Vacation bliss

I just heard a cork pop and it’s too far away for me to get excited (I mean, it’s not in my hotel room) but that’s ok. It’s 5pm on a Tuesday. My girlfriends are napping because in our world (at least for the next day) there are no rules. We can go for dinner at 9pm. We can go gamble. We can go to a club that looks weirdly like a cottage from the outside and may or may not be filled with French guys attending bachelor parties. We are having a girls getaway in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec.

We had a great laugh at the beginning of our trip about how a stereotypical guys weekend would compare to ours. We have a fridge FULL of food and drinks, and each have our own bed. We guessed that a bunch of guys would bring a case of beer and guess how many bodies they would cram into the room. All joking aside, we did completely overpack – for 3 relatively tiny girls we unpacked beer, wine (I counted 7 bottles, plus a mini), and some coolers, rye, Malibu rum, and amaretto just in case. Not to mention more eggs than I would eat in 6 months, veggies, fruit, yogurt, at least 2 cases of water (yes, cases), and enough chips and cracker type things to stock a small grocery store . Special shoutout to my friend Roxanne who made granola bars while I was lazy and bought some. She’s amazing!

There’s really no downside, after all. It’s better to be prepared! We all love food and wine and we are driving so there is no fear of having to dump half a bottle down the sink because you can’t pack it for a flight. We can just load it up and bring it home for the next party, or for Thursday night – whatever works! And it’s great to have a home base in our hotel room where we can chat, eat, drink and be merry – and enjoy our time away.

As mentioned, my travel companions are napping – so what am I doing? Just enjoying a glass of wine on the balcony listening to the sights and sounds of families returning to their rooms and casino diehards waiting for the shuttlebus.

Wine: Bricklayer’s Predicament Cab-Merlot. 2012. Full bodied and fruity with a tart almost sour cherry on the palate and some young tannins. I am not eating with this wine but I feel it would do well to have a steak with it.

One of the fun things about your friends is that you get to introduce each other to new things. It becomes like a game of ‘Six degrees of Kevin Bacon’ (or separation). For example: I went to Malivoire vineyard last year. Heard a lovely story about ‘Guilty Men’* wine. Brought a bottle of said wine to a girls’ night a few months ago (let’s just say it fit the theme of the evening). Fast forward to our trip, and my friend has brought it along because I introduced it to her! One of many funny stories we have shared this week.

On top of the obvious reasons for a girls trip, like quality time, no work, lots of fun conversation, and sharing experiences, the best part of a trip like this is planning our next getaway. We keep talking about where to go next?

And, in the meantime, perhaps I should find where that champagne was popped!

* Guilty Men – I’m not sure I can’t do the story of this name justice but it’s pretty cool. Also, the wine is good too! The Malivoire winery is worth a visit!



Don’t be an amateur!

It’s been a fun but busy week, with travel to the Niagara region and back for a meeting and some fun. We visited 5 wineries and had some great meals! When putting away our treasures (11 bottles! and some mustard) from wine country, I realized that one bottle we had bought at Lailey (a 2009 Meritage) ¬†we had also bought last September when in Niagara-on-the-lake for vacation and still had it. I decided it was time to open the older one as now I had another one to save for a rainy day.

After opening the bottle I’d been saving for almost a year, I noticed the cork was stained and a bit shrunken. I got a bit nervous and disappointed but still poured a glass. I had hope, faint hope it might be ok!

The colour looked fine but I took a few sniffs. Something wasn’t right. Maybe I just forgot what it should smell like? I thought it smelled a bit woody, but not oaky, almost like wet wood, bordering on mildew. I was missing the nice deep fruit aroma, with spice and cedar that I thought I should be smelling. Once I took a sip, my fears were confirmed. The wine was corked. How disappointing. ūüė¶

My optimistic fianc√© had a great suggestion which was to open the new bottle and compare them. Once the new bottle was opened, the issues were so obvious, but I can appreciate how a casual wine drinker might not understand exactly if there’s something wrong, or if they just don’t like what they are tasting. We also don’t always have another bottle to directly compare.

See the photo below for differences in the cork.


Now, here is where I admit my amateur mistake and offer a warning – store your wine properly!! This wine was recently laying down in a cabinet but for a while after we bought it, it had been standing upright – for long enough to dry out the cork apparently. This is fine if you’re going to drink the wine in the near future but not if you want to save it for any extended period of time. The cork protects the wine from oxidizing too quickly and if it dries out too much air will get in.

A side by side visual comparison of both wines in the glass didn’t show the issues obviously, but the “good”Lailey did have more fullness and legs on the glass than the “bad” Lailey. When tasting, “bad” Lailey almost had a fizzyness to it, and was acidic and thin. That wet wood taste was there as well. “Good” Lailey was just as good as I remembered: nice and full bodied, with a deep rich fruit aroma and tasted the same with a hint of cloves and the nice cedar note. I was so happy to have a good bottle!

Many of us don’t have the proper conditions to store wine, our homes are too warm, and our basements are too damp (or in my case, non-existent). If this is the case, please don’t spend your life savings on the perfect bottle meant to be drunk when your child graduates from high school. Buy what you can properly store! If you really want to start cellaring wine, rent or share storage space, bribe your parents or friends with a big house to build a cellar or just wait until you’ve got the right conditions because you don’t want to be disappointed. I only have the room to lay down about 12 bottles so the few we have that we really want to save are getting the prime spots and the rest we will just have to drink. I guess we’ll need to have some company over to help!


The fun of travel and wine (and shopping)…

I personally find it fun to go shopping for wine (or beer, or whatever you’re feeling) at the good old LCBO. I love browsing the labels, reading the posted scores and reviews, sometimes buying something just for the airmiles, and picking out something I’ve never tried before. Or, buying a stand by that I’ve always enjoyed and know someone else will love.

Recently, having just come back from California, it was exciting to come across a few special bottles in the Vintages section from a winery we had just visited in Napa Valley, Clos du Val. So exciting, in fact, that we splurged and bought both the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Zinfandel for a cottage weekend, although I would hardly classify either of these as a typical “cottage wine”. Besides both being fabulous wines (I have reviewed each briefly on the¬†website if you’re interested), they brought me right back to our wonderful vacation, and had my fiance and I reminiscing before we’d forgotten any of the details of our trip.

One of the things I find interesting about wine is that it seems to evoke a lot of emotions and feelings in people. I know personally, since I’ve been back from California, I’m sticking to that section of the liquor store. Fortunately for my Canadian tastes, I am heading to the Niagara region next week for work, so I’m sure I’ll see my shopping shift in that direction, especially after stopping into a few wineries between meetings :). For me, my ever shifting taste in wine is what keeps it so intriguing! If I’m at a party and get to try a new Malbec from Argentina, chances are that I’ll pick it up the next time I’m shopping for another party or event. I think that aspect of sharing the knowledge is another reason why I wanted to start writing about wine!


Another wine blog…

Well, I am not sure if anyone has ever counted, but I’m sure the Internet has enough people writing about wine. You can pretty much google any clever wine pun and there’s a blog. Quality writers? Probably. Interesting writers? Sure. Funny, non pretentious ones? Yup. So why bother? I’ve actually thought about it for a while and I guess it comes down to “why not?” for me. I know some things! I’ve always loved wine, learning about it, reading about it, and trying new ones. I even took real legitimate courses – and enjoyed them! I’ve been to vineyards in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and very recently, California. Not very many, I’ll admit, but enough to gain a lot of respect for the process of making wine and a huge appreciation for the effort that results in a delicious bottle.

What will I write about? I enjoy trying to find a wine that I love that is not overly expensive. I also want to start comparing more wines directly, instead of just trying one and thinking, “hey, that’s pretty good”. I think anyone can do that, and figure out what they like, but it might be nice to try and compare and see why I like one wine over another, either similar wines from the same area, or different varietals. Who knows?

I also have come to realize that while I will inevitably talk about the glass of wine (or 2) I have after a long day while sitting on the back porch or in my living room, most often, it’s the wine I drink with my fiance, my friends, or my family that has the story that goes along with it.

So, anyways, I’ll give this a go, and see what happens. At the very least, I’ll have finally put some of my thoughts on the Internet for someone to stumble on via google.