2018 Resolutions

I’ve never been one to make many new year resolutions, but for 2018 I definitely have some wine goals I want to focus on throughout the year. Read below for my 5 wine resolutions and how you can incorporate them into your own 2018 list.

1. Drink local.

Ontario grows and produces a lot of great wine! Ontarians should appreciate that we have a wide selection of quality local wine available to drink. Not only is Ontario one of the world’s largest producers of ice wine (check out the Niagara Ice Wine Festival), but our wine regions produce award winning Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A great place to start your local wine exploration is the VQA section at LCBO – a VQA labelled wine means that the Ontario Vintners Quality Alliance has approved the wine using a strict quality program; ensuring the wine is made of 100% Ontario grown grapes. Or, if you don’t want invest in a full bottle, check out a wine bar like Chez Nous that pours all Ontario VQA products. In 2018, support your local wine makers and drink Ontario!

2. Explore a type of wine you’re unfamiliar with.

I admit to being extremely unfamiliar with, and frankly intimidated by, Italian wine. But I hope to change this in 2018! A few weeks ago a friend brought over an Italian Primitivo, which I was hesitant to drink but ended up LOVING. When I looked into this type of wine, I learned that Primitivo and Zifandel are the same grape – and Zinfandel is one of my favourite varietals! This showed me that because of being “scared” of a type of wine, I’ve been missing out on some great stuff! In 2018 I encourage you to explore that wine type or region you’re unfamiliar with – there is so much wine to drink out there.

3. Take a wine class.

In 2017 I completed by WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) Level 1 through Fine Vintage Ltd. I learned a lot in this 4-month course, especially just how much there is to know about wine! I’m really excited to be taking the WSET Level 2 course this winter through Adventure in Wine. If you don’t want to commit to a full course like WSET, there are many 1 night/day classes available in the city. In line with my #2 resolution, I’ll be taking a 1 night class on Italian wines in February. Check out classes at local wine bars like Mad Crush, or wine clubs like iYellow, or  your neighbourhood LCBO. Happy wine learning in 2018!

4. Enjoy sparking wine on the regular, not just special occasions.

There is a whole world of bubbly to be discovered, but it never will if only drank on special occasions. You’d be surprised how well a glass of bubbly pairs with Sunday night on the coach and a bucket of KFC! Champagne (sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France) can be quite expensive due to the regions exclusive geography. However, you don’t have to splurge on a bottle of Champagne to enjoy sparkling wine. Cava is a great alternative to Champagne, as it’s made in the same traditional method but costs half the price! Ontario also has some great sparkling wine producers like Hinterland Wine Company, Henry of Pelham and Colio Winery. Also, I highly recommend checking out the Sparkling Winos for some great bubbly recommendations. Pop more bottles this year!

5. Visit more wineries.

In Ontario we are lucky to have many wine regions to visit. From Niagara and Prince Edward County to more up-and-coming areas like Georgian Bay and Oak Ridges Moraine. Not only is visiting wineries fun, but you get to buy wine directly from the wine maker that is typically small batch and not available at the LCBO. I’m personally really excited to visit Southbrook Vineyards, Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery and Norman Hardie. Supporting local wineries and exploring the different Ontario terriors sounds good to me for 2018!

Cheers! ~ GDW


A Tulum Inspired Dinner


This cold weather has me dreaming of beaches in Tulum! If you can’t escape to the warm weather of Mexico, than your next best bet is to create a tropical evening at home. I threw this Tulum Inspired Dinner for a few girlfriends a couple months ago, but I will definitely be re-creating it tonight!


I started the planning of this dinner with the theme and décor. When I think back on my travels to Tulum I remember a very laid-back vibe with natural beach huts scattered down an off-the-grid beach road; lush rainforests draping the small restaurants and boutiques; and wood burning outdoor stoves cooking up delicious authentic Mexican food. Also, maybe because of the bright pink room I stayed in once, I think of pink! With this in mind I set my base table linens as pink, layered it with lots of natural wood serving dishes and added accents of tropical plants.


Whenever I host a Mexican inspired party, the Mexican street corn salad by Camille Styles has to be on the menu – guests LOVE it!



I wanted to include some meat, so I adapted the tequila lime chicken recipe from Rasa Malaysia to chicken skewers. I cut the skewers in half to make them into more bite size portions. I really liked this recipe and will definitely use it again.



And of course, every good Mexican party must have guac! I’ve developed my own recipe over time which is on the limy/garlicy side (see recipe below). I like to serve my guac with blue nacho chips to add some colour to the spread.

4 avocados diced; two tomatoes diced small; 1 clove of garlic chopped; juice of half a lime; handful of cilantro; salt; mix together and enjoy!


Last, but definitely not least, is the wine selection. As Mexico is not known for it’s wine, the closest option to stay on theme is a Spanish wine. Rosé is a good wine to pair with Mexican food, as it’s typically versatile and food friendly. A warm weather Spanish rosé will compliment warm weather Mexican cuisine quite well. I chose the 2016 Conde Valdemar Rosé from Rioja. Made with Garnacha and Macabeo grapes, this wine’s floral flavours and extra dry/light body paired with the dishes perfectly. The Conde Valdemar Rosé is available in the LCBO vintages for $13.95



I hope this Tulum Inspired Dinner brings you some inspiration to escape the cold weather with your own tropical evening indoors.

Cheers! ~ GDW

Wines to Gift

Wine is a lot of people’s go-to hostess gift, and for good reason, everyone loves wine! But does your host prefer new world to old world; oaked to unoaked; or red to white? Wine preferences can be endless, which is why I like to gift benchmark varietals that most people are familiar with. To make the gift more personal, I try to choose the wine from producers that are not as well known.

I’ve picked three wines that are widely available at LCBO stores and range in price from $15.00-$26.00. Each of the wines are approachable varietals that most people will recognize and be happy to receive!


First Press Cabernet Sauvignon

A California Cab is one of the more well known types of wine. Majority people enjoy this varietal due to it’s smooth and full-bodied characteristics. The First Press Cabernet Sauvignon is from Napa Valley – probably the most recognizable wine regions in California. It is full-bodied with tastes of plum, black berries and vanilla. It has soft tannins which make it a really smooth and easy-drinking wine. The First Press Cabernet Sauvignon used to only come into the LCBO sporadically, but is now an ‘Always Available’ item you can find in the LCBO vintages. At $25.95 this is a really nice gift!



Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

I have yet to meet someone that does not enjoy a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough is New Zealand’s most recognizable wine region because of the distinctive Sauvignon Blancs this area produces. These wines are typically bursting with zesty flavours of ripe tropical fruits, bell peppers and fresh cut grass. They’re like drinking a sunny summer day! The Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc is no exception with it’s tastes of grapefruit, gooseberry and herbs. You’ll find several different bottles of Stoneleigh at the LCBO – this one is in the non-vintages New Zealand section for $17.95, but is on sale right now for $14.95. At this price it is great value wine to gift.



Château La Tour de L’Évêque Rosé 2016 Rosé

Rosé has recently become a very popular type of wine in North America. The Château La Tour de L’Évêque Rosé is from Provence, France which most people appreciate for being the original rosé producer. Rosé’s from Provence are known to be dry and elegant; not the sickly sweet type that some may remember. The Château La Tour de L’Évêque Rosé is light-bodied with citrus flavours and floral notes that make it a very pretty tasting wine to drink! Most people would be happy to receive a bottle or French rosé, especially at this time of year when they are not widely available at the LCBO. Luckily, the Château La Tour de L’Évêque Rosé is currently available at most LCBO’s vintages for 18.95.



Wine gifting is made easy when you choose a benchmark varietal. I guarantee these three wines will be well received. Happy gifting!


Cheers – GDW

Wine’s to Stock up on for the Holidays

It’s officially the holiday season!

And that means a lot of festive gatherings. You never know who’s going to be stopping by for some holiday cheer. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to stock up on wine now. Trust me, no one will be disappointed you have a conveniently chilled bottle of bubbly sitting in the fridge!

Three types of wine to have on hand – a red, a white and a bubbly. You will be the ultimate host if you can offer your guests their preferred drink of choice. For your red lovers, a blend will be best to appeal to all tastes. A pinot gris will more than satisfy your white drinkers. And no one will say no to some sparkling pink wine.

No big decisions to be made – with the following three wine recommendations you will be ready for any guest! These selections are all Ontario local and available at the LCBO for under $20.00.


The red. We all have our friends that will only drink red. But there are so many varietals! Play it safe with a blended red wine. The Almanac Red by The Grange of Prince Edward is 60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Gamay and 10% Pinot Noir. With this mixture you’ll appease all red tastes. The Almanac Red is medium bodied and has a lot of character. There are juicy tastes of red fruit with a strong acidic structure and tart end note. Impress your guests by commenting on how this wine reflects the local character of Prince Edward County.  Because of the blend, this wine is very versatile and will pair well with almost anything you have out.

P.S. The Grange of Prince Edward winery in Prince Edward County is amazing! The tasting room is a beautifully refurbished barn that offers picnic baskets to enjoy among the vines (or beside the stone fireplace in the colder months).



The white. Your white wine drinkers can be as versatile of your reds. Sweet, dry, aromatic…how do you choose? A Pinot Gris does the trick. This type of wine is typically medium bodied and off-dry with some fruity notes and character.  The Angel’s Gate  is a great example of a Pinot Gris. I really enjoyed this wine! It is unoaked which means that the wine really reflects the local terroir (where the grapes are grown) – tastes of green apple and citrus with some acidity, yet a softness that it so enjoyable. This is another great food wine; you don’t have to worry about what to pair it with.

P.S. take this one out of the fridge for a few minutes before enjoying.



The bubbly. It’s hard to think of someone that wouldn’t accept a glass of bubbly! But still, picking a sparkling wine that that has wide appealing characteristics is ideal when you’re stocking up for guests. The Lily Sparkling Rosé is a dry bubbly with tastes of tart strawberry and the most lovely creamy finish.  From shrimp cocktails to Christmas cookies, this wine will partner well with all. Serve the Lily Rose right from the fridge at a cold temp.

P.S. the Lily Rosé is the prettiest pink colour and bottle!



As you prepare for the holiday season, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have some extra wine on hand. I guarantee these selections will make for some memorable evenings!


Cheers! – GDW



Wines for Thanksgiving

While Canadians have long past celebrated Thanksgiving this year, our American neighbours will be gathering with family for turkey dinner this week. Since a lot of our readership is American based, I’d like to share my wine recommendations for your upcoming holiday. While you had to wait until further in the year for your long weekend, our American readers can definitely get the benefit of learning what worked best for wine at my Canadian Thanksgiving dinner.

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I like to start Thanksgiving day with early afternoon appetizers and wine. Specifically, I like a giant cheese and charcuterie board filled with fall favourites like maple aged cheddar, smoked sausage and locally picked apples. And for wine, I always choose my seasonal go to – the Inniskillin Late Autumn Riesling. If you can’t find this Ontario native, any other late harvest Riesling will pair just as well. In the United States, wineries from New York or Washington will typically produce late harvest Rieslings. Late harvest wines are made from grapes that are left on the vine longer so their sugar levels are higher; creating a sweeter wine. What I like about a late harvest Rieslings in particular are that the Riesling grape has a naturally higher acidity level which really balances out the sweetness. It’s the perfect wine varietal to start of your Thanksgiving celebrations – easy afternoon drinking, not too serious and pairs perfectly with a variety of appetizers!

If you can get your hands on a bottle of the Inniskillin Late Harvest Riesling, I really encourage you try it. I guarantee you’ll love it as much as I do! http://on.inniskillin.com/?method=products.productDrilldown&productID=51830415-1cc4-81ae-7543-3de49b146a44&originalMarketingURL=product/Inniskillin-Niagara-Estate-Series-Late-Autumn-Riesling


For the main event I highly recommend you go with a White Burgundy. A Burgundian white will almost always be a Chardonnay. But it’s not your typical new world Chardonnay with a heavy mouth of butter and oakiness. Once you’ve tried a white Burgundy, your whole impression of Chardonnay will change. As Wine Folly puts it, “white burg is the crack cocaine of Chardonnay.” These wines vary considerably but generally have green apple and lemon citrus notes with hint of oak that provides a nice nutty or vanilla flavour. A White Burgundy will be great accompaniment to your turkey and is sure to please all your dinner guests. I chose the popular Louis Jadot Bourgogne, which you should be able to find at your local wine shop.




To finish off the night, I chose another late harvest wine – Bella Wineries Late Harvest Zinfandel. A late harvest Zinfandel is considered a dessert wine and works well with Thanksgiving favourites like pumpkin pie or apple crisp.  And an added bonus – late harvest zins are typically only found in America. The Bella Wineries vintage is now sold out, but there are several other options from California you’ll be able to find. While not your typical dessert wine or bubbly, a late harvest Zinfandel will be something different to impress your guests and add to the fall feels of Thanksgiving!



And, of course, it’s always nice to consider your non-alcohol drinking friends. This is really easy at Thanksgiving with an abundance if apple cider options available. To make it a bit more special, I’d recommend picking a sparking cider. I had a crowd pleasing bubbly from my local cidery.



Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend filled with friends, family and good wine!


Cheers ~ GDW




Wine Review: Guarda Rios Branco

This might be one of the most pleasantly surprising wines I’ve tasted all year. When I’m presented with a Portuguese white, my mind immediately thinks of Vinho Verde – a light, crisp and very  young wine.


I could not have been more wrong when I tasted the Guarda Rios Branco. It was light and crisp but also  flavourful, aromatic and smooth. There were notes of lemon and citrus, softened with tropical fruit and floral smells. And then the taste – yum! The citrus was definitely taken over by strong tastes of tropical fruits like banana and mango. These fruits were warmed and rounded by sweet honey and pretty florals. The Guardo Rios was not your typical big warm white though, as it was balanced with a nice acidity.


What a surprise! So I looked into this Portuguese white further. The varietals that make up the Guarda Rios are apparently Portugal’s answer to Chardonnay. It’s made from two different white grapes native to Portugal. The first is called Arinto – an acidic grape with citrus character. While the second grape, Antao Vaz, adds the tropical fruit flavours and sweet honey tastes.


After this wonderful taste experience, I will definitely be exploring the Portuguese section more! I encourage you to also think past the vinho verde and try some different grape varietals from Portugal.

The Guarda Rios is unfortunately not available at the LCBO, but can be purchased through the Wine Collective’s online retail store.


Cheers! – GDW

Spookiest Wine Pick

Happy Halloween!

On this spookiest of nights you should definitely be drinking a scary themed wine (check out my blog post on Halloween candy pairings). This time of year there are many options available at the LCBO and I have diligently tried most of them in order to recommend the best one. My spookiest wine pick goes to…the Coffin Ridge Riesling Bone Dry.


The Coffin Ridge vineyard and winery is located on the northern end of the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario. An experiment in northern viticulture, Coffin Ridge is Grey County’s first commercial vineyard with vines planted back in 2001. The owners have extensively researched cold climate grapes and chosen varietals, like this Riesling, that are suited to the northern geography. Coffin Ridge uses sustainable viticultural practices and hand picks their grapes where they are then mysteriously transformed from “grape to wine, from life to death.”

The Riesling Bone Dry is true to it’s name and is a light bodied, dry wine. However, it offers an aromatic and flavourful style with tastes of lime, green apple and spices. It has a wonderful smell of an apple pie baking in the kitchen. The perfect wine for a chillingly spooky Halloween night.


Coffin Ridge’s Riesling Bone Dry is available for $17.40 at the LCBO. It is sold out on the winery’s website, but I suggest checking out the online shop for their other wines like Resurrection Rόse and The Dead Red.





Cheers! – GDW




Witches Who Wine Party

To kick off the Halloween season I hosted a Witches Who Wine party. This was a wine tasting event where I paired wines with Halloween candy.

All my guests festively obliged to wearing their favourite witch hat and best black outfit. Upon arrival to the party, they were greeted with a yummy sparkling apple cider cocktail (recipe coming soon to the blog). Each witch was provided a wine tasting card to score the five wines on appearance, aroma,  taste and pairing. And from here, the fun ensued!


This is how I paired the wines and candy:

    1. Grenache and Reese peanut butter cups     

2. Sauvignon Blanc and Skittles

3. Beaujolais and Nibs

4. Late Autumn Riesling and Mars

5. Zinfandel and Twix 

The winning pairing was the Zinfandel and Twix! I enjoyed all of the pairings and suggest trying a few of them out with your leftover Halloween candy. You can find the specific wines chosen for the event at the LCBO, all for under $15.00.







In addition to the candy pairings, I provided a few additional snacks for guests. I put out a small spread of cheeses, fruit, charcuterie and dips. The artichoke dip from Olympic Cheese at the St. Lawrence Market was big hit!


The Witches Who Wine party was a fun way to celebrate the Halloween season, taste some  new wines and spend time with good friends (including our witchy friend below – the GDW photographer!).


Cheers! – GDW