Don’t Quote Me

IMG_1634-3Most of my Facebook friends not only know I love wine but many of them are wine lovers as well.  At least once a week I get a quote that seems to speak directly to me, so I wondered just how many there were. From the historical and famous to the ones that make us laugh out loud, I found hundreds of quotes that seem to fill the glass where we often find life’s meaning.

Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance. -Benjamin Franklin

Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age. -Pope John XXIII

I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food. -W. C. Fields

Wine to me is passion. It’s family and friends. It’s warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It’s culture. It’s the essence of civilization and the art of living. -Robert Mondavi

Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages. -Louis Pasteur

Nat-cork-screw wine-pairing-in-the-stone-age images


It’s funny how true some of these quotes ring, so if you’ve found one you love make sure to share it with all your friends. Because next to wine, laughter is the best medicine.

The Art of Charcuterie

august 19-2014 118When my daughters were little, there was no better way to get them to eat than creating a little visual masterpiece of manageable bites. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, splayed out just tempting them to sample.

As they grew older, their taste buds grew more adventurous. Star-shaped mild cheddar morphed into triple cream Brie or Aged Pecorino. Squares of sliced ham replaced by locally-cured porchetta and salamis.

Little did they know they were charcuterie lovers in-training. A few weeks ago I asked Mia what she wanted for her birthday dinner. “One spectacular plate, please.”

august 19-2014 120Charcuterie dates back to 15th century France. Originally it was a method used to preserve meats before refrigeration.  The name comes from “char” or flesh and “cuit” which means to cook. And while hundred of years ago it was a necessity, today it has become an art form.

Charcut in Calgary,  and Toronto neighbourhood favourites F’Amelia and Black Hoof  specialize in the art of charcuterie.  A recent trip to Kelowna. where the local food movement is not just embraced, it is expected,  raises the charcuterie bar.

Owner of Salted Brick Chef Jason Leizert  smokes and cures all his meat  The curing room is at the back of the restaurant for all to see, That day he was preparing venison and cranberry sausage.

The open concept lets hungry customers watch Chef Jason prepare their platters and answer questions at the same time. The platter was perfect and the sandwiches sublime. Downed with a glass of Sumac Ridge Red.

august 19-2014 115

It’s hard to resist those tasty little nibbles: the artisanal  cheeses, the home-cured meats and the creative condiments you would never taste at home – all shared with a glass or flight of wine.

A “plate” among friends.

My daughters are now 25 and 29, and there is still nothing that makes them feel more like home….except maybe a nap on the couch.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home


Weekend Wine Picks


Oct 14 2014 251There were so many things to give thanks for this week. Surrounded by family and friends, watching my 84-year old mother arm wrestle any one who dared to challenge her. My wonderful nieces and nephews exploring the city. My lovely daughter dancing the night away in the kitchen with guests from 8-84. And of course, toasting the whole night with some terrific wine picks that I highly recommend.

ripasso 2012Giuseppe Campagnolo Valpolicella Ripasso 2012 Corvina Blend $16.95 Medium bodied and fruity.  This was perfect to serve before, during, and after our turkey dinner.   13.5% In the Vintages section, but going fast.



peoples pinotThe People’s Pinot Noir Central Otago, New Zealand 2011 $16.95  I was looking for a Pinot Noir to serve with turkey and this one caught my eye. Admittedly this time it was the label that stood out – often a detractor in my mind – but I do like Kiwi wines and this light bodied pick with cherry and raspberry notes turned out to be a crowd pleaser.   gran feudo 2007

Julian Chivite Gran Feudo Reserva 2007  Blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is only $16.95  This was my favourite of the bunch. If you are looking for an affordable red – this one is worth sampling.


A little trip around the world in wine  made for great Thanksgiving feasting. Just in time for this week at the LCBO, where Vintages is  celebrating my favourites – great Italians. Time for some sampling in the tasting room this weekend. Salute!

The Day My Music Died

My Trusty iPod Classic

My Trusty iPod Classic

I went to see Gone Girl at AMC Beaches earlier this month, and someone walked away with the soundtrack of my life.

Most material things mean nothing to me. . Yes, there is that bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape to be opened in  4 years, that is being lovingly protected.  Family pictures of course, and the odd piece of jewelry that is special because of who or where it came from, but overall, they are just things.

My iPod was special. It was given to me as a  birthday present by the wonderful people I work with who know me well enough to know there was no better gift.  It has travelled everywhere with me. From Whitehorse to San Francisco, Kelowna to Maine. Each playlist lovingly developed over the decade since my sister  gave me my first incarnation that held 1200 tunes.  My Classic held space for 12,000 tunes including the songs that were playing when I tasted bottles of wine that rocked my world. Sitting on a terrazzo looking out at the Italian countryside sipping a glass or three. Dancing with my hubbie to Harvest Moon. Laughing my face off with friends.

SInce then there have been a few desktops loaded with iTunes, but on my Classic, the songs remained the same.

Until now.

And while in the global scheme of things, it is utterly inconsequential,  tonight these wines  are  my toast to my little iPod that served me well.

Even though some of those treasured playlists died with the hard drive on a former computer, I know I will get them back eventually on a newer speedier model. Apple moved on from the  iPod Classic that only played music. It wasn’t fast enough, multi-functional enough –  but that’s exactly why we got along so well.

My music and me.

So  I needed some good wine to wash away my music melancholy, wines from Washington State.

Charles Smith cabernet Sauvignon

Charles Smith cabernet Sauvignon


Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2012  This was one of the featured wines in the Vintages catalogue. At $23.95, it was worth the price. If you haven’t explored Columbia Valley wines, they are definitely worth some attention, especially now that more of them are turning up in Vintages.



Powerful Washington Blend

Powerful Washington Blend




Proprietary Red Blend Horse Heaven Hills 2009 43% Syrah, 35% Barbera, 9% Petit Verdot, 9% Malbec, 4% Mourvedre. Plums, cherries, full bodied – absolutely lovely. I also loved H3 which is what led me to pick up this bottle, and  I am definitely going back for more. $21.95 at the LCBO.


I hope the person who walked away with my iPod in its battered brown faux leather case enjoys the Road to Sicily playlist  that chronicles the music of my life with my husband Steve. Or Mormor’s birthday playlist – my 84-year old mother’s favourite songs (including Patricia the Stripper). And have a look at the pix from the most amazing trip to Italy five years ago with my dearest friends before you delete all.

It’s just a thing. But it was a thing that meant a lot.


Wedding Wine


wedding shotOnce upon a time, on a perfect beach in Maine, one hundred people held up their glasses to toast the marriage of soul mates.

What is a wedding if not belief in the future?

Looking at Rhiannon and Scott, surrounded by family and friends who gathered to rejoice in this moment, you can’t help but believe.

I have often written about Maine (likely because it often includes the imbibing of a fair amount of wine).  What made this wedding so special – they chose to begin their future in a place that honours the bride’s past.

Rhiannon, her siblings and my girls – along with a host of others, have spent precious days together on that beach for 25 years.

mia and maine 155And this day couldn’t have been more perfect.

goddessThe bride and her attendants looked like Goddesses as they made  their way down the beach.




The catch in Rhiannon and Scott’s voices as they spoke their vows.

The relief that some of us felt (OK it wasn’t ONLY me)  that we were thankfully wearing sunglasses so those tear-filled  eyes wouldn’t show.



What does this have to do with wine?  


Wedding wine, of course – the challenge of making choices that will have everyone coming back for more.

Last summer, while making our way through scores of bottles, during our week at the very same beach , one evening was devoted to the tasting of potential wedding wines.

Among the 10 of us, we had plenty of familiarity drinking wine and a fair amount of experience  attending weddings. Testing wines is a tough job, but that’s what friends are for.


Where do you start?

  • Set your budget. Parents Sandra and Randy wanted to spend somewhere between $10-20 a bottle. Extremely attainable.
  • Pick your varietals. After much discussion which included the merits of Merlot and the shunning of Chardonnay (wrongly so) – the plan was a Pinot Noir, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
  • Find an expert: Erin from Old Port Wine Merchants and Cigar Shop in Portland couldn’t have been more helpful. She had great suggestions and if there was something Sandra was looking for that she didn’t carry or didn’t fit the budget – Erin found something with a matching flavour profile.

Here’s what they settled on:

Cameron Hughes Chardonnay 2012 Cameron Hughes Monterey County  Chardonnay $16.00




2013 Scaia –  Veneto 2013  Garganega/Chardonnay $9.95

cab sauv


2012 Avalon –  Cabernet Sauvignon California  $10.99



2013 Angeline Pinot Noir  California 2013 $10.99

fume blanc


2013 Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County $14.00


Excellent choices to celebrate with dear old friends, raise a glass with new ones and toast to Rhiannon and Scott’s future.  A Once Upon a Time kind of day that will undoubtedly  end with Happily Ever After.



Value added suggestion:

One of the many times husband Steve and I visited the tasting bar at the Summerhill LCBO, a couple planning their wedding  told us  about Luccarelli Primitivo Puglia IGT – $10.95. Turns out it  is the most popular wedding wine.  Though now Steve thinks all young couples we meet at the tasting bar are picking wedding wine – which can prove to be occasionally awkward but awfully fun.

Red Carpet Stars

Well another year of TIFF has wrapped up and Toronto has seen many stars walk the red carpet for their film premieres.

But besides the usual suspects there was another celebrity in town. Famous in his own right, 2-star Michelin Chef, Oliver Glowig was also here. He rolled out the red carpet for a special chef’s table dinner at the Ritz Carlton’s TOCA restaurant and Lis and I were lucky enough to be two of the eight people invited.

The food was a delight to the senses, with bright, vibrant colours that were a feast for the eyes. The sizzle as the swordfish hit the grill signaled another delicious dish was coming and watching the chef hand make the ravioli let you know only the freshest ingredients were being used. As six courses were presented over the evening the flavour explosions brought a taste of Italy to our mouths thanks to the skill of Chef Glowig and his amazing team.

For every course there was a terrific wine pairing and one of the delights of visiting TOCA means you get to try something you won’t always find at your local liquor store.  We started off the evening with a deliciously light sparkling Falanghina Brut DUBL from the Campania region of Southern Italy served by sommelier Taylor Thompson.  Each dish was accompanied by a wine chosen to bring out the flavours of the food and they didn’t disappoint.

Getting rave reviews was the “Ravioli Capresi” stuffed with caciotta and marjoram, served with a cherry tomato and fresh basil sauce. Maybe it was  because Chef shared the secret of how the delicate ravioli were made but I’m pretty sure it was because they tasted truly amazing.  Some of the eight at the table were even willing to give up dessert for another crack at this dish and I was in total agreement.

While chef Oliver Glowig has now flown back to Italy to handle the affairs of his own restaurant in Rome, you can enjoy the menu he created for TOCA any time at Toronto’s Ritz Carlton.

Wine Meets Art at Mission Hill


This gallery contains 35 photos.

A visit to Mission Hill Family Estate  in Kelowna makes you feel as relaxed as a floating yoga class. Stepping through the gates,  you feel  a sense of  peace paired with refreshingly crisp rose. Just writing about it brings me back, … Continue reading