liquor and libations

get a black belt in booze

Music Goes Better with Wine May 30, 2007

Filed under: events,general,tasting,wine — liquorandlibations @ 2:59 pm

The Gorge amphitheatre on the Columbia river in central Washington state is touted as one of the best outdoor concert spots in the States and it deserves the reputation. Visually stunning with excellent acoustics and room for 20,000 people the Gorge hosts prime music festivals such as Sasquatch, which recently took place on the Memorial Day weekend.

A mere five hour drive from Vancouver, the Gorge is an excellent reason on its own to inspire a roadtrip. But the icing on the cake is the fact that along the way you can visit some of the many excellent wineries that have been cropping up in Washington state over the last decade, making it the second largest wine producer in the USA after California.

At about the same latitude as the Bordeaux region in France, Washington has many areas suited to wine growing but the one best explored on the way to the Gorge is the Columbia Cascade region. Heading east from Everett through Stevens pass, the road travels through snow capped peaks and lush forests on to rolling sagebrush hills ideal for vineyards.


3 BottlesIn the Lake Chelan region Tsillan Cellars is the winery of choice. Designed and developed by Dr. Robert Jankelson, the winery provides “an unmatched venue to enjoy the Italian art of living enhanced by fine wines.” Sounds good to me! Try the ’03 Bellissima Rossa, a Cab Sauv, Merlot and Cab Franc blend which won the double gold at the 2007 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Don’t miss Leavenworth, the cutest little Bavarian Village in the state. Try the boutique Eagle Creek Winery, full of old-world European charm to prepare your taste buds.

To round out the trip, be sure to visit the easily accessible Chateau Faire Le Pont in Wenatchee (only an hour from the Gorge). The name means “Bridging the Gap” and refers to when a holiday falls mid-week but you continue right through to the weekend. We should adopt this motto more often! Not to be missed, the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Pinot Noir, and the new 2003 Tre Amore.


For more information check out

Happy road trip!


For the Locals – Eat Vancouver! May 22, 2007

Filed under: beer,events,local,tasting,wine — liquorandlibations @ 5:00 pm


This weekend marks the annual Eat Vancouver festival. Billed as the “Everything Food & Cooking Festival” this year also includes a beverage stage highlighting beer, wine, sake, coffee and more. While the Food Network celebrity stage will definitely be a big draw for many people, for those of you already sick of “Vancouver’s Own Iron Chef Rob Feenie” (and if I have to see him on one more White Spot commercial, I definitely will be), then check out the tasting areas.

The drinks stage promises you will:

Enjoy some of the best wines, beers and spirits from British Columbia and around the world, offered for tasting by the vintners and producers themselves. Sample, compare and ask questions directly from those who know.

The Grapes & Hops Presentation Stage, located right inside the Tasting Pavilion and hosted by Vancouver’s own Wine Diva, Daenna Van Mulligan, will feature an impressive lineup of seminars, food pairings and wine tasting’s with celebrities drawn from the world of wine and beer plus culinary and mixology experts.. The Presentation Stage is located right in the Tasting Pavilion and provides comfortable seating. Master of Ceremonies Daenna will host writers, chefs, vintners, wine experts and a host of other presenters from across the country.

We’ll be checking out the Wine, Beer and Spirits tasting pavillion on Saturday and promise to report back on our best bets.


Sundance meets wine tasting April 26, 2007

Filed under: events,wine — liquorandlibations @ 4:02 pm

If only I had known about this sooner, I would have been high-tailing it over the boarder next weekend to Portland, for the city’s third annual Indie Wine Festival. The event is a juried festival for Oregon wineries who make under 2000 cases in total production, and is touted as “a fun, lively, community experience. Think Sundance meets wine tasting.”

The winemakers will be on hand and you can purchase wine directly from the people who make it, what a great way to get people involved in their local wine industry. Portland is a cool city and with strong local community production and involvement in many industries – in particular beer, coffee, wine and music.

Tickets are $60 a day (for either Saturday or Sunday) or $100 for both days. Saturday’s highlight is a grand tasting with complimentary food from top Oregon chefs, and Sunday includes an event called the Sunday Cellar where wines from both 2005 and 2006 will be poured for you to compare how the wines are aging.

If anyone is in Portland, or heading down for this, and wants to guest write a post for us, leave a comment below with your email address and we’ll be in touch.

Link Imbibe Unfiltered.


Summer is on the way! April Tasting Highlights April 23, 2007

Filed under: beer,tasting,wine — liquorandlibations @ 9:44 am

T.S. Eliot was on the mark when he penned ‘April is the cruelest month’. The worst part of April in Vancouver is the false sense of security you get that summer is on its way. Merciless trick! After months of jonsing for warm enough weather to elicit some joie d’été, we couldn’t resist the urge to guzzle these picnic and patio appropriate wines and beer. Who knew effervescence would be the theme of the month?

Tasting Highlights

Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato D'Asti Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato D’Asti 2004, 2005
For the second year in a row (hooray for new traditions), we had this bright, aromatic and lightly effervescent dessert wine with Easter brunch. It is adorably yummy, with notes of peach, honey and melon. While I love it at brunch or early on a sunny afternoon (feels happily indulgent), it also makes a nice aperitif if your tastes lean towards less sweet dessert wines because it has some musky notes. Nivole Moscato D’Asti hails from a single vineyard in the commune of Canelli located in Asti province where the moscato bianco grape dates back to 17th century. Anyways, why bother blundering through more description when the name ‘Nivole’ meaning “cloud” in the local dialect so nicely encapsulates this airy, tantalizing wine.

Blanche de Chambly beer
$11.76/6x341ml                                                                                                                                                                  This tasty, triple fermented white beer from Quebec’s Unibroue brewery will definitely be representing at our 2007 croquet season – special shout out to the Eastside Croquet Club! Citrusy with subtle spicing, light and effervescent, Blanche de Chambly is not as sweet as Hoegaarden and maybe that’s why it seems more refreshing. What can I say, Unibroue makes some great stuff … besides, have you seen their label art? Their designs are fit to be airbrushed on the side panel of 1970’s van. Awesome!

Fantasy Art Van

Pouring the Banrock Sparkling Shiraz and GabbyBanrock Sparkling Shiraz
$16.99/750ml We picked this up as a novelty one Friday after work. While the lightness of sparkling and fullness of red wine seem contradictory, in practice it wasn’t bad. Fizzy and sweet with robust plum and blackcurrant flavours, this sparkling red was interesting to try but definitely not for everyone. That being said, it would be tasty with summer picnic fare like sausage, baguette and an assortment of cheeses; alternatively, it may also be nice with dessert, particularly something of the chocolate persuasion. I must admit the cherry colour, tingly-on-the tongue froth is pretty fun too. If you’re not turned off by the notion of a bubbly red, it’s worth trying, but be warned the 14.0% alcohol content may give you, ahem, a little more buzz than you bargained for.


wine school in the comfort of your home April 11, 2007

Filed under: tasting,wine — liquorandlibations @ 5:13 pm

As we mentioned before, a couple of us ventured out to the Vancouver International Wine Festival in March to try our hand at tasting. Wine events are a great way to sample a host of different options, ask questions, learn what you like and taste wines that aren’t readily available in your local liquor store. While we will continue to cover any wine and drinks related events that come to town, we also want to explore home tasting, as it’s something anyone can try.

Hosting a tasting party is a great idea – for a bridal shower, supper club, or even on a Thursday night, and there are many companies that will host parties for you, or even send a sommelier to your house to guide you through the tasting. Another option is to join a tasting group, check out for one in your city, or make wine tasting a regular affair and order a mixed case of wine from your local specialty shop.

Eric Asimov of the New York Times wine blog The Pour suggests that tasting wine at home regularly and making notes on what you are drinking is a great way to democratize wine, allowing you to learn while you taste.

Too often, we treat wine as something that can only be understood and enjoyed by connoisseurs, and therefore enjoyment of wine has to be preceded by a knowledge and understanding of wine. This partly accounts for the reason that people feel they must apologize for knowing little about wine, in a way that they would never feel about most other subjects, whether poetry, art, baseball or bread baking. In most areas of life, people feel free to dip in and experiment. If they find pleasure and they have time, then they pursue further knowledge. Why not wine?

I agree, the best way to learn about wine is to try new things, and not feel embarrassed about asking questions. Going to a wine store and asking for a recommendation may end up leading you to a new favourite and keeping your eye on wine blogs like Asimov’s will also give you a new idea about what to try.


Ode to Shiraz April 8, 2007

Filed under: events,local,wine — liquorandlibations @ 11:12 pm

Oh Shiraz, how do I love thee, let me count the ways…

After attending Vancouver International Wine Festival this year where the featured wine was Riesling, I was a bit surprised to find that all my favourites were still…you guessed it, Shiraz. Not that the Riesling isn’t a lovely wine – crisp and fresh with those hints of kiwi and apple. Because it is! In fact on a hot summer’s day it ranks near the top of my list, particularly if it is a certain Dr. Loosen‘s 2005 Riesling in its delightfully blue bottle.

Its just that the Shiraz (Syrah in France) is so…perfect. And drinkable. Always delightful to the palate, it has a full bodied and powerful flavour often tasting of ripe juicy berries, and chocolate…earthy and complex. Its dark and mysterious flavours titillate, beg you to explore a little more.

Australia loves its Shiraz, hence its prevalence at the 2007 Vancouver wine festival. Some of my mentionables were:

  • Hardy Wine Company – Oomoo Shiraz 2005, $21.99
  • Peter Lehmann – Futures Barossa Shiraz 2003, $28.99
  • Barossa Valley Estate – Ebenezer Shiraz 2002, $39.99
  • Wolf Blass – Black Label Cabernet Shiraz 2003, coming in near the top of the price list at $89.99

And surprise surprise, Canada’s very own Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Proprietor’s Grand Reserve Shiraz 2004 was voted the best Shiraz/Syrah at the 2006 International Wine and Spirits Competition (I.W.S.C.) in London…a first for a North American Shiraz at probably the most important event in the industry. And while it was unfortunately not at the festival this year, it is in the liquor store around the corner. Lucky me.


this food, that wine March 30, 2007

Filed under: marketing,pairings,wine — liquorandlibations @ 2:54 pm

wine-that-loves_2.pngFrom the always brilliant Tastespotting, I came across Wine That Loves. If you’ve ever stood at the liquor store wondering which wine to pair with your salmon or steak, this company takes the guess work out of it for you. With bottles called “wine that love pizza” and “wine that loves roasted chicken”, the emphasis is placed squarely on wines that play well with food.

From their company site:

The wines are designed to pair with the foods Americans enjoy most often and to reflect American tastes. They are tailored to food lovers, but their world-class quality, distinctive character and winning style also will delight wine aficionados.

As long as they don’t go so far as to reflect American tastes for fast food (Jimmy Dean pancake wrapped sausages on a stick anyone?), this is a nice idea for someone wanting to try something new, and offers solid suggestions for those intimidated by choosing a wine. The packaging is pretty cute too.