Monday, September 6, 2010

DIY Wine Snob

Members of the Society of Dilettanti, by William Say 

(Image Courtesy of Shutterstock)

If you live anywhere between Toronto - Montreal - Ottawa or are in the mood for an overnight trip, you certainly need to check out the Prince Edward County Taste Trail.

Ontario is better known for the Niagara wine region, but Eastern Ontario is certainly in the running (if not surpassing!) for high quality local wines. We have been touring and sampling wines in this area for about 4 years now. Though I have developed a small list of favourites, there seem to be new wineries opening up each year and new wines being introduced by the existing wineries as well.

Business seems to be picking up over time, but the nice thing is that this area is still somewhat "undiscovered". If you are there on an off day, you are likely to have the whole place to yourself. Things are still pretty un-touristy in that there are no admission fees to visit and usually the tasting fees are minimal or waived with purchase.

The Grange of Prince Edward (2010)       Photo Credit: Filia Artis

So then, on to how to become your own wine snob...

If you are like me and know little about wines and tasting techniques, here are the steps:

  1. Ask the server to make a suggestion for you from their list. He or she will usually explain the grape growing and cellaring process and the taste you should expect.
  2. Pretend you are a wine drinker. Copy that wine swirling thing and then breathe deeply into the glass, inhaling the aroma. Take a small sip and slowly enjoy the flavors.
  3. Ask for a second glass of something similar if you like what you had or something totally different if you didn't.
  4. Repeat step (2)
  5. If you like what you've tried, buy a bottle. If not, tell the server why and allow them to make another suggestion or choose not to buy from that winery.

My list of favorites is growing, but there are certainly wines out there that I did not much care for. Since it is still a developing region, you get to experience a few good ones and a few "works in progress", so it is a good place to taste a number of different wines and buy the ones you like.

The other thing to know going into this is that you will see some of the grapes that you are used to, but since Eastern Ontario is a bit different in terms of climate from other major wine regions (France, California, Italy, South America, etc.), you will see a lot of names that are not as common. Growing conditions here are better for cold weather grapes like Riesling, Baco Noir, Pinot Noir, and Gamay Noir.

List of favourites

Sandbanks Estate Winery
Foch Reserve
Sandbanks Estate Winery
The Grange of Prince Edward Inc

2007 Trumpour’s Mill 
Estate Bottled Pinot Noir
  By Chadsey's Cairns
2007 Gamay Noir
Wapoos Estates Winery
Geisenheim Semi-Dry

The most excellently snobbish part in all of this is that you will have progressed beyond running to the store every time you have unexpected guests, as your cupboard will have a small stock and secondly, many of these wines are not available in stores, so you can remain smug in knowing you are serving a one of a kind wine that you personally chose during an "exclusive VIP tasting".

Did I mention that some of the higher end wines are still under $20 a bottle and that a lot of these are available through online ordering from the wineries?

Good websites to check out for more information:

DIY Rating: 8

It's a lot more time consuming than going to the local store, 
but the tasting is a lot of fun and you can act like a real-life wine connaisseur!

1 comment:

  1. We went touring in the Niagara region about 18 months ago, and I think we've only had one of the bottles that we bought on that trip! (It's not that we're not drunkards; it's just that we prefer hard liquor.)

    If you want local (that is, Niagara) wines, I recommend the ones from the Featherstone winery. We had a tour there and were very impressed. I can't vouch for the taste of the wine -- sorry -- but the way they made it was great, and they were nice people too.


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