Ack.  What can I say?  I've been a wee bit busy.  I am keenly aware I owe my blog three wine reviews and I'm short a bottle this week.  Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately), I haven't had time this week to sample anything.  I might pop out to the LCBO later today, but aside from the three edits I completed this past week for clients, I've been in studio working on another indy project.  

Having taken some time out to take a quick gander at wine this afternoon, I've discovered per Wine Folly's infographic above that I personally prefer medium- and full-bodied wines.  This may explain why I turned up my nose to Pinot Grigio last year (a light-bodied wine with high acidity and meant to be enjoyed ice-cold.)  So, apparently I prefer lower acidity in my wines with higher levels of tannins and richer creamier flavours.  I'm going to watch this to see if my theory rings true as the year progresses...

Cheers!
Heather
 
 
Picture
Good to know!  With thanks to @allisonmmarkin 
(That's All She Wrote), 
Heather
 
 
Yep.  That's right.  Grammy-winning American singer/songwriter/musician Shawn Colvin has a wine named after her!  This zesty Zinfandel hails from Lodi, California.  For full details and order information, visit City Winery's site.  Colvin is currently touring the UK on the Transatlantic Sessions with Sarah Jarosz, Darrell Scott, and others.  More on the Transatlantic Sessions Here.  More on the Birthday Girl Here.

Happy Friday!
Heather
 
 
You've just gotta love the Hadfield family.  Every single last one of them.  Including Evan's cousin Kelly, founder of Ghana Medical Help, and her kind and loving mother, Robin.  Regardless if vino has been to space or not, I'm raising a glass to the Hadfields tonight for all of the wonderful contributions they've made – in space AND here on the ground.

Salute!
Heather
 
 
This past Christmas, I gifted several sets of stemless wineglasses.  Admittedly, there is something to be said for the elegance and the tradition of a glassware with a stem, but I was gifted a set of stemless wine glasses several years ago, and if you have small kids around or a lot of folly at your table, stemless glasses are a more relaxed and sensible fit.  Enter govino's shatterproof stemless wine glass.

govino's glasses were originally designed as a trade tool for front end wine sales.  Stemmed wine glasses aren't always practical or accessible, and we can all appreciate that they can be a bit of a nuisance to wash, so govino designed a more functional option.  Once they began testing their glasses and users began to get a feel for how practical and useful they really are, govino realized their shatterproof glasses would make even better sense to the masses.  The glasses are elegant, shatterproof and food safe, they're made from a BPA-free polymer that still reflects a wine's true colour and aromas like traditional glassware, they're recyclable, and they are priced so you won't break the bank.  

So, whether you're looking for practical glassware for a young family, of if you like to pack a hamper with wine or champagne for a picnic, or if you're just plain and simply looking for a worry free option to hauling out your best crystal when company comes, you might want to take a look at the special options govino has.

For more information on govino's shatterproof, reusable, recyclable wine and cocktail glasses, champagne flutes and decanters, and for information on how to order, check out govinowine.com

Cheer,
Heather
 
 
I woke up Friday morning with several appointments on my slate, but first things first.  At minus twenty-one degrees, I thought I should slip on a fresh pair of pyjama bottoms to be safe.  That's right.  I tugged on a clean pair of bottoms with a string around the waist, pulled some clean jeans overtop them, and away I went.  What can I say?  It was THAT cold outside.  Yes, mother, I did eat breakfast first.

First stop, a local business organization I'd cut a video for.  We had some technical difficulties so I'd have to return later the afternoon with another file.  Next meeting, lunch with a florist friend.  I gobbled down a super mandarin chicken salad – three steaming cups of coffee – and , well, nature called.  As luck would have it, my pyjama bottoms' string had caught in my zipper and I couldn't for the life of me pull my pants down.  So, I'm thinking to myself – It's minus twenty plus degrees in the sun, I've gotta GO and I CAN'T – am I having fun yet?  That's when I remembered – I really needed wine.  I'd already told my followers on Facebook that I was doing this and I had to get it done.

I hurried into the liquor store near the restaurant, scooted over to the Ontario Wines display, looked over Gretzky and Aykroyd (meh), and said to myself, "Muskoka-ka-ka-ka."  That's right.  My back teeth were floating AND chattering now.  No sign of Muskoka Lakes Winery's wine, not a one.  I asked a woman stocking shelves if I'd missed the Muskoka boat - did they still have any of this wine in stock?

TRIPPER TIP:  You will likely not find this wine in the Ontario Wines section at the LCBO.  They've stuck this wine in the fortified wines area because it's made out of cranberries and blueberries (fortified wines tend to be sweeter and have a higher alcohol content than wine wines do, apparently).  So, if you know where to find the other fruity wines – the strawberries and the peaches and the raspberries and other fruity good stuff – you'll find Muskoka Lakes Winery's wines there (if they still have any in stock*).  And, if you can't find it?  Don't be shy – ask.  (Or you can find it on their website.)

I stood there looking at the display and I knew I wanted to sample either the Cranberry Wine or the Cranberry Blueberry (Muskoka Lakes Winery produces others as well, but I'd already settled on either one of these).  I'm not really a big fan of blueberries, but I still asked some ladies hovering around the aisles if they'd recommend one bottle over the other.  Three women assured me I'd prefer the Cranberry Blueberry over the straight Cranberry.  They recommended the Cranberry for a turkey dinner, but steered me towards the Cranberry Blueberry because we all agreed we'd all been turkeyied out, 'tis no longer the season, fa-la-la-la-blah, and they assured me I would NOT be disappointed.  I believed them.  They looked like pros.  And, odds were that unlike mine, the determined look in their eyes had nothing to do with having their pyjama bottoms' strings caught in their zippers.  These ladies knew their wines.

Keeping in mind I'm buying TWO bottles of these wines (one for me and one for YOU if you're lucky), price point is very important to me.  The Cranberry was priced at $14.95 a bottle and the Cranberry Blueberry ran two bucks more each per bottle.  And, well, I really had to pee.  I made an executive decision, grabbed TWO bottles of the Cranberry Blueberry wine (they were closest to the cash!) and I made a run for it.  Air Miles carded and having shoved my debit, I headed for my car.  I made it home in the nick of time to cut myself out of my jeans.  Winter 1, Heather 0.
So, I pulled on some fresh trousers, powdered my nose, picked up a USB stick with another video file on it for my afternoon meeting, and I headed out – with a bottle of Cranberry Blueberry wine tucked down inside of my camera bag.  What can I say?  I am THAT girl.  I cut myself out of trousers with kitchen scissors and on days like this one, I smuggle booze in my purse.

As fate would have it, the office I was visiting is also undergoing a bit of a transformation.  So, I figured, why not ring in the New Year and celebrate this expansion with a bottle of wine – so I don't have to sample it by myself?  And really, I wanted some opinions from people who truly know this wine stuff.  These ladies know what they're doing.  They talked about wine stuff I'd never even heard of ("Is this a three?  Is this a five?  Let me see the back of the bottle – what's in this stuff???").
WE LOVED THIS WINE.  We absolutely loved it!  If you were in the construction zone with us, you would have heard the gasps of surprise and the laughter – and their delighted comparisons to icewine.  Everyone agreed this was the type of wine that would be GREAT with dessert or trickled over ice-cream.  Had it been the summertime, we all agreed we'd want to sit out on a dock with friends and a bottle of this.  Two of us agreed this would be fabulous as a blender drink.  Fill up a blender with ice come summer, pour in a bottle of Blueberry Cranberry wine and blend it all together.  If Mac's would swing it, I'd buy THIS Froster drink.  (A girl can dream!)

Okay.  Muskoka Lakes Winery – please forgive me.  I don't know wine-speak or numbers or ratings and such, but I can tell you this.  I am NOT a fan of blueberries so I would have probably avoided this wine if I hadn't been steered in this direction by your fans.  WHY they hang out at the liquor store and dream about you at that hour of the day is beyond me, but THEY LOVE YOU.  You are George Clooney.  

This wine had punch.  It was punchy!  Not like a sock you in the face with a boxing glove punch – more like great big burst of summer love.  And then the cranberries hit you.  Smooth summer punch – and a teeny tiny piece of tart.  It's like a big belly laugh and then a giggle.  I loved this wine.  Loved it loved it loved it – and my friends did, too.  We would all buy this wine – again, and again, and again.
So, I had to drop off this video file and there were still other people hanging around these offices late Friday afternoon.  I still had half a bottle of wine (we were drinking responsibly), and I wanted to share the fun and see if opinions would differ at the other end of the building.  Here's the thing.  Different area of the building = different opinions.  This is NOT a dessert wine per these guys.  THIS, I've been assured, is a great mix for a martini!  I've been told that I HAVE TO pick up some VODKA and mix it 50:50.  

Of the six women who sampled this wine today (including myself), and the one man (unfortunately, I didn't snap his pic), six gals RAVED about what a WONDERFUL find this wine was – but the fellow we were with would have rather swigged a beer.  He thought the wine was okay, it was nice, but he wasn't really sure he'd go out of his way to buy a bottle.  So...  I'm giving you a 6 out of 7.  I don't think this means anything on any sort of an official wine scale – but six out of seven of us LOVED this wine.

While we were sipping we also agreed, this wine would be delightful as a topping on an angel food cake with custard or whipped cream with berries.  President's Choice has this mixed bag of frozen berries – you take a cup or two of these guys, nuke them or heat them up on a stove top, dump them on some angel food cake and top it off with this Blueberry Cranberry wine?  We're talking summertime in the middle of the winter.

* Loved your wine, Muskoka Lakes Winery!  I'm running BACK to the store tomorrow to stock up on your Blueberry Cranberry Wine BEFORE you're all sold out!

Cheers to you & Happy New Year – 1 bottle down, 51 to go. :^)
Heather
 
 
SPECIAL NOTE:  There may be a few SPOILERS and there is a bit of a deviation in Downton Abbey's time- and storylines in the following piece.  Heads up.
[Lady Edith and Lady Mary stand at the sideboard in the breakfast room picking at fruit.]

LADY EDITH
Did you hear?  When Anna told me, I thought she must have dreamt it.

LADY MARY
Do you know anyone whose tried it?

[Robert enters the room and sits at the table where his morning paper waits.]

ROBERT, EARL OF GRANTHAM
What's that?

LADY MARY
Nothing, father.  Good morning.

[Thomas enters the room carrying a silver tray with the post.]

THOMAS
My lady.

[Thomas nods to Lady Mary.]

[Robert opens the newspaper to see a full page ad of a a bottle of Downton Abbey wine.  He gasps.  Lady Edith reads over his shoulder while Lady Mary opens a telegram.  She raises an eyebrow, stunned by the telegram's content.]

LADY MARY
So.  It's true.  How is this possible?

ROBERT, EARL OF GRANTHAM
Who gave the authority to market wine with Downton's name on it? 

[Violet, sitting unnoticed at the far end of the table, raises a hand and wiggles her fingers.]

VIOLET, DOWAGER COUNTESS OF GRANTHAM
My dear, I didn't come here to fight. Lord Grantham, you wanted to protect the estate, your silly girls can't get it together, so I started making the wine.

[Cora enters the room.  She's giggling and wavering while she walks.]

CORA, COUNTESS OF GRANTHAM
Well, I think wine is the better way to go anyway.  I mean, Mary is ruined, Shybil's dead, and it's not as if blithering Edith has any decent prospects.  If we're going to save Downton and my money, we're going to have to take advantage of all of this property and the farmers.  Robert, we have got to grow grapesh and make wine.

[Cora hiccups.]

VIOLET, DOWAGER COUNTESS OF GRANTHAM
That's right.  If it weren't for the Titanic, and if Patrick had married Mary, and had your grandson been hailed as master, honour would have been satisfied. Now we must make wine.

ROBERT, EARL OF GRANTHAM
This is preposterous!  Wasn't anyone going to consult with me?  Don't I have any say?

CORA, COUNTESS OF GRANTHAM
There is no way I'll let just any nincompoop pocket my money, along with the rest of the shwag.  Violet is right.  We musht make wine.

[Cora giggles to herself while she tries not to slip off her chair to the floor.]

VIOLET, DOWAGER COUNTESS OF GRANTHAM
The problem is, if we don't sell wine, it would be the ruin of everything you've given your life to, Robert.

CORA, COUNTESS OF GRANTHAM
And he knows thish.

[Cora nods.]

VIOLET, DOWAGER COUNTESS OF GRANTHAM
Yes, he does.

CORA, COUNTESS OF GRANTHAM
I know.  Let's raise a glass.  It has to be after eleven o'clock somewhere.

VIOLET, DOWAGER COUNTESS OF GRANTHAM
Yes, let's.  You wouldn't smash the bloody entail in its entirety, Robert, so you must have the first glass.

[Cora looks a little surprised.  She's not only finished the first glass, she's drunk an entire bloody bottle.]

ROBERT
But --

VIOLET, DOWAGER COUNTESS OF GRANTHAM
No, Robert.  I didn't run Downton for thirty years to see it go lock, stock, and barrel.  We must make money.  Wine is the answer.

CORA, COUNTESS OF GRANTHAM
Are we to be friends, then, Vivi?

[She smiles at Violet.]

VIOLET, DOWAGER COUNTESS OF GRANTHAM
We are allies, my dear, which can be a good deal more effective.  Now, drink up!

[Violet raises a glass of Downton Abbey Claret.]
Seriously, people.  For tasting notes and other information, check out the details HERE.

To Downton (and a Happy New Year!),

Heather


 
 
Behind the scenes of the making of Niila's video - shot with a cellphone. 
 
 
The White Star Line preferred to serve white wines over reds because the vibration from the Titanic's engines churned up the sediment in their reds.  When the ship went down, approximately 1,500 passengers went with her - and, coincidentally, 1,500 bottles of wine.  For a super account of wines and the Titanic, check out this great little blog HERE.
 
 
There's a lovely little syllabub recipe from Nigel Slater HERE.  Dozens of others online.  A great way to use up any sweet wines over the holidays.  Cheers!