Guidance from a Grape Guru

There is something about a glass of wine that makes every occasion just a little bit better. Even a simple Monday night at home is a touch more exciting with a glass of wine in hand and a smile on face.

A hot, spicy red to take the edge off a rainy, fall evening. Or a crisp and mineral white to chill a steamy Sunday afternoon. Wine can be paired with almost anything, from a familiar food to a simple feeling. It’s the drink of our 20’s… and the rest of our lives. And that’s why it’s important to figure out how to choose the right one instead of wandering, aimlessly, from the Chilean aisle to Ontario to France.

I’ve learned a valuable set of  criteria to follow when choosing a wine. My Grape Guru ( and seasoned sommelier. . . and wine director) Grayson McDiarmid has set out the A-B-C’s of picking a worthy wine. These are simple guidelines that will help you to make a more sophisticated choice when you pick up your next bottle (or three). “Girl’s Night Out” can finally take the back burner while you taste your way through new and exciting wines following these 3 basic guidelines.

1. YUM

This first step is entirely up to you. Is the wine delicious? Everyone’s palate is different and what one gal may cringe at, another may gulp by the gallon. Some prefer a wine that is dry, effervescent and has good acidity. If so, try a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. Others prefer a wine that is off-dry (sweet) and floral.  Gewürztraminer is your go to. Some might prefer a buttery or oaked Chardonnay. Experiment with a  few of these different wines and find out what you prefer best. Make sure the yum factor is 100%, because that is the most important part (and step number 1) in chosing a good wine that suits you. You have to be adventurous to figure this little part out. The rest is easy.

2. Belonging

We all want to feel like we are part of something special and our little bottled buds are no different. Wine can have very distinct flavour and great character but sometimes it may not reflect the region in which it was produced and just doesn’t belong . Wines that don’t reflect their region are the kind of wines to avoid. A sense of belonging is important in choosing a wine so you can actually grasp the foundation of wine from a particular region. This is commonly referred to as having a sense of “terroir”. The LCBO is even beginning to advertise wines that are terroir driven, so keep an eye out for those.  A Rioja should reflect the warmth of the Spanish sun, whereas a Pinot Noir from Niagara should reflect the cooler climate. You’ll have to taste a few to pinpoint a terroir driven wine, but once you hit the nail on the head your taste buds will be dancing! (Or just ask someone working at the LCBO for a terroir driven wine et VOILA!)

3. Cut the Cost

Whoever brought about the saying that good wine is expensive, was wrong. Completely wrong. There are all sorts of AMAZING wines you can purchase for under $25 dollars; and, once the first 2 criteria have been met, the price really is tertiary. Not only are you saving your wallet, but you are also looking for wine that has excellent value relative to its taste.  You may have to extend past $13 dollar a pop, but that extra, little stretch is usually well worth it. Here are few ideas to get you started:

Petite Petit by Michael David  – $24.95

Cabernet Merlot , Cave Spring – $15.95

Gruner Veltliner , Zahel – $15.95

I know that once you’ve found a wine that seems to work, its hard to take that step out of the ordinary and into the unknown; but, the world of wine is so vast and uncharted by our 20-something palates that it seems only necessary to urge you to explore!! If you can find it in you to work through the steps outlined by my Grape Guru and slowly figure out what you truly love, the reward will be (at the very least) a broader appreciation for a very civilized fruit.

Sip up, nuts!

Images via: Free Extra, The Real Estate Blogster

This entry was posted in Food, Lifestyle and tagged , , , , , , by Kate Lalumiere. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kate Lalumiere

After studying wine and spending years in the food service industry, Kate is nutshell's designated food and wine aficionado. Her posts take on the foodie-sphere one restaurant at a time, exposing some of the hottest spots to satiate the ol' buds ! Her favourite restaurants usually include: innovative menus, sustainable & local produce and unparalleled hospitality. Although Kate has a keen ear for food buzz in the National Capital, you'll also find her weighing in on fashion, music and anything that peaks her interest! ** Favourite Restaurant (Ottawa) : Supply & Demand • Wine of Choice: Every wine • Favourite Band: The National • Bad Habit: Being a backseat driver• Favourite Song: Wild Horses • Fashion Icon: Olivia Palermo • Favourite Movie: The Sandlot • Favourite TV Series: Gossip Girl (sue me!) • Sport: Football (to watch and play) • Team: Arizona Cardinals • Blackberry or Iphone: Iphone • Favourite Book: The Sun Also Rises, The Cat's Table, The Bell Jar, On the Road... • ** To ask Kate a question about food, wine or anything else contact her at :

One thought on “Guidance from a Grape Guru

  1. A valuable and informative article.
    I finally know what ‘terroir’ means!
    Next to Canadian Tire, the LCBO is my favourite store.

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