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!

April 2010


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Looking Back at 19 Years

April 28, 2010

Craig copyTime flies – a lot has changed in 8500 years!

Evidence tells us winemaking originated in 6500 BC and in recent years has come full circle. Wine was first made in the home and as time progressed it became a commercial endeavor. Along the way the quality of wine evolved and improved into the amazing beverage enjoyed today.


Home winemaking... We've come a long way baby!

Wine Sense opened 19 years ago and in that time the home winemaker has seen a lot of history repeat itself. We opened just as the first major change in the recent history of home winemaking was occuring. It was about 20 years ago that Winexpert(orignally named Brew King) created the modern wine kit. Cans of low-grade red or white grape concentrate were vastly upgraded to the bag-in-box wine kit featuring high quality varietal grape juice and concentrate that we know today.


The 'modern' wine kit- by Winexpert

Next, Canada’s largest wineries took notice and bought into the ‘cottage’ wine kit industry. As a result the industry gained access to technology that further improve the quality of wine kits. Along with technology, we gained greater buying power and access to better, more sought after raw materials from all around the world. We’ve gone from making ‘red or white’ wine to making Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and New Zealand Marlbourough Sauvignon Blanc!

Most importantly to our valued customers- because of the above mentioned innovations, the wine that you are making today is significantly better than the wine you were making when we first opened in 1991.

What else has changed? 

A big one certainly was our name. In 2006 we changed from The Brew Doctor to Wine Sense. Why? Because you our customers told us we were in the wine business. In the early days, beer kits carried the load. I recall many years ago boasting in our Yellow Pages ad that we had over 140 different beer kits. But you the consumer changed as your tastes have shifted from beer to wine. While we still have a selection of beer, we now offer over 180 different wine kits!

Why the change?

Because home winemaking made wine affordable for everyday enjoyment. Wine was no longer just for special occasions- we can now afford to make every occasion special by opening a bottle of wine that we made.

Do we still carry beer kits?

We sure do. We also carry a variety of products that allow you to offer more choice for yourself, your family and friends: Island Mist and Niagara Mist patio wines, Twisted Mist Cocktail kits and Still Spirits liqueurs extracts.

As we’ve grown, so has our ability to communicate with you. We’ve grown from little ads to a full-colour presence in newspapers, from a black and white newlsetter to full-colour, from radio to TV commercials and now as you read our blog, the social media scene which you probably linked to from our Facebook Fan Page that you likely first learned about from our email marketing.

We are also renovating all of our stores. Four have been completed with two more remaining. Our Southdale store will be converted this summer. So for our customers in that area you can expect to see new colours, a new layout and a new way to shop for your wine kits.


Our new store design... 4 down 2 to go!

The Wine Sense family has also grown over the years. We have more staff than ever and I’m pleased to boast that they are unmatched. They all love wine, winemaking and they have a passion for what they do. They are trained in winemaking and wine enjoyment and are happy to share their knowledge with you.


The Wine Sense Family

As I write this 19th Birthday Blog I’m seeing the trend… Change and Quality. And as we move into year 20 and beyond, Wine Sense will continue to evolve to offer you a great shopping experience and provide you with leading edge quality.

It’s one of those birthday’s that’s a pleasure to celebrate. Cheers!

Filed under: General, Events by Craig

Portabella Mushroom Burgers

April 23, 2010

winesense_icon[1]This Recipe was created for this year’s Limited Edition Italian Brunello. One would think that it would have been paired with a traditional Italian dish and it would certainly be a perfect match. But this recipe is really just great example of the versatility of this wine. The meaty, grilled Portabella’s could also just as easily be replaced with a grilled burger or steak. 

So if you are lucky enough to have one of the Sold Out Italian Brunello kits you have a wine that will work with many meals!


Mmmmmmushroom Burgers!

6 Portabella Mushrooms

3 Red Peppers (halved)

1 tsp Finely Minced Garlic

1 tsp Basil

¼ cup Olive Oil

¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar

¼ cup Winexpert Selection Limited Edition Italian Brunello

Combine garlic, basil, oil, vinegar and Italian Brunello in a long flat bottomed food container and mix thoroughly. De-stem the Portabella mushrooms. Add the Portabella mushrooms and red peppers to the mixture, cover with a tight fitting lid and shake.

Place in fridge for about 30 minutes to marinade.

Grill the mushrooms and red peppers on the BBQ for about 10-15 minutes. When ready to serve, place a red pepper over the mushroom, top with your favourite toppings and favourite cheese and serve on a bun.

Not lucky enough to have the Limited Edition Italian Brunello? You can substitute with an Italian Sangiovese or Chianti.

Bon Apetit,

Wine Sense

Filed under: Recipes by Craig

The Carboy Cleaner- a New 'Toy'

April 22, 2010

JimLast week when the Carboy Cleaners arrived- I had to try one. I had two carboys to clean and the Carboy Cleaner not only did a great job but it was fun to use. Think of a ‘car-wash’ inside your carboy.

No more having to scrub with a Carboy Brush while trying to get into the shoulders of the carboy. No more trying to carefuly ‘aim’ the tip of the brush to get that tough spot on the bottom of the carboy. 

It took only 1 litre of water and 1 tbsp of Sparklebrite to clean the carboy (not counting the rinse water). This significantly cuts down on the cost of cleaning by using less Sparklebrite and as a result less water.

The best part was that I finished with the cleaning and put the carboy away in 10 minutes (yes- I did play longer than necessary).


Make life easier- get a Carboy Cleaner!


In the past, my problem with cleaning carboys was filling them up to soak and forgetting to come back and finish. Now everything is cleaned up and put away before I leave the room… my wife likes this.

Click here to view a brief video and see why the Carboy Cleaner (exclusive to Wine Sense)  is the fastest, easiest and best way to clean your carboys!


Jim- Manager (Southdale)

Filed under: Equipment, New Products by Craig

Brian Likes Spanish Tempranillo

April 20, 2010

Brian KentMy wife and I recently returned from our annual vacation, this year in Portugal and Spain. We both really enjoyed trying out wines there that are not as readily available in Canada. I came back enthused to make a Spanish wine. Wine Sense sells two Spanish wine kits – the World Vineyard Spanish Tempranillo and the Selection Spanish Rioja. As my red wine supply was running low, I decided I needed a quick fix so I started a four-week Spanish Tempranillo kit to add to my depleted stock.


World Vineyard allows you to make wines from around the world!

In our travels, we sampled and thoroughly enjoyed several styles of Tempranillo and learned that although Spain has several winemaking areas, the most important was the Rioja region in northern Spain. There, in one of three subregions, most wines were made from the Tempranillo grape by itself or blended with Garnachia (Grenache), Graciano and/or Mazuelo grapes. It has also been combined with a Cabernet Sauvignon grape as was the case with our Selection Limited Edition kit three years ago. By blending these grapes the wines became more complex and required further aging. But for the most part, Tempranillo by itself produces a very enjoyably dry red wine that can be consumed young, and exhibit gentle, berry flavors with an herbaceous, earthy character. Before they are sold, they are stored in oak casks for a year, then, are aged another year in the bottle. It exhibits a medium body, and like most red wines, they improve with age. I enjoyed Rioja with red meats – steaks, beef roasts, etc.- whereas the average Spaniard would also enjoy his tapas (mid afternoon snack) with a glass of Tempranillo in a sunny outdoor café just before siesta time. Like the Portuguese, I found the Spanish can walk into a grocery store and purchase it from a vast array of reasonably priced bottles of wine, and not have to pay an exorbitant price for an overly taxed wine, in a government liquor mart. It’s oh so much more civilized.

My Spanish Tempranillo should be ready to drink in late spring served with a sizzling BBQ’d meal cooked on a warm sunny afternoon. I can hardly wait!


Brian- Wine Sense (Portage Avenue)

Filed under: General, Wine by Craig


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