By: Angela Aiello
There is nothing better than sipping a glass of wine while relaxing after a long week of work, especially where the air is clear, birds are chirping pleasantly, and the sound of the water puts to you to sleep. Every summer, lifelong memories are made at cottages, on the beach, in your backyard, on a patio, and while over a glass of wine. Summer is filled with sipping, sharing, creating, letting go and rising up. Wine is the perfect accessory to summer. It can complement a brunch, a BBQ, a gathering, and outdoor activities – and simply makes summer enjoyable in general.
Wine adds to everything in life, but especially during the months when we can be outdoors. It is about quality, discovery and experimentation. It is about knowing what’s on trend, what’s new and old, what’s sexy and what works for you. Very importantly, wine is about being confident when you sip, shop, share, gift, talk, pour, and savour.
Being Canadian means a lot of things, but one of the most powerful feelings we have is pride. We are proud to be Canadian! When we travel, we hold our Canadian flag up high (and are most likely to say excuse me and sorry far too much!) Not to mention, our flagship ‘eh’ is a natural part of our conversation. In the same way, we should also be proud of our Canadian wines. While the Canadian wine industry is younger than most around the world, we are proudly entering into our prime time. So unleash your loca’vore and sip, share and toast to our world-class Canadian wines at your cottage this summer. Below are some tips on how to do just that!
Sipping under the Sun
Sipping in the heat can be refreshing and satisfies your thirst. Just as a good shopping trip can inspire your wardrobe, a glass of ice-cold bubbly is the perfect aperitif at brunch and to begin evening affairs. Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are light and right for the patio during the hot days of summer. If you love red wine but don’t drink much of it in the summer, try lighter, fruiter wines like Pinot Noir and Gamay. If you prefer big-bodied reds, try chilling them for 10 minutes in the fridge to lower the perception of alcohol. While entertaining during the day or out by the pool, sip wines that are lower in alcohol to stay hydrated (and make sure you enjoy the whole day). Rieslings are typically lower in alcohol and can start at 8%. Try to stay away from wines that are high in alcohol to inspire moderate drinking and enjoyment.
Sometimes life calls for a cocktail – and a wine cocktail can be simply delicious and hit the spot. The most popular cocktail is Sangria, which combines wine, fruit, juice, and liquor. Sangria can be made with either red or white wine. You can get creative on this side of wine because there is flexibility in the recipe and you can just enjoy your own unique creation! I like to let my sangria sit a day before serving it (even with the fruit). This allows all of the flavours to blend together and tastes great. A perfect option to make ahead for brunch!
When it comes to hosting wine parties this summer (and you know you will), remember the five easy steps to tasting wine: sight, swirl, smell, sip and savour. Also make sure you think of a theme for the party that will involve and engage your guests. Maybe it’s a region you’re dying to visit and want to explore, or maybe it’s a grape like Malbec that has an old world spirit with a modern charm. And remember, nothing says happiness quite like a glass of sparkling wine. Although it is often associated with celebrations and special events, bubbly really needs no occasion to enjoy. It looks elegant, is delicious on its own and with foods like fish and light brunches, and always adds more happiness while you’re entertaining at the cottage.
When you’re pairing wine and food, the simplest rule of thumb is to match the weight of the wine with the weight of the food. Wines and foods fall into categories like light, medium and full when it comes to the body or fullness of a dish. The flavours, ingredients, and how it’s cooked can all fall into play. Match like with like for simple pairing. For instance, salads are light (Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc), pastas, pork and grilled vegetables are medium (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay) and most red meat is full bodied (Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz etc).
If you’re grilling up a BBQ for family and friends, decant a full-bodied red and let it sit out while you’re making dinner. The anticipation will encourage great questions and the final reward will be well worth it.
Around the campfire, pull out something fun like an Ontario Baco Noir or Cabernet Franc; the smoky flavours will go great with the environment and taste delicious! If you’re hanging out under the stars grab a bottle of Merlot (also known in the twittersphere as #merlove) or your favourite bottle and enhance the romance.
In the Kitchen
Not only does a glass of wine complete your experience in the kitchen, it also can be a key ingredient! My motto is to always cook with wine that you would choose to drink and serve. This will ensure you love the flavours in the dish you are creating and your meal will taste great! And, as you’re cooking up your delicious meal, it is only right to enjoy a glass along the way. Now that’s a perfect pairing! Here are some of my favourite ways to use wine in the kitchen:
In reductions or sauces: Add wine and simmer – it’s that easy! Choose young, full-bodied reds for red meat dishes. Use dry white wine for fish, shellfish, poultry, pork, veal and cream sauces. The alcohol in wine begins to evaporate well short of the boiling point of water, so there’s no risk of getting ‘tipsy’ by using wine in your cooking.
Dress it up: Mix white or red wine with olive oil and spices to make your own unique dressing. It is sure to add sparkle to your green salads or pasta salads – and become your new secret ingredient.
Sweet cravings: Use sweet wine such as a late harvest, icewine or port to dazzle your desserts. Simply pour over ice cream or berries (or add a touch to your cake mix) for a special treat. If breakfast is your pleasure, you can even drizzle over pancakes, waffles, and French toast.
Take time this summer to live life, have fun, make unforgettable memories and drink great wine with close friends while making new ones. We are all so busy crossing off to-do lists and getting to the next agenda item that we’ve forgotten the essence of giving ourselves time to chill, relax and unwind. We only get to live it once, so make it count this summer and make wine your accessory to appreciating the moment. Sip longer, smell deeper and smile longer.
Angela Aiello is the Founder of iYellow Wine Club home to over 10,000 members who build wine confidence through discovery through events, classes and tours. To learn more join the wine club for free at iYellowWineClub.com or AngelaAiello.ca