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Food & Wine

Summer Sipping Round-Up

August 18, 2019
Longshot Pinto Grigio

It’s been a crazy busy few months as I balance work on the book I’m writing with the launch of Krista Lamb Communications.

It’s an exciting time with lots of balls in the air, but I’ve still done my best to taste as many new wines and cocktails as possible. I hope you’re following along with me on Instagram for more consistent updates, but I’ve compiled a few recent selections below.

And a huge thanks to the amazing wine community who continues to support me as I pursue so many different projects. Wine holds a very special place in my heart, but as I work to balance the body and soul parts that make up the name of this blog, it’s great to know that my friends in wine continue to cheer me on!

Sperling Vineyards Market RedSperling Vineyards 2017 Market Red – I really enjoy the wines from this Okanagan Valley vineyard. Sperling produces excellent wines for their price point and this Market Red is no exception. Medium-bodied and dry, this one has a great mouth feel and is a lovely mix of deep red fruit and soft spices. It was a great pairing for roasted chicken and a summer salad.

Longshot 2017 Pinot Grigio – This California Pinot Grigio is full of flavour, with lots of green apple and some lovely citrus on the palate. This is a bold, easy-drinking wine that would be nice on the patio or at your friend’s backyard barbecue. Shawn and I also tried the Longshot 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a bit heavy for a summer sipper, with spicy notes and lots of bramble and dark chocolate. Still, another great party option – especially as the evenings get cooler.

All Day Rose - Huff EstatesAll Day Rosé from Huff Estates – It was a steamy day when we cracked open this summer sipper from Prince Edward County (even my lens was foggy from the humidity!). This rosé is a little on the sweet side for my tastes, but it’s a fun patio wine for a hot summer day. This is a really fruit-forward on the palate with notes of watermelon and mango.

Social Lite Vodka Soda – Field Strawberry – I’ve talked a lot about Social Lite over the years, and with good reason. I love that this Canadian brand makes a sugar free option without artificial flavours. I’ve bought a lot of their Field Strawberry flavour over the summer and it has been such a great go-to when I want a cooler, but not a sugar bomb. When people ask me what’s in my fridge, it’s a good bet that you’ll find a few cans of this.

This is just a very small selection of the wines that I’ve reviewed on my Instagram this summer – be sure to head over to @kristavino and check out even more of my summer selections.

And be sure to share your summer favourites with me, post them in the comments or on social media!


Food & Wine

Summer Wine Adventures

September 19, 2016
Fresh Wines at the iYellow Wine Cave.

I can hardly believe how fast this summer flew by, but given the humidity and the oppressive heat in Toronto this year, I’m kind of OK with that. Shawn and I did have some pretty fabulous adventures this summer and I’ll continue to share posts from our trips to Germany and Lake Erie North Shore, but I wanted to mention a few others too.

There were way too many things happening this summer to do individual posts, but I didn’t want to miss mentioning these great events that Shawn and I were lucky enough to be invited to attend. As always, you can follow along with our adventures in real time on Instagram and Twitter. Each feed features different content, so I encourage you to check out both!

Cocktails at the Toronto Wine & Spirits Festival at Sugar Beach.

Toronto Wine and Spirit Festival – Sugar Beach

Oyster Boy Oysters at the Toronto Wine & Spirits Festival.Shawn and I declared the Toronto Wine and Spirit Festival the perfect date night a few years ago and this year’s event lived up to that billing. This June festival is always one of our favourites, we love the laidback vibe, the Sugar Beach location and the opportunity to try a wealth of different types of food and drink. The attendees at this event always seem more relaxed than at other drinks-based festivals. Maybe the beach just puts people in a really chill mood or it’s just super well-run (I think it’s a combo), but this is one where you can sip a cocktail while watching a band, eat oysters while enjoying a beautiful view of Lake Ontario or just wander from booth to booth deciding what to try next. Highlights for us this year? Mama Ratty’s meat donuts, Oyster Boy oysters, Berentzen apple liquor and Flora de Cana rum cocktails.

iYellow Summer Wine Jam

It may have been the night before our big trip to Germany, but Shawn and I couldn’t miss iYellow’s Summer Wine Jam this year, especially since it marked the tenth anniversary of this fabulous and fun wine club! Angela Aiello, founder of iYellow Wine Club, has always been a big supporter local bloggers (myself included) and a cheerleader for so many Ontario wineries – her positive attitude is really inspiring. Along with her amazing team of iYellow ‘wine angels’, she has helped make wine accessible to a whole new group of wine lovers and encouraged them to discover local wines and explore Ontario wine country.  It was so much fun to celebrate with this team and I can’t wait for the party to mark twenty years!

Fresh wines sparkling Riesling has a beautiful label.Fresh Wines Launch

Travel kept us away from many of the summer wine events in the city, so Shawn and I were happy to pop by the Fresh wines media event at the iYellow Wine Cave in late August. Fresh wines are made by Niagara’s Diamond Estates and they’re very much easy-drinking, patio or party wines. The packaging is pretty and colourful, featuring artistic renderings of modern women – the type of ladies this wine is clearly being marketed towards. Full disclosure, most of the wines in this line are on the sweet side and that’s not really my thing, but I’m trying super hard not to get all wine snobby about these patio wines because, hey, I drank Arbour Mist back in the day, and if sweet wines are your thing, you’ll really like these. The sparkling Riesling had my favourite label and it would be a good choice ice cold on a patio, as would the Moscato. I also enjoyed the Satin Red, which is a very drinkable, fruit-forward red wine blend.

Did you have any summer wine adventures? What were your favourites? Share them in the comments below or on social.

*We were guests at each of the events, but our opinions are our own. Especially my somewhat judgey ones about sweet wines. I said I was trying not be a wine snob, I didn’t say I was succeeding.

Book Reviews

Wine Folly – The Essential Guide to Wine

February 18, 2016
Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine book

One of my favourite presenters at the 2015 Wine Bloggers Conference was Madeline Puckette, better known to wine lovers as the blogger behind Wine Folly. I was very familiar with Madeline’s work because her blog style, which merges her graphic design skill with wine facts, has taken the blogosphere by storm. It was a great go-to when I was taking wine classes (I even had instructors suggest it) and I found the format of using graphics to illustrate both simple and complex wine concepts really engaging and easy-to-understand.

Her presentation at the conference endeared me to her even more—she was funny, enthusiastic and honest. I took away so much information and left the session feeling excited to get back to blogging. I also couldn’t wait to pick up a copy of her new book, Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine (co-written with Justin Hammack), which I bought soon after its release and recently read cover-to-cover.

The book itself is more of a reference guide, using the Wine Folly format of explaining wine concepts with a few words and some well-designed graphics. Having studied wine for several years, there wasn’t anything new or revelatory in this book, but I’m clearly not the intended audience. This is a book for newbies, for those who want a general understanding of wine and to feel confident at a tasting. And in that area, it does its job well.

The book breaks down wine info and gives you all the basics: what glasses to use, storage temperatures, how to taste, the hallmark grapes of some major wine styles and an overview of wine regions. It’s helpful and easy to follow. I can see picking it up when I want a quick reference for a factoid and for someone new to wine this would be really helpful.

Because this isn’t a deep dive into wine, there were omissions I was disappointed about (Canadian wine is nowhere to be seen, for example), but I think that came about because the book wanted to keep things simple and stick to the biggest grapes in the largest-producing regions. Given the intended audience, that made a lot of sense.

Throughout my read, I kept thinking how helpful this book would be for anyone who had just discovered wine or someone who was a more visual learner. I know that the wine production methods (though somewhat simplified) made a lot more sense in Madeline’s graphics than they did when my instructor went through them in my first wine class. I remember going home and looking for a video because, while I got the theory, I really needed to see the process to truly understand it. This book would have been a handy guide to have then and I’m sure I’ll recommend it often in the future.

Have you read Wine Folly’s book or visited her blog? Share your thoughts in the comments or on social.

Food & Wine

The Best Wines I Tried in January

February 4, 2016

Welcome to a new monthly column that will feature some of my favourite wine experiences from the month past. A few of these are still available and some have been in my cellar too long to still be on store shelves. Either way, I hope it inspires you to check out wines from these producers. And feel free to share your own ‘best of the month’ in the comments or on social!

I didn’t include any Icewine in this post, although I did try some fantastic ones in January. Check out my Icewine Festival post for an update on what I enjoyed tasting at this year’s fest.

Angel's Gate Winery 2011 Archangel Chardonnay Sparkling WineAngel’s Gate 2011 Archangel Chardonnay Sparkling Wine—I’m always impressed by Angel’s Gate sparkling wines, so it was easy to choose this one for our New Year’s Eve celebrations. This dry sparkling had lots of strong, fast bubbles, citrus and pear notes on the nose and palate and a bit of biscuit on the finish. This worked well with our dinner of stuffed chicken breast and for a toast at midnight.

Inniskillin 2010 Winemaker’s Series Shiraz Cabernet—I picked this up at last year’s Icewine Festival on the recommendation of the tasting room staff that it was drinking well at the moment. So when I pulled it out a year later I was worried I’d waited too long. Luckily, I hadn’t—this red blend is drinking beautifully right now and still has great fruit to cut through the notes of pepper and smoke. Shawn and I were very impressed with how this went with our pizza dinner and for a glass on its own. We wished we had picked up another bottle.

Creekside Winery 2011 Estate ShirazCreekside Estate 2011 Shiraz—Another wine we wish we’d bought more of, this Creekside stunner hit us with a huge burst of black pepper on the nose that quickly morphed into a complex mix of pepper, spice and dark red fruits, all of which I felt followed through on the palate. Shawn would have loved to try this with steak and I thought it was perfect just on its own.

Finca Hispana Castrijo, Rioja CrianzaFinca Hispana Castrijo Tempranillo—This Spanish wine from Rioja has a great label featuring the winemaker, but there’s more to it than that. I don’t typically drink Rioja wines without food because they’re very Old World in style, which just calls out for a hearty diner. However, this is a New World style Rioja – more fruit forward (lots of cherry and dark red fruit) than I anticipated and very enjoyable to sip on its own.  The oak is here in the subtle vanilla notes (this was aged in new oak), there’s some black pepper on the palate and the acidity works well. A nice lazy Friday night wine. This is currently a general list wine at the LCBO, so look for it at a store near you.

What did you drink in January and what stood out for you? Share in the comments or on social!