A Sense of Wine

A Sense of Wine is Wine Sense's journal of new products, techniques and behind the scenes info for those who love to make wine. The authors are the Wine Sense staff. You will be familiar with them as the friendly faces that serve you whenever you stop by one of the stores. Join us as we share our insights on new procucts, advice and our experiences. Please feel free to comment on any posts- we look forward to your input!

December 2009


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The New Limiteds are Here- I'm a Somebody!

December 22, 2009

Craig1Although the Wine Sense folks like to think of our selves as a little more sophisticated than Steve Martin’s character Navin Johnson, in the movie The Jerk- we are certainly just as excited!

If you recall, our hero Navin starts jumping around exclaiming his excitement to see his name in the new phonebook. This is pretty much how we react at Wine Sense when the Limited Edition wines start arriving! That is of course after we’ve recovered from unloading them.


You think he's excited? You should see the Wine Sense folks when the Limited Edition wines arrive!

Why are we so excited? Because the Selection Limited Edition wines are always great wines. Better yet- this year we are re-releasing the top five wines of the last 20 years of the Selection Limited Edition program. All five wines are proven winners in taste and in competition!

If you are a veteran of the Limited Edition program you get to remake some of your favourites. If you’re new to the Limited Edition Program you’ve picked a great time to try some of our most popular wines ever!

If you did not reserve any of the wines this year and you are thinking about trying a Limited Edition wine- do not delay. Our pre-orders were way up this year and as a result we have a very small quantity of extra kits available. On average less than 25 kits per style per store.

The South African Shiraz and the California Lake County Trio Blanca are now in stock. If you pre-ordered these wines you can now come down to your favourite Wine Sense location and pick up your kit(s). If you didn’t pre-order you will want to get to your favourite Wine Sense store as soon as possible and get one of these great wines before they’re all gone!


Wine Sense

Filed under: General, New Products by Craig

Turkey and Wine

December 20, 2009

BruceOne question that has been brought up recently is what wines will I have with our Christmas dinner. Of course I answer (with a straight face), “All of them”. Seriously, though, this is a common, yet broad and tricky question to answer. If you don’t believe me, try Googling food pairings and see how many listings there are.

I like to plan ahead for Christmas dinners, so let me list what will be on my table this year. With this year’s turkey, we will have the following:

My red will be a 2 year old Selection Estate Stag’s Leap Merlot (I told you I plan ahead). This wine has very smooth tannins, great aromas and flavors of plums and red berries.

My white will be the Selection Limited Edition Australian Riesling. This is a very smooth and fruity reisling, with only a hint of sweetness.

My back-up wine is the Limited Release Okanagan Pinot Blanc. This wine has a great crispness to it with fantastic pear and apple flavours, although mine still needs a little more age time.

These wines will nicely compliment the turkey and all the trimmings. After dinner there will be a 2 year old Selection Speciale Ice Wine and a 2 year old Selection Speciale Port.

If you are still wondering what to serve with your dinner let me suggest the following:

For turkey try Pinot Noir, Merlot, Riesling, Chardonnay and Viognier. For ham- Pinot Noir, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Blanc are all great options.

Mmmmmmmm… turkey!

This is just a guide line and does not mean that the wines you have chosen are wrong for your meal. Remember, good wine and good food always go well together! 


 Have a great Holiday Season and please, don’t drink and drive.


Manager- Wine Sense (Pembina Highway)

Filed under: General by Craig

The Nectar of the Gods

December 16, 2009

RogerThough the beginning of Icewines can be traced to centuries old German winemakers, there is nothing more quintessentially Canadian than this luscious luxury of patience and sub zero bravura. Grapes are left on the vine well into the winter months to concentrate and intensify the flavors. This also allows the water content to freeze, thaw, and dehydrate in each precious Icewine grape.

 Ideally suited to the Canadian winter season in both the Niagra Peninsula and the Okanagan Valley, the magical process of crafting Icewine is guided and nature-triggered by the snap of the wintery elements. The harvest can’t begin until temperatures drop below minus eight degrees Celcius for a sustained period of time. There are rigorous specifications regulating the making of Icewine set out by Canada’s quality control board, the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance). Arificial freezing of the grape is strictly prohibited.

It's a beautiful day for picking grapes in Canada!

It's a beautiful day for picking grapes in Canada!

Once the extreme temperatures are achieved, Icewine pickers arrive – often in the dead of night – to harvest the frozen clusters. The precious grapes are immediately pressed in the extreme cold to extract the luscious nectar. In this process, the water content in each grape remains frozen in crystals, leaving only a few coveted drops of concentrated, intense liquid. Icewine yields are a mere 10-15 % of an average table wine harvest. Slowly fermented over the coming months, this delicate nectar will eventualy become Icewine.

The finished Icewine is intense, sweet and sumptuous, yet balanced with brilliant acidity, creating a unique sensation on the palate. Renowned for fruit flavours ranging from mango to peach to lychees, Icewine is truly a natural wonder and extreme winemaking at it’s best, yeilding the impressions of tropical tastes wrought from the frigid extremes of the icy Canadian winterscape.

Selection Speciale

Selection Speciale Riesling Icewine

I have tasted Icewines from around the world, the real ones as well as the artificial ones. To me, making an Icewine from a kit was unthinkable – that is until I tasted the Icewine made from the 11.5L Selection Icewine kit. The quality is extremely close to that of commercial Icewines.

I refer to Icewines as the nectar of the Gods.

‘King’ Roger

Wine Sense- Pembina Highway

Filed under: Wine by Craig

Keep that Carboy Warm and Snug!

December 14, 2009

BobThis past week, after a conversation with a long time customer about clearing issues, I had him bring me in a sample of his first beer making experience. The sample was dropped off Monday, and when I returned to work Thursday, the sample was perfectly clear. My past experiences told me that his problem with clearing is probably being caused by fluctuating temperatures in his household.

The main reason I suspected a temperature problem was through past problem solving. The first time I encountered this issue was about 8 years ago when a customer had never ending clearing problems. We tried everything; sparkoloid, isokleer, repeated stirrings… and nothing worked! I asked the fellow to bring in a bottle and I would send it to Winexpert in B.C. He brought the sample in on a Saturday and I couldn’t ship it until Monday because the couriers are all shut down on the weekends. Low and behold, I came in to work on Monday and the wine was crystal clear. The store here on Springfield Road is always set to one temperature, so no fluctuations, and therefore, no clearing problems because of temperature. So, after some more discussions with the customer, it was determined he had a temperature issue. This has now happened on numerous occasions with other customers.

Today’s programmable thermostats will guarantee you’ll have temperature fluctuations if you set it to a cooler temperature while you’re at work or at night.

You can’t always rely on your thermostat as an indicator of your wine’s temperature. Place your hand on the surface that your carboy is sitting on. Does it feel cool to touch? If so, it’s acting as a ‘heat sink’. That means its drawing heat from the carboy- so even if your themostat says 20 or 21 degrees the wine is likely a few degrees cooler. Once you go below the suggested temperature range you may start to have clearing and degassing problems.

The moral of this story is that once you transfer your wine to the carboy for stage 2 that you wrap it up in a blanket or, as I do, in old winter jackets to stabilize and insulate your wine. It doesn’t take much to throw your wine off into some direction it hasn’t gone before.

So as we continue through our current cold snap check your carboy’s temperature and environment. A simple blanket can help keep it warm and snug.


Manager- Wine Sense (Springfield Road)

Filed under: General by Craig


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