A Wine Bar Worth Wowing About

A Wall of Wine Picks
A Wall of Wine Picks

With wine consumption in Canada growing faster than anywhere in the world, it’s not surprising that wine bars are popping up on main streets and neighbourhoods right across the country. And happily one of those neighbourhoods is mine. Over the past few years, Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood has become a favourite of foodies –  for brunch, dinner or a glass of wine.

From Pic Nic Wine Bar at 747 Queen St. East  with its fabulous charcuterie platters and 25 wines by the glass, to Enoteca Ascari at 1111 Queen Street East which has a menu of interesting wines three times longer than the food selections. Both places have a great atmosphere with staff who love talking about interesting wine finds.

But a new wine bar came to town just before Christmas and it could very well become a regular stop after I took my daughters there a couple of weeks ago.

Guess which daughter didn't pick from the Wine List
Guess which daughter didn’t pick from the Wine List

We stopped into Skin and Bones Wine Bar for a drink and settled in for a lot more.  There are some 40 wines available by the glass, most if not all, are only available on consignment. And there are some great choices.

skin and bones

 

I picked a Merlot Seven Hills 2009 from Walla Walla, Washington. This one was deep red, and deeply delicious. Fruity with silky tannins – it was my first choice and I committed with a 6 oz glass.

 

 

My Favourite
My Favourite

 

My second was my favourite –  Paolo Bea Sanvalentino 2007 is a blend of Sangiovese, Sagrantino and Montepulciano grapes. This lovely wine from Umbria has structure and elegance.

 

While my eldest daughter was lured in by the sexy cocktails, my younger daughter took up the wine list challenge. She picked two: the Ribolla Gialla La Tunnella, 2011 from Friuli -Venezia region in north- eastern Italy. Light bodied with and interesting flavour from a grape that I had never tasted.

Mia's Favourite
Mia’s Favourite

But it was the Marc Bredif Vouvray 2011 that won her taste buds, hands down. The pale gold wine from France’s Loire region is made from the Chenin Blanc grape. She found it fresh and fruity and wants me to add it to her list of faves that I serve with Sunday night dinner.

NB: If you are looking for a white and want to try something beyond the world of Chardonnay – Vouvray has been getting some great buzz and is worth a try. The bonus is it  reasonably priced.

There are all kinds of interesting wines to taste. Niagara wines are represented with a Cuvee Catherine Estate Blanc de Blanc Carte Blanche 2007 sparkling from Henry of Pelham, a Riesling Stellalucha 2009 from Colaneri and a Cabernet Franc Dolomite Cave Spring Cellars 2008. There is a wine from Greece, others from the lesser travelled regions or wines from  grapes that are not the typical headliners. I could have sampled all night.

The atmosphere at Skin and Bones  is pleasant and spacious.  The bar goes on for ever. The service couldn’t have been better. Our waiter was extremely knowledgeable and  didn’t twitch when I asked if he could bring the bottles to the table for a little photo op.  Oh and the other headline from Skin and Bones – the food also worth the visit. It is not an extensive menu, but what we sampled was simple and delicious. Check out the menu at www.skinandbonesto.com.

While I have heard complaints about an influx of wine bars in the area – I say bring ’em on!

 

Skin and Bones: 980 Queen Street East, Toronto

 

 

G’Day Australia

UnknownAs I sit here writing this the celebrations have already ended. Being fourteen hours ahead of us, it’s already tomorrow there.  But it’s not just in the land down under they celebrate Australia Day, here in Canada there are many places where Aussies practically out number the locals.

In Whistler often dubbed “Whistralia” there are so many young Australians working there they actually have the biggest Australia Day celebration anywhere in the world outside of their homeland.

imagesWith the recent release of Les Miserable starring Australian hunk, Hugh Jackman the historical story of hard-working convicts is once again of interest to people.  While the fictional story of Jean Valjean is set in early 19th century France, it could be compared quite easily to the real life stories of many convicts sent to Australia by the British government for petty crimes during that same period. Some Australians would like nothing better than for the world to forget this bit of history while others have used this unique story as an opportunity to market their product.  I don’t generally purchase wine based on the label but when I received this bottle I was totally intrigued.  19 Crimes is inspired by the actual list of crimes you could be transported to an Australian penal colony for (rather than being hung of course). Check out the list of punishable crimes here.

0Each label of the 19 Crimes brand has the photo of a different convict.  When you go to the 19 Crimes  website you can find out more about your particular convict.  Mine is named John Boyle O’Reilly, an Irish-born poet who was arrested for Mutiny in 1866.

The wine itself is from Victoria, Australia and produced by Baileys of Glenrowan which has a remarkable history of its own.  Started in the 1860s, when Richard Bailey and his family arrived in Australia.  They originally set up a store in Glenrowan to supply miners on nearby goldfields.  When the goldfields dried up and the miners moved on the Bailey’s turned to farming and became one of the first families to plant a vineyard. They produced their first vintage in 1870 and the business was passed on through the generations but is now owned by Treasury Wine Estates. With another connection to a true crime story Glenrowan was also the place where bushranger Ned Kelly was captured in 1880.

Made up of a blend of Shiraz Durif (otherwise known as Petite Sirah) the tasting notes state it is dark red in the glass with legs that cascade slowly due to its concentration and power. Sadly I’ve checked and it’s not available at the LCBO only out in BC liquor stores.

0Maybe some day soon we’ll get it here otherwise a visit to the land down under will give you a chance to try this wine and of course the many other fabulous Australian wines.

So Happy Australia Day to all those celebrating around the world.

What’s your favourite Aussie wine?

 

 

Wednesday Wine Picks

 

The holiday season may be over but the crop of new wines that hit the LCBO last week are worth celebrating.   They include some promising Spanish wines worthy of exploration aWeekend Pickslong with  a great selection of BC wines. While I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting either place, I can say I am a big fan of their wines.

Chardonnay’s from the  Mission Hill estate, the awesome Pinot Noir from Burrowing Owl, or the Bordeaux Blends of Osoyoos Larose, there is gold in them thar BC vineyards and finally they are available in the east.

I sampled the Burrowing Owl  Pinot Noir 2010 VGA from the Okanagan Valley – it is a splurge to doubt at $41.95. It is supremely balanced with strong notes of cherry and other red fruit.

There is rarely a Rioja that has brought me disappointment in my wine tasting life. It could be luck, or it could be great wine-making – I like them big and bold and plan to get better acquainted with my friends from Rioja, Navarra, and my pick for the weekend : Virgen Del Aguila Artigazo 2007 from DO Carinena – just south of Rioja  region $18.95.

I admit I did try a couple of the other new releases that are absolutely worth the splurge. 

A Bolgheri Beauty from ItalyI Greppi Greppicante Bolgheri 2009 DOC  from the west coast of Tuscany – which is super Tuscan territory. This is  beautifully smooth, complex, fruit forward with rich tannins and a lovely finish. It is $23.95 and worth the splurge.

The Maitre D' by MollydookerMy other splurge-worthy suggestion is by a favourite Australian wine maker that has never disappointed, Mollydooker The Maitre D’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 from South Australia. The deep purple colour and black cherry jammy flavour characterizes the  full-bodied and luscious wine. The finish is long, fruity and entirely worth the price. Buy two, one to drink now and one to save for later.  Oh and their labels are delightful. $29.95

 

Finally if you can still find it, Three Rivers  River’s Red from Columbia Valley, Washington – I may have mentioned it before because it was one of my favourite wines from my wine class. But if you haven’t tried it yet, hurry while there are still bottles left. At $19.95, it is a real bargain.

Give them a try or explore the LCBO’s new bounty and let us know If you have sampled a wine worth sharing.

Cheers

 

How Sweet It Is

I’m not much of an Icewine lover but for some reason I always seem to wind up with a bunch in my cellar (I’ll bet they were re-gifted to me because the other people didn’t want them either).  But since its Icewine season and Canada is known for making some of the best in the world I figured I’d give it another try. While we’re not the only Icewine-producing country in the world, thanks to our cold Canadian winters we’re pretty much guaranteed to produce a big batch annually.

This premium product is highly regulated in Canada by the  Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario and the Vintners Quality Alliance BC with sugar levels, temperature, grape varietal and production all needing to meet strict standards.  Producers in those regions may not use the term “Icewine” on their label unless it’s VQA certified or risk a hefty fine.  This level of quality control also means a hefty price tag ranging anywhere from forty to a few hundred dollars.

0Having invited friends over for an intense night of gaming (no not video but old school board games) I grabbed one of those tall thin bottles and stuck it in the fridge. The one I chose had a beautiful label and I soon realised it wasn’t Icewine at all but a Sauvignon Blanc made in the Recioto style of sweet Italian wines called Profondo Fumoso Bianco from Colaneri Estate Winery.

Different from Icewine it’s sometimes referred to as a straw or raisin wine where the grapes have been dried to concentrate their juice.  The result is similar to the Icewine process but also works in warmer climates.

As I mentioned I’m not really a lover of sweet wines so I figured I’d serve it over fruit and ice cream to add a little zing. Well everyone enjoyed it so much we quickly pulled out some glasses and finished off the bottle.  Not available at the LCBO I remembered I had received this bottle as a gift from the lovely Betty Colaneri. So if you’d like to try some you’ll have to pay Betty a visit down in Niagara at the Colaneri Estate Winery and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Along with a range of lovely wines all sporting artisan labels, Betty and the staff are gracious hosts that make the trip well worth while. At $29.95 it’s well below the cost of a traditional Icewine and definitely delicious.

After enjoying this wine I may have to re-evaluate my opinion of ice/sweet wines and enjoy them more often.  Also since Valentine’s day is quickly approaching the one thing I always did enjoy using Icewine for was to inject strawberries and then dip them in chocolate – basically can’t go wrong there and your hopefully your Valentine will reward you with a sweet kiss of thanks.

Love it or leave it – how do you feel about Icewine?

 

 

 

 

 

Wine App Worth a Second Look

Natalie MacLean's Wine Picks and Pairings
Natalie MacLean’s Wine Picks and Pairings

 

 

Tina talked about some of the easy to use apps over the weekend, including that crazy one I want to stay far away from that shows how much alcohol can age you. I included a few that I used regularly and some that didn’t overly impress the first few visits. http://wp.me/p2KSbj-oE

 Wine Picks and Pairings: Natalie MacLean’s app  definitely impressed the second time around. I poked around and  found  all kinds of features that will have me coming back.  My favourite:  the top 10 best value wines at the LCBO outlets  closest to your home. You can sort by price, score or wine type. I love this feature.  When you select a wine, it will give you Nat’s review and/or a full review. 

Top 10 Best Value Wines in This LCBO
Top 10 Best Value Wines

There are also pairing features that sort by your wine, food or occasion. You can store the names of your favourites, add them to a shopping list or to a virtual cellar if you pick one up for home.  For those of you far more organized than I, it allows you to keep track of everything you have in your cellar (or for most of us – the wine rack). You can also scan the barcode of a wine  to get and store the information and it allows you to share reviews of wine you are excited about. Nice work!

This app is easy to navigate and full of useful information. Available for Iphone/Ipod Touch, Blackberry and Android.

 

Apps For Wine Lovers

It seems these days there’s an app for everything and wine is no exception, actually you’ll find dozens at the app store most of which are free.  They range from apps that help you pair foods, practically making you an instant Sommelier to ones that help track the wine in your cellar and can handle a collection of 3000 bottles or more.

0

Lis has long had the LCBO app and loves it.  I recently put it on my iphone and I’m amazed at all it does…you can browse by product (we’ll say wine of course), select a category like red wine, a country, a region and find all the wines they have in stock (brilliant).  You can  search by keyword (wine type like Merlot, Cabernet, Shiraz etc.), find the closest store and last but not least scan the bar code on a bottle to get the price, tasting notes and serving suggestions.  You can even save it as a favourite so if you forget the name of the wine you drank and loved, next time you go to the store it’s right there on your smartphone (God Bless technology).

For those living in Quebec the SAQ has a similar app and scanning the barcode will bring up all the wine info. This one has more complete tasting notes and also has a great feature where you can plug in the food you plan to eat and it will find you a wine match.

Lis often travels between Ontario and Quebec and likes the SAQ better as an app, though admits to using the LCBO one more – ok a lot more – but says it’s just because she lives here.

Wine spectator app – is alright but really for the more advanced wine drinker. A lot of their products are not available here, but their library of reviews is vast. Rarely use the app, but the web site is terrific.

Wine spectator Napa – app wine porn – fantastic guide to Napa wineries if you are heading there.

Bottlenotes – brought to you by the around the world in 80 sips ladies. I don’t use the app often, but I do enjoy their news letter.

Natalie Maclean – I find this is only useful for wines currently at the LCBO. Not a lot of detail, can’t say I use it all that often. (Updated with new information http://wp.me/p2KSbj-oS)

"Drinking Mirror" App
“Drinking Mirror” App

Lastly something a little different that was recently in the news, an app called “Drinking Mirror” created by the Scottish government showing women how their looks will change if they should continue to drink heavily.  This is meant to get women to stop binge drinking by appealing to their vanity rather than telling them about the health implications.  Asking “is drinking aging you?” the app lets you take your photo, enter your weekly alcohol consumption and then see a computer generated image of toll too much alcohol could take on your appearance.  I tried and it wasn’t a pretty site (kind of why I work behind the camera rather than in front of it). This one is something fun for a girls night out.

There’s so many more apps and if you have a great one to share we would love to hear from you.

2013 Wednesday Wine Picks with a Sexy Suggestion

A Bottle of Kaiken that Didn't Last Long
A Bottle of Kaiken that Didn’t Last Long

Kaiken Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina  LCBO $14.95

Argentina is becoming known for great value wines and this is a good  example. It is one of the reasons Argentina has become the fifth biggest wine producer in the world. Dark purpley red in colour, this beauty is full-bodied with soft tannins and fruit and spice flavours. Nice match with barbecued meat. 98% Malbec which is Argentina’s most important grape, and 2% Cabernet Sauvignion. 14.5% alcohol.

 

 

T Sanzo Vino De La Tierra di Castilla di Leon, Spain  LCBO $14.95

A Rich Recommendation from Rioja
A Rich Recommendation from Rioja

Continuing in the Spanish-speaking countries – this one from the Rioja region of Spain -also at the right price.  Yummy, delicious and fruity, it is made from 100% Tempranillo, one of the stars of Spain. Well-balanced and great value. 13.5% alcohol.  And if a rating helps to  convince you, Jay Miller, from eRobertParker gave it a 90.

Salud!

 

 

Finally my splurge recommendation:

Deep and Delicious
Deep and Delicious

La Vita Lucente 2010, Montalcino, Italy LCBO $28.90

A dear friend asked me for a recommendation the day after I uncorked this lovely and the infatuation was still burning the next morning. When I read the description I sent to her, it sounded less like a wine review and more like a review of 50 Shades without the handcuffs. This is sex in a bottle. The magnificent rich ruby red colour alone is enough to make me break my No Wine on Weekdays resolution – lucky I don’t have a bottle to open. The first sip had promise, 10 minutes later – it delivered exquisitely. It’s 75% Merlot and 25% Sangiovese blended perfectly. With a little research, I learned producer  LucedellaVite (The Light of Life) was originally a coproduction between the Frescobaldi family – Italy’s oldest wine producing family and the late Robert Mondavi of California. The Frescobaldis have since taken full ownership, and continue to produce a terrific wine perfect for any occasion.

 Send us the name of your favourite wine under $20.

 

 

All I Need is the Wine that can Breathe

 

Aeration Nation
Aeration Nation

Google “wine aerators” and you get more than one million hits in about half a second. There are elegant ones, elaborate ones, bulky models that look like a science project or sleek ones that belong in a showcase, aerators shaped like Blowfish or Seahorses.

Blow Little Blowfish
Blow Little Blowfish

 

 

 

But are they useless gadgets destined to gather dust in the gadget drawer? Or do they really work?

 

 

The principle is simple – expose a wine – typically red – to oxygen and it enhances the flavours. It is why we swirl the wine in the glass. The decanter does it more efficiently and an aerator claims to do the job as well but faster – always good when you are ready for that first Friday glass of wine.

 

Aerators Galore
Aerators Galore

An aerator is  most commonly used with red wine – Bordeaux, Merlot, and the rip-your-face off beauties like Barolos and Brunellos. Letting these wines breathe give you the chance to appreciate the complex flavours and texture without the tannins forcing your face into a permanent pucker. But they also work with younger wines, smoothing them out and bringing out their flavours together. Some white wines also benefit – especially the full-bodied ones.

Now  some collectors say a wine under $20 putting through an aerator , others feel just about any bottle can improve with decanting.

I received a few snazzy aerators for Christmas so my FWT (favourite wine tester who is there is the distance) and I tried them out.

 

Aerators Are Us
Aerators Are Us

We tried the picked a high end and low end wine, one glass aerated, one not,  to see if there was a difference in the results based on the quality of the wine. I used the Vinturi – which also comes with a very elegant holder to avert drips on the white tablecloth.

Pietranera Brunello 2004 $37.95

Dogajolo Carpineto Toscano Rosso IGT 2010  $16.95 (SAQ price – ***see below for info in Ontario***)

A light and delicious "Super Tuscan"
A light and delicious “Super Tuscan”

We tried the Dogajolo first so it wouldn’t be overshadowed by its big Italian brother. Medium –bodied dry wine very pleasant – tasted better through the aerator, but it did not make a huge difference. This was a young wine a mix of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignion grapes, and not super tannic. It is nicely balanced and I would buy it again.

The results were much more dramatic with the second wine. The Brunello, straight out of the bottle (which was uncorked a few hours earlier), caused instant pucker. The same wine poured through the aerator was much smoother. The tannins transformed to velvet and the flavours of berries and spice much more vivid.

A Big Bold Brunello
A Big Bold Brunello

If you allowed this wine to spend time in a decanter, you would get the same results. While an aerator is not essential, it comes in handy if you didn’t have time to decant or if you don’t plan to finish the whole bottle, which does not happen to me all that often.

If you want to pick one up,  the Vinturi at $34.95 is a great choice.

Sip, swirl and savour to your heart’s content in the new year!

 

Tina even shot a short video about aerating and some of the fun gadgets here’s the link so you can take a look Just Add Air

****Dogajolo Carpineto Toscano Rosso IGT 2010 – in Ontario you won’t find this at the LCBO but it can be purchased as a consignment item from RKW Wine Imports The holidays wiped out their inventory but if you put in an order you should be able to get it by mid February.  Also, since it’s a consignment you’ll have to get an entire case (but you can always split that with friends) and bonus because in ON it’s $14.95 two dollars cheaper than in QC.*******

 

 

Mozart Makes the Vines Grow Stronger

A Rocking VintageThe connection between wine and music is a marriage made in heaven, not just because it is the combination of two of my favourites things, or even because I can’t imagine my life without either, but there is actually a science behind the power of this pairing.

Throw a little ACDC on the sound system and you might describe the red you are sipping as as punchy or bold, while those Pat Metheny tunes will have you calling a white wine  light and crisp. A study out of Herriot – Watt University in Edinburgh suggests the music you are listening to  affects the way it tastes and certain kinds of music will make the wine taste better.

Research out of the University of Leicester in the UK found that music can also  affect the kind of wine you buy. So  listening to Tony Bennett Leaving his Heart in San Francisco while shopping could lead you to a lovely Napa Valley red – while sultry French songstress  Edith Piaff could send you directly into the Bordeaux aisle.

There are web sites dedicated to music and wine pairings. WIneandMusic.com – tells us Katy Perry’s Teenage Dreams goes nicely with 7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel 2007, or Maroon 5’s Hands All Over is perfectly paired with d’Arenberg’s Stump Jump. The web site’s philosophy is “Wine is like music, you may not know what is good, but you know what you like.”

Seven Deadly Zins Suggested with Angelic Katy Perry

Another web site dedicated to harmonic pairings, WineFoodMood.com – combines beat of the music and wine style – so fast-paced and energetic tunes like Abba is best consumed with something easy drinking – like a Beaujolais. Most of the research focuses on how our wine decisions and appreciation are  influenced by music.

You don’t have to look far to see more evidence of the marriage of music and wine. For example, AC/DC Back in Black Shiraz, the Rolling Stones Forty Licks Merlot, or Sting’s Tuscan creation Sister Moon – clearly wine appreciation extends to all musical genres.

Wines That RockA Calfornia winery out of Mendocino County called  Wines that Rock produces Forty Licks Merlot and that’s just the beginning. Wines That Rock calls itself the official wine of rock and roll. Its mission: to  “create great tasting wines inspired by music.” http://www.winesthatrock.com/The-Wine. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon, Police’s Synchronicity Red Blend, Woodstock Chardonnay – the labels are amazing and the reviews pretty great, too.

According to the website,  winemaker Mark Beaman has music blasting through the cellar while working his magic. He even has playlists for harvesting (including U2, Smashing Pumpkins, Led Zepplin and Dire Straits) and for blending (Fleetwood Mac, Police, Pink Floyd and The Red Hot Chili Peppers).

A  small winery in Tuscany believes the love affair  goes both ways.. It uses the power of music to coax the best out of its grapes.

The Sound of Mozart in Paradise

Il Paradiso di Frassina plays Mozart to its vines 24 hours a day. Owner Giancarlo Cignozzi believed playing music to the vines would enhance their flavour – and make Giancarlo happy at the same time. A civil lawyer from Milan, he bought the vineyard in 1999 and brought his love of music with him.

Whether classical music makes the vines go stronger, or if it is merely a marketing tool, it is an effective one.  Il Paradiso has become known as the Mozart Vineyard. Every major wine publication along with the international media has come to call and to sample.

“We became known as the people who play music to the grapes. They thought we were nuts,” says Ulisse Cignozzi, Giancarlo’s son who gave us the tour.

The speaker people at BOSE believed enough to donate 100 speakers to the cause. The University of Florence took notice and is currently involved in a long term study to see if there is science to support the theory.  Ulisse says it’s too early to tell, but there are some initial findings that suggest the grapes respond to sound.

“We noted the sugar content is higher in grapes that are closer to the speakers,” he says.

One of the wines under the influence that we sampled, a Brunello di Montalcino 2007 was full-bodied and delicious. While I haven’t found it in the LCBO, Zoltan Szabo – sommelier at Toronto’s Trump International Hotel and Tower stocks it at the hotel.

Another wine, though not grown in the shadow of the speakers, accompanies the musical theme. 12 Uve (12 grapes) features 12 different varietals – 6 Italian, 6 Bordeaux – one for each note on the musical scale.

There’s no shortage of interest in the pairing of music and wine closer to home. Mount Royal University in Calgary offers a course in music and wine pairings. www.Mtroyal.ca

Jackson-Triggs holds a  spectacular concert series each summer, a perfect example of the harmonious blend of good music and good wine – www.jacksontriggswinery.com

The Outside Lands Festival near San Francisco even hired a wine curator to pair wines with the music performances on the menu.

“We’re creating a new platform where all these pleasure points in our life – eating, drinking and music,” curator Peter Eastlake told Wine Spectator earlier this year.

True, because there is nothing more pleasureable than a tasting a great glass of wine – at any price, while listening to the perfect piece of music.

Slainte (cheers in Gaellic – pronounced Slawn-tcha)

 

 

Holiday Discoveries to Wine About..

This week’s edition of Wednesday Wine Picks comes after much holiday sampling. Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the glasses sparkled and the pouring was plentiful.  Many wines were sipped and savoured and here are a few  that kept the crowds coming back for more without my husband threatening to seize my debit card.

 

Bruzzico Malenchini – IGT Toscana IGT 2006  $25.85 SAQ grassby red

Sampled and enjoyed Chez Grassby, it is medium-bodied plus with enough punch for the full-bodied wine loving types. It is smooth as silk and exceptionally well balanced,.  Lynn served with a a yummy plate of shrimp.  I would highly recommend for an evening with friends.

 

Mara Vino di Ripasso Cesari Valpolicella Superiore Classico 2010 $17.85 SAQ $15.45 LCBO

This is a terrific wine for a party, a get-together with pizza, pasta or even a burger. It’s a medium bodied well-structured red that is spicy and fruity and at the right price.

Entourage Sparkling Wine by Jackson Triggs $22.95 LCBO

What is New Year’s Day without a Mimosa or three? Entourage by Jackson-Triggs is perfectly good on its own or if you feel better because it is only 9:30 in the morning – add some fresh orange juice, along with a dash of pomegranate juice if you are feeling adventurous and, of course, because it is really good for you. A few of these will take you right through to nap time.

 

Antinori Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2008 $29.95 SAQ

This wine has been part of my holidays for the past few years (and this year it even came with a wine bottle opener which somehow ended up in my husband’s stocking). My brother Rob and I cook up a storm while sampling a few treasures. While he is more prone to Bud than Barolo (yes, we really are related) , each year he looks forward to the sibling selection. This  was a perfect eve before Christmas Eve pick – with cherry, herbal and tobacco hints. This one stays on my Christmas wish list.

Peppoli Chianti Classico 2010 LCBO $19.95 SAQ $24.45

Just released at the LCBO,  this vintage got such a great reaction that my husband went out hunting down more bottles at LCBO’s in the neighbourhood. Red fruit – currants, cherries, raspberries, a little sweetness, ruby red in colour, medium bodied and delicious with just about anything.

Cheers! And wishing you all a year of adventurous wine tasting. If  you had a holiday favourite or your own, let us know!