries, raisins)
Optional add-ins include: crystallized ginger, crushed candycanes, mini-marshmallows (for a Rocky Road version), or toasted coconut.
Line a standard-sized baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt chocolate slowly in a heavy pot over low heat, stirring constantly. Once all the chocolate is melted, spread the chocolate evenly over the parchment. Before it cools, sprinkle the ingredients (nuts, fruits, etc.) and blend them with a spatula until everything is coated with chocolate. Chill until set -- about 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
Keep cool until you are ready to package, then break into pieces and wrap in cellophane or gift bags.
Wine match: Okay, chocolate bark is a bit of a stretch for wine pairing, but not impossible. Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz is a great match for dark chocolate. Fruitier reds like Nero d'Avola or Gamay would work better with milk chocolate. For white chocolate Bark, we would recommend something sweeter like Moscato d'Asti or Vin Santo.
|Your Wine Questions |
Wine provokes conversation, and many of the people we've met during our wine seminars, tastings, or book signings have had a burning question for us to answer.
Here are some holiday-season questions we've been asked lately:
Which wines are best for entertaining? Since appetizers present a range of different tastes, textures, and flavours, we suggest looking for wines that are light- to medium-bodied, with ample acidity to pair well with a range of dishes -- from seafood to meat to vegetarian. This is the time for fruitier-style wines -- red and white -- with less use of oak for ageing than maybe you are normally used to. Entertaining is also a great time to pop open some sparkling wine, and don't restrict yourself to only champagne.
Best of all, good examples of "wines for entertaining" can be found for less than $20/bottle. In sparkling, look for Cava from Spain or Prosecco from Italy. Recommended white wine choices are dry Riesling from Ontario, Pinot Grigio from Italy, and Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. More exotic whites include Albarino from Spain or Grechetto from Italy.
In reds, try Beaujolais from France or Gamay from Ontario (the same grape), Malbec from Argentina, Chianti, Montepulciano or Valpolicella from Italy, and Shiraz from Australia. Other options include Côtes du Rhône from France, Rioja from Spain, or Pinot Noir from a cooler climate region like Canada.
How much should I have on hand? Served with food over the course of an evening, plan for about two to three 5-ounce glasses (about one half bottle) of wine per person. In cooler months, you'll find more people will choose red wine, and so have slightly more red than white wine on hand. Keep a few bottles of Cava or Prosecco in the fridge just in case.
Always have non-alcohol options like sparkling water, cranberry juice or punch available for non-drinkers and designated drivers.
How do I quick chill a white wine? The best method is 20 minutes in an ice and water mix, to bring a room-temperature white wine to proper serving temperature (about 10 celsius). Avoid using the freezer (or outside in the snow) unless you use a timer or have a good memory!
Sparkling wines are best served at colder temperatures than white wines (just out of the fridge at 3-5 degrees celsius) as it makes them easier to open and enjoy.
We thought we'd return to the "turkey" question again for Christmas:
Can you recommend something "different" for traditional turkey dinner? Because it's poultry, sometimes the first match that comes to mind is white wine. A lightly-oaked Chardonnay won't overpower, nor will it be overpowered by all the fixings that are tradtionally served with the bird. The Lailey Vineyard Chardonnay Niagara Penisula VQA is a great choice.
If you want to serve Italian, Grillo from Sicily tends to be a touch fuller-bodied than Pinot Grigio, with enough stuffing to take on the, er, stuffing. And if there's lots of herbs in the stuffing, then you might want to find a wine that mirrors that element. Old World Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre or white Bordeaux) with its herbal notes will do nicely in this case.
But as we've said before, holiday turkey takes poultry up a notch - usually because of the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, and all the side dishes. We think that a red wine is a better call than white, and in our experience medium-bodied, fruitier red wines work better than full-bodied tannic reds.
Big tannic reds like Shiraz and Cabernet tend to overpower the meat, while the tannins seem even more astringent when paired up with tart cranberry sauce. Fruitier-style reds like Valpolicella or Sangiovese (think Chianti), or earthier-style reds like Pinot Noir, balance out the weight of the meat better, and mirror more effectively the various flavours on the plate. Plus the natural acidity in these wines is a pleasant contrast to the richness of the meal.
Something more exotic? Look for Tempranillo (Rioja crianza for example) from Spain (called Aragonês in Portugal), fruitier-style Malbecs from Argentina, or spicy, plummy Nero d'Avola from Sicily. If you prefer fuller-bodied wines, Chianti Classico or Valpolicella Ripasso would work, as would Zinfandel from California or Primitivo from Puglia (Zinfandel and Primitivo are the same grape). Essentially, you want good fruit flavours, integrated tannins, and nice acidity in your red-wine choice.
Red Wine Feature
Consignment Wine Delivered to Your Door (Ontario Residents Only)
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Fattoria DOC 2006
Price: $14.50/bottle, in cases of 12 (plus gst and bottle deposit)
Made from 100% Montepulciano grapes, the wine was fermented in temperature-controlled tanks to capture the fresh fruit aromas and flavours of the grapes, and then aged in large oak barrels for one year before release.
Wine Style: Dry red wine; fruity and mouthwatering
Tasting note: Deep ruby colour. Intense aromas and flavours of dark red fruits -- plum and cherry -- with slight smoky notes and hints of mocha. Medium tannins, balancing acidity, and a nice, long finish.
About the Producer: One of our newest suppliers, Cantine Galasso is a family-run estate steeped in history, with 120 hectares of diverse vineyard holdings in Pescara, and family roots in the region going back many generations. Their modern winery is located in Loreto Aprutino, with a capacity to produce up to three million bottles annually. Diverse vineyard holdings - with different microclimates and soil types - provide Ettore Galasso with many different levels of Montepulciano grape with which to work.
Menu Match: A great food wine: great for appetizers and meat dishes such as braised and roast beef, steak, shortribs, game, and mature cheeses. Richer pasta dishes (e.g. Bolognese) are also good matches.
White Wine Feature
Consignment Wine Delivered to Your Door (Ontario Residents Only)
Grillo Parlante 2008
Price: $17.50/bottle, in cases of 12 (plus gst and bottle deposit)
Grillo, a white-wine grape variety native to Sicily, thrives in high temperatures and is most known as the base for Marsala. Its origins are uncertain, but it was widely planted around Trapani by 1897; these days Grillo is grown throughout Sicily but represents less than 5% of total plantings. Today, Grillo is better known as a fuller-bodied, aromatic white wine.
Cool fermented in stainless steel to keep the aromas and flavours fresh and vibrant. The wine was cold stabilized and filtered, then bottled for release.
Wine Style: Dry white wine; aromatic
Tasting Note: Light golden colour, with rich aromas and flavours of melon, peach, orange, pineapple, with notes of tropical flowers and minerals. Dry and medium-bodied, with balancing acidity and a nice lingering finish.
Our recommended serving temperature is 10-12ºC. The best time to enjoy this wine is over the next couple years, while it is at its freshest.
About the Producer: Fondo Antico
is a family-run estate located in western Sicily near the historic port of Trapani, just north of Marsala. Combining modern winemaking technology with the traditions of the region, Fondo Antico produces wines of great character.
A combination of Sicily's bountiful sunshine, gentle Mediterranean breezes, and excellent soil characteristics help to make this possible. Fondo Antico owns approximately 90 hectares of vines, many replanted to take advantage of what the region offers in terms of climate and soil.
Fish, shellfish, white meats (poultry, veal), appetizers and fresh cheeses (particulary goat cheese). It's also a lovely refreshing glass on its own -- a perfect reception wine.
Sparkling Wine Feature
Consignment Wine Delivered to Your Dood (For Ontario Residents Only)
Cava Kripta Brut Gran Reserva 2004
$85.00/bottle, in cases of 6 (plus gst and bottle deposit)
Each bottle is individually boxed, and numbered.
Kripta was created in 1979 by Agustí Torelló Mata (Sr.). This unique Cava has been described by Michel Bettane, an influential wine critic in France, as a sparkling wine comparable to the very best champagnes: "Wonderful and delicate walnut aromas, refined texture and bubbles, very seducing finish. The perfection of Cava or almost, and a wine that shall surprise many people." For a previous vintage he awarded 18/20 points, the highest for that tasting, and included Cava Kripta in his book of "The Best 100 Wines of the World", along with four other sparkling wines (all from Champagne).
Made from a blend of 48% Macabeo, 25% Xarel-lo, and 27% Parellada grapes, from 60+ year old vines. For Kripta, secondary fermentation is for a minimum of four years in the bottle, about the same length of time as some of Champagne's great marques (e.g. Dom Perignon). Bottles are disgorged individually, and only when required for market to ensure optimum condition of the wine.
As a Brut Nature Cava, Kripta has no added sugar in the dosage, the signature of a perfectly balanced Cava. Every handmade, amphora-shaped Kripta bottle is individually boxed, and includes its date of disgorgement, the guarantee that every bottle of Cava Kripta is in optimum condition on the market and when consumed by customers.
The label was designed by Rafael Bartolozzi.
Our Tasting Note: Pale lemon colour and a fine, persistent mousse. A clean and crisp bouquet reminiscent of brioche, vanilla, hazelnuts, citrus, and ripe fruits - pear and yellow apple. Very elegant and delicate with a lingering, clean finish.
About the Producer: In the heart of the Penedes
, near the town of Sant Sadurni d'Anoia, Agustí Torelló Mata
produces a range of high quality Cava (Spanish sparkling wine), highly regarded by Spain's most celebrated restaurants. The production is very limited due, among other things, to the age of their vines. Agustí Torelló Mata is family owned and run; each of the four Torelló siblings has an active role in the business.
Menu matches: Serve before the meal, with appetizers, or during the meal with seafood dishes, and lighter white meats (veal and pork). It is a particularly good contrast to the richness of lobster.
Please note: Our allocation for Canada was 15 cases, and only 7 remain available for purchase.
For Ontario Residents Only
Reserve Shiraz 2003
Region: McLaren Vale, South Australia
Geoff Merrill began his winemaking career at B Seppelt & Son in 1970. Five years later he joined Chateau Reynella as Assistant Winemaker, and in 1977 was promoted to Senior Winemaker, a position he held until 1985. While at Chateau Reynella Geoff was able to make wines under his own Geoff Merrill label. These wines were first released in 1983 with his 1980 Cabernet and 1981 Semillon.
In 1988, Geoff started his own winery near Adelaide, and has continued to gain national and international recognition for his distinctive style of winemaking and his zest for life. Geoff Merrill wines are made at his historic Mount Hurtle winery - approx. 75,000 cases in total.
Geoff Merrill's winemaking philosophy is to make wines with regional, varietal, and vintage expression, without excessive winemaker intervention. He feels that great wine is a matter of balance, combined with subtle, elegant, and harmonious flavours. In 2005, Geoff won the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy at the Royal Melbourne Show for his 2004 Reserve Shiraz.
Wine Information: Made from 100% Shiraz grapes, from the McLaren Vale, an area known for wines of intense power and flavour. The wine is composed of individual parcels of outstanding wine selected from small French and American oak barrels (hogsheads), matured for 33 months prior to bottling in May 2006. Unfiltered. 15% alc./vol. R/S 2.5g/l
Vintage: McLaren Vale faced the worst drought in 100 years and crop yields were down on average by 20%, however much needed rain in February allowed for successful ripening of the fruit. James Halliday, one of Australia's top wine writers, rated the McLaren Vale vintage 8 out of 10.
Our Tasting Note: Deep, dark (and we mean DARK), rich in colour, with black/purple hues. The nose is bold and complex, with aromas and flavours of ripe dark berry fruit - plum, cherry, blackberry - and notes of liquorice, herbs, dark chocolate, and spices. Full-bodied, elegant, and luscious, with fine tannins and a very long, evolving finish.
You can enjoy this wine now, with a good decanting (it also throws a sediment), but will not be disappointed in the results if you cellared a few bottles for 5-10 years. We plan to.
Menu matches: A great wine to match with grilled meats -- think steak -- with mushrooms or a peppercorn sauce. Despite its heft, you can actually enjoy a glass of this wine, on its own, without food. The tannins don't dry out the mouth, and the balancing fruit and acidity refreshes the palate.
Reviews: This wine received 93 points from James Halliday in the Australian Wine Companion 2008.
Available now, however only about 120 bottles remain from release. As an In-store Discovery (ISD), it means it isn't available at every LCBO store. Check www.lcbo.com
or send us an e-mail and we'll tell you where it is available in your area. Best bets are Summerhill, Bloor & Royal York, Queen's Quay, and Bayview Village in Toronto; Rideau Street in Ottawa; Oak Walk in Oakville; Sherwood Forrest in Mississaugua; and, Masonville in London.
|Upcoming Events |
February 16-March 5, 2010, at participating restaurants in the Headwaters Tourism Region (Caledon, Erin, Orangeville, and Dufferin County). Each restaurant has prepared a specially-priced 3-course menu for this event. For more information and a list of participating restaurants, visit the WinterFeast Web site.
Toronto Star Wine and Cheese Show 2010
March 19-21, 2010. International Centre, Mississagua. For those of you who like to plan ahead, we should be in our same spot at this show. We'll update you in our next Newsletter or for more information go to www.towineandcheese.com
|Wine-Friendly Restaurants |
Now that we have developed our interactive Restaurant Guide on the TWC Imports site we think it's better to send you there than just highlight two or three places to try. On our database you can search by style (e.g. Spanish), city (e.g. Toronto), and location (e.g. Midtown), and come up with results that meet the crtieria (e.g. Cava). We've eaten at all of them so they come fully tested.
Two of the latest restaurants to select our wines include Buca in Toronto and 107 Fourth Avenue in Ottawa. Try them out!
As we've said before, restaurants need your patronage more than ever during these challenging times. Especially owner-operated restaurants who have a significant investment in the business. If you need a recommendation, don't hesitate to send us an e-mail.
Looking for a way to say thank you to your loyal customers? The Wine Coaches offers a range of wine workshops customized to the needs of your group, whatever the size. Most requested workshops topics are:
- Discovering Your Wine Style
- Navigating a Wine List/Wine Store
- Entertaining with Wine
- Food and Wine Matching
All workshops are interactive, informative, and experiential. Particpants put theory into practice by tasting a variety of wines during the workshop. Contact The Wine Coaches for more information or to book a workshop for your group.
We can also issue gift certificates for wine cellar appriasals or future wine-themed events.
PS The Caledon Wine Institute continues under development and we hope to launch Spring 2010. Stay tuned for more details.
Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter. We'd love to hear your comments.
Richard Kitowski & Jocelyn Klemm
The Wine Coaches