You’ve probably seen the meme making its rounds. A condo floor plan with wine emojis in each room: “Planning your next wine tour made easy”. Meaning, in the midst of a global pandemic, since wineries are closed to the public and we’re all confined to our homes, might as well have some fun with all that wine we’re inevitably drinking!
Well, we decided to make our own version featuring Ontario wines readily available at the LCBO, complete with self-isolation snack pairings. And in truth, it was a lot more fun than we were expecting! It’s not often you have a reason to sit on the windowsill in your guest room and pretend that you’re out at a bar (which in any other conceivable circumstance would be the most depressing thing, but turned out to be quite enjoyable!).
This is the time of year we love to visit wineries, as it starts to get warmer but hasn’t gotten too busy. Since none of us can do that just yet, we want to support our favourites from home – and hopefully inspire you to do the same. If you can’t get to the LCBO, consider ordering direct from the winery to support local – many are offering great deals and free shipping right now! There’s a full list here.
Let us take you on a tour:
First Stop: Bedroom
The easiest pairing of them all – rosé and salty snacks (in this case, BBQ Fritos)! Our pick is from Niagara heavy hitter Hidden Bench: the 2018 Locust Lane Rosé. Made from 97% Pinot Noir and 3% Viognier, this rosé is a refreshing mix of strawberry, citrus, and notes of orange blossom – all flavours that are intensified after crunching on a Frito or two. If you have trouble finding it, the 2019 vintage is coming soon! It’ll be released on May 16, and will be $23.95 at the LCBO (or order direct from the winery and stock up for summer).
When you can’t drink your rosé on a patio surrounded by other condo dwellers desperate for the first sunny spring day, the next best thing is to drink it while sending sticky-note messages to neighbours across the street!
Second Stop: Kitchen
Time for a more traditional pairing in a more traditional wine-drinking spot. If you’re not familiar with Thomas Bachelder, let us introduce you. He’s been called one of the most talented winemakers in Canada, and is known for making small-lot, minimal intervention wines of exceptional quality; not only in Niagara, but also in Burgundy and Oregon. Bachelder is also the talent behind Le Clos Jordanne, probably the original Niagara cult wine – one of the best Chardonnays we’ve ever had, it can stand up against the great grands crus out of Burgundy.
Our wine tour pick is the Bachelder 2017 Niagara Chardonnay with Boursin cheese + fig jam. This is the entry level option of Bachelder’s Niagara wines, but it’s a well-rounded and complex Chardonnay nevertheless. Smooth, buttery, with notes of crisp apple, vanilla, and lemon zest. Pairs well with a soft herby cheese like Boursin. You can snag the bottle for $24.95 at the LCBO.
Third Stop: Office
A lot of us are getting into the routine of working from home these days, and sharing space while we do it…now, we definitely don’t condone drinking while you work, but sometimes a quick break is just the thing to refresh the mind!
Creekside’s Bordeaux-inspired Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend has won Gold at the Ontario Wine Awards the past two years. It’s 65% Sauvignon Blanc, 35% Semillon – which is just enough to cut the crisp acidity of the Sauv Blanc with some sophisticated balance. Notes of stone fruit, lemon, herbs, and a hint of floral sweetness. It’s a relative bargain for $23 at the LCBO, or from the winery.
Tuna is known to pair well with Sauv Blanc, so we threw together a quick and easy snack with some fancy canned tuna (Rio Mare Tuna with olive oil, lemon, and black pepper) on rosemary crackers. Brain food!
Fourth Stop: Dining Room
By the time we got to our fourth stop the dinner hour was fast approaching, so we decided on a more traditional charcuterie appetizer, some Hungarian salami and aged white Balderson cheddar!
We decided to pair it with a delicious 2017 13th Street Gamay (a wine we discovered at a New- Years Party at local wine bar we love, Chez Nous). Fruity on the nose, it has flavours of raspberry and spice, and was a great complement to the salami and cheddar. 100% Gamay Noir, this wine is a perfect mix of fruit, acidity and spice and can easily be found at the LCBO. It’s currently on sale, and at $17.95 a bottle is literally a STEAL.
Last Stop: Our Couch!
By this point in the evening and flush with wine, neither of us felt like cooking. Instead we opted for everyone’s secret favourite, PIZZA HUT (a great quarantine delivery option).
To complement the pizza, we chose another favourite of ours, 2017 Foreign Affair Winery’s The Conspiracy. The wine was made in the ripasso style popularized in Italy’s Veneto region, where the grapes are dried to enhance the flavour and body. A blend of Cabernet Franc 45%, Cabernet Sauvignon 35%, Merlot 15%, and Petit Verdot 5%, this wine has hints of blackberry, plum and tobacco on the nose and notes of raspberry, blackberry with a nice balance of acidity and a complex finish. It accompanied the pizza so well we drank the entire bottle!
This was a fun way to get the wine-tasting experience without actually visiting the wineries as we like to do during this time of year. It gave us a new perspective on different rooms in our condo (love the ledge in our bedroom as a place to sit with wine now), and also helped us realize how many random food items we have lying around the house taste great with wine (hello Fritos!). Most importantly, it was an important reminder that even in these difficult times, there can be beautiful moments!