Monday, September 29, 2014

Red Wines for Wintry Weather...and Romance!

Calgary received its first snowstorm of the season earlier this month. Although our fair city is well known for its extreme weather patterns and long winters, this bout of winter arrived way too early. This local photo went viral almost as soon as it was tweeted out:

Those three days of heavy wet snow that plagued our city inspired me to curl up in front of the fireplace with my husband, enjoy some wine and try not to look out the window. We focused on reds from Northeast Italy, specifically from the Valpolicella and Trentino DOCs. The two exceptions here are the bottle of Rioja I decided to sneak into the mix, and my husband's choice of a Super Tuscan. Price points for all bottles range from under $20 to $60 CDN. Here is what warmed up our souls, and ignited some romance as well!

1. Folonari Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2012

Young and fruit-forward, with flavours of raspberries, blueberries and mocha lingering on the palate. Silky tannins and fresh acidity add to the smooth mouthfeel. A great accompaniment to pork ribs, and will warm you up on wintry nights! Decant for 30-45 minutes before serving so the fruit flavours can really shine.

2. Intaglio Trentino Rosso 2009

Notes of red cherry, earth and a wild animal whisper combine with soft tannins to create an alluring mouthfeel. Medium bodied and juicy, this wine paired well with smoked Gouda cheese and a cold weeknight.

3. Corallo Ripasso 2010

Another ideal weeknight wine, showing a flavour profile of dark cherries, raspberries and chocolate with a surprising earthiness mid-palate and a raisin finish. The high alcohol content makes this Ripasso very food friendly, and beef and pork dishes really brighten up the fruit.

4. Tommasi Maremma Poggio al Tufo Rompicollo 2011

A lively, approachable Super Tuscan, which is composed of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Notes of fresh cherries, blackberries and black pepper combined with soft, focused tannins and mouthwatering acidity round out the palate. This wine is very food friendly and pairs well with everything from pizza to roast beef. Drink now or age for a maximum of 5 years in cellar.

5. Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2008

Full-bodied and powerful, with edgy acidity and grippy tannins. Aromas of red currants, plums, vanilla and musk lead into the palate, with cedar notes on the finish to reflect the oak aging of the wine. Pair with lamb roasts, game meats and hard, strong cheeses. Decant 2 hours before serving. Drink now or age in cellar up to 7 years.

6. Tommasi Amarone Della Valpolicella 2010

This wine will seduce you with racy acidity and silky tannins well integrated to it's voluptuous, full body. Notes of black cherries and savoury chocolate lead into a caramel finish. Curl up with your significant other, this wine and a blanket in front of a roaring fire and romance is surely in the cards!

Winter will hopefully still be awhile before it settles in here, but when it does, I'll be ready and well-armed with wines to keep my mind off the weather, and on my sweetie :) Whatever beverages light your fire, enjoy!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wine for the Soul

"If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain" - Dolly Parton originally, but I first heard it in The Fault in Our Stars.

Normally, quotes don't hit that hard with me. But this line triggered a fountain of emotions, making me sob like a baby. that was not the part of the movie I expected to cry at.

I am currently experiencing my second major loss this year. Emotional wounds that I thought were healing are now open again, bringing a rainfall of tears on my cheeks, a flood of emotions in my heart as I grieve, and a downpour of physical side effects. In times like these, it's hard to remember that this too shall pass, and at some point this will all become a distant memory.  

Last night I sat down with a bottle of Viognier for a future blog post. I took my first few sips to begin my tasting notes, and all of a sudden a fleeting moment of calm and relief came over me as I was swishing the wine in my mouth. Because I was so caught up in my own negative emotions, I had somehow forgotten how happy wine makes me, no matter how bad I feel.

"Wine cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires the young, makes weariness forget his toil." - Lord Byron

Wine is there for you. Think of all those lonely bottles on store shelves, wanting to make you happy. How many of you have thought "I can't wait to get home, put my feet up and drink a bottle of wine" after a bad day? Or made an impromptu side trip to your local liquor store or pub because you wanted to be cheered up? One of my favourite ecards refers to wine as a life coach at the end of a hard day:

Wine is a hug for the soul and a blanket for sorrow. Same thing for those who prefer beer or other spirits. The key is to enjoy them all in moderation. Unfortunately, there are some people out there who drink alcohol in excess to deal with the really tough stuff, but addiction is a whole other story. How many times has a glass or 2 of wine made you smile through your tears, even for a moment? How many of you have taken that first sip and thought "Wow, I'm really enjoying this"?

Case in point: My father. He was diagnosed with tonsil cancer back in 2008. Thirty-five radiation treatments destroyed his sense of taste for 4 months. Once he was finished treatment and beginning to heal, he found that wine confirmed his tastebuds were returning, helping with the emotional healing process. Fast forward to today: he is currently 5 years cancer-free, and also has a healthy collection of red wines including Amarone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape that he tucks into regularly.

This also happens in the movie (spoiler alert!): the star-crossed lovers are treated to a romantic dinner, which includes a bottle of Dom Perignon. Check out the video clip here. This becomes the pinnacle happy moment in their relationship, and the couple enjoys another bottle of sparkling wine on one of their last good days together.

Multiple studies have been performed on this subject, and if you google "studies that wine makes you happy" or something similar, you'll get pages of hits. How much fun would it be to participate in those studies?!

We all have a journey to take in life. There will be happy times intertwined with challenges. The sun won't shine every day, and we are all guaranteed to be caught in the downpour of life at some point. But while we are stuck in the rain, why not try and find shelter, whatever it may be, and reach for a good bottle of wine to enjoy while we wait for our rainbows? Or you could also dance in the rain: 

That's what I'm going to do. And I know as I continue along my healing journey, my wine journey will help me get back to being okay.