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  • Date publishedWednesday, July 27, 2011

How to Host Your Own Wine Tasting

How to Setup a Wine Tasting

I find myself slightly envious of those who live downtown, surrounded by an endless supply of restaurants, patios, and other potential dining opportunities. Need a glass of wine? Just text a friend and hook-up in, say 20 minutes at the bistro around the corner. On occasion though, even these folks ask themselves: What would it take to host a wine tasting in my own home?

I’ll let you in on a little secret; it’s not that difficult. Let me give you a few pointers, but first, some background: I don’t live downtown. In fact, I’m so far removed from the concrete jungle that modern amenities like fibre optic phone lines and natural gas are a figment of my imagination. But rather than make the trek southbound to the urban sprawl for a regular dose of the wine tasting experience, I took it upon myself to recreate the same concept closer to home. I call it North of 9 Fine Wine.

Setup wine tasting in your home

Hosting a wine tasting in your own home or at a local restaurant does involve some preparation and planning. To simplify the process, I’ll break the necessary considerations down as a step-by-step checklist to ensure that we cover all the bases.

Pairing wine with food for your wine tasting party

  • Choose a style of wine or a region that you wish to profile
  • Pick a theme: stand-up and mingle or sit-down and focused
  • How many people will attend? ____
  • 1 standard bottle will serve 12 people a 2-ounce pour
  • Food should always be available when alcohol is served (at the very least, a sliced baguette)
  • Consider the legalities and liquor laws in your area
  • Select 4 to 6 different labels to represent your theme
  • Consider food pairings to compliment your wine choices
  • If ranking the wines, provide grading sheets and pencils
  • Select your stemware (something large enough to swirl but not too cumbersome to handle).
    7 oz. / 200 mL ISO tasting glasses cost ~ $4 each
  • Consider separate glasses for each wine or one glass with a rinse station
  • Provide wine charms if using one glass per person or use a paint marker to write each person’s name on the base of their glass
  • Labelled placemats will help keep multiple glasses organized
  • Spittoons should be made available as an option
  • Whites and sparkling wines may require ice buckets for chilling
  • Provide drinking water in a separate glass or bottle
  • Have a plan if someone has too much to drink i.e. a key bowl, taxi phone#
  • Know your material
  • As your guests arrive, consider serving a glass of sparkling wine. The bubbly will give them something to discuss while you fine tune last minute details.
  • Consider your crowd and set the tone: fun/informative or wine snobbery (there is a place for each)
  • Reinforce the need to consume responsibly before you begin
  • Explain the basics (not everyone will be comfortable with the concept)
  • Taste in order of dry to sweet and light to full bodied
  • Consider the use of props such as decanters, various corkscrews, maps and literature related to your subject
  • When finished, allow some social time between the last wine sample and your guests’ departure by offering tea, coffee, and a selection of baked goods.
Coordinating a wine tasting at an establishment outside of your home involves taking the concept to the next level and I recommend that you hire a BYOB licensed restaurant for the event. Initially, the thought might seem intimidating but in actuality, much of pressure to perform is alleviated by leaving the food prep and wine service to the restaurant staff. Consider reserving a small room for your group and rather than a large meal, prearrange several rounds of appetizers specifically chosen to pair with your wine selections. As you conduct the tasting with the group, the staff will circulate with the food and wine which will make you look like a real hotshot!

Enjoy yourself and have some fun with it! That’s why we drink the stuff in the first place.

- Cheers
Tyler is the founder of North of 9 Fine Wine and also writes about wine in Footprints Magazine.

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  • Date publishedThursday, July 21, 2011

2009 Château Ste. Michelle Chardonnay (Washington) - Wine Review

I've always been a fan of wines from Washington State. It's a shame we don't get many more offerings from Washington here in Ontario. This fine wine was purchased last month.

CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE CHARDONNAY 2009 - Columbia Valley, Washington, USA (#232439) - $17.95
Tasting Note:
Grapefruit, lemon, herbal, mineral/stone aromas. Buttered popcorn, green apple flavours. Oak evident, but definitely in the background. Medium-bodied. Quality Chard that's well-made. Due to the power outage, I almost had grilled salmon on the BBQ. Instead, I will be having this with pan-fried salmon dusted with cajun. I think it will pair well. ;)

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  • Date publishedWednesday, July 20, 2011

Signature Italian Grapes + Chardonnays: July 23 Vintages Wine Release

is the next LCBO Vintages Release. This week's release focuses on the signature grape  varieties from Italy, as well as (expensive) Chardonnays from cool-climate regions such as Ontario, Oregon, South Africa, and Côte de Beaune (Burgundy).

Overall, there are lots of good, refreshing whites from the Italian feature, and slim pickings for sub-$20 Italian reds. However, the Tedeschi Capitel red from Veneto (#719294) does stand apart from the crowd.

The Ontario highlight of this Release focuses on Niagara's Twenty Mile Bench area. Great area, if you have never been! It's also not often we get a rosé from British Columbia - hopefully this is well-stocked on Saturday! Enjoy!

Red Wine:
  • CHÂTEAU L’ARGENTYRE 2006 - AC Médoc, Bordeaux, France (#226217) (XD) - $19.95
  • LAMADRID SINGLE VINEYARD RESERVA BONARDA 2008 - Mendoza, Argentina (#232652) (XD) - $16.95
  • SHINGLE PEAK PINOT NOIR 2009 - Matua Valley, New Zealand (#032441) (XD) - $19.95

White Wine:
  • TERREDORA LOGGIA DELLA SERRA GRECO DI TUFO 2009 - DOCG, Italy (#983197) (XD) - $17.95
  • INNISKILLIN WINEMAKER’S SERIES THREE VINEYARDS CHARDONNAY 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#105379) (XD) - $17.95
  • ARTESA CHARDONNAY 2009 - Carneros, California (#657585) (D) - $19.95
  • BODEGAS SHAYA VERDEJO 2009 - DO Rueda, Spain (#241554) (D) - $17.95
  • DOMAINE TROTEREAU QUINCY 2009 - AC, Loire, France (#225185) (XD) - $17.95
  • VINEA GARGANEGA 2009 - IGT Veronese, Veneto, Italy (#230656) (XD) - $12.95

Rosé Wine:
  • MISSION HILL FIVE VINEYARDS ROSÉ 2010 - VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada (#229716) (D) - $15.95

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  • Date publishedMonday, July 18, 2011

2009 Rose Hill Private Edition Cabernet Merlot (Niagara) - Wine Review

It was a busy (and fun) weekend, with my cousin's wedding (some of you may have noticed my tweets from the reception Saturday night). Here is the red wine that was served on each table and at the bar. There was also a Rose Hill white wine (I believe a Chardonnay), that I did not taste.

ROSE HILL PRIVATE EDITION CABERNET MERLOT 2009 - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Tasting Note:
Dark fruit, red berries and currant aromas. Not overbearing on the palate, with sweet fruit replays. Fairly easy drinking, food-friendly and crowd pleasing. It went well with Chicken Tikka and the Supreme Chicken (among the many very delicious dishes that were on the menu!)

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  • Date publishedTuesday, July 12, 2011

2006 The Garden Path Shiraz/Cabernet (Australia) - Wine Review

Purchased this one back in November of 2010, and could have cellared it for a couple more years, but felt like opening it tonight.

THE GARDEN PATH SHIRAZ/CABERNET 2006 - Langhorne Creek, South Australia, Australia (#199539) (XD) - $17.95

Tasting Note:
Mint, cassis, black currant, oak, earth/barnyard aromas. Black currant and blueberries on the palate. Ripe tannins. Fleshy, medium-bodied. Tasty. I think it will go well with the Chicken Biryani we're having tonight!

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  • Date publishedFriday, July 8, 2011

2009 Naia Verdejo (Spain) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine is an impressive offering from great 2009 vintage in Spain. Purchased from the April 30 Vintages Release.

NAIA VERDEJO 2009 - DO Rueda, Spain (#211045) - $18.95

Tasting Note:
Muted aromas of citrus, floral (I think I chilled it too much). Rich and creamy on the palate, with tree fruits like apple and pear. Lees aging evident. Made in a dry style with a long finish. Could have been aged for another year or two. Quality wine.

One thing I forgot to add - this is definitely a "food" wine (i.e. it would go well with various lunch or dinner fare).

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  • Date publishedWednesday, July 6, 2011

Top Marks New 90+ Wines and Sparklers: July 9 Vintages Wine Release

The upcoming Vintages Release on looked promising when I first gazed at the cover. However, I found the bulk of the 90+ wines were well over $20, and tasting notes that seemed a little dated based on the ageability of the wine.

On the other hand, the feature on Sparkling Wines, including Champagne is outstanding. Lots of variety with great value! On page 18, you will also find a table on various different methods used to make Sparkling wines.

If you're looking for something to cellar away for a couple of years, the Bordeaux red (#231886) from the great 2009 vintage, the 2007 Lirac (#213082) from Rhône, or the 2005 Lan Reserva (#042929) from Spain are good candidates.

Red Wine:
  • LAN RESERVA 2005 - DOCa Rioja, Spain (#042929) (XD) - $19.95
  • CHÂTEAU AUGUSTE 2009 - AC, Cuvée du Moulin, Bordeaux, France (#231886) (D) - $16.95
  • LOMOND SYRAH 2008 - WO Cape Agulhas, South Africa (#146464) (XD) - $19.95
  • BAGLIO DI PIANETTO SHYMER SYRAH/MERLOT 2008 - IGT Sicilia, Italy (#219501) (D) - $15.95
  • DOMAINE DUSEIGNEUR ANTARÈS LIRAC 2007 - AC, Rhône, France (#213082) (D) - $19.95

White Wine:
  • LEONE DE CASTRIS MESSAPIA VERDECA 2009 - IGT Salento, Puglia, Italy (#221879) (D) - $14.95
  • GURRUTXAGA TXAKOLI 2009 - DO Bizkaiko Txakolina, Spain (#240333) (XD) - $18.95
  • MOLTÈS RÉSERVE RIESLING 2009 - AC Alsace, France (#223925) (D) - $17.95
  • DR. PAULY-BERGWEILER RIESLING 2009 - QbA Mosel, Germany (#596601) (MD) - $12.95

Sparkling Wine:
  • FERRÉ I CATASÚS BRUT RESERVA CAVA - Spain (#224717) (D) - $16.95
  • CERRINO BRÎCH MENU MOSCATO D’ASTI 2010 - DOCG, Piedmont, Italy (#159822) (MS) - $13.95

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  • Date publishedTuesday, July 5, 2011

2009 Granacha Signargues (Rhône, France) - Wine Review

Tonight's wine was purchased in May, from the May 14 Vintages Wine Release, featuring wines from Southern Rhône.
Tasting Note:
Lovely cherry, brandy, raspberry, earth, pepper aromas. Strong herbal characteristics, some plum and tobacco on the palate; short finishing. Definitely ready to drink now, but lip-smacking tannins would reward cellaring 1-2 years. Will be having this with fish in curry sauce.

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  • Date publishedFriday, July 1, 2011

2010 Malivoire LadyBug Rosé (Ontario) - Wine Review

To celebrate , I was determined to choose something made locally. Fortunately, I had one Canadian-made wine ready to drink now (the rest are being aged). This wine was purchased from the May 14th Vintages Release, which had a tremendous focus on refreshing rosés.

2010 MALIVOIRE LADYBUG ROSÉ - VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada (#559088) - $15.95

Tasting Note:
I have purchased this wine in previous vintages and enjoyed it each and every time. It has become a personal favourite. The 2010 features citrus, spring flowers, and strawberry aromas. Watermelon, red berries on the palate. Medium-bodied and feels heavy (not typical of a rosé.) Slightly off-dry. It's well made and definitely recommended. Happy Canada Day to all!

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