Tag Archives: wine

Rubbing elbows with Royalty

3 Jun

Did you know that every year Germany crowns a new Wine Queen?! I didn’t either, until recently. I had the chance to spend some time with Nadine Poss, who is Germany’s 65th Wine Queen and find out more about what it means to wear her glittery tiara.

Each year there are 13 candidates, one from each wine region in Germany. That prompted me to look up what the 13 regions are: Ahr, Baden, Franken, Hess. Bergstraße, Mittelrhein, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Nahe, Pfalz, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Saale-Unstrut and Sachsen Württemberg. I’ve had wine from several of these regions but certainly not all of them. The candidates don’t have to come from a winery but they do require a strong knowledge of German wine, the wine industry, oenology and wine-making. As it turns out, Nadine’s family have a winery in Nahe which specialises in Pinot Gris, Blanc and Noir (Grauer Burgunder, Weißer Burgunder und Blauer Spätburgunder). http://www.weingut-poss.de/cms/index.php?id=poss0

From the 13 regional queens, six were selected for the final competition. This year, for the first time ever the competition was divided into two parts: first it was narrowed down to three finalists and theDWI-WK-08n each of them had to speak about a special experience in their lives. Nadine won the jury over with her speech about a hike with her family through Norwegian ice fields. She ended with the statement “this is what initiated my pleasure for travelling abroad and getting to know other people and cultures.” Considering the year ahead for the Wine Queen involves a lot of travel as she represents German Wine industry at all major wine festivals, exhibitions, tastings and international events. The other two finalists were crowned as Wine Princesses and they play a supporting role as ambassadors for the German Wine industry. This year they were Ramona Diegel and Sabine Wagner.

Nadine was in town for a Generation Riesling event which focuses on German winemakers that a10341901_10152401264456421_9058028671788315717_nre 35 years old and under. It’s all about being young and innovative. I had the chance to go out for dinner with her on Saturday night for dinner and she was such a pleasure to spend time with. On the Monday of the event she donned her tiara and I found out what the downside is to the weight of royalty on your head – sometimes when you spit the darn thing may fall off into the spittoon! As always, Nadine was cheerful and quick to laugh at the mishap along with me. Charming, smart and classy!

Excuse me waiter, there’s a fly in my wine.

24 Apr

If there’s a fly in your wine you’re going to know right? It will either be swimming around wondering how it got so lucky or it’ll be floating lifelessly. Either way, it’s going to be pretty obvious.

Did you know there could very easily be things in your wine, potentially as unappetizing as a fly, that neither you or your waiter are going to know about? Things that you may even be allergic to such as nuts. NUTS IN WINE??!! Yes, nuts. They’re sometimes used in commercial tannins to improve the wine’s structure, among other things.

As much as I love the art of a beautiful wine label I’d like to see more transparency on the back label. I check ingredients when I shop for groceries so why wouldn’t I do that when I buy wine? I’d want to know if there was added sugar or something called Mega Purple which is used to darken the colour of wine.

Actually a simple QR code could easily link to a site listing all the ingredients so it wouldn’t even have to be a hideous back label. Only those truly motivated would check it. People who consume a lot of processed food probably wouldn’t care. Some people just want things to taste the same every time, like their favourite soda pop. I want to taste the authenticity of the region and the vintage.

If producers really don’t think that what they’re adding is bad for consumers or there’s anything wrong with how they’re manipulating their product then they shouldn’t feel the need to hide what they’ve added to achieve the outcome. What do you think?

Discovering the value of wines of France

19 Apr

Recently I was very involved in coordinating the French theme region events for the Vancouver International Wine Festival. One thing that kept striking me was the amazing value in many of the wines from France. I think a lot of people are under the impression that French wines are very expensive. Of course, there are a lot of very expensive, highly sought after wines from regions such as Bordeaux, Champagne and Bourgogne. That said, you can still find great value wines even from these regions.

This inspired me to make this the theme of my recent wine club. Here are some of the wines that we found to be the most impressive from the selection I chose.

Cave de Lugny Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé NV Bourgogne – I bought this wine up at Kitsilano Wine Cellar on 4th Ave for $26. This blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir offers some lovely creamy strawberry notes. As much as I love to support our BC bubbles I have to admit that this wine offers strong competition in that under $30 price range. The beautifully ornate gold packaging enhances the feeling that you’re drinking something special as well.

Charles de Cazanove Brut NV Champagne – Now this was a wine that got a lot of people talking at the France Bubbly party that kicked off the 2014 Vancouver International Wine Festival French events. It retails for $49.99 which is a fantastic price for Champagne and was a favourite among many to boot! Find it here http://bcliquorstores.com/product/420315

Domaine Lathuiliere Pisse Vielle 2012 Brouilly – Although this wine may not have been an overall favourite at the wine club I want to mention it because I really enjoyed it. The more I try Gamay Noir, the more I like it. Don’t be expecting an in-your-face wine here but for $25 this Cru Beaujolais will deliver interesting complexities that inspire conversation. Find it here http://bcliquorstores.com/product/924365

Chapoutier Bila Haut, 2012 Côtes du Roussillon Villages – This blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan is actually the wine that inspired me to plan a theme around the great value wines of France. For $18.99 this wine delivers a load of juicy berry fruit combined with some lovely smoky, peppery notes. Find it here http://bcliquorstores.com/product/40790

Rigal les Terrasses Malbec, 2011, Cahors – The hottest discovery of the evening was also the least expensive wine that I chose. I knew that everyone at the wine club had tried Malbec from Argentina but I was confident most of them realised it originated in France or had ever tried a French Malbec. I was right. For $14.99 this wine packs a lot of bold flavours into a smooth wine offers stiff competition to anything at this price out of Argentina. The 10 months it’s seen of oak aging adds some complexity but the fruit shines through. Find it here http://bcliquorstores.com/product/786590

The bubbles and whites

The white and bubbly

The reds

The reds

Wine and the Business Dinner

3 Sep

If you’re new to the wining and dining aspect of your job and your wine knowledge is fairly limited, then ordering wine for your lucrative clients at a business dinner could be rather intimidating. We all want to look like we have some knowledge when the decision on ordering wine is in our hands. You want to consider your guests’ tastes, the food that is being ordered and the budget. If the sky is the limit on budget it can be even more intimidating as you still want to make a good impression and wasting money is never viewed as strong business acumen.

My suggestion is to get a group of your colleagues together and hire someone like me to help you out. You need some wine knowledge to remove the intimidation factor from ordering wine. You want to know what wine smells like when it’s ‘corked’. You need to have some basic understanding of pairing wine with food. It’s good to learn the language of wine so that you can ask the sommelier for guidance in a knowledgeable way. A lot of people stick with ordering the same wines all the time because they can pronounce the name. A word like Trockenbeerenauslese can roll off the tongue once you’ve heard it said out loud. Knowing that most wine geeks refer to it as TBA is also handy. There are some wines regions that don’t name the grape in the wine because they all know what it is. You’ll know too, once someone has told you. Being told that Champagne is in order is always a good sign but ordering Henkell Trocken (hey, it has bubbles right?) is probably going to raise an eyebrow or two.

The one main theme that I want to bring to the table is that wine doesn’t have to be intimidating. I want to foster an atmosphere of open discussion that is comfortable for even the newest of wine neophytes. It would be so satisfying to walk a group of business people through the basics of ordering wine then send them off to a restaurant together with wine knowledge fresh in their minds, keen to put their new skills to the test. This sounds like a great idea for a company team event!

 

Contact me at bytheglasswineclub@gmail.com to arrange wine training for your next team meeting.

Whites for Summer – August 2012

30 Aug

I had a wine budget of $140 and wanted to present some wines that likely the wine club hadn’t tried before. I also wanted a good cross-section from sparkling wine to rosé, lively to lush.

As we tasted through the line-up I was really pleased to hear the group ask how I’d managed to get these wines with our budget. There wasn’t a dud in the bunch.

I always hold back on the price until after we’ve tried all the wines. I want opinions to be based solely on the taste impressions. In fact I’m going to go back to my former decision to serve the wines blind so that they can’t even see the label first. Once everyone has tried the wine I will reveal and talk about the winery and any viti/viniculture information that’s of interest. I’ll let you know how that goes next time.

I was really impressed with the Ormarine Picpoul de Pinet for $13 and for $22 the Catena Chardonnay definitely offers a level of quality that surpasses its price. When one member found out the price of the Paul Mas Viognier she exclaimed “I’m going to buy like 800 cases!” An exaggeration of course, but at $14 she can definitely get a case or two.

I’m not going to detail the notes and feedback on all the wines because that’s the beauty of being part of wine club! We each had our favourites and ones we’d buy again. Not everyone loved every wine but this selection definitely hit plenty of positive notes with the group.

Cheers!

From bubble to Rosé – a selection of crisp to luscious wines.

Learning about wine: my recent research discoveries.

23 Aug

My favourite part of prepping for a wine club is researching the wines I’ve selected. I love learning about viticulture and viniculture. Some of the things I’ve discovered will be common knowledge to many wine enthusiasts. I was happy to find out that one of the most knowledgeable people I work with didn’t know about the translation of picpoul. I’m not embarrassed to admit what I don’t know and neither should you be. I’d like to share my new knowledge and will keep posting as I learn.

Things I learned from my most recent wine research:

  • The Hungarian/Austrian word for Pinot Gris is Grauar Mőnch
  • Picpoul  (piquepoul) translates to lipstinger referring to the acidity of the grape
  • Picpoul  is also known as Vermentino
  • Rolle is also known as Vermentino
  • Terpenes are organic compounds produced by plants and the major components of resin and turpentine
  • Terpenes are also found in Viognier, Muscat and Riesling wines
  • Viognier was almost extinct in 1965
  • Ehrenfeler was created by Dr. Heinrich Birk at the Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute in 1929, by crossing the varieties Riesling and Silvaner
  • In most wine-growing regions anything over 1000 meters above sea level is too cold to grow grapes
  • The Adrianna vineyards in Argentina are 1450 meters above sea level and there are others in Argentina that are much higher
  • The Tacuil vineyards in Argentina are 2597 meters above sea level

Cheers, Luisa

BYOW in BC continued and a friend’s list of corkage fees around BC

13 Aug

Just a quick post this time. A friend of mine has been collecting info on restaurants in BC that offer corkage. Follow this link as he’ll update it as he gets more info. http://www.bccorkagefees.blogspot.ca/

I have yet to take advantage of this option myself. A few of us from the office did ask at our favourite Chinese noodle house. They hadn’t heard of the new policy but were going to find out. As we ate we discussed which wines we’d pair with which dishes if given the chance. We’ll all have to take turns picking a bottle to take, that is if the restaurant agrees to participate. I hope they do as I frequent with some great guys who really love to geek out over wine.

Someone else I work with took a bottle to Milestones. $19 corkage – they graciously took the wine from him and served it as though it was off their list. The server wasn’t allowed to try any when offered which is a shame. Personally I’d offer to leave some from them to try when they do their cash out. That’s if they were allowed at least that.

If you’ve had BYOW experiences in BC I’d love to hear about them. Cheers, Luisa