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Wine Gourmet
 When choosing wine glasses, pay attention to the bowl of the glass.  (Photo: Flickr user, francescobasile)
When choosing wine glasses, pay attention to the bowl of the glass. (Photo: Flickr user, francescobasile)

Christmas gifts

by Contributed - Story: 58646
Dec 3, 2010 / 5:00 am

Well, another week has passed and now there are exactly 21 days left to go. Definitely the Christmas season is in full swing and after almost three years of economic lethargy, retailers may finally have reason to expect a Merry Christmas, especially if they have developed an online presence. A recent retail sales survey released by Deloitte asserts that a majority of Canadians are weathering the economic recession with 56% of respondents saying they are feeling somewhat secure about their jobs and close to three-quarters reporting that their financial position is the same or better than last year.

However Deloitte anticipates that non-store retailing, which includes catalogue and e-commerce, will grow by 15% over last year, moving away from the traditional bricks-and-mortar. This has been fueled by the U.S. consumers’ increased comfort with click-and-ship shopping and interest in retailers’ social-media and their mobile applications.

Will such rapid growth take hold in Canada? Evidence suggests that Canadian consumers continue to warm to the idea of e-commerce. Stats Canada recently found that 39% of Canadians used the Internet to make purchases in 2009, up from 34% in 2007 and 52% of them went online to check out products before buying in the under-35 age group, that figure climbed to 67%.

While the most common type of Christmas wine-related present is a good bottle of the grape, there are now numerous other wine associated gifts available.

In order to get the most enjoyment out of wine, not only is decanting and decanters de rigueur, so is choosing the proper wine glasses. There are many types and styles on the market, from the somewhat expensive hand-blown, lead crystal to the old saucier shaped champagne glass. Choosing a good set of glassware is something new wine lovers learn to appreciate early in their education. However, it is not necessary to take out a bank loan just to buy glasses or stemware as long as a few simple rules are followed.

When choosing wine glasses, pay attention to the bowl of the glass. This is where the wine will rest and to properly appreciate the wine, the glass should be clear, without any designs or logos on them, and not tinted so that the true colour of the wine shows through. The colour can tell you quite a bit from the type of grapes used and about the age of the wine. Beautifully cut crystal may look nice on the table but I personally feel that they are completely inappropriate for the appreciation of wine. Use these types as water glasses.

In stemware, size really does matter. A proper glass should be of sufficient size to allow a fair measure of wine to be poured so that half of the glass is still empty, allowing the wine to be swirled without spilling over. This swirling releases aromas and flavours which is very important to the development of the wine. A glass of ten to fourteen ounces works very well.

The International Organization for Standardization or ISO has recognized a particular style of glass that has become the benchmark for international wine judging competitions and is extremely suitable for everyday home use. The type of glass is the standard tulip shape with a lead content of about 9%. The size should be about 6 inches tall with a two inch stem, a four inch bowl, about two and a half inches at its widest diameter and two inches at the rim. This shape allows the aroma to be focused towards the nose and prevents it from escaping.

In days gone past, the traditional Champagne glass was the saucer-type glass patterned some say after a pair of Marie Antoinette’s attributes. While this provides a nice little bit of wine trivia, there is no evidence that this is true and that shape does absolutely nothing for the wine. The classic flute glass, which is tall and narrow, prolongs the chill and bubbles wine much better. A standard tulip shaped glass will suffice in a pinch.

No matter which type of glass you use, cleaning them is very important. If you wash them by hand, make sure they are done separately from other dishes and use the hottest water possible with very little detergent. Rinse the glasses thoroughly. Any residual soap will affect the next glass of wine. If using a dishwasher, again wash them separately and use no detergent. The heat of the water will clean and sterilize them. Remove any water spots with a soft lint or chamois cloth before storing.

Some wine drinkers agree that different types of wine demand different styles of glasses. This has led to the development of glasses for Syrah, Pinot Noir, Brunello and others. Riedel is the name most synonymous with these glasses and while some may say its great marketing, there is truth in that wines benefit by using a specific glass. While some of Riedel’s glasses are as expensive as a bottle of Champagne, there are some value-orientated ones available. There also other producers of this type of glassware so check them out also. Whether you need to have a glass for every wine that is produced may be over-kill but to each their own.

Wine news:

Advanced tickets for Annual Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival went on sale November 30th. The Festival, now in its 33rd year, runs from March 28th to April 3rd, 2011 and features 176 participating wineries gathered together at the new Vancouver Convention Centre and top Vancouver restaurants and hotels for a total of seven days of tastings, seminars, and wine focused events.

The festival attracts some of the biggest names in the international wine industry and is firmly established as Canada's, if not North America’s, premier wine event. It is an extremely rare opportunity to meet owners, winemakers, and senior winery representatives from around the globe.

For tickets and more info, call toll-free 1-877-321-3121 or 604-873-3311 or log on to www.playhousewinefest.com.

In Vino Veritas

Weekend Wine Picks:

A spectacular wine, the 2006 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Auslese Riesling ($120 PWS...Reduced by $40) is full of juicy peach, red apple and grapefruit with hints of mineral, honey and petrol. A classic Riesling in every sense of the word, this is one of the finest Rieslings on the market. Try pairing with spicy Thai or Indian fare. This wine has the potential age for 20 or 30 years. This is a great opportunity to give a rare, very special bottle of wine for Christmas to the wine aficionado in your family.

Another stunning German Riesling, the 2005 Marcus Molitor Wehlener Sonnenhur Spatlese Riesling ($40 PWS...reduced from $65) is a delicious off-dry white, bursting with honey, floral and citrus aromas with grapefruit, red apple and white peach fruit. A classic Riesling with honey, peach, floral, dry slate and ripe apple on the palate, the finish is soft, round and fresh with a medium length. Delicious now, this should be enjoyed young due to its low acidity.

An eight varietal blend with Syrah being the dominate grape, the 2008 Road 13 ‘Rockpile’ ($33 PWS) is a huge wine for the price. Loaded with fragrant aromas of sweet raspberry, kirsch, strawberries, spice box, leather and smoke, the palate is well structured with its rich flavours of black and red fruits, spice, soft acidity and firm tannins. This is not a fruit bomb but an elegant, refined wine. Fantastic to enjoy now for the sheer power of it but will reward with 3-5 years of cellaring.

One of the finest BC Syrahs currently available, the 2007 Road 13 Jackpot Syrah ($50 PWS) displays an intense, opaque purple/violet-red colour with intense aromas of toasty oak, creamy vanilla, cassis, blackberry, plum, black cherry, roasted meat/dry-rub spices, licorice, dark chocolate and tobacco leaf. The palate is full of powerful flavours of candied black fruit, rich chocolate, soft, velvety acidity and silky tannins that lead to a full, concentrated finish.

The 2007 Louis Latour Grand Ardeche Chardonnay ($27 PWS) is a Chardonnay for those who are fed up with the over-oaked style of wine that is prevalent today. Displaying rich tropical and orchard fruit such as mango, pineapple and grapefruit with pear and red apple, the flavour mirrors the aroma with its fruit-dominated character with buttery, creamy vanilla and subtle oak finish. Soft and creamy on the palate with refreshingly crisp acidity, this is a perfect wine to serve with appetizers.

By all rights a Super Tuscan, the 2008 Galterra Toscana IGT ($34 PWS) is an intense wine displaying a brilliant ruby red colour with luscious black fruit aromas and flavours of black raspberry, cassis with hints of smoke, licorice and tobacco leaf blending with the toasty, chocolate and vanilla characteristics.  A rich, complex, well-structured wine with soft acidity and smooth, medium tannins.


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