Blog

Discovering Wine Podcasts

Learn About Wine with Podcasts

The podcast world is a vast one. With thousands of choices, on every topic imaginable, it’s daunting to figure out where to start. Obviously one of our biggest interests is wine, and podcasts are a great way to learn about a new topic without investing in books or hours on the internet. The best way to learn about wine is by drinking, but that’s not always acceptable during your commute or while you’re on the treadmill. In honour of International Podcast Day (yes, there’s a day for that too), we’re taking some time to break down a few of our favourite wine podcasts!

Vino 101

If getting down to the basics or starting from the beginning is your main goal, then this is a great place to start. Touted as a “fun way to learn about wine”, Vino 101 is the perfect podcast to get lots of wine knowledge without any of the snobbiness you might get elsewhere.

Wine For Normal people

Feel overwhelmed by wine vocabulary and tasting notes that are just way over-the-top? Wine For Normal People is a really newbie-friendly wine podcast, hosted by Sommelier and Specialist of Wine, Elisabeth Schneider. This podcast is super approachable and fun to listen to!

I’ll Drink to That!

Former Sommelier Levi Denton spends his episodes interviewing great wine minds who are connected to the wine world. Ranging from other sommeliers to winemakers to restauranteurs, “I’ll Drink to That!” provides a lot of in depth knowledge about a very complicated and interesting industry.

Wine Podcasts are the Accessible Way to Learn

Like most topics, there are a ton of options in the podcast world to choose from when it comes to wine. Depending on what your goal is, you’ll find many wine podcasts that can be a good resource. The important thing is to find one that is hosted by people you trust and enjoy listening to. Wine should be fun! So pour a glass, get your headphones on, and take a listen.


Decanting Wine: Why and How

Is decanting wine necessary?

It’s an age-old question in the wine world and something that comes up when first starting to improve your wine-game: do you have to decant wine? When it comes to young, tannic wines and aged, sediment-prone wine, decanting is going to be an important step before enjoying a glass. Decanting is the process of pouring out the wine from the bottle into a larger vessel and allows for two things:

  1. Preventing sediment from reaching your glass by excluding it from the decanting vessel. No one wants to be sipping on gritty wine. Wine Folly suggests decanting your wine for 1 hour per 10 years of aging, which is a pretty good time gauge to generally adhere to.
  2. Aerating the wine by allowing it to breathe prior to serving. Younger wines in particular benefit from the aerating decanting offers. The extra exposure to oxygen allows the wine to open up and push forward important aromas and flavours.

How do you decant wine?

There are a number of methods you can use to decant wine and not all of them require expensive crystal. By first figuring out why you are decanting — to prevent sediment? to open up the wine? — you will then be able to have a good plan of action in how to decant. The simplest method that is great for young wine that needs to get some oxygen, is to pour yourself a glass and swirl away! It looks snobby but there is an actual purpose to swirling your wine glass. The movement will aerate the wine and make a difference in taste and aroma. Give it a shot!

If you’re decanting a more aged wine, using a decanting vessel is going to be helpful in preventing sediment from making its way to your glass. Wine Folly does a great job myth-busting some decanting methods without requiring a ton of new clutter for your kitchen cupboards and drawers.

Decanting looks fancy, but we’re confident you’ll quickly realize the benefits to letting your wine sit out decanted for awhile before sipping away. We also wrote about this topic before and have some quick tips you can check out on our last post!


Featured August Wine

Can you believe August is over?! Time sure does fly when you’re enjoying vacation days, (somewhat) sunny weather, and many shared bottles of wine. We’re excited to welcome in the fall, but it’s always with a bit of sadness for Canadians to wrap up the summer. Take a look back with us at the featured WineCollective bottles that are bridging the gap into September. We’re sure some of these Italian reds, French whites, and all the bottles in between will be a welcome oasis between hockey tryouts, gymnastics meets, and all the school activities that come along with September. Cheers to more great wine and to another summer in the books!

WineCollective Member Wines

  • Jasci & Marchesani NerubèMontepulciano | Abruzzo, Italy
  • Rocca di Montemassi CalasoleVermentino | Maremma, Italy
  • Pyrène Pays de CocagneMerlot, Tannat, Syrah | Comté Tolosan, France
  • Penner-AshViognier | Oregon, USA
  • Castello di Albola OsoSangiovese, Merlot, Syrah | Tuscany, Italy
  • Barrel BurnerCabernet Sauvignon | Paso Robles, USA
  • Undurraga AliwenCabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah | Colchagua Valley, Chile
  • Cavit Maso CervaraTeroldego | Trentino, Italy
  • Giusti Sant’EustachioIncrocio Manzoni Bianco, Sauvignon Nepis, Chardonnay | Veneto, Italy

We hope you loved the wines you received and if you aren’t a member, you’re missing out on some really great wine! What are you waiting for?! See you next month when we recap all the amazing September wine or check out last month to see what else we shared!


Exploring Italian Wine

Get Your Glasses Ready!

Where does one even begin when it comes to Italian wine? As one of the most prominent members of ‘old world’ wine country, with nearly 400 grape varietals, Italy’s wine landscape is understandably huge. The country may not look big on a map, but when it comes to wine, Italy is a major wine producer. So how do you even get started? We’re here to help on your journey with Italian wine. You’ll be well on your way to being an expert in no time! The good news is, you just have to pay attention and drink a lot of wine.

Italian Reds

The star of the wine world in Italy is arguably red wine. Some estimates put Italy’s red wine production at double that of their white, so you know they aren’t messing around. Red wine in Italy is serious business. The most commonly grown varietals include:

  • Sangiovese (aka Chianti, Brunello di Monalcino, Montefalco Rosso, and more)
  • Montepulciano (aka Rosso Canero, Rosso Piceno)
  • Nebbiolo
  • Barbera
  • Primitovo (aka Zinfandel)

You’ll notice a lot of these varietals have different names. That can make things tricky, but if you check the labels correctly and learn the most common synonyms, you should be able to figure out what you’re picking up.

What’s the difference?

All of these reds are going to lean on the drier side, so if you have a sweet tooth when it comes to wine, Italian reds probably isn’t going to be where you want to start things out. Barbera and Primitivo are medium-bodied wines with earthy and fruit-forward notes, respectively. Bolder wines include Sanviovese, Montepulciano, and Nebbiolo. Montepulciano is fruitier, whereas the other two will give you more earthy notes with higher acidity and tannins. Any of these choices are going to give you a really good base to get started on your Italian red wine journey.

Italian Whites

White wine might not be Italy’s prominent export, but the whites they are producing are some of the best. With a wide range of varietals growing in their vineyards, there are a ton of options for you. Some of the most common varietals of white you’ll find coming from Italy include:

  • Pinot Grigio
  • Trebbiano
  • Verdicchio
  • Prosecco (aka Glera)
  • Sauvignon (aka Tocai Friulano)

Pinot Grigio goes by Pinot Gris in France and isn’t native to Italy. However, the varietal has been growing in Italy for over a century now and is one of the most popular wines in the world.

Choosing the Right White

The 5 wines listed above are varied in taste profiles, so there is bound to be something you enjoy. Besides Prosecco, they are all still wines. Pinot Grigio and Verdicchio fall on the ‘light and zesty’ spectrum of white wines. If you’re looking for something bolder and drier, Trebbiano could be the right wine for you. Sauvignon is generally herbaceous and rich — not to mention a “love it or hate it” kind of wine. Lastly Prosecco typically has a lighter body and med-high acidity, along with of course lots of bubbles!

Something For Everyone

The Italian wine landscape is huge and would take many lifetimes to fully explore. However, we hope you’re able to take the time and have some fun sipping your way through the amazing offerings this great wine country has to offer. No matter what your tastes are, there will be something you love!


Frosé Friday

Embrace the Rosé

Since we work with wine pretty much everyday, it’s nice to switch things up sometimes. And since it’s still the summertime, what better way to mix wine and sunny days than to whip up a batch of Frosé! We know that Rosé has a bit of a reputation. However, we think it’s completely undeserved. Rosé is a beautiful, delicious wine that livens up your tastebuds, cools you in the heat, and refreshes your palate. We love a crisp, chilled glass on fall evenings too. Made from red grapes, Rosé is technically a red wine — which some “red wine snobs” might argue. But if you ask us, it doesn’t matter. All we care about is drinking really great wine and we promise you, there are some exceptional Rosés to be enjoyed!

Choosing the Right Rosé

We chose a mid-August Friday to break up the day with some Frosé — which is not typical for most offices. However, we are a lucky bunch who get to enjoy wine during work hours. One of our favourite Rosés for the summer in particular is a past WineCollective feature: Rosé Piscine. It’s a Rosé made to be served super chilled and on the rocks! A match made in Frosé heaven. Here is the recipe we used, which is a combination of resourcefulness, internet tips, and good old-fashioned determination.

WineCollective Frosé Recipe

  • Pour a bottle of Rosé Piscine into ice cube trays
  • Freeze for at least 6 hours. Because of the alcohol, the Rosé cubes won’t be frozen solid — which is perfect!
  • Empty all of the Rosé cubes into a blender
  • Add in 6 quartered strawberries
  • Add in 1 TBSP honey or agave syrup to taste — if you want to sweeten it up
  • Pulse blend until mixed. Don’t over-blend!
  • Serve with halved strawberries for garnish

Time to Stock Up!

Our store is full right now with great Rosé options, including the Rosé Piscine. We also have a 6 bottle pack of a French Rosé new to Canada, for those on extra hosting duty. There’s always a perfect time for Rosé, as far we’re concerned.

Cheers!


Bowls for Beswick Charity Event

On Saturday August 10th, some of our WineCollective crew got their game faces on and hit the lawns for a charity lawn bowling event! The weather was gloomy, but everyone was ready to bowl despite the lack of sunshine. We had a really great time competing against 15 other teams and helping to raise $4200 in support of The Sharp Foundation in Calgary AB. As a sponsor for the event, we took extra joy in seeing such a good turnout.

We’re always happiest when we can give back to our communities and spend some time in meaningful ways. Cheers to another successful event this year! We can’t wait to do it again in 2020.


Featured July Wine

As we welcome in August, let’s take a look back to July! So many fond memories. Some rain, some sunshine, but most importantly: great wine. We like to share the wonderful wine WineCollective members enjoyed in the previous month in case anything piques your interest. Or to just settle your curiosity. Our July wines had us all over the world, with a few different bottles from France. And since it’s summer and there is no better time, we shared a really great French Rosé — perfect for those hot days.

WineCollective Member Wines

  • Triennes Les Auréliens RougeCabernet Sauvignon, Syrah | Méditerranée IGP, France
  • Las Niñas Inocencia — Carmenère | Colchagua Valley, Chile
  • Portal del Montsant SantesTempranillo | Montsant, Spain
  • Landmark OverlookPinot Noir | California, USA
  • Saveurs du TempsSyrah, Grenache | Costières de Nîmes, France
  • Frog’s LeapSauvignon Blanc | California, USA
  • Cantine Faliesi Arbosto BiancoCoda di Volpe | Campania, Italy
  • Château GantonnetSauvignon, Muscadelle, Semillon | Bordeaux, France
  • Susana Balbo CriosMalbec, Syrah, Petit Verdot | Uco Valley, Argentina
  • Château PicourneauCabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot | Haut-Médoc, France

We hope you loved the wines you received and if you aren’t a member, you’re missing out on some really great wine! What are you waiting for?! See you next month when we recap all the amazing August wine!


Weird Wine Notes

Something Strange in Your Glass

If you’ve ever taken a journey into the world of wine tasting, chances are you’ve encountered some pretty strange tasting notes. Wine is a complex subject that is made a little more interesting by all the different adjectives tasters use to describe what they’re drinking. You may think wine is good or bad and not get much deeper about it. Which is totally fine! One thing we love about wine is that it’s different for everyone. However, if you want to dive a little deeper into wine tasting notes, you’re going to see some strange descriptors that might sound bad. Some might even sound gross. So today we’re going to get into some of the weird wine notes tasters make and what they really mean.

Tire Rubber

Sounds crazy — but if you’re getting the scent of burnt rubber when you sniff your wine, don’t be too worried. This scent can appear when a wine (often Syrah) has more prominent sulphur compounds. It doesn’t negatively affect the wine, however since scent is well connected to our ability to taste, if it’s too strong you might not enjoy your glass as much.

Pencil Shavings

Think back to your early school days and all the time spent sharpening pencils before tests. Scents like this are often engrained in our brain for a lifetime. When opening up a bottle of some reds from Bordeaux, you might be taken back to the classroom, standing in line to use the oversized pencil sharpener attached to the teacher’s desk. This scent again isn’t necessarily a bad thing and is even sought after by some enthusiasts.

Saddle Leather

A pretty specific taste that sounds unappealing at first, however tasting saddle leather in your wine isn’t always something to shy away from. Often found in wines that have brettanomyces (a type of yeast), saddle leather taste can show up in many red wines. If the taste is overwhelming and detracts from the positive taste of the wine, then the wine may have spoiled.

Drink What You Enjoy

We could discuss weird wine notes for a long time. The many smells and flavours that wine can evoke is extensive. At the end of the day, you want the wine you’re drinking to be a pleasant experience. So if notes of saddle leather or the scent of tire rubber isn’t working for you, that’s just not the wine for you! Luckily the wine world is huge and there are endless options for you to truly enjoy. Cheers!


Taking a Wine Vacation

Wine Travel: The Next Big Thing

People go on vacation for any number of reasons: relaxation, exploring, learning — the list is endless. We all want the same thing from our vacation days. And that’s to have a good time. So it should come as no surprise that as wine becomes more popular, so do vacations centred around all things wine. Why not sip your way around beautiful locales and learn how local winemakers grow their grapes? No matter what aspect of wine’s journey you’re interested in, there is definitely a wine vacation out there for you. Even if you don’t want to focus your entire holiday around wine, it’s easy to involve a wine excursion almost anywhere! Here are some fantastic options to take a wine vacation or spend time on a holiday learning about the best vacation buddy: wine.

Niagara Peninsula, ON, Canada

Also referred to as the “Niagara Escarpment and Twenty Valley”, this section of Ontario is a wine lover’s dream. Enjoying similar latitude and climate to many wine regions in Europe, this region is home to over 50 wineries. Not only do you save precious time by not leaving Canada to enjoy great wine, you also get to support local growers! Some great wineries in the Niagara Peninsula include Fielding Estate, Malivoire, and Creekside Estate. There are of course so many fantastic wineries to explore and fun ways to do it. Between bike tours and private limousines, there are many ways to enjoy the sites and tastes in Niagara. This is definitely the region you want to take the time to enjoy some Chardonnay in. Ontario’s cool climate lends itself well to the white varietal.

Napa Valley, CA, USA

If you’re looking to venture a little further from home, but not too far, Napa Valley just might be wine holiday destination you’re looking for. Home to over 400 wineries, Napa Valley welcomes wine vacationers from all over the world. Whether you’re looking for rich Cabernets or sweeter Rieslings, Napa has you covered. With vast, large wineries like Beringer Vineyards dating back over 140 years, to smaller niche offerings like Girard, we simply don’t have the time to bombard you with all of our recommendations! One of our recent Napa features is from Stag’s Leap and they have a beautiful vineyard, long Napa history, and amazing castle-like Manor House. Should you find yourself heading to Northern California, you won’t want to miss out on all that Napa Valley has to offer.

Bordeaux, France

Is there anything quite like the thought of sipping French wine in the unrivalled beauty of Bordeaux? If tradition is more up your alley, then there are few places more magical for a wine vacation than France’s Bordeaux region. Historically somewhat unwelcoming to visitors, France has really begun to embrace wine tourism, welcoming over 4 million guests every year. Why keep such stunning vistas and vineyards to yourself?! The most difficult thing about a Bordeaux wine vacation is figuring out who to visit. This can be an extremely daunting task. Don’t be overwhelmed and get started with a few simple tips:

  • Narrow down what kind of wine you love. Your Bordeaux holiday is going to be fantastic if you want to learn about and taste more Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Known for its red blends in particular, narrow down the varietals you’re most passionate about.
  • What’s most important: quantity or quality? If you want to see as many wineries as possible, this is going to heavily influence where you want to go. If you are more focussed on seeing the best, then take your time sourcing ideas.

Mendoza, Argentina

Incredible scenery is pretty par for the course when visiting the Andes mountain region in Argentina. The high peaks make for a fantastic backdrop when tasting some of the incredible wines on offer throughout the Mendoza area . Trekking down to South America might seem far for a wine vacation, but we see no better reason to hop on a plane than to enjoy great wine! With three main wine regions in Mendoza to explore — Maipu Valley, Lujan de Cuyo, and Uco Valley — there is something for every wine fan. Without a doubt you will want to take in some Malbec, as over 70% of Argentine wine is from this red varietal. We love Klassen Wine for their exceptional wines and their beautiful vineyards. There are many options though for every budget and wine fan. Taking a tour around the Luján de Cuyo region would be a great way to get in the sights and tastes of Argentina

Explore the World of Wine

No matter how you spend your vacation time, there is definitely a way to integrate your love of wine. There is no better time to explore the world of wine. With so many options and endless information available at our fingertips, there is a wine vacation for everyone!


Choosing a Sparkling Wine

More Bubbles Please!

Summer is such a fun time for wine. We find ourselves reaching for different bottles than we do in the colder months, which makes wine exciting again. Sparkling wine is one type of wine we’re indulging in more as the sun shines. Gone are the days when bubbles were only for special occasions — why wait around when you can pop the cork any day of the week?! The excitement of pulling the cork on a fresh bottle can brighten any day. Luckily there are so many options available to choose from, in a multitude of styles, varietals, and price points. The choices can be overwhelming, so let’s get a bit into the nitty gritty of how some sparkling wines differ.

What Are the Options?

If you think all sparkling wine is Champagne, boy do we have news for you! Many wine regions around the world produce variations of sparkling wine and they all have something a little different to offer. We could go on for hours about the various sparkling options available and how to choose one to drink. So while this list is by no means exhaustive, it will get you started on the most popular bubbles around.

Champagne

The gold standard. The “name brand” of sparkling wine. In fact, when you mention sparkling wine, chances are this is the first thing most people think of. Grown, bottled, and aged in the Champagne region of France, Champagne is the most expensive option in the sparkling world. Champagne gets its bubbles from a 2nd round of fermentation after adding yeast and sugar, to combat the intense acidity from using barely ripened grapes. Choosing your Champagne can be summed up in 2 easy steps:

  • Sweetness level (from least to most): Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra-Dry, Dry, and Doux.
  • Style: majority of Champagne is made with Chardonnay (Blanc de Blancs) or Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier (Blanc de Noirs). If the varietal is not listed, it is likely a blend of all 3. There is also Rosé Champagne which is made by adding a very small amount of red Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier to blanc Champagne.

Prosecco

The main thing Prosecco has in common with Champagne are the bubbles. Italy’s most famous sparkling wine is made with Glera grapes and given its lovely effervescence using the Charmat Method (aka Tank Method). This process differs from the traditional one used for Champagne, in that 2nd fermentation takes place in a large tank, rather than the individual bottle. This process is cheaper to execute, but still produces excellent sparkling wine! Prosecco is categorized by Brut, Extra Dry, and Dry in terms of sweetness (least to most). So doesn’t have as much variety as Champagne does.

Cava

We happen to think Cava is having its moment. Spanish sparkling wine (Cava) is made in the same fermentation method as Champagne, but is often significantly less expensive. How is that possible? Well for one, land in Champagne, France is extremely expensive. We’re talking many millions of Francs to purchase vineyard land. Spain does not have the same hefty price tag. Secondly, there is less demand. Champagne has a certain reputation and name recognition to it that Cava doesn’t. Seems like a silly thing to add a price to, but it does influence how much you’re paying. So if you ask us, getting sparkling wine that is made in the same method as Champagne, with great grapes, but for a smaller price? Sign us up! To make sure you’re getting a quality Cava, look for labels that say ‘Reserva’ or ‘Gran Reserva’.

Cheers!

No matter what you’re celebrating (or better yet, what you’re not), we hope you start taking a chance on the many options available in the sparkling wine world. We’ve only listed 3 kinds here, but there is still more to explore with Lambrusco, Crémant, Loire, etc. So get your glasses out and get tasting!


Featured June Wines

Taking a Look Back

As the kids wrap up the school year and we officially enter the summer months, we are in the perfect time for enjoying wine. Each month we send out wine to our amazing members all across Canada. It’s a chance for us to share the wonderful wine we discover throughout the year. And June is no different.

June Wine Facts

  • We included a red blend from Klet Brda in Slovenia, which is special because over 70% of Slovenian wine doesn’t leave the country!
  • Just in time for Canada Day we included 3 wines from some of Canada’s best wineries: Creekside Estate, Inniskillin, and Pelee Island.
  • The Sparkling Rosé from Varichon & Clerc Privilège was aged 9 months “sur lattes”—meaning ‘on its side’—to add aromatic complexity.

Take a look at the great bottles enjoyed by WineCollective members last month. Let’s get out on the patio and front porch to finally enjoy some sun!

  • Château Fuissé Saint-VéranChardonnay | Burgundy, France
  • Inniskillin Discovery SeriesTempranillo | Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada
  • Château GuillotMerlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon | Bordeaux Supérieur, France
  • Krasno Red BlendCabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot | Goriška brda, Slovenia
  • Falia BiancoGarganega, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Trebbiano | Veneto, Italy
  • Las Capas TintoGarnacha, Tempranillo, Macabeu | Calatayud, Spain
  • CreeksidePinot Grigio | Ontario, Canada
  • Le Cirque RougeGrenache, Carignan, Syrah | Tautavel, France
  • Pelee Island LolaCabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon | Ontario, Canada
  • Salentein Numina Gran CorteMalbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Merlot | Uco Valley, Argentina
  • Dominio de PunctumSauvignon Blanc | Castilla, Spain
  • Varichon & Clerc Privilège Rosé DryGamay, Cabernet, Airen | Savoie, France

We love sharing amazing wine with you, so stay up to date with what we feature by following us on social media or subscribe to WineCollective and become a member!

Instagram Facebook Twitter


10 Years of WineCollective

Celebrating a Decade of Sharing Wine

2019 marks 10 years since the first WineCollective subscription packages shipped and it’s incredible to see how far we have come. We’ve seen great growth over the last decade and we are so excited by the number of Canadians we help discover and expand their love of wine. WineCollective was created on a foundation of wine education and sharing, which is still at the forefront of what we do. We have a great team that has grown a lot since 2009. One thing that will never change is our commitment to get Canadians sharing, enjoying, and learning about wine.

Humble Beginnings

What began as an idea to deliver great wine and wine information to people, quickly lead to learning that it’s a trickier business than one would think. Canada is a great country full of wine enthusiasts in all corners, however we are also very large and cold. Determined as ever and eager to bring wine to the masses, we worked hard to ensure our subscribers always have access to the wonderful bottles we select to share. It’s one of the reasons we are the longest running wine subscription service in the country! Delivering bottles of wine to the far corners of our huge country is no easy task. But we are committed to getting the best wine into the hands of Canadians and being a reliable resource for wine information and discovery.

Giving Back

Having now been in business for 10 years, WineCollective is able to support many community charities and events. It’s one of the greatest parts of being a small business. Our passion is wine, but our hearts are always rooted in our communities.  We’re honoured to support many local and national charities including MS Society of Canada, Everett’s Wings, Movember, and many more. Our WineCollective team is constantly active on a local level. Our retail store in Calgary supports many local charities through direct donations from in-store sales. It’s just one of the many ways we give back – all thanks to you!

Looking Ahead

Community, family, and friendships are built around great bottles of wine and we are so excited each month to send our subscribers the very best wine Canada and the world has to offer. We hope that with every cork you pop or top you unscrew, you are learning, sharing, and enjoying amazing wine. Thank you for 10 excellent years and here’s to many more!