15 posts tagged with “wine”

  • Road Trip Worthy: The Finger Lakes, New York

    Seneca Lake

    A version of this story appeared in Niagara Life Magazine. 

    I’ve been in love with The Road Trip since being rapt by a documentary about Route 66.

    Peter Fonda was fittingly the narrator. I was in my early 20s and filled with torturous amounts of wanderlust. I wanted to put rubber to asphalt that night and take in Americana at its finest.

    We never did the family road trip as a kid. The farthest we ever drove together was the three hours to our cottage near Oliphant. There was a lot of “How long until we’re there?” especially on rainy days with our Newfie, Bismarck, in the back of my dad’s station wagon, drooling on my sister and I, and fogging up the windows.

    But I started to realize the joy that a getaway by car could offer when I was 19 and drove to Newfoundland with my mom. Arguments about music aside (she cringed at my choice of the Beastie Boys; I rolled my eyes at her selection of 10,000 Maniacs), road tripping was pure bliss.

    The sense of freedom that came from the open road unfurling before us was intoxicating. The change of scenery at every stop was eyeopening. The agony of a full bladder with no rest stop in sight is also something a person never forgets.

    I’ve since learned you don’t have to venture far to feel like you’re escaping the day-to-day. Bonus: short roadies mean less worry about mapping those rest stops. It’s even better when a weekend away, compliments of a full tank of gas, doesn’t require negotiating Toronto traffic.

    Give me the American border over the 401 at rush hour any day. Give me the Finger Lakes. It’s New York’s Niagara, only three hours away depending on your final stop. Here are a few ideas of where you might want to put the car in park.

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    Category Beyond Niagara

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  • Peach Tree
  • From Niagara winery to Shawn & Ed Brewing Co.

    Ed Madronich of Shawn & Ed Brewing Co. in Dundas.

    My column, Eating Niagara, runs every second Wednesday in the St. Catharines Standard, Niagara Falls Review and Welland Tribune.

    The saying goes that it takes a lot of beer to make great wine.

    But one Niagara vintner is proving the opposite true.

    Ed Madronich, proprietor of Flat Rock Cellars in Jordan, is showing that it also takes top-notch tipple to turn out noteworthy suds.

    He’s doing it with The Shawn & Ed Brewing Co., the 10-month-old brewery that he opened in an old Dundas curling and skating rink with university buddy Shawn Till.

    The venture fulfils a nearly lifelong dream the two discovered they shared while shooting hoops for McMaster University’s basketball team some 25 years ago. And even though the beverage lineup at the brewery, known to locals as “the Shed,” is more hoppy than tannic, Niagara’s influence on this heady pursuit in a Hamilton suburb is undeniable.

    “I believe there’s lots of synergies between the wine business and the beer business,” Madronich said. “I’m leveraging both for this to be successful.”

    Madronich flouts all those old wives’ tales about never mixing beer and wine with a lager-heavy roster that shows the two to be a perfect pairing.

    Take the flagship Shawn & Ed brew, BarrelShed No. 1. This ruby-red beauty has sweet caramel notes and gets its body from aging in Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir barrels. Since batch No. 1, some of each BarrelShed brew has been set aside to use in the following ferment. The result is glorious — rich and layered.

    “I believe over time, it adds complexity,” Madronich said about the BarrelShed’s secret ingredient. “It has the complexity of wine. BarrelShed is our globally unique beer. There’s nothing like it in the world.”

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    Category Beyond Niagara, Food Finds

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  • Peach Tree
  • How to serve sparkling wine like a sommelier

    The only shutterstock image I could find of someone pouring sparkling properly.

    I originally wrote this story about how to serve sparkling wine for Niagara Life magazine.

    You could say I have a bit of a Napoleon complex with Champagne. I’ve always wanted to know how to sabre a bottle of bubbly like the French emperor did when he was victorious in battle.

    Problem is, I don’t have a sabre, and as it turns out, I’m not good with sharp objects anyway. The words “bomb” and “shrapnel” also don’t sit well with me, and both flowed freely from David Hulley’s mouth as he explained the risks of putting blade to bottle of any sparkling wine.

    The director of customer service at Vineland Estates Winery, who trained under a master sabreur, has successfully sabred many a flagon. He’s also experienced the nerve-shattering explosions and cuts when the spectacle has gone awry, so he was quick to put my inner Bonaparte in his place.

    Instead, Hulley offered a safer technique for opening and serving sparkling wine, requiring no sharp objects or first aid kit within reach. Best part is, unlike Napoleon, you won’t spill a drop, making it a truly revolutionary way of serving that méthode classique.

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  • Peach Tree
  • Get the most from this year’s Niagara Wine Festival

    I originally wrote this story for The Hamilton Spectator. Thanks to the Niagara Wine Festival for the photos.

    It’s not a party unless someone brings wine.

    Niagara has both the tipple and the ensuing festivities covered this month. September is when the region turns into a giant crush pad and celebrates the grape growing season that was.

    This year marks the 65th edition of the Niagara Wine Festival, the oldest of its kind in Canada. It’s easily the region’s biggest bash where locals raise a glass — or several — to the area’s farming roots while oenophiles from Toronto, Timmins, Texas and beyond come to see what all the hype is about.

    “It’s the best time of year to experience Niagara hospitality on the wine route,” says Kimberly Hundertmark, the festival’s executive director. “The surprising offerings that the wineries have at this time of year are not to be missed.”

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