The Bachlorette, Wine Cellars and Sabering

One of my weaknesses is the often silly Bachelor/Bachelorette reality show. Don’t ask me why, but every season I’m hooked. Perhaps, I’m fascinated by people looking for love on national TV or perhaps the show is much easier to watch with a glass of wine in hand, which is perhaps the best way to view this show.

If you watched this Monday’s episode, you couldn’t miss the scene in the wine cellar at the Bearfoot Bistro restaurant.  I spent more time figuring out what wines were in the cellar than watching what Jillian (the Bachelorette) and Michael (one of the remaining men) were saying to each other.  As best as ABC tried to cover up what was in the cellar, I spotted verticals of Dominus, Tignanello, Domaine Serene from Oregon and Opus One. I saw lots of great Magnums from some of the same producers, too. And to boot, there was sofa in the wine cellar…hmm…wonder what goes on in here after-hours…  I’m sure there’s a lot of what happens in the wine room stays in the wine room nonsense going on.  This restaurant does have an amazing wine list.

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It’s Father’s Day: Which Wine Should I Buy For My Dad?

The annual dilemma if you have the Dad or Father-In-Law that has everything (like most of do).   Beside from taking your Dad to the movies to see The Hangover for great Father and Son bonding, here are some wine suggestions that will have your Dad or Father-In-Law running back to the store for more!

For the Strong, Silent Dad:  I think a great Malbec would be perfect.  The 2007 Domino Del Plata Susana Balbo Signature Malbec ($27.95) is no exception.  Think baking spices and mocha here with a long, generous finish.

For the Dad who drinks white wine:  2007 Stags Leap Chardonnay is a great choice.   It’s a classic Burgundian style Chardonnay but from Napa Valley with pear and green apple notes, great acidity with a fantastic finish.  Yes, I know it’s $29.95 but hey, your Dad is worth it! 

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What wine would you pair with Hamburger Helper?

I cannot remember the last time I had or ever made Hamburger Helper. Since moving, I am in an area that gets all kinds of free samples from cereal to tuna. So you can imagine my surprise when a box of Lasagna Hamburger Helper arrived at my doorstep.

Considering the economic times I thought I would get in the spirit and whip up this dish. Of course, I did use organic extra lean ground beef from Beretta Farms which cost me triple the price of normal lean ground beef purchased from a discount grocery store. I followed the recipe and made the creamy version by adding a bit of milk to mixture.

While it was cooking and tasting the flavours in the dish, I was trying to think of wine to pair with it. For white, I was thinking Chardonnay with some barrel aging to as it would have a more creamier texture than an unoaked Chardonnay. It would also have to have good acidity, too. So I was thinking a Sonoma or even Ontario Chardonnay would work here. For a red, a Valpolicella or Chianti would work as both have nice red fruit flavours and great acidity. I decided on a 2007  Barbera D’Alba ‘Torriglione’ from Renato Ratti which is currently available for $19.95 in Vintages. This wine hails from the Piedmont region in Italy but most people know this area for Barolo. What is so great about the Barbera grape variety is that it is very approachable when young and pairs well with many foods because of its high acidity.

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A Pairing Dilemma

With the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors out of town this week, I totally indulged at the Body Blitz Spa late this afternoon with a total head to toe scrub.   When I got home shortly after 7 p.m.,  I decided to pull out one of my Bertolli dinners from the freezer.  I decided on the Steak, Rigatoni and Portabello Mushroom dish.   The pairing according to the Villa Bertolli website suggests a Pinot Grigio of which I had none.  So,  I looked through my wine cellar looking for an alternative match.  It had to have good acidity but not overly sweet or full bodied.  So I decided on the 2004 Chardonnay Semillon from Hester Creek located in the Okanagan Valley.   At  only 12.9% alcohol, I knew that it would be light bodied enough to not over power the dish.   All I can say is “wow” what a fantastic wine.  It is drinking very well now and has a lot of tropical fruit notes without being too fruity.  The acidity was still there and I thought the match with the food went very well.   Because it had some age, the colour was deep gold and very bright.  I found the Semillon really shone through as I got a bit of oilyness on the finish.   This one would have been tough for me in a blind tasting for sure!

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Shake, shake, shake that Gruner!

We all come across unusual scenarios when it comes to wine.  For example, you might know someone who prefers ice in their fifty-dollar bottle of Chardonnay or–worse yet–in their red wine.  Or you may have that friend that absolutely loves Shiraz with oysters.  But some people prefer their Gruner Veltliner shaken, as was the case a few weeks ago for a fellow Sommelier.

The Sommelier had a request for a bottle of  2007 Gruner Veltliner and brought it over to the table.  He presented the bottle to the guest and then poured a taste.  The guest then told him that it need some “air” because he thought it was still a bit tight.  The Sommelier suggested decanting into one of their beautiful white wine decanters, which he declined.  Then he suggested pouring a few ounces in each guest’s glass because he knew it would also open up quickly that way. 

But that was not a reasonable solution for this guest and he told the Sommelier to put the screw cap back on and pass him the bottle.  As soon as he handed it to him, he immediately stood up and shook that bottle like there was no tomorrow.  The other guests were simply looking on like this was a normal scene in their world.  When he was done, he said, “It’s ready now,” and handed the Sommelier the bottle to pour out to all the guests. 

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Obama sips a 2002 Stratus Red on Parliament Hill…

Obama sips a 2002 Stratus Red on Parliament Hill….


This is the email that Stratus has sent out to all its subscribers:

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Lorie Loves Wine–And Beer Too!

I remember during my first sommelier course we had a class on Beer. My experience with beer hadn’t gone much beyond Coors Light from my college days in the nineties and I sincerely hated beer. Each sommelier student had to announce their favourite beer to the class. As I sat there listening to all these exotic beers from my fellow classmates, I dreaded what I would say. I took the safe route and blurted out “Corona” as someone else had also indicated that was their favorite too. I had only sipped Corona on occasion and, to be honest, it didn’t appeal to my personal taste. After taking that class, I really gained an appreciation for beer (thank you, Stephen Beaumont) and decided I preferred ales to lagers and would have a few Schneider Weisse or Chimay beers a year.

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Organic And Biodynamic Wines – What Does It Mean?

Organic wines are, essentially, wines that are made from organic grapes that were grown free of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and growth stimulants. In most cases, grapes are handpicked at harvest so that only the best quality grapes are selected.  In the winery, only clean, non-contaminated stainless steel tanks and barrels are allowed.  Winemakers are discouraged from adding sulphur dioxide to the wine, but it is permitted in some cases.


Biodynamic wines are very similar to organic wines, in the sense that the grape farmer use homeopathic, herbal-based compost and field sprays, as well as following a very strict vinification process. However, the key difference is that biodynamic growers focus on the vines themselves and believe that they respond to forces of nature and that the growth of the leaves, roots, buds, flowers and fruit are influenced by the position of the moon and stars with certain constellations.  All of these forces play in the sustainability component where winemakers work within their own environment and natural eco-system to produce wines that pay homage to their own terrior.

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Interesting Japanese Wines

When you think of wine growing regions, Japan isn’t the first place you would think of. While it’s true that many, if not most countries, are growing grapes, but is the quality of the wine any good? Recently I had the opportunity to put wines from Japan to the test.
First of all, there have been active wineries in Japan since 1875 and many have been passed through the family, in as many as four generations. The climate in Japan tends to be warm and very humid, with high rainfall which can make grape growing very challenging. After experimenting with North American grape varieties in the early days, the Japanese discovered some of their own varieties that do very well in their climate.
The Koshu grape variety is considered the star in the white category. This grape truly reminds me of Riesling with its green apple, mineral and floral notes with high acidity on the finish. I can see where this wine would be an excellent match with wasabi. Two of my favourites were the 2006 Rubaiyat Koshu Sur Lie and the 2006 Grace Gris De Koshu. Some of the other whites I tasted also reminded me of Chenin Blanc showing hints of honeysuckle, minerality and really high acid. Overall, I was quite impressed with a few whites and felt that they were wines that were not only food-friendly, but are great just on their own.

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A Sonoma Wine Tasting To Remember

Last Thursday, I attended this fantastic event held here in Toronto and thought I would share some of the highlights for me at this tasting.

Let’s begin with some whites:

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