Do you ever wonder why your favourite Ontario Cabernet Franc pairs so perfectly with a rack of lamb or why local Rieslings pair perfectly with Chinese take-away? And why sparkling wines from Niagara go with just about everything? Of course, different wines pair better with certain foods, but it’s also true that because our wines are ‘cool’, that they are among the most food friendly wines in the world.
But it’s not our hip winemakers, nor our trendy labels, that couldn’t be cooler. What’s really cool about Niagara wines is where the grapes are grown and as a result, what’s in the bottle. Our vineyards are located in a ‘cool climate’ wine region, which is known globally to produce some of the most elegant and balanced wines in the world.
Historically speaking, the majority of the world’s most famous wine regions were located in the northern hemisphere and to this day still produce some of the world’s best wines. Who does not think of Champagne, Alsace and Burgundy when asked to think of some of the most distinguished wines of the world
That is not to say that wonderful wines are not produced in the hot climates of the southern hemisphere, they are just different. If you have ever tasted fruits like pineapple or mango, think about how they are unlike local apples and pears. While they are both ripe and sweet, the latter has a much higher acidity and freshness. And the same is true with wine: grapes ripen differently depending on where they are grown and if you start with a riper, sweeter grape, you will have a much softer wine.
Warm climate wine regions also tend to have more consistent temperatures throughout the season, meaning the fruit also ripens very quickly. By contrast, grapes grown in cooler regions ripen gradually and accumulate their flavour slowly. As a result, the wines from countries like New Zealand, Germany and Canada tend to be more complex, making them some of the most food-friendly wines in the world.
Temperatures also often rise and fall at intervals throughout the season and in autumn as the temperatures drop quickly, the acidity levels are preserved providing for fresh bright lively wines. These intricate flavours and higher acidity levels help to accent the flavours in the food you’re eating. And that’s why sparkling wines generally pair so beautifully with most foods as the grapes are among the first harvested while sugars are low and acidity is high.
So get out into Niagara wine country and meet our hip winemakers, see some trendy labels and savour and sample some of the world’s most food friendly wines. And the next time you are setting your table, make room for only the coolest.
By Andrea Kaiser