Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wine Appreciation 101

Let me not be a hypocrite and wax poetic about wines I know little, to nothing about, so it's a good thing that the Canadian Embassy sent an invite for some wine tasting 101. What better way to broaden my horizons, right?

I was overwhelmed with the many varieties of Canadian wines available for tasting that day. So I took my sweet time and explored my way into it with a few glasses.


Cuvee Catharine Brut by Henry of Pelham. Named in memory of Henry’s wife, widow and family matriarch, Catharine Smith. Clonal selection and the use of traditional grape varieties (Chardonnay & Pinot Noir) makes this wine a modern Niagara expression of a time honoured wine style. The secondary fermentation is done in bottle and each wine is aged for approximately 24+ months on the lees before disgorging.

Awarded as Gold Winner at the 2012 Wine Access Canadian Wine Awards, Gold Winner (Sparkling Wine) at the 2010 All Canadian Wine Championship Awards and 91 Points – Rick VanSickle, November 2012.


2011 Pinot Grigio by Henry of Pelham. Breaks New World tradition as a refreshing wine with white cranberry and melon flavours. Taste the new-Old-World in our Niagara vineyards. Will age for 5 years from vintage date.

2011 Chardonnay by Henry of Pelham. Bright and aromatic with flavours ranging from vibrant apple to citrusy grapefruit. True cool climate Chardonnay character.


2010 Cabernet Sauvignon by Calamus. Deep burgundy. Aromas of strawberries, blackberries and spice. Concentrated, luscious fruit forward red wine. Awarded as Bronze Medal Winner in the Ontario Awards 2013.

2010 Pinot Noir by Coyote's Run Estate Winery. Features dark fruit aromas, like black cherry and blackberry that dominate the nose. On the palate, there is a rich, velvety tannins with more dark fruits and hints of spice.

Awarded as Bronze Medal Winner in the Canadian Wine Awards 2012, Bronze Medal Winner in the Ottawa Food and Wine Show 2012 and Bronze Medal Winner in the Intervin International Wine Awards 2012.

2010 Syrah by Lailey Vineyard. A nose of roasted meats, peppers, intense black fruits of blueberry, currants and bramble.

Awarded as Bronze Medal Winner in the Ontario Awards 2012, Silver Medal Winner in the Canadian Wine Awards 2012 and Bronze Medal Winner in the Intervin Internation Wine Awards 2012.

2010 Merlot Red Paw by Coyote's Run Estate Winery. This silky wine is loaded with dark, dried fruit character, powerful velvety tannins and a long finish. Awarded as Bronze Medal Winner in the Ottawa Wine and Food Show Competition 2012.


Lamb Cigar. A two-bite treat that's made with warka (a phyllo-esque pastry) and deep-fried to perfection. 

Smoked Salmon on Saffron Brioche. Too bad I forgot to try this, guess I was overwhelmed with the non-stop food that was coming my way. 

Dolma. Hollowed out bell pepper and tomatoes, stuffed to the brim with savory ground meat and served with dipping sauce.

Sea Bass Tartare. I'm not particularly fond of this, but in my book, almost anything is worth a try. 

Tuna Carpaccio. Probably my favorite thing among the food selection that night. I know I tasted several of these. The strong wasabi highlighted the tuna that practically melted in my mouth. Addicting.

Salad Cup. A safe and healthy option for my expecting friend, Yumi, who was not allowed to taste the wine selection.

Strawberry Melba. A combination of raspberries and strawberries tops sorbet for a sweet treat.

I came unprepared and didn't know how or where to start my wine tasting experience, it's a good thing that my game plan of tasting the lightest to the richest varieties was actually the correct way to do it. I figured it was kind of like when you eat sushi, hahaha excuses!

So don't be like me! Know what to do next time you are invited for a meal and find a glass of good wine in your hand with these helpful tips:

  • See. Hold the glass up in front of your eyes, and tilt it slightly. The color of the wine can tell you something about its age, where it comes from, and its concentration. Wines from northern, cooler climates tend to be lighter in color (color not as intense) as wines from hotter, southern climates.
  • Swirl. Swirling the wine in your glass aerates it, bringing oxygen into the wine and allowing it to release its aroma. Reminder: It's best not to completely fill the glass, so you'll have room to swirl the wine around. 
  • Sniff. Smell is the most important component of wine tasting. It is a combination of the aroma and bouquet of the wine, often called the “nose” of the wine. For every wine, the aroma and the bouquet should be balanced, not either being neutral or overpowering. You can smell 2000 aromas, and wine has over 200 of its own!
  • Sip. Sip in order to bring the full flavor of the wine to the palate. Be sure to move the wine around in your mouth to cover all of your taste buds. You'll be able to taste the fruit and varietal characteristics, the acidity, the tannins, and the aftertaste. A long, pleasing aftertaste, or finish, is a sign of a quality wine.
  • Savor. The flavor of wine is associated with the combination of experiences from the senses of sight, smell, and taste. Taste is the way in which the flavor is experienced in the mouth. This may match or differ from the aroma experienced in the nose. The human tongue can detect variances in acidity, bitterness, and sweetness levels in wines. Sit back for a few minutes and savor the taste. Why do we taste wine instead of just drinking it? Wine should first and foremost be a pleasure. Wine tasting should be fun and add to your enjoyment of drinking wine. Using the sense of vision, smell and taste together can make an individual’s wine tasting experience more enjoyable!

For more information about anything and everything wine, check out the following links:

I would like to thank the Canadian Embassy and his excellency, Ambassador Neil Reeder and Mrs. Irene Reeder for the invitation. What a delight it is to know that Canada offers a vast selection of high quality, world-class and award winning wines, just waiting to be enjoyed by the distinct Filipino palate in the near future. See you in my next pig out session. :)

Your pig out buddy,

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