Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Taste of the Season Niagara on the Lake Wine Tour

In this post I'm going to talk about a wine event that I look forward to every year, and why I love it.  In my next post I'll talk about my favourite food and wine pairings at the event this year.

Every year Niagara on the Lake holds a special wine tour in November called Taste of the Season. When you attend the event you get a passport to try a food and wine pairing at over 25 wineries in the area.  My husband and I discovered this event in 2006 when we were still dating.  This event was our first day trip and now it's a tradition since we go every year.  We even went last year when I was 3 months pregnant, but I only ate the food and no wine!  This year it was the first time we were away from our son for longer than a few hours.

I love the event because its not just about wine tasting, its also about the pairings and what types of foods go with different wines.  Niagara is a beautiful setting too and you can visit so many wineries that have different strengths in reds, whites or ice wines.  In one day or a weekend, depending on how you do the tour, you get to try such a great variety of wines, paired with savoury and sweet appetizer sized bites.  It's also a bonus to check out each winery with it's distinct interior design.

The first time I went on the tour it took some getting used to how wine tours work and all of the terms the people serving you would mention.  Even to this day I generally judge things on if I simply like the taste of the wine and the wine has a good finish.  I may have a good palate and a good nose, but can't really identify things they mention like "notes of berries, coffee, chocolate", etc.  My husband on the other hand is more of a wine expert since he has traveled and sampled wine in so many different regions of Europe and took a few general interest wine courses at a Community College.  Since my husband and I take two different perspectives on the tastings it makes it quite the adventure.

The great thing about the tour is I always seem to come away with interesting factoids about wine.  Its good to have a few wine tidbits to bring up at your next dinner party or work event!  Here are a few things I learned:

1. I learned that ice wine is best enjoyed when it doesn't hit the tip of your tongue first because it is very sweet.  It is better when the ice wine hits the back of your mouth so the sweetness is more muted.

2. Ice wine is so prized and more expensive than regular wine because much less juice can be extracted from  frozen grapes leading to less product that can be used to create the wine.  The juice also has a lot more concentrated sugar, leading to the wonderful sweetness that ice wine is known for.

3. Unoaked Chardonnay is different because the wine isn't stored and aged in oak wine barrels.  The wine is stored in stainless steel barrels or other non-oak barrels.  This changes the taste of the Chardonnay into a more fruity, crisper taste.

In my next post I will be revealing my husband and my top 3 favourite food and wine pairings for this year's visit.

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