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!

July 2020


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on ALL regular Mist Wines!

Limited Release
Raspberry Mojito!

Summer's Here! Do you have enough Wine?

Great Beer!
Made Easy!

Hurray for IPA!

August 14, 2014

MikeThursday was National IPA day in North America, but what is an IPA? It is arguably one of the most popular styles in North America and it’s origin is also subject to strong debate. Known as Imperial or India Pale Ale, the most common story goes back to the 1700’s. The British had colonies all over the globe, including many in India. The British love their beer, and those living in parts of colonial India wanted British Ales.

Part of the problem with ales was their shelf life. The shipping conditions at the time, were less than optimal which just sped up the spoilage process. Most were low alcohol, with very low levels of hops. The trip was plagued with drastic temperature variations and could take between 3 to 5 months. Then there was the agitation from rough seas, all in all this was a tough journey for humans, let alone beer! The story claims a brewer named George Hodgson of Bow Brewery in East London began shipping his recipe to India during the 1790’s. He was said to have used sugar and grain to raise the alcohol, meanwhile adding more hops to help preserve the beer during the difficult trip.

While this is a great story, it is probably not true. There is strong evidence that shows the style existed before 1790. Other signs point to the high alcohol content as being IPA-Day-600x3001counterproductive, both on ships and on land due to the hot dry climate. Regardless of when or where it actually came from, it has become extremely popular. From White IPA to IIPA(Imperial India Pale Ale), there are so many different sub styles and brewers are experimenting with different malts and hops. Hops are so varied in bitterness, aroma and flavour that even methodology of when and how to add hops is being experimented with! All in all, there is a huge number of craft brewers doing amazing things with IPA.

Bitterness in beer is measured in IBU or International Bittering Unit. The scale is only 1- 100, although some brewers are pushing those limits as well with many claims of well reaching above 100 IBU. Bottom line, the higher the number the more bitter the beer. IPA’s generally stick between 40 and 70 IBU, but as I mentioned there are brewers who are going higher…much higher. While hops can impart bitterness, they can impart a variety of different aroma and flavours from tropical fruit, citrus fruit, spice, herb and more. This brings and endless array of possibilities to making a variety of great craft IPA’s.

909-Ersatz-606So, what makes a great IPA? There are a few factors, of course the ingredients used are very important. Balance of malt, hop aroma, hop flavour is integral too. A larger, and more important factor is you. Not everyone likes IPA’s, but I feel there is an IPA for everyone. So, while it’s origins are still fiercely debated, nobody can deny the variety of IPA’s to choose from thanks to the hops used in production. So keep trying IPA’s, you will definitely find one you like!

Wine Sense has a seletion of IPAs to choose from including Barons Pale Ale and a variety to choose from in the Paddock Wood Brewing Co. Readybrew kit line up.



Mike- Wine Sense Southdale Square

Filed under: General by WineSense

Our Trip to Winexpert

May 23, 2014

CraigOn Monday, May 5th the Wine Sense Management Team took a ‘field trip’ to the Winexpert plant in Port Coquitlam B.C. The goal of the trip was to expand our knowledge of th

products we sell by seeing the wine kit manufacturing process.

Tim Vandergrift lead us on this exclusive behind the scenes tour and it was very educational. We were fortunate to see the whole process- from the blending tanks to the box assembly and shipping.


Outside the tank farm- it looks small from the outside but is huge inside!

The plant produces about one million kits a year. To do this they need an incredible volume of grape juice and concentrate. They keep 1.5 million litres on site in their refrigerated tank farm which consists of about fifty 27,000L tanks. This does not include the off site storage that is held by juice producers and brokers. to the fill line to the final sealing and packing of the kits and the loading of the skids for shipping to our stores.


We also witnessed the receiving of a tanker truck of Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir juice from one of their California growers- the juice will be destined for the Eclipse Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir kits. Before any juice is received a sample is taken and tested in the on-site wine lab to ensure it meets the specifications of the raw material they ordered. If it doesn’t the order is refused.


Selection California Chardonnay kits being filled

The underlying focus of the Winexpert plant is quality assurance. There is non-stop testing going on during manufacturing of the kits with samples being drawn and tested while kits are being produced. Upon completion two kits are held for quality assurance and samples of each finished kit are fermented by the wine lab and held in their wine library for down stream product comparison.



It was an extremely valuable trip for all of the Wine Sense Managers and gave us a more complete understanding of the products we sell, which we are passionate about and which are backed with a 100% guarantee.






Filed under: General by WineSense

The Best Beer You Can Brew!

November 26, 2013

Do you drink beer? There have been huge strides in increasing the quality of beer kits, and now with our Paddock Wood Brewing Company Ready Brew beer kits, it is even easier to make a high quality brew just like the ones produced at the brewery.

The Paddock Wood Brewing Co. is located in Saskatoon and is an award winning craft micro-brewery. Steve Cavan- Paddock Wood’s founder and Brew Master started as a home brewer! Click here to see a tour of the the brewery!

What is so special about this kit, you ask? There are many features that set this kit above the rest, first and foremost being quality. Sold Brown Aleexclusively at Wine Sense, Ready Brew kits are made in the same fashion as any craft beer you purchase at a beer store or liquor mart. Paddock Wood uses 100% fresh grains and hops to create an all grain wort with tremendous body and flavour. Each kit has gone through a 90 minute boil with these fresh grains and hops to produce the finest quality wort available.

This is not a concentrate, there has been no removal of water during any part of the process so there is no need to top up. Wyeast Liquid Yeast is included with each kit and helps to give exceptional depth and flavour to your beer. The beer will clear nicely using a single stage fermentation, so there is no need for a carboy and no racking required. The yeast also creates a firm pack after fermentation, making cleanup a breeze! We have 10 styles available to suit various palettes, including an American Pale Ale, Carib Lager, Cream Ale, German Koelsch and Spitfire English Ale and more!

 The Carib Lager and German Koelsch are the lightest of the group. If you are looking for a crisp, clean tasting beer with little to no hops, these would be your best choice. If you like a bit more hops in your beer the Spitfire English Ale is a classic English Ale with a nice balance of hops. If you like a more assertive hoppy flavour like I do, the American Pale Ale is the way to go. For those who prefer a light balance of malt and hops, the creamy texture of the Cream Ale is a pleasure to drink!

So go ahead and treat yourself to a Paddock Wood Brewing Co. Ready Brew kit, at just 95 cents a bottle you are not only saving money but getting huge bang for your buck. Try it, I promise you will not be disappointed!


Mike- Manager Wine Sense (Southdale Square)

Filed under: General, New Products by WineSense

Drinking Beer to Serve You Better!

June 21, 2013

MikeSummer is slowly peeking it’s head over the horizon which means it is time for beer! What better way to celebrate this time of year, than with a staff beer tasting?! This was, of course ‘strictly’ for research purposes ; )

Two weekends ago, the Wine Sense team gathered at the Raddison downtown for a night of pizza, wings and beer…oops I meant to say research! One of the main purposes of this research was to compare the differences in beers made with WyeastWyeast liquid yeast against and the same beer made with dry yeast.

The results were astounding. We tasted various styles and the liquid yeast was the winner every time! There was more flavour, with a cleaner taste and more body. The beer was also smoother, tasting more like a crafted microbrew! It was a huge eye opener. Don’t believe me?? Ask any of the Wine Sense staff.

Wyeast Liquid Yeasts are specific yeast strains that are cultured from the specific style of beer you are making. As a result they enhance the flavour of the style of beer you’re making. If you’re making an Ale kit and prefer traditional English Ales then use the London Ale yeast- prefer American Micro Brews? Then try the American Ale yeast- an easy way to customize  your beer kits. Each Wyeast Package holds over 100 billion yeast cells so fermentation is fast and complete.

The Wine Sense Staff working hard to serve you better!

The Wine Sense Staff working hard to serve you better!

So, next time you are in for a beer kit, make sure to pick up a package of liquid yeast with your kit. Your beer will taste better, and you will thank us in the end!


Mike, Manager- Wine Sense Southdale Square


Filed under: General, New Products by WineSense


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