Saturday in Banff for the Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival

Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival
I'll be in the Rockies this weekend at the Banff stop of the Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival. If you are at the tasting hall on Saturday and see me, introduce yourself and we'll sample something together. If Banff isn't in the cards for you, I will be doing my best to live tweet the event so if you're so inclined, follow me on twitter at @abryksa for the details.

Take care friends and have a fantastic weekend. I hope to see some of you out in Banff.

We’re all Wine Critics Now!

Wine Critic - Borrowed from Slate Magazine

Mike Steinberger from Slate has a compelling piece talking about the democratization of wine and how the internet is becoming the watchdog for wine critics. In it, he talks about Robert Parker and his publication Wine Advocate and how recently it has come under scrutiny due to its contributors accepting trade funded trips and samples. Apparently, Mr. Parker has avoided these perks as it might be viewed as unethical in terms of his objectivity towards the wines he reviews. There is also mention of the Cellartracker web application that I personally use and recommend to anyone who is looking for crowd sourced reviews of wine.

Link to the article here: Democratization of Wine


Wine Service with Steven Spurrier

Wine service can be an overlooked aspect around the overall enjoyment of wine. Let Steven Spurrier from Decanter take you through wine service so that you are enhancing the experience with the right tools, glassware and techniques.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the video.


A Not So Hidden Reason to Donate to Charity Wine Auctions

Wine for Auction

After reading a article about wine auctions, I found a nugget buried at its conclusion. The article is by Beppi Crosariol who is a food and wine writer for the Globe and Mail. Want to know how the rich get richer? They use wine as a method to reduce their personal income tax! Genius.

“But for sellers, unloading at auction can be absurdly lucrative, even when the wine is donated to charity. That's because donors receive a generous receipt against income tax, the amount usually based on the wine's replacement rather than retail value. And that's the key.

In Canada, a collector-worthy bottle of 1990 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape would have cost about $50 upon release in the early 1990s. To replace it now from the international market, including shipping to Canada, would easily take several hundred dollars. In fact, the tax receipts can be so attractively high that some people have been known to donate a $50-retail-price wine to a charity in return for a $400 receipt, then turn around and win back the same bottle for a bid of $200.

I don't know about you, but at my tortuously high income-tax rate, a $400 tax receipt would be worth more than a $200 refund, so I'd be making a net profit from the government. It's the hidden reason that fine wine has become such a popular collector's item.”

Link to the article here


Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival – Just Around the Corner

If you live in Calgary or Edmonton, you'll be please to hear that the 2009 Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival is just around the corner. The Calgary event is happening THIS week with the festivities kicking off October 15 through 17 at Stampede Park’s BMO Centre. If you have never been to the festival, admission is between $25-30 dollars at the door and $0.50 sample coupons are required to be traded for the delectable food and drink offerings that are exhibited. If wine is not your thing, there are several beer and spirits representatives offering tastes of microbrewed beers, single malt scotches or tequilas.
If you are in Edmonton, the Festival stops at the Shaw Conference Centre, Halls A – C from November 5-7.
For more information, please hit up the festival website at

WineCollective will be at the festival on Thursday in Calgary so if you're interested in meeting up / sampling some wines, fire an email to


Wine Enthusiast Magazine – Top 100 Value Wines of 09

Wine Enthusiast magazine has released their Top 100 list of value wines for 2009. What makes a wine a contender for their value list? The bottle price must be less than or equal to $15 dollars US and be rated at least 87+ points. As with most US based publications, there are several wines that we haven't encountered but we recognized a one of the top 10's that is available in Alberta. The Segura Vidas NV Brut Reserva is a Cava that we have reviewed and enjoy thouroughtly. It has an outstanding QPR (Quality Price Ratio) and if you are looking to celebrate life with some inexpensive bubbles, its tough to top. We found a remarkable number of Sauvignon Blancs on this list with one seemingly on each page. One other noteable varietal that was missing was Pinot Noir. We are always on the lookout for value Pinot and were optimistic a few might make the grade.

These lists make for handy guides at your next market visit. Download the list here. Happy hunting friends!


Become the Next Virtual Rothschild

Fancy yourself as the brains behind the production of a top Bordeaux or Burgundy? With the development and marketing of computer games aimed at gamers becoming railroad or amusement park tycoons, it was only a matter of time before the same concept would be applied to wine. The time appears to be now.

Wine Tycoon aims to put gamers in full control of a French Chateau and takes them through the entire operation around the production of wine. The game retails for about twenty two dollars and is the newest release for producer Got Game Entertainment. From what we have seen, the game looks incredibly detailed as it covers every aspect of the winemaking process from the agriculture all the way down to the choices of varietal blends to make up the end product.

We think it looks like a lot of fun and believe it might be a educational way to expose enthusiasts to the intricacies of being a winemaker. Christmas is just around the corner!

Check out Wine Tycoon here.


Imported Grapes in Canadian Wine – Buyer Beware

I recently received this story from one of WineCollectives loyal members RTT. It would seem that certain Canadian producers have been using imported fruit from the US and marketing it as Canadian wine. While this seems wholly fraudulent to me, it would seem the practice is widely accepted and continues. Our advice to consumers looking to purchase Canadian wine: Read the label and look for the VQA mark on the wine. Another thing to look for is “Cellared in Canada” which is a tell-tale that the wine consists of imported fruit.

The article is an interesting read and as always, we welcome your comments. Thanks to RTT for linking this up.

Imported Grapes in Canadian Wines

There is also another article from The Economist which I am linking up as well, talking about the same problem.

Outsourcing Terroir


High Level view of Massive Wine Fraud

Mike Steinberger from Slate Magazine has an interesting piece around one of the greatest wine hoaxes ever perpetrated. In it he talks about how these events affected the reputation of the wine expert Michael Broadbent who auctioned and sold the fraudulent wine. It highlights how human fallibility can damage professional reputations and tarnish careers. After reading this, my next book purchase will undoubtedly be The Billionaire's Vinegar.


Check the Slate article out – Greatest Wine Hoax Ever

Palate Training with Gary V.

We love sharing videos and links especially when we see them being a huge benefit to our members. Gary Vaynerchuk is one of those internet sensations who has appeared on Conan, Ellen and a variety of other media outlets. He produces a almost daily video blog called Wine Library TV where he reviews wines, interviews producers and generally does so in a 'drunk on passion' sort of way. A New Jersey native, his style and dialogue might be abrasive to some but his knowledge and every-man perspective is a welcome change to the stuffiness and snobbery that is occasionally projected by other wine critics.

This video is around how to train your palate to taste wine like the pros do. Its lengthy at about 30 minutes but worth every second. You might want to turn your volume down a bit before you start the clip as Gary V tends to get a little loud. 😉