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An Exclusive Tell-All: My Love Affair With Wine

I used to know that I enjoyed wine, but I honestly couldn’t have told you exactly why. I loved the taste, of course, but I was sure that I hated all Merlot and that white wine in general was just ‘okay’. I enjoyed the smell, but to me, all reds just smelled like wine, or if I was getting really creative, like grapes. All white wine tasted like juice, and I tended to drink it as such, without paying much attention to it at all. I was completely content with my limited wine knowledge, because I honestly had no idea how limited it was… until I joined the WineCollective team.

For the last several months I have been surrounded by my very impressive team of wine professionals and they honestly blow me away with their knowledge and love for wine. I remember the first time we did a wine tasting in the office, it was during my very first week working at WineCollective as the Customer Service Coordinator. I probably sat with an inch of California Merlot in my glass for an hour, trying to identify the things that the rest of the team were saying they smelled and tasted. Plum, cedar, vanilla, strawberry, rhubarb… what?? Since when are all of these things, and more, present in this one glass of wine? How have I missed this for all these years? And so my wine education began.

Since that day, I have focussed on learning about wine, I even enrolled in wine school and have completed my Level 1 WSET course through Fine Vintage Ltd.. I now find wine amazing! Not only because it’s delicious, but also because of the culture that exists around it, the generations of families whose way of life rely on the wine industry and the intricacies in each and every wine making process.

 

Here are some of my favourite wine related discoveries:

  • Wine is about 7000 years old!
  • There are over 10,000 grape varietals, about 1,400 of them are used to make wine.
  • Maybe the most obvious, but I swear it never occurred to me, the type of wine, ex. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio is the grape varietal used to make that wine.
  • Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape. Shiraz is grown in warmer climates like Australia, while Syrah is grown in cooler climates like Northern France.
  • Climate, region, growing season, altitude and winemaking practices all have drastic influences on each bottle of wine produced, so a complete dislike for one particular varietal, worldwide, would take a lot of research to confirm.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon was created by combining Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc and recent DNA testing has proven that Cabernet Franc is also a parent of Merlot
  • White wine only tastes like juice if you drink it as such. I have been most surprised by my gained knowledge of white wines! I’ve found beautiful, tantalizing aromas and flavours  in white wines such as peaches, passion fruit, pineapple, honey, caramel, vanilla and so many more, what’s not to love?
  • Riesling, though delicious, can smell and sometimes taste mildly like petrol or rubber bands, usually more apparent in aged wines. This can take some getting used to, however there are many other beautiful flavours present in Riesling to focus on.
  • “Sweet wine” is actually a style of wine, for example Ports or Sauternes. Describing the majority of wines as sweet in inaccurate. Sweetness may be implied by the flavours present in the wine, but there is actually very little sugar in the majority of quality white and red wines, which are mainly categorized as dry wines.

I could go on and on. My family and friends lovingly refer to me as a wine snob now, but I would say that the difference in my attitude towards wine is that I’m actually paying attention. I’m looking for more in wine than I ever have. It takes practice to be able to identify the complexities in wine and I have a lot to learn, but I am definitely enjoying the process. I encourage anyone who has never explored wine this way to try it out. Spend some time looking at, smelling and really tasting the wine in your glass. Don’t get discouraged if at first you don’t smell or taste anything but grapes, keep trying and you will surely enjoy what you find!

Want to talk wine or have questions about WineCollective? Pick up the phone or send a note to Jessica!

thecellar@winecollective.ca

1-855-501-WINE(9463)


For all the Wine-Lover Mothers

We can all agree, Mom deserves a HUGE thanks, and not just on Mother’s Day. We have created a gift that allows you to show your Mom how grateful you are for months to come!

Sign her up for a 1, 2, or 3 month gift of wine, and we will be sure to spoil Mom with extra goodies. The first shipment will be received in June, which means you have until the end of May to shop for Mom!

  • Includes our favourite previously featured, new, exclusive and for Moms-Only wines
  • Each gift package comes with a $25 Gift Certificate to use in our online wine shop
  • With 2 months of wine, we will also send Mom a Project Candy Box filled with sweets
  • The 3 month gift includes the candy and a WineCollective tasting card album

       

 

If you want to give some instant gratification, we also have a ‘ship now’ option. This 6 bottle mixed pack has good value and some extras for Mom. We will be shipping out these gifts as they are ordered, within 48 hours of purchase. However,  we cannot guarantee that the delivery will occur prior to May 14th.

Moms love beer, just as much as wine! We have you covered if she pours brews more often than vino. Canada Craft Club has a one-time delivery of craft beers, that come with the most practical flowers around, tulips!


Are we looking for you?

We are in search of a dynamic and energetic Communications and Promotions Coordinator, could it be you?

We are looking for a multi-talented individual to wear several hats, but with an overall focus on coordinating promotions, communications and content. This position is ideal for someone who enjoys challenges, can think on their toes, is keen to take initiative and solve problems, but also be a rockstar team player and communicator.

Responsibilities will range the gamut from customer service, photography, wine and beer tasting, data-entry and proof-reading, and light manual labour. There is also an opportunity for someone with design and editing experience to hone their craft. With many tasks at hand, it is imperative that candidates interested in this position are amazing at multi-tasking, time management and assessing priority of responsibilities. A key responsibility of this role will be to assist with disseminating critical information through CRM campaigns, social media and blog posts. This is a great entry-level opportunity for a driven and dynamic individual to develop skills within the communications field.

It is essential to have a comprehensive working knowledge of the following software platforms, or be eager at learning: Lightroom, Photoshop, Dropbox, Highrise, Basecamp, WordPress, Zendesk and Mailchimp.

Beyond all, ability to present yourself and the company in a professional, but friendly and approachable manner. We are a growing company that operates on a fast-pace. All team members must be able to improvise, take initiative, identify opportunities for improvement, create efficiency and have fun!

Here are the nitty gritty details:

Full-time
Hours Mon-Fri 9-5
Salary TBD based on experience, 2 week vacation after 6 months
Start date: Latest start date May 15th

Must possess:
Proficiency with, or ability to quickly learn new software platforms
Excellent written and verbal communication
Professional phone etiquette
Positive nature, and an inherent people pleaser
Attention to detail, ability to multi-task and prioritize
Strong understanding and working knowledge of social media platforms in a professional capacity
Knowledge of liquor laws and regulations
Basic wine knowledge and desire to continue wine/beer education
Proserve Certification (can be completed online)

 

Submit resume with references to jobs@winecollective.ca by Wednesday, May 3rd.

 

 


Cheers to Canada’s 150th birthday!

The entries submitted, the public voted, the winners announced, and now the bottles have been labeled.

We held a wine label design contest with Konzelmann Winery to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. The theme in mind, faithful wine lovers submitted nostalgic photos and creative designs in Canadiana spirit.

Here are the two labels you selected, which will be featured on the Konzelmann Lakefront Series Merlot and Riesling. Hayley V. submitted the winning label for the Konzelmann Lakefront Series Merlot. Hayley noted that she used warm colours and maple leaves to showcase her favourite Canadian season, autumn. She also shared, “My family takes a drive every spring to see the moose in Algonquin and for the past two years we have been fortunate enough to take friends from Ireland and Australia with us.”

Kayleen H.’s design won the label contest for the Konzelmann Lakefront Series Riesling. Contestants submitted artwork to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. Kayleen is already a fan of Konzelmann wine, their peach wine is a staple at her ‘girls night’! The photo was taken in Georgian Bay at Present Island, “part of cottage country where good laughs and much wine has occurred.”

The Konzelmann crew has been hard at work to ensure labeling perfection.  We are proud to launch these wines, exclusively to our WineCollective members.

Both of these wines will be featured in WineCollective April editions, en route to members April 17th. If you are not a member, you still have time to join and receive these limited edition features!


How do you like it done?

Steak, that is. From basic to gourmet sauces, seared or grilled, and rare to well, we all know how we like it done. Ritualistic and precise, there is a method to our steak madness. Do you give the same attention to pairing the perfect wine with your choice cut?

We realize that part of the pleasure of steak and wine is in it’s simplicity. The no-fuss approach is to reach for a solid Cabernet, Syrah, even Merlot or Malbec. There is nothing wrong with this, but we would like to share some tips to bring your heavenly duo to the next level.

Temperature

The rarer your temperature, the more the beef will temper your wine. If you like your steak cool and blue, you can opt for a more tannic wine. Younger Cabs, judicious oak and other wines like Syrah, should be strong enough to withhold the mellowing nature of rare to medium rare.

Method

Grills will offer the maximum amount of char, which leave a smokey and bitter taste. To offset the strong flavours from an open flame, choose a wine that is ripe and juicy. Wines like Napa Merlots, or quality Malbec will offer some sweeter tannins to balance the scorched steak.

Cut

The cut of beef will have a substantial impact on the style of wine you should select. Leaner cuts like sirloin should be paired with lighter bodied wines. Depending on the local, look for Grenache and even some Pinots. For richer/fattier cuts like Ribeye, you will want a fuller bodied wine like a hearty Cabernet.

Seasoning

Sauces will change the what wines you should be looking for. For example, a lean cut with a cream sauce might warrant a bold Chardonnay. Mushrooms have an affinity for Pinot, which would work well with flank steaks. Pepper is a bold spice that has a big affect on a wine. Liberal peppering, peppercorn sauces and crusts will increase the ‘heat’ (perceived burn from high alcohol) in a wine. High alchohol wine will seem even hotter with an abundance of pepper.

February WineCollective packages have a wide selection of steak-friendly wines. Here are our suggestions:

Beau Vantage 2010

Medium bodied, high alcohol (14%)

  • Tenderloin, seared, cooked medium, herbs and butter

Bien Salud 2013

Med-light bodied, med+ alcohol (13.9%)

  • Sirloin, grilled, cooked medium, garlic and mushroom

Secret Cellars 2014

Med+ bodied, high alcohol (14%)

  • Beef rib, grilled, medium-rare, wine sauce

Canepa Novísimo Carménère 2014

Medium-bodied, med alcohol (13.5%)

  • Flank steak, cast-iron broiled, cooked medium, chimichurri sauce

TATE Spring Street Merlot 2014

Full-bodied, med + alcohol (13.8%)

– Ribeye, grilled, medium rare, simple salt and pepper

Find these wines in the WineCollective e-Store. Available Now!


January’s Main Event: Portugal vs Spain

Portugal and Spain share many commonalities in geography and in viticulture, including varietal plantings and wine culture. However, the style of wines produced and variations in micro-climates are vast. Here is a quick study on what is similar and not so similar between these 2 neighbours.

Grapes

Portugal is like a ‘wine island’, where unique varietals are grown in almost isolation. Portugal has hundreds of indigenous varietals, many are not found anywhere else. Here are some of the most popular and obscure grapes you can find in Portugal.

  • Arinto – Widely planted, especially in Lisboa and offers a zingy, fresh and acidic profile.
  • Tinta Roriz or Aragonês – The same grape as Tempranillo, just a different name.
  • Sangiovese – An international varietal, not home to Portugal, but found in small amounts.

Spain has enjoyed significant international popularity lately, with Spanish wines being readily available and affordable. This has helped establish varietals like Tempranillo, pushing them into the mainstream. Here are some of our favourite, less-known varietals.

  • Viura- The most heavily planted white grape in Rioja (aka Macabeo) and used often for Cava.
  • Picapoll – An obscure grape mostly found in Cataluña.
  • Mencía – A well structured grape that thrives in NW Spain, Bierzo.

Regions

Portugal’s regions are almost all Mediterranean in climate, with even the furthest vineyards not very far from the ocean. The main differences in the sub-regions will be due to elevation. The plains and plateaus having more heat, while hills will have mitigating cooling breezes and nighttime temperatures.

  • Dão, named after the Dão River, is in northern Portugal. Here, the quality vineyards are grown from 150-450 meters above sea level and enjoy the affects of diurnal temperature. Most commonly, you will find Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional.
  • Douro produces both fortified and non-fortified wines. Most notable, Douro is known for its Port. The geography in Douro is centred around the Douro River, which was used to transport the barrels of Port from the steep vineyards, to the cellars.

Spain has over a dozen different wine regions, with more sub-regions within each. Spain’s regions vary vastly based on elevation and temperature. The arid plains of Toro produce ripe and rugged Tinto de Toro (Tempranillo), while the more northern Galicia is a cooler climate with more crisp white varietals, like Albariño.

  • Catalonia is far north-eastern Spain, near Barcelona. Near the Mediterranean Sea and with strong French influences, this are is unique from other Spanish regions. Catalonia is home to the majority of Cava production.
  • Castilla y Leon is a vast region with many sub-regions. It is impossible to categorize the entire area, because production is so variant. Bierzo, bordering Galicia and Asturias, is home to Mencía, Grenache and Godello. While Ribera del Duero is home to iconic Tempranillo, where it grows with extreme climate of hot summers and cold winters.

Cuisine

Portugal’s traditional food is rustic, hearty and full of seafood. As with any country, there are many variations and regional differences. A rule of thumb, in Portugal expect lots of pork, rice, stews and octopus. Here are some common dishes.

  • Caldo Verde – green cabbage soup
  • Blood sausage
  • Bacalhau – infamous salted cod

Spain also has a strong seafood presence, with so much coastline and variety, this should come at no surprise. Both Portugal and Spain’s bars and eateries will have ample olives and almonds, usually enjoyed as pre-meal snacks. In addition to stews, sausages and peppers, and some of the best olive oil, you will find.

  • Saffron- seasoning your potatoes, paella and prawns
  • Paella – the dish that puts Valencia on the food map
  • Pisto – Spanish ratatouille

WineCollective featured a heavy selection of wines from Spain and Portugal this month. Visit the online shop to read more about these selections:

SPAIN

Viñaguareña Mazal Barrica 

Gran Bohedal Crianza

Gran Bohedal Blanco

PORTUGAL

Vidigal Artolas

Vidigal Dom Dinis

Cortes de Cima Courela

Monte da Ravasqueira Sangiovese

 

Use the coupon code PORTUGAL5 for $5 off your order of Portuguese wines!


Welcome to WineCollective

You have just joined WineCollective, or, you are the recipient of a pretty awesome gift. What to do next? While we are busy preparing next month’s deliveries, here is what you can do to make the most out of your WineCollective experience.

  • Joining us on social media. Be our friend and keep up with what is going on in the WineCollective world, from events and education, to giveaways and contests.
  • Become acquainted with your online account. When you login to your WineCollective account, you can update shipping information and payment information and keep tabs on your upcoming delivery. Once you receive your first delivery of wine, you will also be able to view all the wines you have received.
  • Explore the online wine shop. Members receive 10% off all wines, and some selections are for members-only! Can’t wait for the first delivery, get a head-start on your WineCollective journey. The coupon code NEWWINEJOURNEY10 is good for $10 off your first online store order.
  • Learn more about us! Take some time to discover our Blog and find out why we are so passionate about giving you the ultimate wine journey.
  • In Calgary? Visit our retail store, Highfield by WineCollective for great members-only deals on wine, beer and spirits!

We understand that the anticipation must be overwhelming, waiting for a package is always exciting, especially when it is wine! Here is a bit of what to expect so that you are prepared to receive your wine.

  • We will send you our Heads Up email on the first of the month, reminding you of your delivery and providing you with an estimated ship out date.
  • Make note of our cut-off date in the Heads Up email. You have until the specified date to let us know if you need to arrange an alternate delivery date, or change your shipping information. After this date, we will not be able to amend addresses or delay the delivery, so be sure to reach out in time!
  • You will then receive a Shipped Email when your package leaves our headquarters in Calgary. This email will contain your very valuable tracking number. Use this information to arrange last minute shipping changes with your courier.
  • Your wine must be signed for by someone over the age of 19 and it can not be left on a doorstep or porch.
  • Missed the delivery? Here are the next steps with each of our couriers.
  • Share your experiences with us, from food pairings to favourite features, and even those you would rather not taste again, we love to know what you think of the wines!

Still have questions? Get in touch with us thecellar@winecollective.ca