I am an acid freak!

I like acid. Like might be too soft a word. On a hot summer day, nothing says refreshing like a glass of bright and fresh wine with acidity so sharp you could shave with it. Not only is it wonderful to drink, but it is also very important and often misunderstood. Acidity plays an important role in wine, contributing to both the aging process and in keeping the wine refreshing and balanced. Even though acidity is one of the most important components for aging, many people often confuse it with something that would cause great discomfort. They may think an acidic wine will be tart or sour, but will happily order a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. People like a bright and refreshing style of wine, but the word acid seems to have a bad reputation. There is acid in many fruits, making the sweetness palatable and refreshing. Imagine drinking a strong solution of sugar and water. Thick and sweet right? Add some acid to the solution and it will help mitigate the sweetness and balance the drink. Or, the reverse: go suck on a lemon for a while and see how that feels. Now take a sip of that […]

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Restaurant Wine Etiquette

As a sommelier, I see guests reacting to the pomp and circumstance of wine service every night. For diners not used to wine service, it can be intimidating. Some are simply more comfortable with it than others. Learning to become a sommelier takes dedicated practice. There are books to read and memorize, wines to taste and bottles to count. Anyone can be a wine lover, but not a sommelier. A sommelier means that you are serving wine to the public and counting inventory at the end of each month. It is a job firmly rooted in the costumer service industry. Without customers, I would be of no service. That said, being a good custumer takes some practice also. When faced with a sommelier and a wine list, I often see guests becoming intimated and forgetting that wine is just about having a good time and sharing a bottle or three with friends. Therefore, I’d like to offer a few helpful suggestions so your comfort with wine service will increase and the entire dinner will be much more enjoyable. The presentation Once you have ordered the wine and the sommelier comes back to present you with the bottle, make sure that […]

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Around the world in four days

Some meals end with brandy. My week of tasting started with it. And not just any brandy, mind you. The week kicked off with Louie XIII, one ofRémy Martin’s top brandies. A very well dressed Alexandre Quintin, an International Brand Ambassador for the House of Rémy Martin, walked a group of sommeliers and bartenders through the history and a tutored tasting of Louie XIII. Top quality brandy is made from distilled wine that is aged in barrels for a very long time, resulting in colour, flavours and texture that is simply sublime. In the case of Louie XIII the average brandy is 40-100 years old. Usually my brandy drinking happens at 11pm, not 11am! But as we were told, 11am and 5pm is when the cellar master tastes newly distilled eau de vie each day in the caves. This is thought to be the time when you are furthest from food and your palate is the freshest. In the 1988 movie Cocktail, Tom Cruise accepts a wager for a bottle Louie XIII. At the time he remarked that $500 for a bottle of brandy was a pretty big bet. Currently a bottle of Louie XIII is $3000 in BC. Rarity and […]

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Speaking Sake

The net of knowledge that a sommelier must cast includes more than just wine.  Everything that is liquid must be known. Beer, spirits, coffee, tea and an often forgotten drink called sake. Over the course of two days last week I felt like I had tasted all the sake in Japan. But after some further research I realized that I had only scratched the surface. Sake is a drink that is made from rice – but not the rice that you have for dinner. The rice on your plate is smaller and contains more protein. There are over 80 varieties of shuzō kōtekimai or sake rice. It is akin to the difference between the table grapes that you eat and the Chardonnay grapes that make wine. The best variety of rice used for sake is Yamadanishiki. However Gohyakumangoku, Miyamanishiki and Omachi are also common. The rice used in the production of sake can come from anywhere, meaning that a bottle of sake can be made from rice from multiple locations. However, there is a growing trend toward single origin sakes. The quality level of sake starts with the rice polish. The large sake grade rice grain contains excessive amount of bran in the outer layers. […]

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Burgundy & Barolo

There are guests that come into the restaurant and know so much about a particular wine region that it makes me step back in envy. Getting to know such people and tasting the wines they bring greatly furthers my enjoyment and knowledge of wine. Over the past two years I have been lucky enough to taste some textbook examples of red and white Burgundy. The more I taste, the more I read and the more I study maps, the more I learn. It is a constant circle. I will never admit to know as much as the top authorities in Burgundy, but my understanding is growing with every glass. A region that I have been personally fond of this past winter is Barolo. Nestled in the hills of Piedmont just outside of Turino, Italy are a number of small of vineyards where the Nebbiolo grape is at home. During a recent Barolo themed dinner, I began to notice some striking similarities between the Pinot Noirs of Burgundy and the Nebbiolos of Barolo. First off, if you compare maps of both regions you will notice a patchwork of vineyards. In Burgundy the vineyards in the Côte D’Or run south to north with […]

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Writings about my passion for wine, and the people, places, and stories connected to it.