Posts Tagged ‘wineries’

SOME TIPS ON VISITING WINERIES DURING HARVEST SEASON

September 28, 2016

It’s Fall, and many people will be visiting wine country for festivals and to taste wines! So here are a few tips before you go…and some recommendations on where to go if you are visiting wineries in BC.

1. Remember it is harvest season – seems simple, but it is important…as much as wineries welcome you at this time of year, they are also getting ready – or even starting – to harvest this year’s vintage! That makes it very busy and stressful at all wineries. Keep that in mind if you get the sense your hosts have other things on their minds!

2. Fewer is better – whether it is the number of wineries or wines (or both), go for quality, not quality. No matter how good a taster you are, “palate fatigue” can set in pretty quickly. So pick the wineries you want to see in advance, and even the specific wines you want to taste. That will lead to a better experience.

3. Spit if you can – I know some people think it is gross, but spitting will really help you taste better – and more – wines. All wineries will have spittoons, and those leading tastings will actually be thankful if you spit.

4. Only buy if you really want to – unless you have unlimited resources, it’s okay to be choosey what you buy (if anything). Wineries won’t be insulted, particularly these days as most of them charge a tasting fee anyway. If you like it and can afford it, then buy it. Otherwise, don’t worry about it!

5. Taste and move on – finally, whether you are visiting wineries or going to a big tasting, don’t linger in the tasting line! Taste, maybe ask a question, but then move…you can always come back to taste more wines. One of the things that drives me and many “winos” crazy is people who just stand there for 10 or more minutes talking to the host or each other. That just backs up the line and gets people mad. So move it!

And as for tasting here in BC? Here is a short list of wineries to visit (or whose wines to taste) from our main regions:

1. Penticton/Naramata – La Frenz, Howling Bluff, Nichol, Marichel, Kettle Valley, Moraine
2. Similkameen – Eau Vivre, Orofino
3. Okanagan Falls – Blue Mountain
4. Southern Okanagan – Burrowing Owl, Nk Mip, Quinta Ferreira, Church & State, Moon Curser
5. Vancouver Island – Averill Creek, Rocky Creek, Vignetti Zanatta
6. Fraser Valley – Mt. Lehman, Vista d’Oro, Domaine de Chaberton

Enjoy the Fall!

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com

My Italian Holiday

September 7, 2016

Well, I’m back after a summer break, almost a month of which was spent in Italy! So, for the first blog back, a few musings on Italian wine…in Italy!

1. Wine is cheaper in Italy

No doubt about it – Italian wine is cheaper in Italy! Whether a glass of cold Rose at a restaurant (2 – 3 euros!) or a very nice Brunello or Barbaresco (either in a restaurant or a store), the price is definitely right! And it wasn’t just the currency difference, particularly in restaurants. They just seem to have a different attitude — and tax system — in Italy for their own wine.

2. Very good to great wine is cheaper as well!

I was amazed to be drinking Brunellos, Barbarescos and Vino Nobiles for 40 and 50 euros…wines that would cost well over $100 in Canadian restaurants!

3. Italian restaurants have wine figured out

It wasn’t just the price in restaurants. It was the selection — lots of Brunello in Montalcino, Vino Nobile in Montepulciano, Barolo/Barbaresco in Piedmont. And the wine by the glass selection was often incredible! Some restaurants offered all the wines by the glass!

4. “Regular” wines are often better than the Riservas in Tuscany

I tasted regular Brunellos and Vino Nobiles vs their Riserva versions and almost always liked the former best. It seemed like “Riserva” mean more oak (as well as more $$$), and that meant more tannin as well.

5. You have to reserve in advance at wineries

This was a surprise! Having been to many wine areas in North America — where you mostly just “walk in”, I was disappointed that you had to almost always reserve in advance to go to wineries all through Italy. It wasn’t hard to do (even with not speaking Italian), and they treated you well, but you also had to pay (staring at about 10 euros and up). So beware if you go!

6. Don’t expect to just “follow the signs” to get to wineries!

Another big difference from California, Oregon and here in BC was signage. Or, the lack of it! It was hard to find many wineries in both Tuscany and Piedmont, even for our GPS. So don’t expect to just follow the signs!

7. There are some amazing restaurants in “wine towns”!

While we ate very well in major cities like Florence and Siena, some of our best meals were in places like the village of Barbaresco (Restaurant Antica). I know it sounds so logical, but they have figured it out there – great wine all around, so why not add great, unpretentious, fairly priced food as well? Amazing!

8. Try the local wines even if you haven’t heard of them

We went to Cortona, as my wife wanted to see the place where “Under the Tuscan Sun” was written. We went for lunch, and I noticed wines from Cortona on the list…a Merlot and an Syrah. We tried by the glass, and I was blown away, especially by the Syrah. So take the chance!

9. Even in the heat of summer, you can drink “big” red wine.

Many of the restaurants didn’t have air conditioning or we were eating outside. But I was amazed how a glass and/or bottle of Brunello or Vino Nobile was still great even in 35 degree weather.

10. Wine and food, food and wine.

The food and the wine just went so well together…I was so impressed. You must go and try it!

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com

WINE TASTING DO’S AND DON’TS

May 28, 2014

With the May long weekend now come and gone, many of us will be heading off to wine country in the next few months to check out our favourite wineries and their new releases.

But before you do, a few tips that will help you make the most of the experience!

The main one is to have at least a general strategy for your day (or days). By that, I mean:
• Are you going to a few specific wineries or just cruising? – This is important because not all wineries are open on the same days, or at all! The last thing you want is to plan your trip around certain destinations, only to turn up and find they are not open. A quick look at the winery’s website can avoid this problem.
• Are you looking to taste/buy specific wines, or just what is available? – The same argument applies here, but even more so! Many wineries don’t pour their best wines, both because they are the most expensive, and made in the lowest quantities. Also, what is available is often driven by the time of year. Early spring is great for newly released white wines, but don’t expect new reds – they come out later in the summer! Again, a quick check of the website (or a phone call) can help.
• Are you going to drink or spit? – No, this is not a disgusting question. If you plan to visit a number of wineries – and taste many of their wines – you should plan on spitting for a couple of reasons. First off, if you don’t, you will need a designated driver! It doesn’t take very long before those “little glasses of wine” build up and make you unsafe to drive. As well, the more you drink, the less you will be able to actually taste. A “drunk” wine taster doesn’t have a lot of skill!

Okay, so you have your strategy. But now you are at the first winery, and there are a range of wines to taste. What do you do?

Well, this is the easier part – taste what you want to taste!

The great thing about tasting at wineries is that you are in control of what you want to taste, particularly since you are probably paying a nominal fee to do so anyway. So don’t feel obligated to taste everything, or the style of wines you don’t like.

You should, however, taste whites before reds (if you are doing both). If you do the opposite, your taste buds may get overwhelmed, making it impossible to taste the more delicate white wines. And leave any sweet wines to the end. The extra sugar will make it very hard to go back to red or white wines!

Finally, what about any expectations about buying a bottle or two? People often ask me that, saying they feel guilty if they don’t buy after tasting. And, to be honest, I experience that as well.

But the best thing to do is – get over it! You know what you like (and don’t like) and what you think is worth buying (and not). Don’t be swayed by guilt or anything else to buy something you don’t want to buy.

The wineries don’t mind, by the way. The cost of the tastings – and the wines involved – is all factored into the overhead of the winery and, ultimately, the cost of the wine. While they certainly appreciate purchases, they will also not be insulted if you don’t buy anything.

Last, but not least, is the most important tip – have fun! Don’t be intimidated by “wine speak” or any “wine snobs”. Wine is supposed to be fun, and wine tasting even more fun. Taste as much as you like, buy if you want, but just have a good time.

Otherwise, why are you there in the first place?

SB

http://www.sbwinesite.com