My Favourite Wines from the Wine Rack

If you¬†live in Ontario, you probably find yourself at a Wine Rack every now and then. The Wine Rack¬†doesn’t have a large selection of wine but they are open late, have a lot of¬† locations and offer free samples. Also, as a¬†fur mama¬†it’s super convenient that they¬†are dog friendly and offer treats. I am not¬†exaggerating¬†when I tell you that my French Bulldog, Cosette, knows the words “wine rack” and how to get there.

For whatever reason you may¬†find yourself in a Wine Rack, I’m sure you typically wonder which wine to choose. While they stock great¬†Ontario wine producers like Jackson Triggs and Inniskillin, the selection¬†beyond these wineries¬†is pretty limited. Not to worry, I’ve got you covered with my top 5 picks. From sparkling wine to cider, you’ll be set whatever your craving the next time your dog drags you inside. Treat for dog, treat for human – the Wine Rack is win-win!

Jackson Triggs Entourage Sparkling Brut

Jackson Triggs Entourage

I have been loving the Jackson Triggs Entourage Brut since I first tried it a couple months ago at The Keg. It has creamy flavours of toasty brioche and a structured tropical acidity. Read about how I paired this bubbly with a brunch menu here. The Sparkling Brut is part of Jackson Trigg’s Grand Reserve wine collection and available exclusively at the Wine Rack or through online purchase from the winery. When you’re in the mood for some bubbly, the Jackson Triggs Entourage Sparkling Brut is my recommendation.

Inniskillin Pinot Noir Rosé

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I have blogged and Instagramed about this wine a lot! The Inniskillin Pinot Noir Ros√©¬† is one of my go-to weeknight wines. ¬†It’s a medium-bodied dry¬†ros√© with full flavours of cranberry, strawberry and rhubarb followed by a crisp finish. This wine is also exclusive to the Wine Rack or the through online purchase from the winery at $14.95. When you don’t know what you feel like, head to the¬†wine fridge and grab yourself a bottle of the Inniskillin Pinot Noir Ros√© – you will not be¬†disappointed!

 

Long Hand Sauvignon Blanc

Long Hand Sauvignon Blanc

A sales representative recently recommended the Long Hand Sauvignon Blanc when I advised I was in the mood for a crisp dry white. It was really good and I still cant believe I’ve NEVER noticed it! It has bright citrus and herbaceous flavours – reminded¬†me a bit¬†of a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Made with Ontario VQA grapes, it’s exclusive to the Wine Rack at a great price point of $14.95. This is your bottle for summer sipping.

 

Open Cellar Select Smooth Red

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Sometimes you’re craving an easy drinking smooth red, and that’s exactly what the Open Red is! It’s a full-bodied red wine with deep velvety¬†flavours of dark berries.¬†This red is also exclusive to the Wine Rack and made with 100%¬† VQA ¬†grapes. When you’re unsure of a hostess gift, or hosting yourself, this is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Your next barbeque event will go very well with the Open Cellar Select Smooth Red.

Growers Pear Cider

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The Growers Pear Cider is not a wine, but a nice alternative. The Wine Rack stocks a very large selection of Growers Cider by the pack or individually. While the Pumpkin Spice is hands down my favourite during the holiday season, the Pear flavour is my spring/summer pick.  At $3.05 each, Growers Cider is great to pick up on your way to an impromptu park picnic!

 

Cheers!~GDW

No Cook Wine & App Night

I love to host friends and family, but I don’t always love to cook. When I’m in a no-cook kind of mood, apps are the easiest option. Pair with some really nice wine and no one will be upset you didn’t make a 3 course dinner! I have a few go-to apps¬†that¬†are easy, simple and use all store bought¬†items. When I’m serving no-cook apps, I¬†like to include one stand out item, and I can’t wait to share my favourite with you!

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And, as with all hosting, it’s all about the presentation! Even if you’re using all store bought items, make sure to take them out of the packing and serve them on nice dishes. I have quite the collection of serving ware, as I find this to be one of the most important things about¬†hosting. It doesn’t have to be expensive – I pick up a lot of my pieces from¬†Homesense¬†at really¬†reasonable prices.

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So what are my 3 favourite no-cook apps? A charcuterie/cheese board, crudités platter and mussel stuffed olives. Read below for how I put these apps together, the ingredients and how to display.

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If my charcuterie/cheese board is part of several apps, I like to keep it small with high quality items. I typically include 5 items: a cheese, meat, nut, pickled vegetable and a cracker. For this wine and app night I chose my current favourite cheese, L’etivaz. This is a Swiss cheese made with unpasteurized cow’s milk, similar to a comt√©. I¬†bought it at¬†the St. Lawrence Market, but¬†you could find it¬†at any specialty cheese shop. The meat I used is a fig and port wine dry sausage¬†by the Irresistibles Artisan¬†brand from Metro – trust me, it’s so good! To keep the nut interesting I picked up the crowd pleasing macadamia, and a jar of pickled mushrooms. To finish off my board, I added pre-made sea salt and rosemary crostini’s from Stonemill Bakery.

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Crudités is just a fancy French way of saying vegie and dip platter, but it sounds so much better right?! For the crudités, stay away from pre-cut basic vegetables and choose some more interesting items. For this platter I used snap peas, endive, mini cucumbers and heirloom carrots. Same goes for the dip Рtry something different than the typical ranch, like a artichoke asiago sauce. I buy this artichoke asiago dip up from the St. Lawrence Market, but you can find similar at the grocery store.  Just make sure to take it out of the plastic container and put it into a nice serving bowl Рwill look homemade!

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And last, the pièce de résistance! My favourite, and easiest, no-cook app is mussel stuffed olives. I had these at a market in Madrid several years ago and have not stopped making them since! This app only requires three items Рlarge green olives, mussels and toothpicks. Slice the olive, stuff with mussel and secure with a toothpick. Done! Super simple and easy to make, but they stand out as a unique and different app.

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A wine and app night is not complete with a great bottle of wine. When I’m doing apps, I’m not too picky about the wine pairing as it’s difficult when you have a lot of different foods and flavours. I instead pick a wine that I love and want to share with my guests. For this night I chose the Frog’s Leap Zinfandel, which¬†I¬† bought on a trip to Napa last year.¬†I was excited to share the bottle, and found memories of the winery, with our fellow wine loving guests. Plus, it’s great that the Frog’s Leap Zinfandel is now available at the LCBO.

With this no-cook wine and app night you will spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your guests company!

Cheers!~GDW

 

March Wine Faves

Wine Favourites

As I went through the wines I drank in March, I noticed just how much ros√© I had been drinking. If you are ready for ros√© season, than¬†my March Wine Faves is the list for you! As spring nears,¬†wine drinkers also¬†tend to navigate more towards white wine, so I’ve included some great white wines from Ontario that are perfect for spring sipping. With the warmer weather also comes outdoor grilling and there’s nothing better than a big red wine paired with a¬†barbequed burger. I have three reds on the March Wine Faves list that are each at different price points, but all delicious! Hope you enjoy my favourite wines from March.

  1. JP Azeit√£o Ros√©¬†– There were a lot of new ros√©s at the LCBO in March, and this was one of my favourites.¬†Plus,¬†can’t go wrong at the $8.90 price point!
  2. Fancy Farm Girl Frivolous White¬†–¬† I had to try this wine when I found out it’s made by one of Canada’s leading winemakers, Sue-Ann Staff. This aromatic and flavourful wine is perfect for a fancy country picnic.
  3. Henkell Sparkling Ros√© – Spring brings an increase in parties and¬†Henkell’s¬†3-pack of¬†mini sparkling wines are fun and convenient for byob. Stick in a cute straw and you’re set to party!
  4. Mouton Cadet Bordeaux – If you’re looking for a well priced, consistent Bourdeaux than this is your wine. For $15.95 you’re getting a nice French red wine.
  5. Crossbarn Cabernet – If you’re looking for a bottle to splurge on, than this is your wine. The Crossbarn Cabernet is a classic example of a big, bold and smooth California Cab that will not disappoint.
  6. Casillero Del Diablo Reserva Shiraz Rosé РThis was another new rosé in at the LCBO last month and I LOVED it. Vibrant raspberry flavours are followed by soft florals and ending with a clean finish. I also love the beautiful bottle!
  7. Pelee Island Tailwind Gewurztraminer Riesling – I tend to think that Gewurztraminer is too sweet for my taste, but this wine really surprised me! It was bursting with exotic fruit flavours, and the slight soft sweetness was balanced out with good acidity.
  8. Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Ros√© – This Chilean wine is a big seller at the LCBO, and now I know why! Read my full review here, and learn why it’s one of my 5 spring must-haves for the wine lover.
  9. Cave Spring Rosé РI had been wanting to try this VQA wine for awhile and was not disappointed! Read about why I loved this rosé and what to pair it with in my post here.
  10. Southbrook Connect Organic White – If you’re looking to drink more organic wines you don’t have to look any further than Ontario! The Souhbrook Winery was the first wine estate in Canada to be both organic and biodynamic certified. Learn more about Southbrook and their Connect White here.
  11. De Chanceny Cremant de Loire Rose Brut – Spring is the season of celebrations, from wedding showers to graduations to birthdays. This French sparkling wine is great to celebrate with, or to bring as a gift.
  12. Beso De Vino Seleccion – This has been my go-to budget friendly wine for years. Read about even more budget friendly wines from the LCBO in my post, Girl on a Budget: Wines Under $10.

 

Cheers!~GDW

5 Spring Must-Haves for the Wine Lover

There’s something so exciting about the¬†start of spring, especially for the wine lover. As nature begins to bloom, so does the wine life. From ros√© picnics to patio sipping to¬†winery visits, there are¬†endless ways to enjoy wine in the spring. To ensure I’m really able to enjoy the spring wine season, there are some must-have¬†items that I make sure¬†to have ready for the first 10+ degree forecast. I love getting¬†my spring must-haves gathered now, so I’m prepared to ros√© all season!

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1. Bottle of Rosé

While ros√© season is all year long for me, it’s particularly nice to¬†sip on the pink drink¬†in the spring. There’s always an increase in availability at wine shops¬†and¬†lots of¬†new bottles to choose from. I’m¬†especially¬†loving the Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Ros√© for spring. This Chilean wine is bursting with bright flavours of strawberries, raspberries and cherries – plus how cute is the label?!¬†I can just picture myself riding my bicicleta to the park to ros√© all day.

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2. Picnic Basket

The best time to picnic is during the¬†warm season¬†of spring. I love spending a carefree weekend afternoon drinking wine and eating at the park with friends. And this is best done in style with a beautiful wicker picnic basket. I got my picnic basket several years ago at¬†Homesense, but they always come out with new ones during the spring season. If you can’t find a picnic basket at Homesense, you can get similar ones to mine here, here and here.

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3. Wine Glass

A new season calls for a new¬†glassware! There is nothing better to drink your ros√© out of than a rose gold wine glass. I found these glasses at Urban Barn in several different colours, but loved the rose to match with all my other must-have items for spring. How impressed will your guests be when you serve wine on the patio with these!? It will be happy sipping this spring with Urban Barn’s rose gold stemware!

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4. Sundress

Spring is the best time to visit local wineries. The weather is beautiful and the large tour groups have not taken over yet. I find that winery hopping is done best in¬†a great sundress – easy 1-piece outfit, versatile and looks cute! With a must-have sundress already in the closet, you’ll be instantly ready for a trip to wine country. I love this linen rose sundress from Winners,¬†but you can find similar dresses¬†here, here and here.

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5. Watch

How does a girl tell when it’s time to wine this spring? A new watch is a must-have for the wine lover! I’m already wearing my Jord Watch – with it’s natural walnut wood band and¬†vintage rose face, it really embodies the¬†feeling of a spring walk through¬†a beautiful rose garden…to find a spot for a wine picnic of course!¬†It will work perfectly with your new bottle of ros√©, picnic basket, wine glass and sundress. Enter my Jord Watch Giveaway HERE to win one of your own! Yes way to all things ros√© this spring.

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With these 5 spring must-have items, the wine lover is sure to have a fun-filled season. I have¬†these items¬†all ready to go! Can’t wait until my Jord Watch strikes wine o’clock and I’m off to the park in my sundress and ros√© filled picnic basket.¬†Happy spring!

Cheers!~GDW

Wine Your Through Niagara: The Hare Wine Co.

The Hare Wine Co. is a beautiful new winery to Niagara on the Lake, opening it’s¬†reclaimed¬†barn doors in 2016. Located on the mature and bountiful lands of Niagara , the estate winery vineyard was named after the hare for it’s symbolism of fertility and good fortune. When¬†guests¬†enter estate, the Hare Wine Co. wants¬†you to experience a shift in time to the founding days of the region. I definitely¬†got this feeling as a sipped my VQA wine in the tasting room¬†built¬†from¬†rustic and repurposed¬†wood, metal and brick¬†materials.¬†Plus,¬†gotta love all¬†the bunny imagery!

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The Wine Hare Co. has four series of wines, all with pretty rabbit labels perfect to pick up at the winery for spring get-togethers! We tried wines from the Jack Rabbit, Crown Land and Frontier Collection. We also used our Winemakers Selections Tasting Pass to sample the late harvest vidal and icewine. The winemaker has really told the story of the vintage and crafted some uniquely Niagara wine. We left with two bottles from the Jack Rabbit series to enjoy this Easter.

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The tasting room is open daily and no appointment is necessary to visit the tasting bar. The Hare Wine Co. offers a flight of 3 wines for $5, and the fee is waived with the purchase of a bottle. In addition to the daily tastings, there always seems to be a fun upcoming event! My mom and I will be back on April 28th for the Etsy Spring Market. Local shopping and wine sounds like the perfect day to me!

Cheers!~GDW

Wines for Easter Dinner

If you’re like me and always put in charge of bringing the wine to family celebrations, then I’m sure you’ve started¬†thinking about what will pair best with Easter dinner. Most Easter dinners involve¬†pork¬†or bird roasts¬†that are complimented best by medium-bodied white and red wines. I’ve found three local Ontario wines that will work great with your dinner and satisfy different wine tastes.¬†Each¬†bottle is under $20 and¬†available at most LCBO locations. I suggest picking them up now before that the weekend rush!

Strewn Chardonnay Barrel Aged VQA

The Strewn Chardonnay from Niagara is a full-bodied and rich white that will pair really¬†well¬†with turkey or Cornish hen. It has toasty peach aromas and buttery fruit flavours. If you tend to steer away from oaked Chardonnays because of their overwhelming butteriness, you don’t have to worry with the Strewn Chardonnay as it’s really balanced with good¬†acidity and a clean finish.

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G. Marquis The Silver Line Pinot Noir

The more adventurous culinary family is having lamb or duck for their Easter dinner, and these types of meats deserve a delicate and¬†refined red wine. The G. Marquis Pinot Noir is a medium-bodied dry red that will match the flavours of the lamb or duck nicely. It’s really elegant with¬†a smokey spice aroma, cherry flavours¬†and¬†a hint of violet.

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Cave Spring Dry Rosé VQA

The Cave Spring Ros√© is a versatile and food friendly wine. It will pair well without a lot of menus, but particularly if you’re having ham or salmon. This ros√© is a medium-bodied dry wine made up of 57% Pinot Gris, 18% Riesling, 14% Pinot Noir, 7% Cabernet Franc, 4% Gamay. It’s lovely aroma of ripe red cherries is followed by flavours of red berries and finished with a refreshing acidity.

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Hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend filled with fresh new wines for Spring!

Cheers!~GDW

 

 

 

Wine Your Way Through Niagara: Kew Vineyards Estate Winery

This is the first post in a new series, “Wine Your way Through”, and I’m starting with what has to be the cutest winery in Niagara, Kew Vineyards Estate Winery. I visited the winery with my family last month and had¬†a wonderful afternoon sipping bubbly in their pretty tasting room. Kew Vineyards encourages guests to soak in, waste time and enjoy their experience on the estate and with their wines – I definitely felt this warm hospitality when I found myself several hours later finished a cheese board and second tasting flight!

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Located in the¬†Beamsville¬†Bench on a 160 year-old estate, Kew Vineyards has some of Niagara’s first¬†Riesling vines,¬†brought over from Germany by Mr. Hermann Weis in 1975. Since then, Kew Vineyards has been passionate about growing uniquely Niagara terroir¬†wines, allowing the cool climate vineyard tell it’s story. Today, they are well known for their sparkling wines, producing several different types.

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On my visit the Kew Vineyards, I started with the bubbly flight for $10 and tried the 2013 Blanc de Noirs, 2013 Tradition and the 2010 Rosalie. We also ordered the cheese board and finished with a tasting flight of the reds. The Blanc de Noirs, Organic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay bread dipper from Wildly Delicious came home with us. This was all enjoyed in the prettiest tasting room with pleasant and helpful hosts. Kew Vineyards was also very accommodating, allowing us to bring our little Frenchie girl!

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I can’t wait to go back this summer and enjoy the beautiful outdoor space!

Cheers!~GDW