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 comté. 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 – try 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 – will 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 – large 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 rosé I had been drinking. If you are ready for rosé 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 Azeitão Rosé – There were a lot of new rosés 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 Rosé – 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 – This 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 Rosé – 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 – I 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

Girl on a Budget: Wines Under $10

Sometimes a girl is on a budget and needs decent wine for cheap. While it’s nice to drink expensive vintages, there are times that call lower price point wines, like a when you’re hosting a big party or saving for a trip. But a girl on a budget does not mean that good taste has to be compromised! I’ve rounded up my top three wines from the LCBO that are under $10 and don’t taste like bathwater.

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1. Beso de Vino

Beso de Vino is a red blend from Spain. It’s a full bodied dry wine with a deep purple colour.  I was introduced to it by a friend several years ago and it’s been a constant go to since then for hosting, gifting and weeknight drinks. Beso de Vino is a crowd pleaser! I haven’t met someone that doesn’t enjoy this easy going wine. It’s has luscious dark fruit flavours with a hint of spice and licorice. Available at the LCBO for $9.95.

2. L’Orangeraie Rosé

If you’re in the mood for Rosé, the L’Orangeraie is a great budget friendly option. From the South of France, this wine is medium bodied and extra dry with good acidity. Notes of herb, bell pepper and floral are followed by tart cherry and citrus flavours. A classic example of a southern French Rosé, L’Orangeraie is sure to please any pink drink lover. When I was first putting together this post, L’Orangeraie was at the LCBO for under $10, but recently increased to $10.25 – still a good deal!

3. Two Ocean’s Sauvignon Blanc

Most wine drinkers at some point have probably had the Two Ocean’s Sauvignon Blanc. This white wine from South Africa is light bodied and dry  with flavours that will not offend anyone. Easy drinking and crisp, the Two Ocean’s Sauvignon Blanc has light tastes of soft citrus and grapefruit. It’s guaranteed to be enjoyed on a hot summers day! The 750ml bottle is $9.95 at the LCBO, but you can get the 1500ml bottle for only $17.95 – perfect if you’re hosting a summer party!

Cheers!~GDW