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Friday
Sep012017

‘Tis the Season is coming…..do you have enough wine???

 

September & October are traditionally the harvest months in the northern hemisphere.  Also traditionally, October is our busiest month, since most wine drinkers are planning to have some “extra” wine available for the upcoming Christmas and Holiday Season.  Whether party planning, planning for those “drop-in” guests, or preparing for gift-giving, crafting your own wine with custom labels makes pre-planning almost a no-brainer.  With a minimum of 1 month under the cork for white wines, and 3 months under the cork for red wines, now is a great time to get yours started.  If you require assistance with your selection, or already know what variety or style of wine you would like craft for yourself, our knowledgeable Staff are very helpful, and you can start your Festive vintage in as little as 7 minutes. We have over 90 selections of 4, 5, 6 and 8 week kits available for you to choose from.  Along with all of those choices, we also have a large selection of Fruit Wine Kits, Ice-Style Wine Kits, and Dessert Style Kits.  Some of these choices are available only for the Holidays, and are released in stores only at this time of year, like CranApple Celebration and 5 Dessert Wine (Port-Style) Kits.   These specialty kits are usually sweet, and have some very exotic flavours.  We stock de-luscious flavours such as Vanilla Fig, Raspberry Mocha, Coffee, Black Forest and Toasted Caramel. It will make a ½ batch, or 30 x 375ml bottles of deliciousness.  You may ask yourself “What am I going to do with 30 bottles of sweet wine?”  The answer is:  craft 5 great bottles for you, and then have 25 great gift bottles with customized labels for friends and family.  Our Dessert Wine flavours are NOT available from the LCBO, so you can truly craft some spectacular, unique gifts.

If you already craft your own wine, or would like to get started, we have several of our 4-Week, 5-Week and 6-Week and 8-Week Kits on Special Promotion for September and October.  All of these selections will be ready in time to share with family and friends, although why wait?  The sooner we get started, the sooner you get your cellar stocked!  If you are having trouble with the idea of 30 bottles, get together with family members, split some batches, and stock everybody’s cellars!  Ask a co-worker or two (because they already know that you are wine lover!), and they can be too!  Planning a “12 Houses of Christmas Crawl”?   Get together with neighbours (you know who you are!) and plan the perfect combination of crafted wines to serve with each course!  Anyway, crafting your own wine is fun!  Sharing your wines with friends, relatives and neighbours is easier than ever!

Custom labels can also be fun to dream up and then share with others.  With over 40 label varieties in stock at all times, the challenge is yours to think up a name or theme, and then when you come in to bottle your luscious wines, we’ll design them before your eyes on our state-of-the-art label program, et viola, 30 seconds later, your labels are done!  Simply choose a matching shrink cap, and your finished product is ready to store and share with your loved ones.  Simple.

 

Thursday
Aug172017

DAY TRIPPIN to Niagara-on-the-Lake 2017

 

DAY TRIPPING to Niagara-on-the-Lake  2017

This year we  hosted 50 Luscious customers and friends and visited The Hare Wine Company, a newer enterprise that has just opened its beautiful Tuscan-style winery on Stone Road for a tour and tasting.  Second stop was the rustic Caroline Cellars for a tasting and lovely lunch, followed by a visit to Small Talk Winery for a wagon tour of the vineyard and wine and cider tastings.  We finish off at The Lakeview Wine Company/Diamond Estates back on Stone Road for a visit and tasting.  This unique facility is home to many Niagara wines, such as 20 Bees, East Dell, FRESH, Dan Aykroyd, Lakeview Cellars, Seasons by De Sousa, McMichael Collection and Tzafona Cellars.

A fun time was had by all and everyone is looking forward to the next Luscious adventure!
CHEERS!!

 

Monday
Jul242017

WHY TAKE THE TIME TO CRAFT YOUR OWN WINE?

To someone who has never made wine, making craft wine at home or at a licensed facility like ours may seem like a task to leave to the professionals.  But with such a wide variety of wine kits available, it is quite simple to get started, and there are many reasons to make your own wine.  Here are just a few….

1. Making your own wine is fun.  It’s easy to get started and simple to do – just follow the step-by-step instructions that come with your kit, or simply drop into our winery.  Whether you are making wine alone or with a group of partners in crime, there is no better way to spend a relaxing, agenda-free hour.  Once you are used to making wine, you can get it started in less than 10 minutes!

2. Crafting your own wine will save you money, and you will know exactly what goes into it.  Do you like oak in your reds?  Do you hate oak?  Should your wine be sweet or dry?  When you make your own, you get to craft it in the style(s) you want.  While it is possible to pick up some pretty inexpensive bottles (~$10) of wine these days, if you compare the wine you make from a kit (from $3-$7) to a bottle of similar quality commercial wine, it turns out the craft wine is a real bargain, plus you get the satisfaction of having made something yourself – and that is priceless!

3. Making wine is convenient.  Don’t you hate it when the liquor store is out of your favourite wine, or that it is closed or even worse, so far away?  That never happens to craft winemakers.  Sound too good to be true?  We assure you, there is a craft wine kit available for almost every grape variety and every wine region in the world.  Don’t believe us?  See for yourself. 

4. Homemade wine makes great gifts.  It makes a great hostess gift, a “thanks for being a great teacher” gift, a house-warming present, a “thanks for shovelling the driveway” present….  Don’t know what to get your hard-to-shop-for father in law?  A bottle or two of craft wine will surely win him over.  Custom labels and shrink caps are available (for about 20¢ per bottle) to finish off your crafted wine, and the possibilities for these is only limited to your imagination!

5.  Crafting your own wine will amaze your friends - especially those who don’t make wine themselves.  The fact that you make your own wine sounds sophisticated and impressive, and you’ll feel proud that you picked up a new hobby, learned a new skill, and came out on the other side with something you and your friends can all enjoy together.

6. With your own craft wine, you’ll be prepared for a global crisis.  No matter what may come your way, you’ll always have bottles of wine stockpiled away in your cellar (or basement).  Just don’t be surprised when your friends and neighbours come knocking on your door the next time the power is out!

7. Most importantly, with a cellar full of craft wine, you will have an excuse to throw a party!  Everyone will be impressed that you were able to make wine that tastes so good and even better, you will get to enjoy your wine in good company.  Isn’t that the reason we drink wine in the first place?  So what are you waiting for?  Go get a kit and start that first batch now!!

 

Friday
Jul212017

Day Trippin 2017......Niagara Wine Region 

 

 

THE WHEELS ON THE BUS GO ROUND AND ROUND......

Well, it’s summer, and we’re off to the Niagara Region again on August 12, 2017 with a busload of wine enthusiasts to visit 4 wineries.  We like to visit the region at least once annually to keep up to date with what is happening in our industry on a local level.  What better way to enjoy wine tasting when the bus driver is your designated driver!  This year, we are visiting The Hare Wine Company, a newer enterprise that has just opened its beautiful Tuscan-style winery on Stone Road for a tour and tasting.  We are visiting the rustic Caroline Cellars for a tasting and lovely lunch, followed by a visit to Small Talk Winery for a wagon tour of the vineyard and wine and cider tastings.  We finish off at The Lakeview Wine Company/Diamond Estates back on Stone Road for a visit and tasting.  This unique facility is home to many Niagara wines, such as 20 Bees, East Dell, FRESH, Dan Aykroyd, Lakeview Cellars, Seasons by De Sousa, McMichael Collection and Tzafona Cellars.  Did we mention that there would be tastings?

 

We like to do these tours so that our customers can experience some of the challenges facing grape growers and wine makers as they describe how their year/seasons are going.  If you are not familiar with the Niagara Region as one of the most northerly successful grape producing areas in the world, it is due to the geophysical conditions that are specific to the area.  Wine making is not easy due to the huge number of variables that Mother Nature can throw at them.  The uniqueness of the Niagara Region with its many microclimates and growing conditions is always interesting.  With the (relatively) warm waters of Lake Ontario to the north, the predominately northwesterly winds, and the Niagara Escarpment to the south, the Niagara Peninsula is truly a study in these microclimates.  The convection effect caused by these conditions is what keeps the warmer air on the vines, and allows them to stay alive over our harsh winters.  It is also fun to meet the newest crop of summer helpers and guides at the wineries as they increase their portfolios and display their enthusiasm with winery-related summer jobs.  We get information first hand on how last year’s grapes and wines turned out (including the ice wine harvest), and how the growing season is going so far for this year.  Niagara College and Viticulture School is of course located in the area and summer employment for students is very competitive for them to stay in their home area and work in the field they are studying.

 

Not only do we sample some of the Niagara’s finest, it also allows for our customers to purchase some wines that are only available at the wineries and not at the local LCBO.  Sometimes there are “specials”, end of lines or other interesting offers that are only available locally.  We usually stop at a couple of roadside fruit stands to purchase some fresh-picked peaches, apples, plums, fresh vegetables and whatever else the Niagara grocery basket has available.  The tour takes a full day, and once we return to London, everyone is usually quite tired, but a great time was had by all.

Wednesday
Jul192017

Mastering the Art of Wine and Food Pairings

When it comes to food and wine pairings, there are those who carelessly match any dish with any libation and those who painstakingly try to balance the flavors of the food with the perfect wine. No matter where you land on the spectrum, there are some dishes that remain challenging (potluck, anyone?), so having knowledge of ways to properly pair wine with your food can truly intensify the enjoyment of eating. It doesn’t get much better than sea bass with Sauvignon Blanc, duck breast with Burgundy and a juicy steak with a classic Cabernet Sauvignon, so here are some pairing tips that promise to make your next dish sing:

How Food and Wine Pairings Work

Wine flavors are derived from specific components: sugar, acid, fruit, tannin and alcohol. Foods also have flavor components, such as fat, acid, salt, sugar and bitter. The most successful food and wine pairings feature complementary components, richness and textures. You can try for either a similar pairing or a contrasting one. For pasta in a rich cream sauce, for example, you could cut through the creamy fat with a crisp, dry, unoaked white wine. Or you could wrap the flavor of the wine around the richness of the sauce by choosing a big, ripe, soft Chardonnay or Roussanne/Marsanne blend. Of course you’ll need to brush up on white wine and red wine basics to understand the flavors of each grape. Armed with the knowledge of grape varieties, you can follow these food elements for a perfect match:

Six Elements of Food and Wine Pairing

There are a few elements that make both red wine and white wine pairings work, and they’re derived from characteristics of the food and how they mingle with those of the wine. These are: fat, acid, salt, sweetness, bitterness and texture.

1. Fat Element A lot of our favorite foods, both meat and dairy products, have high levels of fat. Wine doesn’t contain fat, so when matching a wine with fatty foods, remember that it has to balance that fat with acid, cut it with tannin, or match its richness with alcohol. This is why a prime cut of steak tastes so good with a Cabernet-based wine; the beef’s protein and fat softens up the wine’s mouth-drying tannins. This sets up the tongue for the wine’s fruit and berries and forest flavors to complement the smoky, meaty flavors of the steak.

2. Acid Element Acid is another key element in both food and wine. In wine, it adds nerve, freshness and lift. It can do the same with food, as when lemon is squeezed on a fresh piece of fish. When looking for a wine to go with an acidic dish, you should make sure that the perceived acidity of the wine is at least equal to that of the food, or the wine will taste bland and washed out. Salads are often a challenge for wine matching, but you can make it work if you moderate the acid in the dressing by cutting back on the lemon juice or vinegar. Try using some tangy, bitter greens and offset them with herbal flavors from Sauvignon Blanc or Sémillon.

3. Salt Element Salty foods seem to limit your wine choices. Salt can make an oaky Chardonnay taste weird, strip the fruit right out of a red wine and turn high alcohol wines bitter. But with a bit of imagination, you can conjure up some remarkable combinations of salty foods and sweet wines. Bleu cheese and Sauternes is another one of the world’s classic food and wine combos. Sparkling wines are a homerun with salty, fried foods. The carbonation and yeasty acids emulate beer and clean the salt from your palate, while adding more interesting textures and flavor nuances. Salt is also a principal flavor in briny seafood such as oysters. Acidic wines clean out the salt and balance the rich ocean flavors of the oyster.

4. Sweetness Element Sweet desserts and other sugary foods seem easy—just pull out a sweet wine—but beware. Here’s where a rule really needs to be observed. There are degrees of sweetness. Some recipes will have just a hint of sugar, such as a fruit sauce served over a pork loin. This light, fruity sweetness can be matched very well with rich white wines such as Chardonnay. Higher alcohol tends to give an impression of sweetness, and balances the sugar in the sauce. With desserts you must be certain that the wine tastes sweeter than the dessert; otherwise the dessert will strip the wine of its sweetness and render it bitter or tart. Though red wine and chocolate is a combination often promoted by the wine industry, you have to be very careful about it. Use a bitter, dark chocolate and a red wine with some sweetness, such as a late harvest Zinfandel, and it can be quite wonderful. But a sweet chocolate dessert and a dry red? Terrible!

5. Bitterness Element What about bitter flavors? In some cultures, bitter flavors are prized, but most of the time they are to be avoided. Anything more than just a hint is likely to be perceived as unpleasant. In wine, bitterness usually results from unripe grapes, or a failure to get the stems and pips (seeds) out of the fermenting tank, or mismanaged barrels. When bitterness in wine meets bitterness in food, it acts the opposite of

6. Texture Element As for matching textures, think light and heavy. Light foods are best with light wines; heavy foods with heavy wines. That’s the safest way to go about it. A more adventurous path is to experiment with contrast: matching light foods to heavy wines and vice versa. This will require more testing, to keep the tension dynamic and avoid having the lighter flavors over-shadowed by the heavy ones. For every rule of wine pairing there is, you will often find just as many dissenters. However, the most important rule of all is to trust your own palate and enjoy!