Today is the first day of summer and a lovely day it was. On days like today all seems right with the world, or at least with the garden. Our vegetables and herbs have been planted and despite the lack of any extended warmth, most seeds have germinated. Tomatoes are in, ornamental containers are done, and we’ve finally been able to determine whether those dead looking shrubs are actually dead or just really slow. Of course a gardener’s work is never done, but we’ve earned the right to rest for a bit, sit back with a glass of wine and appreciate our handiwork. If ever there were a reason to do just that it would be Summer Solstice – no weird rituals, just a really nice glass of Chardonnay, Viognier or…….okay I’m venturing into territory not my own. So please let me introduce to you, professional Sommelier, Len Steinberg as he explores why and what to sip while enjoying our gardens.
Any Excuse Will Do…….by Len Steinberg
We all live busy lives – work, school, households and just stuff. Sometimes we just have to make time to sit back and experience the moment. Today is June 21st – summer is finally here and the longest day has just passed. It is a perfect time to sit outside on the patio after dinner with a glass of wine and enjoy the early spring excitement in the garden. My point – any excuse is a good excuse.
In Calgary our summers can be challenging so we have to take advantage of every opportunity to spend time outdoors. While beer is always a summer favorite, along with some amazing choices for cocktails, wine always has a place on the patio, and with dining ‘al Fresco’. Tonight when Sue gets home we have a date to sit on the patio and taste some of the open wines left over from a recent tasting. It would be a shame to let it go to waste.
We have a choice of an Argentinean Torrontes by Mauricio Lorca, Jackson Estate Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, or a Prado Rey Verdejo from Rueda Spain. All are fresh and crisp, perfect for summer sipping. The open reds are a Merlot based Bordeaux Superior Chateau l’Esperance that has matured nicely, a Sangiovese from Amador Foothills Winery in Northern California and one of my favourites, Truchard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – a very nice selection with some aged cheese.
I recently finished a contract for a wine competition, The International Value Wine Awards, sponsored by Wine Access Magazine. During the competition 1100 wines were tasted over five days. The selection of styles and varietals in the competition is staggering. This inspires me to expand my tasting experience and to try new wines from all over the world. Don’t be shy, if you don’t like it you can always use it for cooking.
One of my favourite reasons to open a bottle of wine is dinner or any meal. While the meal is being prepared I take a look at what we have in the cellar and choose a wine that will pair well with the menu. Not everyone has a wine cellar but a local wine shop is usually not far away. This is especially nice if the warm summer weather is enticing you to dine al Fresco. We can talk about wine pairing another day.
Here are some of my favourite excuses to sip on wine in the garden:
- It’s Tuesday; let’s open a nice Pinot Noir, maybe a Kenneth Volk from Santa Barbara.
- Today is someone’s birthday; let’s celebrate with Lois Sparkling Malbec from Enrique Foster.
- It’s not raining for the moment, this calls for some Kettle Valley Pinot Gris.
My good friend Tom Firth of Wine Access really needs no excuse except, “It’s already in the fridge” or, “I think this would be fun to drink with……..works as good as any”.
Shelly Boettcher, wine writer and editor says “any night that it isn’t snowing and that I don’t have to drive my kids anywhere”.
I think we can all relate to these reasons for a sip of magic surrounded by the wonders of nature.
What’s your excuse?To your Health, Len
- July 14th Celebrating La Fête Nationale or Bastille Day with Chateau’s; Montet and Bonnet (whineandcheersforwine.com)