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Welcome to Chris Jensen Studios On Wine

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My name is Chris Jensen, and I am a Professional Wedding Photographer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba and have had the privilege to travel all over the country and the world shooting weddings for some pretty amazing couples.  I am also a huge wine lover and collector.   So I thought I would start a Blog on Wine to help you choose the very best wine for your wedding day.

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My Wines From The Winnipeg Wine Festival

What a fantastic time my wife and I had at the 2019 Winnipeg Wine Festival

I thought I would share some of the wines we picked up at the show with you and our overall experience of being back at the Wine Festival.

We arrived about 45 mins to show time and there was little to no lineup when we got there.  By the time 7 pm came about, there was maybe 100 people in line, but we all got into the show with little to no delay.   They were handing out free wine glasses for us to take home and keep from the show, when we were going though the doors, which was pretty cool.  We grabbed a book of all the wineries and wines that were represented and began our tasting.  It was hard to pick where to start first, so we just went to each winery booth, saw what they had to offer and if we hadn’t tried it or own it in our cellar, we tried what they had to offer.

Most of the wines we tried were excellent and some stood out more than others.  This year the plan was to only bring home what we really loved, so we were to try to limit it to one case.   In the end we brought home almost 2 cases of wine.

There were a lot of people there, but everyone was having fun and got to speak with quite a few people that either recognized me from weddings that I shot, or met new friends at the show and shared and spoke of our experiences at various booths, what was good and what was excellent.

Here are the wines we brought home with us from the show.

Birds & Bees
We bought the Sweet White and the Sweet Malbec.  This wine comes from the San Martin region in Argentina from the Trivento Bodegas Vineyard.

Sweet White
This is a very sweet wine, similar to that of a Late Harvest style wine.   It is a great wine to sit and relax on a hot summer day or to have for desert instead of desert.   The bouquet is of jasmine, pear, cut peaches.  It tastes like mangoes, pear, and a hint of green apples.   It is a light easy to drink wine and low in alcohol content.

Sweet Malbec
This is a deep red wine with a ton of flavour and sweetness to it.  It is again in the style of a Late Harvest wine.  On the nose, the bouquet is of orange blossom, honeysuckle and has a deep ripe red fruit taste to it.  Both wines are to be served cold.

whitemalbec

Dr. Zenzen 
We picked up two amazing wines from the vineyard.  We purchased the 2016 Pinot Noir and the 2016 Pinot Blanc.   They are located in the Rheinhassen part of Germany.  They are both a sweet and light wine, great for summer times on the deck.

2016 Pinot Noir
This a deep red wine, with the smell of dark fruit, dried black cherry.  It is a sweeter tasting Pinot Noir with light undertones or deep ripe red fruit, blackberry, ripe cherries and raspberries.

2016 Pinot Blanc
This a a light straw coloured wine, light to medium body with the bouquet of pear, apples, wet limestone.  It is a sweeter tasting wine than most Pinot Blancs, but it does come from Germany, and most German wines are on the sweeter side.   The taste of the wine has hints of pear, apple, lemon zest, green almond and crushed gravel.

 

 

 

Sangria Lolea 
We picked up three pretty cool wines from the Wine Festival.  These are sweet wines that are meant to be served very cold.  They are located in Aragon, Spain.

Lolea No 1.  Red Sparkling
Traditional tasting notes begin by talking about colour and appearance. Here there are no surprises a light cherry red tone, clean, bright and attractive with a slight effervescence of fine, steady bubbles. Next is the olfactory phase.

Here, Lolea sets itself apart from all other sangrias that we have tasted so far. It smells like a fresh, young wine! And of cherry, orange peel, lemon drops, cinnamon and sour strawberry. Its intense, pleasant aromas are married with crisps nuances of grapes and sweet fruit. But the best has yet to come. Full-bodied and ample on the palate, Lolea confirms all the olfactory suspicions, following them with the experience of a wide array of ripe red berries and blue flowers, where you appreciate the noblest part of the wine and tannins.

It has a very silky carbonic composition and slightly bitter finish that invites you to enjoy it.

Lolea No. 2 White Sparkling
This Clarea boasts its own special personality. An aromatic Mediterranean grape is used for the wine base and a subtle hint of vanilla blends with essential citrus aromas of lemon and orange, without losing freshness. The result is a very balanced and elegant Clarea, more sophisticated and chic than its red wine twin but equally fine with a persistent flavour and fragrance, hints of jasmine, apricot and loquat, and a great balance between acidity and sweetness.

Lolea No. 5 Frizzante Rose
A sophisticated and stylish take on Sangria crafted with a blend of frizz ante rose made from Garnacha and Tempranillo grapes, with hibiscus flower and refreshing ginger natural flavors. This fashionable rose displays an attractive pale pink color in the glass, with a slightly sweet and floral bouquet. On the palate it offers generous fruit flavors balanced by subtle floral notes of the hibiscus and an enticing warmth of ginger, with a refreshingly gentle effervescent finish.

Tarima Sparkling
We picked up this very cool wine at the show.  It comes from the Bodegas Vineyard in Alicante Spain.   The bouquet is of fruity, floral notes, lightly sweet, well-mineralised beneath the fruit with a fine persistent bubble. Drink as an aperitif or with a simple fruit dessert.

tarima-sparkling-moscatel-de-alejandria-1321505-s234

Daringa Cellars Mead
Mead is one of the oldest beverages known to man. In Greek Mythology it was known as Ambrosia “The Nectar of the Gods”. Because of its legendary qualities as an aphrodisiac it became known as the honey moon drink. It is naturally fermented from Australian honey and does not contain any added alcohol.  It comes from McLaren Vale in Southern Australia.
It has a bouquet of strong cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and apple cider.  The taste is amazing.  There are tons of sweet red apples, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, caramel, honey with a mellow sweet finish.

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Here are some of the wines I took photos of at their booths.

 

 

 

 

 

Wines From Spain

To get ready for this weekend’s Winnipeg Wine Festival, which features Wines from Spain, I thought it might be fun to learn a bit about Spanish wines, it’s regions and the grape varieties that make up their wines.

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Brief Spanish wine grapes

When it comes to learning about Spanish wine, it is important to get to know the different grape varieties that are grown in Spain as well as their geographic distribution.

In Spain, wines are classified into different wine regions, each with their own set of wine laws and quality standards. Currently, Spain has 69 major wine regions, the more correct term being “Designation of Origin” (D.O.).

You are most likely familiar with at least a few of them. Some of the most well-known wine regions of Spain are Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Penedés, Navarra, Rueda, Cava, Rias Baixas, Jeréz, & La Mancha.

Be careful not to mix up the name of the grape with the name of the wine region. It is quite common for people to confuse them. You should know that when asking for a “Rioja” you are referring to the Designation of Origin. However, if you order an “Albariño” wine, for example, you are naming the grape variety. The wine region is called Rias Baixas.

Let’s look at some grape varieties that come from Spain.  Most people around the world would not necessarily recognize these names but they are the main force of traditional Spanish wine.

Grape names are not much used in Spain. In most restaurants or wine shops, wines are classified according to their origin. Spanish wine regulations limit regions, which means that in order to understand how a wine will be you should know something about that particular region! More and more producers do however include the name of the grape in their labels. We will list here the most important and common Spanish grape varietals.

Red varieties grapes

Tempranillo

Tempranillo is the best known quality Red Wine Grape in Spain. “Temprano” means early in Spanish, and the name Tempranillo refers to the early time the grape has been traditionally harvested. Tempranillo is also known as Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero, Cencibel in La Mancha and Ull de Llebre in Catalonia. Its home is however La Rioja. Tempranillo produces fresh and fruit young red wines but it shows its best when oak aged.

Garnacha (Grenache)

A grape of Spanish origin despite most people associate it with the Rohne valley in France. This grape can be found in nearly all wine countries around the world. In Spain, it is found in the Northeast area, La Rioja, Navarra, Aragón and Cataluña. In Rioja it is normally blended with Tempranillo. This grape can produce fruity wines, with raspberry aromas.

Bobal

Found mainly in Valencia, Bobal wines are full bodied and colourful. Their quality has witnessed a very important increase in the last years.

Monastrell

It is the typical grape of Murcia and the south of Valencia. It produces powerful wines with great structure and a strength somewhat higher than normal. A few years ago, these wines were very successful in Anglo-Saxon countries.

Cabernet Sauvignon

You are right, this is not a Spanish grape varietal! The increasing demand for varietal wines in importing countries has made many Spanish plant cabernet. As cabernet grows well nearly everywhere, the results have been very good in Spain. As Cabernet is fairly tannic it is often blended with other grapes to produce more complex wines. You will find Cabernet wines in different regions in Spain (La Mancha, Catalonia, Navarra, etc.)

Merlot

Yet again another French grape variety in Spain. Merlot has also been quiet successful (though to a lesser extent than Cabernet) in Spain and can be found in many different regions.

Syrah

Syrah has become relatively popular in Spain, mainly in La Mancha and in the Mediterranean areas. In Spain you will find a very different Syrah to the Rhone or Australian Syrah. Spanish Syrah wines are normally full bodied, high in alcohol.

Tinta de Toro is of the Tempranillo grape family and is most typically grown in Zamora.

The Cariñena and Garnacha grape varieties are both widespread in different regions of Spain and in other wine-producing countries around the world.

There are many more red wine grape varieties: Manto Negro from the Balearic islands, Negramoll and Listán Negro from the Canary islands, Prieto Picudo from León, Brancellaoand Caíño from Galicia.  Also, in Galicia, Alicante, and Albacete, we can find the interesting grape variety called Garnacha Tintorera, the only variety of red grape whose pulp is also purple.

White grapes varieties

Verdejo

Typical grape of the D.O. Rueda. Wine from this grape have gained lots of commercial strength in the recent past. Verdejo wines are aromatic (with a tropical character), with body. Some producers opt for oak aging, and the results have been very good.

Albariño

Sometimes this Spanish grape varietal is thought to be the name of the appellation of origin where the wines are produced (Rias Baixas in the Northwest of Spain, in Galicia) Albariño wines are aromatic, crispy and with a distinctive aroma. It produces acid wines, but also with high glycerine that gives them a silky texture.

Godello

Another grape from the Northwest of Spain, Godello is a high quality grape that produces very aromatic wines.

Palomino

Used mainly for Fino production in the South of Spain.

Xareló, Parellada and Macabeo (or Viura)

These are the 3 grapes tradionally used to produce Cava.

Airen

Though unknown to many people, this Spanish white varietal is the world’s most planted grape in the world. The grape was traditionally used for the production of alcohol that served as the base for Brandy.

7 Types of Spanish Red Wine

Young Tempranillo

<img class="i-amphtml-intrinsic-sizer" role="presentation" src="data:;base64,” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” />young tempranillo
  •  Tasting Notes: Sour Cherry, Plum, Spicy Black Pepper and Bay Leaf
  •  Average cost: $10–20
  •  Regions: Rioja Crianza, Ribera del Duero Roble and Crianza, Valdepeñas, Tinto de Toro, La Mancha, Castilla-León, Extremadura

A juicy and spicy style of Tempranillo that typically receives less than a year of aging. Because wines are not aged long, they are spicy, fleshy, and tart. Most value-driven Tempranillo tastes lighter-bodied and lacks the complex flavors of brown spices from oak-aging.


Aged Tempranillo

<img class="i-amphtml-intrinsic-sizer" role="presentation" src="data:;base64,” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” />aged-tempranillo
  •  Tasting Notes: Cherry, Dried Fig, Vanilla and Cedar
  •  Average cost: $25–35
  •  Regions: Rioja Reserva, Ribera del Duero Reserva, Toro Reserva, Aged Castilla-León

Bold high tannin wines that embellish Tempranillo’s best qualities that are aged for several years in oak and bottle. The aging of Tempranillo softens the variety’s spiciness and flavors become almost sweet and dried. The extended cost of aging explains why this style typically costs more. Keep your eyes peeled for wines labeled with Reserva and Gran Reserva.


Young Garnacha

<img class="i-amphtml-intrinsic-sizer" role="presentation" src="data:;base64,” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” />young-garnacha
  •  Tasting Notes: Strawberry, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Hibiscus and Black Tea
  •  Average cost: $12–18
  •  Regions: Calatayud, Somotano, Navarra, Cariñena, Campo de Borja, La Mancha

Garnacha is known as Grenache in France, but the grape originated in Spain. This fresh and juicy style of Garnacha is a bouquet of sweet red fruit and a smooth iced tea like finish. You’ll find this style of Garnacha in Northern Spain close to the border of France in the encompassing regions of Aragon and Navarra. Young Garnacha typically makes a wonderfully candied red fruit flavored Sangria.


High-End Garnacha and blends

<img class="i-amphtml-intrinsic-sizer" role="presentation" src="data:;base64,” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” />high-end-garnacha
  •  Tasting Notes: Grilled Plum, Red Licorice, Juniper and Crushed Gravel
  •  Average cost: $25–35
  •  Regions: Vinos de Madrid, Campo de Borja, Priorat, Méntrida

High-end Garnacha wines are bold and complex with high tannin and dark raspberry flavors. Wines are aged longer and typically come from old vines.

You can find single varietal Garnacha around Madrid, where old vines in high elevation vineyards produce concentrated wines. In Spain, the Priorat regionalso uses Garnacha blended with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cariñena and delivers bolder styles with blackberry and licorice. Incredible stuff.


Monastrell

<img class="i-amphtml-intrinsic-sizer" role="presentation" src="data:;base64,” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” />monastrell, a spanish red wine
  •  Tasting Notes: Blackberry Sauce, Chocolate, Potting Soil and Smoke
  • Average cost: $10–18
  •  Regions: Jumilla, Alicante, Valencia, Bullas, La Mancha, Yecla

Monastrell is the same wine as Mourvèdre in France, but it’s actually a wine of Spanish origin. (Perhaps we should all be calling it Monastrell!)

Wines are intensely bold with high tannin, black plum, chocolate, and black pepper flavors. Monastrell is primarily produced in Central Spain.

Most wines are produced in affordable style and offer excellent value. Investigate the regions of Valencia, Alicante, Jumilla, Bullas and Yecla for amazing options.


Mencía

<img class="i-amphtml-intrinsic-sizer" role="presentation" src="data:;base64,” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” />mencia, a spanish red wine
  •  Tasting Notes: Pomegranate, Black Licorice, Crushed Gravel and Graphite
  •  Average cost: $20–30
  •  Regions: Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra, Monterrei, Valdoerras

Mencía (pronounced Men-THEE-ah) is a unique medium bodied wine that grows in Spain and Portugal. Wine collectors have likened Mencía it to Grand Cru Burgundy because of its’ layers red fruit, floral aromas and moderate mouth-drying tannins.

The wines are made in Northwest Spain around the encompassing region of Galicia and in Portugal in the Dão region.

Wines from Bierzo and Monterrei tend to be more full bodied and wines from Valdoerras tend to be lighter. The Monterrei and Ribeira Sacra regions sometimes blend Mencía with other local grapes including Bastardo.


Bobal

<img class="i-amphtml-intrinsic-sizer" role="presentation" src="data:;base64,” alt=”” aria-hidden=”true” />bobal, a spanish red wine
  •  Tasting Notes: Black Cherry, Dried Green Herbs, Violet and Cocoa Powder
  •  Average cost: $15–18
  •  Regions: Utiel-Requena, Manchuela

A relatively unknown grape outside of Spain due to the fact that very little exported. Still, Bobal is one of Spain’s most planted grapes. It grows mostly in Central Spain where it’s prized for its deep opaque purple colour, high tannins, and black fruit flavors.

Some producers have figured out how to manage the bold tannins in this wine and deliver smooth reds with blueberry notes.

Be sure to pair with a richly flavored meat, like carne asada.

12x16 Spain wine map by Wine Folly

Below are listed the Spanish wineries coming to this weekends event.  I can’t wait to try some of these out and maybe add a few to my wine cellar.   

Anciano Wines 
Anciano 7-Year Old Gran Reserva Tempranillo
Anciano 10-Year Old Gran Reserva Tempranillo
Aniciano Clasico Garnacha
Aniciano Old Vine Garnacha

Araex Spanish Fine Wines
Villa Conchi Brut Seleccion Cava
Villa Conchi Brut Reserva Cava
Gran Sello Rose
Gran Sello Tempranillo Syrah

Bodegas Franco Espanolas
Rioja Bordon White
Rioja Bordon Reserva Red
Rioja Bordon Gran Reserva Red
Finca el Encinal Crianza

Bodegas Gran Feudo
Baluarte Gran Feudo Verejo
Baluarte Gran Feudo Rosado
Baluarte Gran Feudo Roble Navarra
Baluarte Gran Feudo Roblw Ribera del Duero

Bodegas Pradorey
Pradorey Verdejo
Praderey Origen Roble
Praderey Finca Valdelayegua
Praderey Adaro Crianza

Bodegas Ramon Bilbao
Ramon Bilbao Verdejo
Ramon Bilbao Rosado
Ramon Bilbao Crianza
Ramon Bilbao Limited Edition

Bodegas Volver
Tarima Sparkling
Tarima Monastrell
Tarima Hill
Volver Single Vineyard

Bu & Liberaso
Bu Viura Airen Verdejo
Bu Tempranillo
Liberado Verdejo Sauvignon Blanc
Liberado Cabernet Sauvignon Tempranillo

Campo Viejo
Campo Viejo Tempranillo Blanco
Campo Viejo Reserva
Campo Viejo Gran Reserva
Campo Viejo Wine Maker’s Art

Familia Castano
Familia Castano Dominio Espinal Blanco
Familia Castano Monastrell Ecologico Orangic
Familia Castano GSM
Familia Castano Solanera

Freixenet
Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava
Freixenet Elyssia Gran Cuvee Brut
Freixenet Cuvee DS
Freixenet Elyssia Pinot Noir Rose Brut

Gil Family Estates
Juan Gil Rosado
Bodegas Ateca Honoro Vera Garnacha
Bodegas Tridente Entresuelos Teampranillo
Bodegas Tridente Gota de Arena

Gonzalez Byass
Beronia Rueda Verdejo
Beronia Gran Reserva
Beronia  Tempranillo
Beronia  Tio Pepe

Hammeken Cellars
Gran Castillo de Rocia Cava Brut
Goates del Mar Albarino
Manos Libre Organic Tempranillo
Radio Boka Tempranillo

J. Garcia Carrion
Pata Negra Organic Cava
Pata Negro Verdejo
Pata Negro Toro Roble
Antano Rioja Reserva DO

Jorge Ordonez Selections
Nisia
La Cana
Botani Old Vines
Trition Tinta de Toro

Juve Y Camps
Juve Y Camps Cinta Purpura Brut Reserva
Juve Y Camps Reserva de la Familia
Juve Y Camps Gran Reserva
Juve Y Camps Brut Rose

Les Vins Bonhomme
El Petit Bonhomme Blanco
El Petit Bonhomme Tinto
El Gran Bonhomme
Caminos del Bonhomme Cabernet Sauvignon

Marques de Caceres
Marques de Caceres Rosado
Marques de Caceres Crianza
Marques de Caceres Gaudium
Marques de Caceres Reserva

Marques Del Puerto
Marques Del Puerto Rose
Marques Del Puerto Bentus
Marques Del Puerto Crianza 2014
Marques Del Puerto Reserva 2010

New Vingergia 2005, SL
Camps D’Estels Brut Rose
Campos de Luz Garnacha
La Sorda Vendimia Seleccionada Rioja Alavesa
Lo Tros Priorat

Sangria Lolea
Lolea No. 2 White Sangria
Lolea No. 5 Rose Sangria
Lolea No. 1 Red Sangria
Lolea No. 1 Red Sangria Minis

Segura Viudas 
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva
Segura Viudas Brut Rose
Segura Viudas Heredad Brut Reserva
Segura Viudas Gran Cuvee Reserva

Torres
Vina Esmeralda Rosado
Celeste Crianza Ribera del Duero DO
Gran Coronas Cabernet Sauvignon Penedes DO
Mas la Plana Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine & Food Pairing For Your Wedding

I get asked all the time, “what kind of wine would go with this food”, or “we tasted our meal at the venue and on the wedding day, it tasted different, and off.”

Wine and Food go together.  When matching food and wine, you really don’t need to learn any complicated rules of selecting the right wine to go with what you are eating.   Just a few simple guidelines will help you make great food and wine pairings.   As with the bride and groom who said that their food tasted off at their wedding compared to how good it tasted when they tried it before hand, they paired the wrong wine with the wrong food.  I am here to help with that.

Below, you will find some examples of wines that you will typically be able to select at any wedding venue.  With it, I have paired it with the typical menu you would see at any wedding venue.   I have also added a few extras in case you want to throw a great dinner party and wow your guests with the right food and wine pairing.  Both food and wine bring out the flavors in each, if done right.  There is no way faster to ruin a good fine or food than making a wrong pairing.   Like a heavy Cabernet Sauvignon with a great fish meal…not good.

Have fun with it, try lots of different types of wine, experiment with it.  Go to wine shows, or try samples at the MLCC, take a course or go to wine events at places like Banville and Jones, they are always showing off new wines to sample.  Then try to match it with something you may like, who knows, you may come up with a spectacular pairing.

Here are Three Very Simple and Important Rules to Wine & Food Pairing.

Drink & Eat What You Like

I would always choose the wine that you like the most by itself, rather than hoping you made the right choice in the food that you plan to eat with it.   Even if it isn’t a perfect match, at least you are enjoying the wine you have selected for yourself.  Same goes with the food, go with what you like and not worry too much about what wine you are having with it.   Worst case scenario, you might have to have some bread or water to get it down and lessen the taste of a bad pairing.  If you don’t like liver (I hate it), then no matter what wine you are trying to pair it with will ever make it taste good.

Look For Balance In Each Other

When trying to pair wine and food, look at what you are drinking and what you are eating and try to match that up in the weight and texture of the food and wine.  They should be equal partners.  A heavy Bordeaux won’t work with a delicate salad or fish dinner, neither will a lighter Pinot Grigio work with a Heavy Roast.  Look at the complexity of the wine and food, look at the structure, body and richness of what you are having and try to match that.  A crisp Sauvignon Blanc works well with a Grilled Chicken Salad, same with a Full Bodied Pinot Noir works excellent with a Bar B Q;d Hamburger right off the grill.  In fact Pinot Noir goes well with a lot of great food, like Salmon, Roasted Chicken, Pizza, Casseroles, Stews and Hamburgers. mmmm…..hamburgers…..

How do you determine the weight or complexity of the food to the wine?  For food, look at the fat, including how it is cooked, like what kind of sauce is used.  A salad with blue cheese dressing feels a lot heavier than one with a light vinaigrette, as does fried chicken over poached.

For the wine, you can get some clues and ideas from the colour, grape variety and alcohol content, along with the the wine making technique and the climate from which it was grown.  Wine with less than 12% alcohol tend to be lighter bodied from those with 14% which are heavier.   There is a list of wines below to help you with this.

Pair Your Wine With The Most Prominent Ingredient In The Food

This is an important step going forward.   Try to look and identify the most dominant part of the food, more often than not, it is the sauce, seasoning, the way it was cooked, rather than the main ingredient.  Lets look at two different dishes.   Bar-B-Q’d Chicken with thick homemade Bar-B-Q Sauce seared and caramelized into the meat over a chicken breast poached in a creamy lemon sauce.  The earthy tones to the first dish lean towards a soft red wine, while the other with its citrus flavours would pair well with a fresh crisp white wine.

Becoming More Advanced 

Now that you have an understanding of the three important elements that go into wine and food pairing, let’s look at other things that make up the wine.

The first thing to look at is what goes into creating the grape that makes the wine.  Consider the fruit flavours and sugar which gives that soft feel in the mouth, and the acidity and tannins which gives the wine a sensation of firmness.   Don’t forget the alcohol, which will either feel softer with less and harder with more.

Red Wines differ from white wines in two major ways, tannins and flavours.  Tannins are compounds that provide structure and texture to a wine; they’re responsible for that astringent sensation you feel on the sides of your cheeks, much like when you drink a strong cup of tea. Many red wines have tannins; few white wines do, unless they have spent extensive time in oak barrels.

White and red wines share many common aromas and flavors; both can be spicy, buttery, leathery, earthy or floral. But the apple, pear and citrus flavors in many white wines seldom show up in reds, and the dark currant, cherry and plum flavors of red grapes usually do not appear in whites.

Here are some other pairing principles to consider:

Structure and Texture Matter

Ideally, a wine’s components are in balance, but you can affect that balance, for better or worse, with the food pairing. Elements in a dish can accentuate or diminish the acidity and sweetness of a wine, and the bitterness of its tannins.

High levels of acidic ingredients, such as lemon or vinegar, for example, benefit high-acid wines by making them feel softer and rounder in comparison. On the other hand, tart food can turn balanced wines flabby.

Sweetness on the plate can make a dry wine taste sour, but pairs well with a bit of sweetness in the wine; as long as a wine balances its sugar with enough natural acidity (such as German Rieslings and demi-sec Champagnes), it can work very well with many dishes.

Tannins interact with fats, salt and spicy flavors. Rich, fatty dishes such as steak diminish the perception of tannins, making a robust wine such as a Cabernet seem smoother, as do lightly salty foods like Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. However, very salty foods increase the perception of tannins and can make a red wine seem harsh and astringent; salt likewise accentuates the heat of a high-alcohol wine. Very spicy flavors also tend to react badly with tannins and high alcohol, making the wines feel hotter; such dishes fare better with fruity or lightly sweet wines.

Look For Flavor Links

This is where pairing can be endless fun. The aromatics of wine often remind us of foods such as fruits, herbs, spices and butter. You can create a good match by including ingredients in a dish that echo—and therefore emphasize—the aromas and flavors in a wine. For a Cabernet, for example, currants in a dish may bring out the wine’s characteristic dark fruit flavors, while a pinch of sage could highlight hints of herbs.

On the other hand, similar flavors can have a “cancellation effect”—balancing each other out so that other aspects of a wine come out more strongly. Serving earthy mushrooms with an earthy red might end up giving more prominence to the wine’s fruit character.

Give Consideration To Age

Aged wines present a different set of textures and flavors. As a wine matures, the power of youth eventually subsides; the tannins soften, and the wine may become more delicate and graceful. Fresh fruit flavors may give way to earthy and savory notes, as the wine takes on more complex, secondary characteristics. When choosing dishes for older wines, tone down the richness and big flavors and look for simpler fare that allows the nuances to shine through. For example, rather than a grilled, spice-rubbed steak with an older Cabernet, try lamb braised for hours in stock.

Entire books have been written on the subject of food-and-wine pairing, and you can have a lifetime of fun experimenting with different combinations.

WEIGHING YOUR OPTIONS: LISTS OF WINES BY BODY

Matching by weight is the foundation of the old rule about white wine with fish and red wine with meat. That made perfect sense in the days when white wines were mostly light and fruity and red wines were mostly tannic and weighty. But today, color-coding does not always work.

Like human beings, wines come in all dimensions. To match them with food, it’s useful to know where they fit in a spectrum, with the lightest wines at one end and fuller-bodied wines toward the other end. For perspective, we offer the following lists of commonly encountered wines.

OK, purists, you’re right: Some Champagnes are more delicate than some Rieslings, and some Sauvignon Blancs are bigger than some Chardonnays, but we’re painting with broad strokes here. When you’re searching for a light wine to go with dinner, pick one from a category at the top of the list. When you want a bigger wine, look toward the end.

To make your own classic matches, start off on the traditional paths and then deviate a little. Don’t get stuck on Cabernet with red meats—look up and down the list and try Zinfandel or Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Instead of Burgundy or Pinot Noir with sautéed mushrooms, try a Barbera or a red Bordeaux. That’s the way to put a little variety into your wine life without straying too far from the original purpose.

Selected dry and off-dry white wines, lightest to weightiest:

Light

  • Muscadet
  • Orvieto
  • Pinot Blanc/Pinot Bianco
  • Pinot Grigio (e.g. Italy)
  • Prosecco
  • Rioja (white)
  • Soave

Light to medium

  • Chenin Blanc, dry or off-dry
  • Gewürztraminer, dry or off-dry
  • Pinot Gris (e.g. Alsace, Oregon), dry or off-dry
  • Riesling, dry or off-dry

Medium, leans toward herbal

  • Bordeaux, white
  • Grüner Veltliner
  • Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Sémillon
  • Verdejo

Medium, leans toward minerally

  • Albariño
  • Arneis
  • Cava
  • Champagne and other dry sparkling wines
  • Chablis (or other unoaked Chardonnay)
  • Falanghina
  • Gavi
  • Greco di Tufo
  • Mâcon
  • Vermentino

Full/creamy

  • Burgundy whites, Côte d’Or
  • Chardonnay (e.g. California or other New World, oaked)
  • Rhône whites
  • Viognier

Selected red wines, lightest to weightiest:

Light

  • Beaujolais (or other Gamay)
  • Dolcetto
  • Valpolicella (not Amarone)

Medium, more acidity than tannins, tends toward red fruits

  • Barbera
  • Burgundy
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Chianti (or other Sangiovese)
  • Côtes du Rhône
  • Grenache/Garnacha
  • Pinot Noir (e.g. California, New Zealand, Oregon)
  • Rioja reds (other Tempranillo)

Medium to full, balanced, tends toward dark fruits

  • Bordeaux
  • Brunello di Montalcino
  • Malbec (e.g. Argentina)
  • Merlot
  • Rhône reds, Northern
  • Pinotage
  • Zinfandel (also Primitivo)

Full, more tannic

  • Barolo and Barbaresco
  • Cabernet Sauvignon (e.g. California, other New World)
  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape
  • Petite Sirah
  • Ribera del Duero
  • Shiraz/Syrah

Selected sweet wines:

Lighter

  • Gewürztraminer, late-harvest
  • Moscato d’Asti
  • Muscat
  • Riesling, late-harvest
  • Rosé, off-dry
  • Sauternes and Barsac (other botrytized Sauvignon Blanc-Sémillon)
  • Vin Santo
  • Vouvray, moelleux (late-harvest Chenin Blanc)

Heavier

  • Australian Muscat or Muscadelle
  • Banyuls
  • Madeira (Bual or Malmsey)
  • Port
  • Recioto della Valpolicella
  • Sweet Sherry (Cream, Pedro Ximénez, Moscatel)
  • Tokaji

Wedding Venue Food and Wine Pairing

Now that you have a better understanding of wine and its relationship to food and the structure behind it all, consider the types of wine and food you will most likely see at your wedding venue.  Below are some examples of wines and the food that would pair with it.

WHITES

Anything from Pelle Island such as their Riesling, Gewurztraminer, or Pinot Grigio is good for white, same with the Cave Spring Gewurztraminer or the Enniskillen Reisling or any Sauvingon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.  Riesling, or Gewurztraminer are good from any winery

Pinot Grigio– The Primary fruit flavours are lime, lemon, pear, white nectarine and green apple, depending on where the grapes are grown, it can taste on the aromas of faint honey notes, floral aromas such as honey suckle

Sauvignon Blanc– The primary fruit flavours are lime, apple, passion fruit and white peach, depending on where the grapes are grown, the flavours range from zesty lime to flowery peach

Riesling– This wine starts with intense aromas that rise from the glass, the primary fruit flavours are nectarine, apricot, honey, crisp apple and pear.

Gewurztraminer– This wine is like no other.  No other wine can boast the intense perfume and flavour as fierce as this wine can.   It has the aroma of rose petals, orange blossoms,  litchi fruit, citrus, bergamot peel and juicy ripe tropical fruit

Food Pairings

Gewurztraminer – Chicken, pork, shrimp, crab, bacon, Thai food, Asian dishes, barbecue, hot wings, rice, truffles, eggy dishes, cheddar, colby and comte cheeses

Pinot Grigio – creamy smoked salmon pasta, pan fried halibut, spaghetti carbonara, lemon chicken piccta, white cheese chicken lasagna, grilled halibut,  salad, seafood, chicken, sushi, calamari, fish and chips, hummus, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, ham, pasta

Sauvingon Blanc – green vegetables, oysters, delicate fish like sole, fresh herbs, pesto, spaghetti, shrimp, chicken, turkey, pork, seafood, citrus fruits & veggies, pine nuts, feta cheese

Riesling – pizza, pork, chicken, chicken salad, shrimp,  spicy shrimp, pork chops, fish (spicy or light), fish tacos, seafood, salad, grilled shrimp, halibut, fish and chips, grilled cheese sandwich

Any of these wines from any winery is good.  Serve these wines cold, wineries that offer good examples of them that can be found at the MLCC are

Gewurztraminer (Peleee Island, Feltzer, Quails Gate, Gray Monk,  Pfaff, Cave Spring)

Riesling (Lighthouse, Tantalus, Tawse, Pfaff Cuvee Jupiter, Pelee Island, Wakefield Estates, Angels’ gate, Enniskillen)

Sauvingon Blanc-New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Canada do amazing Sauvingon Blanc, so you can’t go wrong with any of them from any of these countries

Pinot Grigio (Cedar Creek, Longhand, Pelle Island, Santa Julio, Mission Hill, Vintage Ink, Inniskillin, Vineland, Skinny Grape is ok too)

REDS

Zinfandal -This full bodied wine has a wide variety of flavours depending on the climate it was grown in, such as raspberry or strawberry in cooler climates to blackberry and spices in warmer climates.  It has the aroma of berry, raspberry,, spice and pepper

Cabernet Sauvingon – This is a full bodied wine with the aromas of vanilla, currants, pepper.  It has the flavour of black currant, mint, pepper, vanilla.  The main characteristic of this wine is medium to full bodied and hard tannins.

Merlot – It has the aroma and flavour of black cherry, berries, plum, chocolate, and some herbs.  It is a medium bodied wine with soft tannins and smooth acidity.

Shiraz (or Syrah-old world name of it) – This is a dark full bodied wine and has dark fruit flavours such as sweet blueberry, savory black olive, licorice, vanilla, smokey tones, chocolate, red berry, black currant.  When you first taste it, it is a punch of flavour that tapers off to a spicy peppery note.

Pinot Noir – Has notes and flavours of roses, fruit, black currant, plum, berries.  It is a medium to full bodied wine with medium to high acidity and medium to low tannins.

Food Pairings

Zinfandal – Barbecued  meats.  The sweetness and spice in the wine will pair well with the caramelized, smoky notes of the meat.  Cheese, Mexican food and Thai food also go great with Zinfandal.

Cabernet Sauvingon– Roasted and barbecued meats, cream sauces, butter sauces, Italian food, blue cheese, aged cheddar, aged gouda

Merlot – Salmon, mushrooms, shellfish, French food, Italian food, Spanish food, and is good with camembert and gouda cheese

Shiraz – Blue cheese, Barbecue, Cheese Burger. Lamb, Beef, Stew, Steak, Italian Food, Spanish Food, Aged Cheddar, Gouda, Edam Cheeses.  Pepper your meats with anise and clove  to bring out the subtle nuances in this wine

Pinot Noir – Most meats (except wild game), grilled poultry, grilled fish, grilled pork, grilled beef, grilled lamb, Italian food, Spanish food, cheddar, edum, gouda, lancshire and port salut cheeses are good with this wine.

Any of these wines from any winery is good.  Serve these wines room temperature (or cooler but not cold with Zinfandal & Pinot Noir) , wineries that offer good examples of them that can be found at the MLCC are

Zinfandal – Carnivor, Dancing Bull, Gnarly Head Old Vines, Klinker Brick Old Vines, Copper Cane Beran, Ca’momi Napa Valley, Ravenswood Mendocino Old Vine (The best Zinfandal comes from Napa Valley or Russian River in California)

Cabernet Sauvingon – Shot in the Dark (Cabernet Shiraz), Montes Alpha, Carnivor, Snap Dragon, Copper Moon, Six Hats, Three Thieves, The Dreaming Tree, Angus The Bull, Tom Gore, Pelee Island (Cab Franc),  Saint and Sinner (Shirez-Cab), Angel’s Gate (Cab-Merlot), Red Rooster, Robert Mondovi

Merlot – Copper Moon, Smoking Loon, Oyster Bay, Ghost Pines, San Point, Qualis Gate, Rodney Strong, Douglas Green Fair Trade, Post House Black Mail, No. 99 Wayne Gretzky, Pelee Island Semi Sweet, Jackson Triggs, Angle’s Gate, Twenty Bees, Twist Of Fate (Malbec-Merlot), Red Rooster

Shiraz – Wine O’ Clock, Copper Moon, Most Wanted, Bodacious, Six Hats, 19 Crimes, Wallaroo Trail, Shot In The Dark, McGuigan Black Label, Heritage Road Bloodstone, Sisters Run Epiphany, Saint and Sinner, Sisters Run Cows Corner (Grenache Shiraz Mataro), Nugan Estate Alfredo Second Pass

Pinot Noir – Prophecy, Oyster Bay, Pelee Island, Spy Valley, Sileni Selection, Inniskillin, Quails Gate, Conviction The Priest, Kim Crawford, Mission Hill, Hon Nob, Santa Carolina, Santa Clair, Mark West Black

Below are some examples of wines from my personal cellar and are all excellent wines, and can all be found at the MLCC here in Manitoba.

 

Benjamin Bridge Spring Trio Wine Club Exclusives

I received my Spring Trio from Benjamin Bridge today.  I belong to their wine club and every quarter they send 3 very limited wines only available to their wine club members.  The wines from Benjamin Bridge are amazing.   I love everything they have sent me so far.   Their Riesling is amazing and can be purchased from them directly.  Their Nova 7 is fantastic and something everyone needs to try at least 10 times in their life.  You can get it directly from the MLCC here in Manitoba.  It is a semi sparkling wine, more of a fizzy wine and has a slight rose tone to it.  The flavour is out of this world, something you have never had before.  It is amazing.  It tastes like spring time, with fresh strawberries, raspberries and kiwi fruit.  It truly is amazing.

For this shipment of wine, representing their Sprint Trio of wines, they sent me 2015 Torbrook Brut, 2015 Torbrook Rose and the Raymond Private Cuvee.  The tasting notes from the winery are below as I have not yet tried them.  Once I do, I will post my own notes.  I can’t wait to try them, they look and sound amazing.

The photos are from my private cellar and when the wines first came in, still in their shipping container.

2015 Torbrook Brut 

BB Club Exclusive

This trio includes two special cuvées that explore the singular Torbrook soils found on the south-facing slopes of the North Mountain near Granville Ferry. These soils have developed from coarse textured water-deposited sands and gravels derived mainly from shales and slates with some granite and quartzite. Generally, there are not enough surface stones to interfere with cultivation, but the rougher areas are more stony on the surface. This blend of predominantly Chardonnay (90%) from grape grower Gord Whatley and Pinot Noir (10%) from neighbour and micro-grower Bill Armstrong is a tonic, refreshing Brut with distinct, saline notes

2015 Torbrook Brut Rosé 

BB Club Exclusive

This Brut Rosé comes from the same soils as its sibling Brut in this release. Growing history has demonstrated that Granville Ferry’s position on the Bay of Fundy and the widened Annapolis River near Digby Neck have provided protection against harsh winters. Thanks to the surrounding waters, the temperatures can be upwards of 10 degrees warmer than in other parts of the Valley, including our home in the Gaspereau. So we’ve always been grateful that our grower friends have pursued growing the sensitive vitis vinifera varietals that complement our sparkling program. This blend features the predominant Chardonnay (80%), but with a higher Pinot Noir component (20%) providing roundness, textural depth and subtle wild berries aromatics.

 

Raymonds Private Cuvée

Special Collaboration

At one of the world’s best restaurants, Raymonds in St John’s NL, we are humbled to have had a long and wonderful relationship with head chef Jeremy Charles and restaurant manager, sommelier, Jeremy Bonia. The Raymonds menu is more than a tribute to the natural resources of Newfoundland and Labrador, it is a dynamic reflection of the powerful seasonal changes of their insular ecosystem. Given our similar pursuits, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we also share in common a few extra-curricular passions, such as fly fishing. This is a collaboration born on the river during a fishing trip. It is a private label only available at Raymonds and, now, with approval from the Jeremys, exclusively to this BB Club Trio.

 

Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir 2013

278400-quails-gate-pinot-noir-blank

This was one of the wines I had in my private cellar.   I have had it before and continued to get better with age.    We had it one night with some good friends over Greek Meatballs, Moussaka, Feta Cheese, Chicken Souvlaki and Tzatziki in February 2019.

Pinot Noir is their flagship red wine. The volcanic slopes at this Quails’ Gate vineyard site are ideally suited to this varietal. Made to be elegant with grace and finesse, this wine is made for wine lovers who desire a sophisticated style of Pinot Noir. As one of Canada’s leading producers of Pinot Noir, they ensure that their wines exhibit rich, complex fruit flavours, reminiscent of classic Burgundy wines, while showcasing the added elegance of New World winemaking techniques.

The grapes for this BC Pinot Noir are sourced from the winery’s Mount Boucherie bench vineyard, and most of the vines are more than 20 years old, with deep roots penetrating the multi-layered, freely draining soils. The grapes are cooled and soaked on their skins for a week before wild yeast fermentation is started by warming the vats. After a month on the skins to extract rich and deep colour and flavour, the wine was gently pressed and aged in French oak barrels for 10 months before racking and blending.

Peppery, celery root, light sausage, black cherry, coffee, vanilla, saddle leather aromas. Dry, fresh, elegant, round palate with light, leafy tannins. Coffee, peppery, dark cherry, tobacco leaf, earthy, leather flavours. Finish was delicious and full fruit flavours,

Gorgeous depth and concentration of flavour in this iconic BC Pinot Noir, yet it’s not heavy at all. Aromas of fleshy ripe black cherries, violets and some dark spice on the nose follow through on the palate. This is seductive Pinot that gives liquid definition to opulence.

The 2013 Pinot Noir is an expressive combination of bright juicy red berry fruit, violets, cloves and savoury dried herbs. Medium in body, the wine has a beautiful balance of fruit and acidity with polished tannins and a long, lingering finish. I suggest pairing with roasted squash risotto, seared venison or braised pork with wild rice and roasted root vegetables. I recommend serving at around 15°C to enhance your tasting experience.

Alc. by volume: 13.1%
Total acidity: 5.4 g/l
Residual sweetness: <1.0 g/l
Sweetness code: 0
SKU code: 585760
UPC code: 778856117202
Case volume: 3400

You can pick this wine up at the MLCC for $26.99

qg-pinot-noir

Joel Gott 2016 Zinfandel

We discuss and go over 2016 Joel Gott 2016 Zinfandel Wine.

I have had the privilege of owing many of Joel Gott’s vintages over the years.  The 2012, 2013 was amazing as was the 2014.  The 2016 is no exception.   I found that it had aromas of dark cherry cola and raspberry, ripe plum & ripe black berry fruit with hints of white oak and pepper.  On the palate, it had the taste of bright red fruit flavors with a mild acidity which was followed by a juicy mid-palate with a round soft lingering finish. I found it well balanced, integrated medium tannins and alcohol. Full bodied, robust and complex.

Unfortunately our MLCC does not carry Joel Gott Zinfandel, it does carry his Cabernet Sauvignon, which is also very good.  You can however find this wine at the Ontario Liquor Commission.  I am often shooting weddings or engagement photos or Musky fishing with my Dad in the fall in Kenora.  Whenever I am there, I pick up my order and a few other bottles that I have pre-ordered from the LCBO.  You don’t have to pre-order, but I find I can make sure I get what I want and they will bring them in from other stores to the store you choose in Ontario, so it works great for me.

Joel Gott wines come from growing regions in California, Oregon and Washington.  These wines will age for a few years, I cellared some of my 2012 and 2014 wines for 3-4 years each (of course we drank some right away), but they indeed did soften and improve with the time in the cellar.

This wine goes great with pizza, barbecued pork ribs, burgers.

You can find this wine at the LCBO for $24.95

From The Winemaker’s Website:

TASTING NOTES:
Our 2016 California Zinfandel has aromas
of ripe blackberries, tea and sandalwood.
On the palate, flavors of black cherries and
vanilla are followed by a smooth mid-palate
with round, concentrated flavors of caramel
and cola, and a long finish with hints of
spice.
WINEGROWING NOTES:
The larger part of this blend is sourced from
Amador and Lodi where small fruit clusters
from decades-old, head-trained vines give
the wine its intense concentration. Located
within the northeastern hills of the Lodi
appellation, loose, stony soil from Borden
Ranch allows for strong vine growth, and
adds great concentration to the wine. Fruit
from Sonoma adds spice and gives the wine
its structure and tannins. Sourcing from these
varied regions across California helps to create
and elegant and well-balanced wine.
HARVEST NOTES:
Across California, the 2016 growing season
started off with an early bud break followed
by a warm spring, with moderate summer
temperatures and cooler than usual nights in
July and August.
WINEMAKING NOTES:
After fermentation, the wine was aged in
20% new American oak and 80% 2-year-old
French oak

Brand Story

Joel Gott Wines was established in 1996 with the production of Amador County Zinfandel. Joel had purchased five tons of fruit from boyhood neighbor Tom Dillian and made the wine with then-girlfriend Sarah, a winemaker in Napa Valley. The subsequent 1997 vintage of Dillian Ranch Zinfandel marked not only Sarah and Joel’s marriage, but also the first significant reviews of the wine in respected publications.

The success of the 1997 vintage allowed Joel to purchase fruit from twelve different vineyards throughout Northern California in 1999. Joel and Sarah originally intended to produce single-vineyard Zinfandels with these grapes but found during tastings that the wine was much more balanced when blended. They adjusted their plans and released their first California Zinfandel, which sold out in one week. Meanwhile, Sarah gained more winemaking experience by producing well-regarded Cabernet blends at the winery where she worked. Her experience with Cabernet blends led to the production of the first Joel Gott California Cabernet in 2003. Joel’s next project was California Sauvignon Blanc, the third addition to the portfolio of blended core wines.

The core wines now include California appellated wines 815 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Joel now sources fruit in California, Washington and Oregon. Joel’s winemaking abilities led to a collaboration with entrepreneurs Roger Scommegna and Charles Bieler on the Three Thieves brand, which in 2005, partnered with Trinchero Family Estates to establish better market coverage. In 2009, Joel and Sarah partnered with Trinchero Family Estates as well to increase wine distribution and allow them to focus on winemaking and innovation.

Varietals

  • Rosé of Grenache
  • Sauvigon Blanc
  • Columbia Gorge Grüner Veltliner
  • Oregon Pinot Gris
  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Noir
  • Santa Barbara County Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
  • Rita’s Crown Pinot Noir
  • Oregon Pinot Noir
  • Grenache
  • Washington Red Wine
  • Zinfandel
  • Merlot
  • 815 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • GOTT Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

 

joel gott 2016 zinfandel

Niverville Heritage Centre & Copper Moon Wine

I had the pleasure of photographing a wedding at the Niverville Heritage Center last month.   It was such a wonderful day.  For supper we had the choice of chicken cordon bleu or prime rib. Both looked great, but I choice the Chicken Cordon Bleu with Hollandaise Sauce,  The wine choices for the night was from Copper Moon.

Copper Moon – Copper Moon is a wine produced in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. The wine is available in red and white blends, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rose and Pinot Grigio. This is a popular brand owned by Andrew Peller, Ltd.

The two choices we had for wine that night were Copper Moon Moonlight Harvest Pinot Grigio and Copper Moon Moonlight Harvest Merlot.

I found that the Pinot Grigio had aromas of citrus, light peach and orange peel.  It has a clear straw colour and lightly bodied and paired well with the chicken.  It would also pair well with seafood, fish and some light pork meals.    This wine can be found at any liquor store in Canada for about $10.30.  Serve cold.

I tried the Merlot and found it had a bouquet of tart strawberry and black currants, the finish was acidic and could use some time “aging” in an open bottle for about an hour before served.  It would bring down the oaky after taste and would mellow it out.  It has a pale ruby colour, medium bodied with light floral notes and a short, clean finish.  This wine is good served at room temperature and with roasted or grilled meats such as prime rib, steak, pizza or a beef stew.  This wine can also be found in most liquor stores in Canada for about $10.30

Check out the Niverville Heritage Center for your next celebration or wedding.  It is a short distance from Winnipeg with tons of free parking and great service.  www.nivervilleeventcentre.com