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Why drinking natural wine is worth it

When I lived in Europe I was introduced to natural wine and this changed my palate forever. Although it is a little harder to come by when I am in Canada, the situation seems to be changing. The LCBO magazine Food and Drink published an article in its winter 2018 edition about the top trends in wine, and natural wine was # 2. It also now carries a few organic wines. But does organic necessarily entail natural? What, is the difference and does it matter?

Although there is no board that will certify a wine as ‘natural’, unlike organic or biodynamic wines, I understand natural wine to be altered as little as possible throughout its making process. This means the vines are not  sprayed with pesticides, the grapes are harvested by hand, often in a biodynamic manner, no artificial yeasts  are added, it may be unfiltered and, most of all, little to no sulfites are added. In short, all the additives found in conventional wines are removed so that instead, the ‘natural’ microbiological process of wine making takes place.

This is why most natural wines are also organic and biodynamic, but the reverse may not be true. Unlike natural wine, conventional wine makers add chemical agents, such as sulfur dioxide, to create a uniform product from year to year. These additives are the reason why after drinking a couple of glasses I might get a headache the next day. And most of all, they alter the taste of wine—drastically!

The first time my husband and I brought home a bottle of natural wine  I wondered why it was so fizzy, and why some even taste a little ‘funky’. But with trial and error I learned that to appreciate a natural wine it has to decant for at least an hour—minimum. Countless times I have opened a bottle, tried a few sips, thought it was a bad choice, only to try it a few hours later and discover an amazing new wine. And what a difference in taste! Natural wine really tastes like fruit, and it is not tainted by the vinegary, acerbic taste sulfites bring.

Although natural wine only accounts for 1% of total wine production worldwide, there is a whole array of natural wines that vary in quality, taste, and prices. The bottom line is that the quality of wine does not have to be lesser when drinking natural wine.

 

Perfect Pairings: Enliven your food with the right choice of wine & spirits

Food is most certainly at the centre of any holiday get-together in my household, and runner up to a delectable meal, are the delicious beverages to complement. Wines and spirits are the perfect option when pairing with that Easter spread. So when determining what will go on guests’ plates, take some time to consider the wine pairings that best bring out the flavours of the foods you’ve taken such care to prepare (or simply plate-if you’re anything like me and are not exactly a top chef in the kitchen.)

Fiona Buchan, Director of Marketing at Lakeview Wine Co., shares how the right pairings can bring your dinner party to new heights.

“Wine and food pairings are not just for the elite and the wealthy. Anybody can pair a wine with their food to build new flavour profiles and enhance the dinner. The key is understanding the wines that pair best with the foods you are cooking.”

Read Buchan’s tips on the subject of the perfect pairings, below:

The Aperitif — Welcome your guests properly. Before dinner is served and people are arriving, serve a nice sparkling wine. The bubbles help stimulate the palate to get people ready for the meal to come. If you (or your guests) are not a fan of the bubbly, pour a light white that stands well on its own, such as a Pinot Grigio.

Honey Glazed Ham – The staple of the Easter dinner is the glazed ham, in all of its sweet and salty deliciousness. The ham calls for a lighter, somewhat sweeter, white wine. FRESH Beginnings Moscato has peach and citrus notes on the nose, with pear, honey and fruit salad flavours on the palate — ideal for the sweet glaze and salty meat of the ham.

Turkey – While not a traditional Easter main course, the turkey is growing in popularity as a catch all dish for big family dinners. Key to pairing wine with turkey is to find a wine that is rich and flavourful without overpowering the seasoning of the bird and its stuffing. For red wine drinkers, the soft tannins of a Pinot Noir are ideal. For fans of white wines, go with a Gewurztraminer.

Cheesy Potatoes – Some sort of cheesy potato dish is a must, whether they are simmering scalloped potatoes smothered in cheddar or a creamy mashed potatoes with the cheese whipped inside. The gooey, salty goodness of the potatoes and cheese calls for a sweeter wine, like an off-dry Riesling.

Asparagus — Easter is a sure sign of spring and if the calendar cooperates (this year is not likely one of those years) the early crops of local Ontario asparagus are in market to bring some of that spring freshness to the dinner table. Fresh, crisp asparagus needs a fresh crisp wine. The mineral and grassy nots of a light, refreshing 20 Bees Sauvignon Blanc is ideal for this side dish.

Milk Chocolate — If nothing else, religious symbolism aside, Easter is associated with chocolate. Little chocolate eggs. Bigger chocolate eggs (with rich fillings inside), chocolate rabbits, and chocolate shaped into the characters of whatever movie is hot at the time. Key to pairing chocolate with wine is ensuring your wine is sweeter than the sweet dessert. For the milk chocolate that is most common in Easter confectionaries, pair with a sweet Riesling or a dessert wine.

For more information, please visit lakeviewwineco.com. Stay engaged on Facebook at /LakeviewWineCo, follow it on Twitter @LakeviewWineCo and on Instagram @lakeviewwineco.

 

5 simple must-try summer cocktails

Nothing beats a cool drink on a patio during a hot summer day in August. Whether you are hanging out at a restaurant with friends or inviting family to show off your beautiful backyard, having a refreshing drink on hand is critical!

Wine, beer, and even sangria are staples — but what if you want to try something a bit different that won’t hurt the bank? These five cocktails are simple and easy to make at home. They don’t require too many fancy ingredients and they are sure to impress your guests on a muggy summer afternoon. Enjoy!

Gin and tonic

Gin and Tonic: This drink is great for those who may not be particularly fond of sweet mixes. It’s also really easy to make. Simply mix one to two ounces of gin (depending on preference) with a tall glass of tonic water on ice. Slice a lime and squeeze out some of the juice into the glass and mix. Add in a slice of lime and a sprig of mint or rosemary for added class. This classic drink is especially refreshing, but doesn’t have the sweetness of a juice-based cocktail.

Mai Tai: Imagine you are on a beach, watching the sun set over a calm ocean. You may not have the beach, or the ocean, but what can have is a drink that reminds you of the tropics. Shake one and a half ounces of white rum, half an ounce of lime juice, orange Curacao, and orgeat syrup (or simple syrup with orange zest). Put in a glass with some ice and then pour three quarters of an ounce of dark rum on top to create a layered look. Top with a slice of pineapple or candied cherries.

Margarita: No need for a fancy Mexican restaurant — you can make this tasty drink yourself! Simply shake two ounces of tequila, one ounce of lime juice, and one ounce of triple sec. Pour over ice if you prefer the beverage on the rocks or blend with ice for a frozen affect. Don’t forget to rim your glass with salt!

margarita

The Parrot’s Grog: This is not as well-known as a Gin and Tonic or a Margarita, but it is equally as thirst-quenching. Combine one ounce of whisky, half an ounce of rum, one ounce of fresh grapefruit juice, half an ounce of lime juice, and half an ounce of honey. Shake all these ingredients together and put it in a glass with ice. Top with some soda water and a fancy umbrella!

Long Island Iced Tea: This is another addictive classic, but be warned — drinking too much can lead to table-top dancing! This cocktail has lots of alcohol hidden behind a little sugar. Mix half an ounce of vodka, white rum, gin, triple sec, and tequila (all the good stuff). Put one ounce of lemon juice, simple syrup, and a bit of coke. Pour it in a tall glass with lots of ice and a fancy straw.

What are your favourite summer cocktails? Let us know in the comments below!

How to make homemade Kombucha

Kombucha is a delicious fizzy drink that naturally ferments tea and has several satisfying health benefits. It is known to lower the risk of cancer and help with joint pain, and is a great alternative to drinking pop. It can also be made at home through a slightly strange, but fascinating fermenting process.

Ingredients:

  • One Kombucha SCOBY
  • Tea
  • Sugar
  • Starter tea from prior batch of Kombucha
  • Filtered water

Instructions:

  1. Prepare 8-10 bags of tea in 10 gallons of water with one cup of sugar per gallon.
  2. Let the tea cool down and make sure it is room temperature before adding the scoby.
  3. Once the tea is cooled down, add the scoby with the starter liquid.
  4. Cover the jar with paper towel and an elastic band and place in a dark spot that is at room temperature.
  5. The tea will ferment in 7-10 days. Add frozen strawberries or flavoured juice if desired.

The Kombucha will be plentiful and it is fun to watch it ferment while it brews. For those with a bit of a weak stomach, it may look really strange while the tea ferments. In fact, it can look downright gross. But, I promise that if you give it a try, you’ll fall in love with homemade Kombucha!

Are you using the right wine glasses?

by Nicola Burrows

A true wine connoisseur appreciates a delicate glass of wine and values the difference between a bold red and a crisp white, or possibly an autumn blush with fragrances of berries and citrus, which are sweeter on the pallet. The choices are endless, but the wine glass that is used is as essential. Bringing the flavours of the wine to life can enhance your experience. The wine you choose is as important as the wine you serve, especially to maximize the flavour. A typical wine glass has three sectors: bowl, stem and foot. The shape of the glass generally influences the type of wine used. When serving the glass to your guests, hold the glass by its stem to avoid leaving fingerprints on the bowl.

Red wine glasses

Red wine needs to go through an oxidation process. This chemical process enhances both the flavour and aroma of the wine, making it more enjoyable. The bowl of a red wine glass is both rounder and wider to allow more air to come in contact with the wine. They usually stand taller than white wine glasses to allow for an easier swirl of the wine to further oxidize the flavour. Red wine glasses are also held by the bowl since it doesn’t normally make a difference if the temperature of the wine changes from the warmth of your hand. Red wine glasses are further divided into two common discrete shapes: the burgundy glass, which is broad and is suited to take the wine to the tip of the tongue; and the bordeaux glass, which is tall and not as broad as the burgundy glass.

For a bordeaux glass, you are going to be serving Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah as these are more full bodied wines. The bordeaux glass is shaped to allow the wine to reach the back of the throat when sipped. Burgundy glasses are made to further enjoy the aroma of the red wine. Wines such as Pinot Noir are best served to customers in burgundy glasses.

White wine glasses

Most white wine glasses have smaller mouths, which reduces the area of contact the wine has with the air, reducing the rate of oxidation. Their bowls are not as wide as red wine glasses while the entire glass appears thinner.

Champagne glasses are thinnest of all the wine glasses. Their shape is known as the flute, which has a longer stem and thin brim. Part of the novelty of champagne is its sparkling display of bubbles. The less oxidation it gets the longer the wine will sparkle.

White wine glasses are meant to be grasped by the stem to avoid both finger prints on the bowl as well as prevent the wine from being affected by that of your body temperature. The smaller mouth also allows the aroma to be directed more precisely towards the nose which a very important part of wine appreciation.

Serve Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio in the wider of the white wine glasses and use the Champagne Flutes for Champagne. You can pretty much follow this rule of thumb to be successful with the whites.

You will be able to maximize the flavour of wine and appreciate the wine to its fullest capacity.

Fact or myth: Red wine is good for you

by Greg Thomson

There’s nothing like a great red wine when the snow starts to fall outside and the fireplace once again becomes a gathering place to warm chilled bones.  And of course there are rationalizations – I don’t think I could get through a single day without a few great rationalizations. In this case, it’s the favourite: “Red wine is good for me.”

I have a lot more trouble with this after the report I did on cancer for Charity Intelligence. I read many studies that showed a link between alcohol consumption and the incidence of numerous cancers, including breast, colon, and liver. My father died from colon cancer, so I am a tad uneasy with this particular rationalization. However, there is also a lot of data on the side of this argument that I like.

While there is still little causal data, many studies have shown a correlation between moderate consumption of red wine and reduced mortality. Some studies show benefits from white wine and other alcoholic beverages, but the resveratrol and flavonoids – the main causes of the benefits – are found in grape skins, and red wine stays in contact with its skins far longer than white.

The “health benefit” that I like the best is the so-called French paradox. The French and Americans have similar high-fat diets; however, the French have a much lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and some evidence points to the increased consumption of red wine by the French. I love red wine with a juicy steak, so I’ll accept this evidence.

Moderate wine consumption has also been correlated with lower stroke incidence, fewer kidney stones, and reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s. So overall, I’m perfectly happy believing that, as long as I continue to have regular colonoscopies, my two glasses of wine (sorry, “moderate consumption” means only one glass for women) are, on balance, “good for me.”

Wine Reviews

Dominus Estate, Christian Moueix, California, 1997 ($100+) 94
This wine has an absolutely gorgeous aroma full of earthiness and fruit.  The taste is the definition of terroir – you can sense the soil on your tongue.  Leather, peat, and overripe strawberry meld in beautiful union.

Chateau Trotonoy Pomerol, France, 1995 ($150+) 92
What a treat.  It fills the mouth with earthy flavour mixed with licorice, dark chocolate, and deep ripe cherries.  I love a wine that can bring so much together and yet melt in the mouth.

Flor de Pingus, Spain, 2000 ($100+) 91
Ribera del Duero is one of my favourite regions and this Duero is a beautiful wine.  Nice tannins and mouthfeel.  Flavour is tobacco (leaf, not smoke) mixed with cherry candy.  Absolutely sumptuous.

Altesino Brunello di Montalcino, Italy, 1997 ($100+) 90
Wow.  Big, peaty wine with loads of tannins – I can feel the health benefits in my teeth.  Aroma of soil (with a hint of manure!) and flavour bursting out all over.  Chocolate, black plum, and earth all mix together well, but provide a hint of irritation at the end.