Wine You Drink When…It’s Champagne Night!

This week, for a pretty exceptional girls night out, Hungry in Calgary and I took in “Champagne Night” at one of Calgary’s loveliest restaurants – The Lake House. They were featuring several Ruinart champagnes and we were so excited to sip bubbly all through the meal!

As you can see above, the menu was full of delicious items! They also treated us to a welcome cocktail featuring Belvedere vodka and some lovely herbal mixes.

But, of course, my main concern was the wine! Our first glass was the Ruinart “R” Brut. This was a tasty start to the night – the Chardonnay blend was sparkling with the teeniest bubbles. It reminded me the most of other champagnes I’ve tried, but certainly only those on the nicer end.

Let me take a second here to mention that Ruinart is the first established champagne house – it dates all the way back to 1729! In addition to treating our palates, we got a cool history of the family’s transition from textiles to champagne! History buffs, click here for more and be sure to follow them on Instagram @ruinart for a fancy addition to your feed.

The second glass we got to try was the Rosé! I’ve never met a bubbly rosé I didn’t like and this certainly was no exception! It had great berry flavour and felt extra festive! It compares most closely to Moët & Chandon’s Brut Rosé – my favourite treat.

These champagnes kept getting better as they came out! The third sampling, and my surprise favourite of the evening, was the Blanc de Blancs. It was such a treat to sample and was the easiest sipping (and priciest, of course!) of the bunch. This would be an excellent celebratory wine for a number of occasions – I’m keeping it in mind for my upcoming birthday. To wrap up my gushy description – this is what you think of when you think of great champagne!

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Part of this evening’s goal was working toward making Ruinart more of a household name in Canada and I would love to recommend them! I was very impressed with all three and the prices are comparable with other higher end sparkling wines.

Happy sipping, winos!

 

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Wine You Drink When…it’s Winefest!

I celebrated my favourite day of the year with some great people last night…Winefest! This delightful event happens in both Edmonton and Calgary, and in my humble opinion, is the best of all the wine festivals we get. Your all-inclusive ticket takes care of hundreds of sips of wine, as well as snacks and dessert pairings. If you didn’t make it this weekend, you can use this post to start dreaming of next year…

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As always, I started off my festival-ing very dutifully, taking notes on each wine I tasted. It was a strong start to the afternoon with Rocca delle Macie’s Orvieto. It was a citrusy, crisp, easy drinking Italian white.

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Next stop – OPEN from my favourite Canadian wine region, the Okanagan. (I know BC/AB are having a fluid feud, but I was SO happy to see some BC wine represented!) I tried all four of their wines, starting with their Sauvignon Blanc. It had a very New Zealand style taste and was very stone fruit forward. Next, their Smooth Red had a touch of sweetness and was advertised as perfect for “those just beginning to switch from white to red.” Their Cabernet Merlot was my personal favourite of the four, with a fruity taste that was absolutely delicious. Their Merlot had been the previous evening’s crowd favourite and had a very fruity aroma, with some unexpected complexity with that first sip. Can’t wait to pick up some more of this wine!!

Back to Italy for our next stop – Cavit Wines. We started with their Lunetta Prosecco and absolutely adored it! As Amanda said, this is wine you would bring to a baby shower! So yummy and perfect for celebrating weddings, babies, friendships, Tuesdays, you name it! Their Chardonnay was also delicious! It was unoaked with a hint of apple and tasted almost like a Pinot Grigio. Last but certainly not least, their Pinot Noir. It had a lot of berry flavour and I would call it a perfect “girls night” red.

(Sadly, no pictures of this one…the wine was starting to hit me and I was too excited!!)

Roscato was a super fun stop! We tried their sparkling red and their sparkling rosé. These were sweeter wines, but certainly not overwhelmingly so! The rosé would be perfect patio wine for a summery afternoon and the red would be a great dessert wine!

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By this point, it was high time for some more red! Chile rarely lets me down and this next stop at Vina Ventisquero was no exception. We compared their Cabernet Sauvignons and both were super tasty! The first one, a 2013, was surprisingly easy drinking. The second one, a 2014, was initially described as “Heather style but Michelle accessible.” For most of you out there that don’t have any idea what I’m blathering on about, Heather loves wines with an earthy, complex palate. Or, as I like to say, a hint of barnyard. This was a bolder choice, with definitely earthiness, but still a wine I’d be happy to down multiple glasses of.

Play Wines, also from BC, were a nice change from the ordinary! Their Viognier was very fruity and floral, without being to sweet or overwhelming. However, their Merlot Cabernet really stole the show for me! It had hints of both smoke and cherry that made you want to sit and drink the bottle, but for those more responsible than me, it also would go great with grilled food!

(Whoops! No pictures of those ones either…)

The final section of my notes will end with Therapy, another BC winery (I can never get enough!). The wines here were awesome, and as an added bonus, the labels were hilarious! Their sparkling wine was called “Fizziotherapy” and several bottles featured Freud. I love a good pun, so I was super pumped about that. Their Pinot Noir had a hint of spice and was really great!

We actually were chatting with a vendor about the un-popularity of Pinot Noir, which I found so strange, considering I gush about this particular varietal in most of my posts. If you are unsure about this supposedly “bland” wine, I would encourage you to try any of the ones mentioned here! They all had a unique flavour from each other and have something to offer for everybody!

I did stop taking notes about halfway through, but I never stop taking pictures! Here are some other wines I LOVED:

If anyone needs me, I’ll be searching for bottles of all of these tasty treats! Sobey’s carries most-to-all of the wines featured this weekend and you can always use LiquorConnect.com.

Happy sipping, winos!

Wine you drink when…it’s a cozy Sunday in!

Accidental blogging hiatus officially over! As I repeatedly get my butt kicked at work, it’s so easy to procrastinate this lovely hobby of mine. Luckily, I was re-inspired by a wonderful Sunday night in with my best pal. She offered to cook chicken and risotto (yum!) and naturally, I offered to bring the wine. A lovely bottle I’ve been saving for the right occasion seemed to leap right off the rack! Dr. Loosen’s “Riesling Dry” was introduced into my life about a year ago at an AMAZING dinner at The Lakehouse. Actually, as I type this, I’m remembering that this particular event was the night I decided to start a blog in the first place! We even came up with the name “Wino in the West” partway through dinner. Such a great night!

Anyways. The wine. This riesling has an ever-so-slight but lovely hint of carbonation. It’s dry enough that I could crush the bottle, but it also pairs nicely with food! Particularly this risotto – garlic, parmesan, and creamy rice were the perfect combo. Amanda threw in a half cup of this vino to deglaze, so it really was a perfect match! What better excuse to open a bottle of white wine?!

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In our true style, we also found some lovely Champagne Truffles to finish off our meal. I can’t resist anything with the C-word on it…lol. The truffles themselves were a deliciously rich chocolate ganache and had a cherry flavour to them. Highly recommend!

The wine can be found in a variety of liquor stores – latest spot was at Co-op for a crazy low $12!! Truffles were courtesy of Sunterra.

Happy sipping, winos!

Wine you drink when…It’s going to be a long week.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks at work and this is the first five-day week in a while, so I’m trying to figure out the best way to get through it. Wine! Duh! Tonight I opened a beautiful Cabernet Merlot that was one of my best purchases this summer. Hester Creek is one of my favourite BC wineries for a variety of reasons! First of all, it’s absolutely gorgeous! There are flowers and several patio spaces that overlook the beautiful green lawn and the mountains. The staff are always so friendly and make wine tasting fun. Arguably the most important reason is of course that they have absolutely delicious wine!

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This wine is a satisfying “big red” while still smooth and easy to drink. Tonight, I paired it with a DIY charcuterie plate, and also dark chocolate, while I watched some gloriously out-of-date HBO. In addition to prosciutto, olives, and applewood smoked cheddar, this Cab Merlot was a perfect companion to season one of Game of Thrones. I know, I know, I’m sooooo late to that party. But, even I can only hold out so long resisting Jon Snow’s gorgeous locks and Cersei’s crazy reign of terror.

I plan on getting through each of the evenings this week with a carefully regimented schedule of all the things I enjoy. I’m keeping the bottle in the fridge to ensure its longevity. It needs to accompany my stress colouring book, my Jenny Lawson novel, and re-runs of New Girl. I have nothing but faith that it’s up to the task!

May all of our Fridays come swiftly! Happy sipping, winos!

Wine you drink when…it’s Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival!

It was one of my favourite festivals this past weekend, Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival! The wrist stamp has now faded so I can go back to looking respectable during my day job, but the delights of the evening are fresh in my mind! It was a perfect girls night out for my best pal, Hungry in Calgary, and I. If you’d like to here more about the food portion of the evening, click here! To focus on the treats that were poured into a glass, read on!

We started the evening in the same fashion we start any evening…with bubbles! The first booth was featuring Crisecco! Find it under the “Find Products” tab at CelestialWineAndSpirits.com. This refreshing sparkling wine tastes like prosecco and is a great choice for celebrating or starting a meal.

The next stop was the Noble Vines booth, where I had to have some Pinot Noir (cherry, plum, and cocoa flavours!) while Amanda went with the Rosé (raspberry, watermelon, and cherry flavours!). Both were excellent and stood out in my mind throughout the night, despite the volume of other drinks we tried. Find these delicious California grapes at liquorconnect.com!

I tried a Lemberger from New York state, which would make a great dinner wine and had enough pepper punch to please my spicy-wine-devotee friend, Shannon.

Bottega is an Italian sparkling wine that I’ve enjoyed before and, conveniently, it can be purchased at your local Co-op! Though both varieties are refreshing, I do remember liking the rosé bubbles best (not pictured unfortunately…too excited for proper photo protocol!)

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Don’t tell the wine, but I cheated on it just a little to try some Crown Royal. We tried both the apple and vanilla flavours and they were very smooth! I learned that I definitely prefer my whiskey fruit flavoured and on the rocks!

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I also tried my first Aperol Spritz…it wasn’t my favourite, but would be a great choice for anyone who loves a good orange/bitters flavour!

The night was starting to wrap up and so many vendors were still yet to be visited, so we had to make some quick decisions! I’ve never met a Portuguese red that I didn’t love, so the next glass was an easy choice. From the Douro region in Portugal, this red was easy drinking and left me wanting more than the small sample size!

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We also decided that a ticket splurge was worth it for a 89-point wine: Vinha Barrosa. This lovely red was wonderful and tasted expensive enough to please any discriminating palate. It was too scary to ask for the retail price, but if you need a treat yo’self, then look this one up!

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In the battle for the best New Zealand red (that you can also buy locally for a reasonable price!), the Mount Riley Marlborough Pinot Noir stole the show! That said, any NZ Marlborough shall never be turned away from my table! Whatever you Kiwis are doing down there, keep it up!

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Alas, we Cinderellas had to turn back into pumpkins sometime…or at 10:00, to be specific. For the final number, I couldn’t resist the “must try” item of the event: blue wine! This gorgeous-hued Chardonnay was fantastic! It started smooth and finished with a beautiful nectarine flavour. It was the perfect nightcap to such a fun night out!

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For anyone experiencing FOMO, Edmonton’s version is still coming up in November! Get your tickets here: https://www.rockymountainwine.com/event/edmonton/event-details/

 

Happy sipping!

 

Wine you drink when…you’re leaning on your girlfriends!

Hello fellow winos,

It’s been a long time since my last post and here’s why: I travelled all summer, prepped for going back to work, and stood up for my pal, Hungry in Calgary, while she got married to a fantastic man. But now, I’m back and ready to talk wine.

It’s been a rough-turned-inspiring week in this wino’s house. Turns out, my summer romance fizzled come fall and that was a blow. Luckily for me, I have some pretty amazing ladies in my life who got me through my blues. And, what pairs better with heartache than red wine? So, here is my ode to my favourite beverage….

Thank you, red wine, for being the perfect addition to a weekday dinner with a best pal. Merchants in Marda Loop was a great setting for some laughs, some sips, and some great conversation with one of my best. Merchants boasts a lovely happy hour that includes wine, beer and cocktails, as well as some tantalizing appies! All I had open at home was a white wine (waste not, want not!), so it felt great to sip on their house red. I don’t know about you, but I’m hard pressed to find anything else quite so satisfying to drink. For those of you that have similar (read: embarrassingly little) alcohol tolerance while driving, they also make an amazing Shirley Temple for beverage #2.

As a follow up purchase that evening, I found the perfect escort home: a mini bottle of a favourite big red of mine – J. Lohr Paso Robles Cab Sauv. It paired well with New Girl re-runs and the prepping of this blog post!

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Continuing on with my theme of the week, I headed north to YEG to visit a university friend and had a great weekend! A highlight was the amazing Italian food at Parlour. I gorged myself on cauliflower fritto and boozey lemonade for the starter and carried right onto Red Rooster Merlot for my creamy Fettuccine Alfredo entrée. You know I love to support BC wines, so this was an easy choice!

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It was an easy-sipping choice and paired well with great conversation and many laughs!

So, here’s to you, red wine, for being the timeless accessory to fun nights out and cozy nights in!

Happy sipping, winos!

Wine you drink when…you’re in Ireland and Paris!

I am fresh off of a European adventure and am flying high! Nights at the pub with live Irish music followed by all the rosé and bordeaux a girl can drink is a sure-fire mood booster! My best pal and I took a bit of a gamble and had booked a Contiki tour through Ireland, even though we are starting to approach the end of their age limits. Luckily, we travelled with an amazing crew and had a wonderful, warm, and not-hard-to-look-at tour manager. We decided to tack on a few days in Paris afterwards, because, well, why not?

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It didn’t take long to get into vacation mode on our flight!

Wine in Ireland was an interesting experience, seeing as how they are famous for beer and cider. What I really enjoyed was the adorable single portion bottles they would often serve! This is a great way to ensure no one has to choke down a glass of something that’s been open for too long. They tended to have a lot of South American wines, which I always enjoy, but I was hoping for a little more from the great wine-making countries of Europe. However, I certainly didn’t let that stop me!

We took a break from pub fare one night in Galway and went to a lovely little Italian restaurant. Here, I was delighted to have quite a selection of vino italiano and went with a nice, easy drinking bottle of Pinot Grigio! It paired very well with my seafood pizza.

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The highlight of my Irish wine-ing was certainly the delightful pub in Cork, The White Rabbit, which had prosecco on tap!! The bubbles went surprisingly well with my potato soup starter…saluti and also sláinte!

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Now for the star of the show…Parisien wine! My favourite thing about being in France was their absolute determination to only serve you French wine. If you do something well, why not show it off?? The first night I devoured 3 glasses of Bordeaux with a meat/cheese plate, served with baguettes of course, and I could have died happily then and there.

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Wine not pictured…it was busy being guzzled like water 🙂

I also fell even more in love with French rosé on this trip. It’s light colour and fruity yet dry taste has me complètement hooked. I drank a lovely glass of it in the Tuileries Gardens outside the Louvre. It was the perfect pairing of wine, crepes, flowers, and a charmingly grouchy waiter. Swoon.

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My final gushing of this post shall be devoted to Bordeaux. I had planned to drink Beaujolais, which is my go-to in liquor stores here at home, but I saw very little of it on the menu. By the time it was an option, I had abandoned thoughts of it for my new love. Fruit forward, but never syrupy and always easy drinking, this is a wine I would recommend to everyone from red loyalists to newcomers to the dark (arguably best) side. A bottle shared with a great friend across from an iconic landmark? Parfait!

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Stay tuned for the next post….Caves du Louvre wine tasting!

 

Happy Sipping!