Welcome to Wine – Decanting

Decanting wine is a debated issue in the wine world. While some professionals don’t believe it is necessary, most (including the WineCollective team) support that the process does influence the wine’s taste, aroma and overall quality. For new-to-wine drinkers, decanting wine may appear complicated, “Should I decant this, or not?”


The truth is, all wine can be decanted – including whites and not just and old Bordeaux. There are two reasons to decant:

1. To separate the wine from sediment (common in older wines).

2. To allow oxygen to mix with wine (typical in younger wines).

During ageing, it is common for sediment to appear in the bottle. Sediment is also intentional, if a winemaker chooses not to fine or only lightly filters the wine. While sediment is not harmful, it can leave a bitter taste. To remove, position the bottle upright the day before you plan on serving the wine. This will gather all of the sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Slowly pour the wine into the decanter and stop pouring as soon as you see the sediment. You can do this directly prior to serving or up to half an hour before.


At times, younger wines need to decant for a long period of time in order for it to fully aerate. Leaving wine for an hour or so in a decanter will allow for more pleasant aromas and a more mellow alcohol taste. Again, slowly pour the wine into the decanter and let sit for some time. You can pour directly from the decanter since they make a nice addition to a table setting.

Screen shot 2013-08-15 at 2.45.35 PM

With that being said, when choosing a decanter stay away from trendy spiral or painted designs. While they look super cool, they are impractical to clean and you want to be able to see your wine clearly. We suggest one with a big base and wide-open mouth.


Depending where you shop (Wine Enthusiast has quite the selection) and the decanter’s size and fanciness, prices from $40 to $400. If you don’t normally decant your wine, give it a try and experiment with time. Learning and tasting the difference and effects of decanting wine is all part of expanding your wine knowledge.

Welcome to Wine – Natural wine

Last week, on our WineCollective blog, we posted the differences between organic and non-organic wine (as well as vegan and biodynamic). Lately however, we have also noticed another trend breaking out into the largest winemaking regions including France, Australia and the United States.


* Natural Wine. Marc Rosenthal. The Wall Street Journal

Natural wine producers are beginning to set a new standard – one that involves absolutely no intervention during winemaking. Alexandre Bain, Pouilly-Fumé’s only natural winemaker says what sets natural wines apart from organic is that “organic and biodynamic are the tools, natural is the philosophy.”

In depth, natural winemaking involves no corrections to sugars or acidity in addition to the organic and all natural process of growing grapes and vineyard care. Even more, natural winemaking has no removal of excess dilution and no additional yeasts. Natural yeasts always take place in making wine; however, most producers add commercial yeasts in order to kick-start the fermentation process.


Unlike other beverages and food, wine is not required to include nutrition labels that would otherwise state all ingredients used in the wine. The New York Times says that producers avoid listing this information, as consumers would find it confusing. As an example, the use of egg whites for fining is not commonly known to the average wine drinker, yet is absolutely necessary information for an individual following a vegan diet.

For the consumer, diet regulations as well as nutrition details are at times extremely important. As a result, many consumers want wine labels to be more detailed or are turning to natural wine.


Natural wine has begun to create debate within the wine community. While some winemakers swear by the process – or lack of – others are arguing that the wine is weak and that certain additives are beneficial to the end product.

Many natural wines do still include the tolerated sulphite amount of 150 mg/L. As sulphite helps to preserve wine, those that do not include the additive are fragile, losing colour and flavour through any shipping stress. Sulphite also helps to kill harmful bacteria that natural wines are more open to.  Other enzymes help to remove solid pieces in wine as well as amplify desired aromas, textures and tastes.


* RAW Artisanal Wine Fair 

For certain winemakers, natural wine is “as nature intended.” While this new phenomenon is spreading, with Artisanal wine events such as RAW in London, wine drinkers have much to consider. With limited research, it is unknown if wine additives are harmful to the body; however, we do know it is wise to stay away from large amounts of preservatives. Second, are taste, aroma, colour and depth more significant than the alternative – which some winemakers call “beet juice”?

My opinion is that there is no harm in drinking any wine. Sulphite, additives, enzymes and all – winemaking has been through the process of reaching perfection for thousands of years. While I am a fan of the organic and biodynamic approaches, personally they are not required to enjoy a glass. I do however see the perspective of those with dietary restrictions, so the question remains:


Should producers be required to include nutrition and ingredient details on their wine labels? Tell us what you think!

The difference between organic and non-organic wine

Many individuals are continuously looking for healthier options for their diet and lifestyle, as we all should. The organic craze is nothing new in today’s food culture as more chemicals and pesticides are being used to remove insects, fungus and rodents from our gardens and yes, vineyards.


While most wine makers have some level of respect for eco-friendly processes in both grape growing and winemaking, there are specific wineries that produce registered Certified Organic Wine. Of course the regulations that determine “certified organic” vary in every country.

Organic Wine

When growing grapes for organic wine and through the entire wine making process there is no room for the use of chemical additions. Instead of using synthetic herbicides to remove weeds and fertilizers, wineries use mechanical weeding (remove weeds by hand or with machine) and natural compost. Organic wine also reduces the use of pesticides. Instead, wineries will either use chickens or handpick cutworms from vine leaves.


Specific non-chemically enhanced products are also available for organic farmers to remove pests. However, these sprays typically require three to four applications and wipe out all bugs, including beneficial predators. Obviously organic wine comes at a price, similar to organic fruits or vegetables. On average it costs 20% more to run an organic vineyard then non-organic, thus prices are escalated.

Australian Organic logo RGB lo

Organic Certified emblems are added onto wine labels that meet all requirements. If organic products are valuable in your dietary preferences keep an eye out – there are plenty of them out there. If you’re unsure, check the wineries website.


Non-Organic Wine

Now don’t jump to negativity as non-organic wine isn’t all horrible. In fact, there are benefits to some of the products used in conventional wine making. For example, in order to manage pests winemakers have options for environmentally friendly pesticides. Vintner Kevin Phillips of Bechtold Vineyards uses Agri-Mek, a chemical that allows him to only remove harmful insects and keep those that benefit his vines after only one spray.


Non-organic wine also uses GMO yeasts in winemaking, which carries out malolactic fermentation at the same time as alcoholic fermentation and “unlocks flavour and aroma.” This not only allows for the winemaking process to move much quicker (meaning much more wine!) but also reduces risk of wine spoilage. It also removes biogenic amines that can have negative health risks; however, GMO is said to have health effects of its own.


While both organic and non-organic wines have their own benefits and downfalls they do have their similarities. Both wines do require the use of preservatives. Sulphur Dioxide that is produced by yeast during fermentation acts to protect wine from microbial contamination, mould and yeast. All wine contains a minimum of 1050 mg/L of preservatives that allow you to cellar wine while it continues to enhance its deliciousness.

Depending on your dietary preferences, organic wine may be your best option, although I wouldn’t let this stray you from ever trying a non-organic wine. In fact, WineCollective features plenty of both organic and non-organic wines in our packages. The bottom line is vineyard staff and winemakers are all looking to produce a wine that they are proud of and even more, tastes nothing like bug spray.

Welcome to Wine – expand your palate!

It is very typical for vino lovers to get stuck on a type of wine. Fans of red wine stick to it similar to those who prefer white wine. Regardless of the time of year or food they’re about to eat the habit usually results not only in choosing between red or white but also a specific variety.


While it is more than fine to have a favourite, whether that is the king of wines Cabernet Sauvignon or the party-favourite Moscato, it is also valuable in your tasting experiences to expand your palate. Trying different varieties cannot only help you to appreciate other flavours and complexities unique to each grape but also further help you to understand why your preferred wine is a Pinot.


There are more than 5,000 grape varieties around the world. Tasting every single one would be quite impossible as you would have to be extremely dedicated and we would have to suggest help for your alcoholism.  Instead, WineCollective has complied a list of some under the radar wines that we enjoy or would love the chance to enjoy some day soon.

1. Assyrtiko

Originating on the beautiful island Santorini, Greece, Assyrtiko is a white skinned grape with lime aromas. The crisp taste goes hand in hand with any Greek dish, fresh grilled seafood or Asian inspired cuisine.

In the mouth Assyrtiko is typically sweet or dry with a medium length finish. Floral and citrus flavours are expressed on the palate. The wine typically holds some peppery spiciness to is as the vines, which take up 70% of Santorini’s plantings, are grown in volcanic soil.


Assyrtiko wines are not challenging to find, especially if you are in any Greek restaurant as they are very fond of their wine. I have had the joy of trying a few Assyrtikos and highly recommend you give them a taste as well. They have fresh and fabulous characteristics, perfect for summer!

2. Caberlot

If you guessed that this red grape is a cross of Cabernet (Cab Franc to be exact) and Merlot, you are absolutely correct. Unfortunately, only two hectares in the entire world grow the vines to produce such a treat. Belonging to a single estate in Tuscany, Caberlot is owned by Bettina and Woolf Rogosky after it was found in an abandoned vineyard in the 1960’s. When travelling to Tuscany, be sure to stop by and say hello. Maybe they will share their exclusive wine.

3. Furmint

Used to produce Tokaji wine, Furmit is a noble grape found at a small town near the foot of the Tatra Mountains in Hungary. Dating back to the 1600’s Furmint is said to be absolutely delightful with flavours of marmalade, carmel and raisin on the palate.


4. Ortega

While the grape originated in Germany, Kent, England has become the most recognized area for Ortega as it tends to thrive is cooler climates. England also saved the variety from becoming extinct. Ortega produces a white wine with “keen” acidity, gooseberry and floral notes. It could be the next big thing in British wine.

5. Tyrian

Genetically bred in Australia with a hybrid blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Spanish variety, Sumoll, Tyrian is one of the newest grapes on the block. The dark skinned grape itself ripens very late in the growing season, thus is requires hot summers and warm days in early fall. Since it takes a long time to reach harvest, Tyrian wine is deep in colour with a bright hue. Notes of plum and violets take over on the palate.


*McWilliams Hanwood Estate Winery Cellar Door. Photo John Eggers.

McWilliam’s Wine in Australia currently grows and produces Tyrian wine that receives positive reviews: “Firm, generous and rather robust red with some very promising dark berry and plum fruit. Aromas of raspberries, cherries and redcurrants with meaty, gamey undertones.”

6. Chenin Blanc

A white grape similar to the fruitiness of a Riesling but with earthy qualities the wine tends to be more full. If you haven’t heard of Chenin Blanc it is not nearly as uncommon as others on our list, so go and find some!

Chenin Blanc wines are very versatile. Depending on production and the ripeness of the grapes during harvest, Chenin Blanc can produce sparkling, super dry, semi dry or sweet wines. A medium body shows flavours of honey, pear and earth minerality on the palate followed with a long finish. Food pairings are also in a wide range including seafood, white meat, vegetarian or spicy dishes.

WineCollective has featured the 2011 Spier Chenin Blanc and found it have tropical notes such as pineapple and melon. We recommend you serve it at 8 degrees Celsius and try it with sushi!


7. Valdiguie

If you enjoy a Merlot, this variety may be for you. The grape originated in France and is expressed as a light and sweet Merlot.

Once brought to California, winemakers renamed the grape Napa Gamay, but the title was banned because it was thought to be confusing. It is recommended to drink Valdiguie slightly chilled to enhance the fruity and plum red flavours. Enjoy alongside spicy fish or chicken.

8. Agilianico

A Mediterranean specialty that grows plenty in southern Italy. However, historically the grape originated in Greece and was brought to the boot. The grapes produce a very heavy and in depth wine. The full-bodied texture with high tannins and acidity may be a lot to handle but the wine is perfectly balanced with black fruit when produced well. Small-scale plantings of Agilianico are located in Australia, California and even Texas.


9. Carignan

An incredibly difficult grape to grow, Carignan needs warm and dry climates and plenty of time to reach superb fruit quality. It is speculated that the origins of the grape lie in Spain, where is produces dark wines with black fruit flavours, licorice and spicy accents. Typically the wine is blended in red wines with plenty of aroma and flavour where Carignan can fill in body and rich colour. A varietal vintage or blend makes a great pair to spicy meat balls or eggplant lasagna.

10. Pecorino

No, not the cheese, however, it does taste delicious alongside the white wine. Pecorino, a light skinned grape, is grown in Italy’s eastern coastal regions, specifically Abruzzo. It ripens very quickly and can be harvested early either to produce dry mineral wines or a blend component of Trebbiano. By itself, Pecorino wine is straw yellow in colour with a floral bouquet of acacia and jasmine.

Camembert cheese, white wine  and pear; selective focus

WineCollective aims to provide you with the most fascinating and diverse wines available in our packages. We hope one day to have all of these wine varieties included in our repertoire. Until then, we challenge and encourage you to taste as many unique varieties as possible and expand your palate. Who knows, you may even find a new favourite among the list!

Welcome to Wine – size matters

We at WineCollective avoid pretension when it comes to wine. While we don’t agree with most “wine snobs” that a glass shape and size exists for every grape, we will say that the stemware can have an effect on the flavour and aroma of wine.


The crystal glass material used for wine glasses since the 17th century can be shaped specifically to showcase the bouquet, texture or mouth-feel, flavour characteristics and finish of a variety. The bowl shape, stem and rim diameter of the glass all play a part in enhancing taste.

With every glass we recommend the following:

  1. Ensure the rim of the glass is completely smooth without a sharp or thick edge it should be barely noticeable against your lips.
  2. Use glasses with stems. Not only do they make it easy to swirl and smell, the stem also separates your hand from the wine, which would cause it to heat up.
  3. Do not use a dishwasher as it will etch the surface of the glass and leave detergent residue. Treat your stemware with mild soap and a hot rinse. Dry quickly with cotton or linen for a glossy finish.


WineCollective suggests having five glass shapes available either for personal and daily use or to ensure guests can make the best of the dinner and wine experience.



If you are to only have one glass on hand we recommend this one. With a large tulip sized bowl, the Bordeaux glass is easily the most useful. The stem is not overly lengthy which makes for easy swirling and with a narrow opening, aromas are highly concentrated.



The smaller tulip size glassware help chilled wine to stay fresh and cold. Since there is a lesser need to aerate the wine, the glass has a very narrow and small rim. This glass will also work for a mature Bordeaux.


Burgundy/Pinot Noir/Piedmont

This is the big guy. With a large bowl and open rim, the wine can be exposed to the maximum amount of air. A big-closed wine such as a Burgundy or very fruit-centered variety like Pinot Noir highly benefit from aeration prior to drinking in order to enhance flavour and bold aromas.



Obviously an option, however the fancy glass makes a great addition for Port after dinner. It is much smaller, making it appropriate for an aperitif or dessert wine.


Champagne Flute

If you didn’t receive some as a wedding gift, WineCollective truly recommends buying a few. There is no better way to enjoy Champagne at any occasion and they do serve some purpose. The narrow cuvee prolongs the bead (bubbles) of Champagne as well as preserves the chill. Plus, presentation is key.


Given that it is Friday, or as WineCollective calls it #ChampagneFriday, we hope you take the evening to pop a bottle and celebrate. However, before you buy a bottle take a look at The Drinks Business article on Champagne bottle sizes. Similar to glasses, bubbly bottle sizes also have an effect on the wine.

Screen shot 2013-07-19 at 1.41.17 PM

The article highlights how different sizes impact the development of Champagne. According to a study reported, tasters found differences in the same Champagne aged in various sizes. While the half bottle had flavours of an aged vintage, the standard bottle was “appealing.” Overall, tasters found the wine in the Magnum was most balanced.

WineCollective has noted: The bigger the bottle, the better the Champagne!


Welcome to Wine – tips from the WineCollective pros

At WineCollective, we have compiled a list of wine tips and tricks to help you with anything from storing to serving. Everyone at office headquarters has a word of advice; whether they are simply wine lovers or certified WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) professionals, we all sample a ton of wines every month. While some are entertaining, they are all great suggestions to lead you further into the wine world. Enjoy!


David Gluzman – Founder | WSET Certified

“If you can’t finish a bottle of wine, red or white, store it in the fridge till the next day. It will help it last longer. Also, if you drink Port it should be stored in your fridge as well.”

Handy for someone who enjoys a single glass in the evening, an unfinished bottle can be stored in the fridge for up to four days. Ensure that it is corked and has no exposure to air.

Matthew Protti – Co-Founder | WSET Certified 

“Familiarize yourself with what grape varietals grow well in different countries. This will help you with a first pass on whether a wine is at a good price/value. As well, look for wines that are sourced from one area (AVA, DOC) and not blended from a large geographic region (e.g. South Australia).”

Although grape varieties can grow in multiple regions, each will have its own characteristics dependant on terroir. Take a look at where varietals thrive. Napa Valley, California and Bordeaux, France have mastered Cabernet Sauvignon.


Lindsey Snell – Wine Lover

With past experience in serving, Lindsey suggests that you keep an eye out for waiters with top-notch know-how or try these techniques at your own dinner party.

“Once the host has picked a wine suited for their guests meals make sure the server shows the host the bottle and gets approval to open it. The server should then provide the host with a taster and go clockwise around the table until they are back at the host to fill their glass.”

She also advises that you should not be afraid to send back a bottle of wine if it is unpleasing or smells “corked” like soggy cardboard.

Larissa Pinhal – Newbie Wine Lover

“If your guest spills a glass of red wine on your fancy white couch or carpet don’t get angry. Instead, run and get Windex. Spray enough to cover the stain and dab with a cloth. It should come right out.”


Chris Calon – Beverage Connoisseur

“Don’t smell the cork… You just look like a *****”

While smelling the cork won’t give you insight to the wine taste it may be cracked, moldy or dry, which will let you know if oxygen has been let in. The cork may also have printed information on bottling date or winery details.

Chris also says, “When clinking glasses, do not touch the tops of the glass. Aim to touch the widest parts of the glasses.”

You don’t want to be the guy/gal who breaks restaurant stemware. Cheers!

Megan MacLean – Wine Lover

Also a previous restaurant server, her tip comes in handy when pouring your guests a glass that is sure to impress!

“Have a cloth napkin handy. You can use it to hold the bottle if you’re serving chilled wine as a barrier between your hand’s warmth and the wine. When you’ve finished pouring, twist the bottle a little to catch any dripping and wipe the rim with your napkin. Most wine can be poured to the middle of the glass, but if you’re serving sparking, pour against the inside.”


Judy Bishop – Winery Know-it-All

“When cooking meat dishes with leftover red wine, aim to match the depth of the meat flavours to the body of the wine type. A deep rich Malbec or Syrah would work well with beef short ribs. A lighter Pinot Noir or Zinfandel would pair with braised pork or veal. A more tannic Cabernet Sauvignon with a lamb dish.”

WineCollective also has a large selection of handy cooking with wine tips here!

Douglas Robertson – Tech Guy | Wine Lover

“If you are re-corking a bottle of wine with the original cork, put it in the same way it came out! The outer end of the cork may be dusty and you can risk getting dirt or bits of cork in the wine.”


Amber Fountain – WSET Certified

“When buying a new world wine, Reserve and Reserva don’t mean much. Don’t let it sway you, instead look for a bottle with the most detail.”

New World wines are wines produced outside of a traditional growing area like Europe. This includes Canada, South Africa and the United States.

“I always chill my wine a couple of degrees colder than suggested so that it can warm up a little in the bottle or glass. Also if you don’t have a wine cellar or cooler, store your wine in a place in your house with the most consistent temperature and humidity. The coolest place is where your dog sleeps mid summer.”


Do you have any wine tips or tricks you have come across through your wine experience? WineCollective would love to hear them!

Adorable illustrations courtesy of Gemma Correll 

Welcome to Wine – cooking with wine

Wine makes a wonderful companion to food. Apart from pairing a dish with a particular variety, cooking with wine can really add something special to your homemade cuisine.


Getting creative with wine in the kitchen can bring out flavours of the wine and whatever you are preparing. If you have yet to try it out, here are some useful tips to help you impress your guests and make the most out of a meal.

1. Julia Child once said, “If you do not have a good wine to use, it is far better to omit it. For a poor one can spoil a simple dish and utterly debase a noble one.” This quote led chefs everywhere to the simpler tip: Only cook with wine that you would drink.

Now, we at WineCollective are not suggesting that you use you $45 bottle in tonight’s dinner. We are however, suggesting that you do not use wine that you wanted to pour down the drain. While there has been much debate about this tip (with some critics saying to use anything labeled wine) the end result may not be ruined, but most certainly will have a different taste.


2. With that being said, our next tip would be to pour yourself a glass. Relax and enjoy cooking. Sip either the wine you plan on mixing in your dish – which will intensely bring out flavour later on – or another one of your favourites.

3. Use wine like seasoning, do not over do it. You will not get drunk if you pour in the entire bother trying. The majority of alcohol evaporates leaving 5% – 75% of the original content, depending on the cooking method. 1-½- 2 cups is a generous amount if you’re not following a recipe.

Screen shot 2013-06-19 at 11.55.05 AMScreen shot 2013-06-19 at 11.56.01 AM

4. Do not use “cooking wine.” These products available in grocery stores are loaded with salt and food colouring to preserve the liquid. You will have a much healthier and tasty result if you use actual wine.

5. Heat wine before adding it to food. Reducing the wine will allow all of the flavours to come out and lower the alcohol content (children like good food too). Do not bring the wine to a boil but allow it to warm up, this will also help to moisten the chosen food you’re adding it to.


6. Marinade foods with wine. This works for both meat and vegetables. Adding wine to your marinade will allow the flavour to soak into your meat if prepared in advance.

* Try adding a small amount of red or white wine to mixed vegetables. Wrap in aluminum foil and let all the goodness come together on the barbeque.

7. Baste or sauté with wine by mixing it with butter. This works beautifully with a chicken or turkey in the oven. Try a dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc.


8. Substitute water for wine. While Jesus may have thought of this first, a great Italian dish known as “Drunken Pasta,” uses a red wine (Zinfandel works superbly) to cook spaghetti. This leaves the pasta tainted and full of flavour. The colour can be quite beautiful but if it weirds you out white wine works just fine, and boy does it taste delicious!

9. Add a tablespoon or two of wine to gravy and leave your guests wondering why your gravy triumphs over theirs.


10. For the baker! You can use sweet wines in desserts! Red wine chocolate cake, cupcakes and brownies all use a small amount of wine to amaze your taste buds.

Unsure which wine to use? This of course depends on the dish you’re making, the recipe and which aromas you want to bring out.
– Dry white wine: Sauvignon Blanc will offer a fresh herbal tint
– Bold or spicy: Gewurztraminer and Riesling with balance out the dish with fruity flavours
– Dry red wine: Petite Syrah, Zinfandel or Merlot will compliment a leg of lamb or roast beef


If you already love to cook with wine then you understand me when I say it can add a touch of fabulous to any dish. If you’re a little skeptical, we hope you try a few of WineCollective’s tips and keep them in mind. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Happy cooking!

Welcome to Wine – Wine making

Making wine is lengthy process that involves more than stompin’ on some grapes and pouring juice into a bottle. In fact, the scientific system is quite complicated and involves chemistry and biochemistry methods that I am not qualified to comprehend, never mind explain. However, having some general knowledge of its creation can help you understand what elements make wine taste the way it does.

So here, broken down for us in simpler terms, is the wine making process from vineyard to winery to our kitchen tables.


Grow Grapes

Arguably the most important step in wine making is growing grapes. Vineyard location, climate and soils all impact the final wine we get to enjoy. The grapes’ exposure to sunlight and time on the vine also determine development and sugar levels.



Beginning late summer to fall, grapes are either hand picked or machine harvested. The type of method used can obviously affect cost; however, using a machine can increase efficiency for larger vineyards while handpicking acts as a primary selection process for ripe grapes. Once grapes are gathered they are transported to the winery.



Whether the grapes are machine or hand picked, they go through a sorting process done by hand. This ensures only the finest grapes are used, removing rotten or raisined grapes and leaves. A destemmer removes the fruit from stem and also lightly crushes the grapes. This allows for the sugar in the juices to blend with natural yeasts from grape skins.


Red or White?

When making a red wine, grapes are fermented with skins in order to form colour characteristics and tannins. In making white wine, grapes are removed along with the stems and further pressed before heading to fermentation. Traditional wineries may choose the “stomp” method or foottrodden to begin the fermenting process.



The crushed grapes are brought to stainless steel containers where natural or added yeasts turn sugar in the juice into alcohol and carbon dioxide – which is released from the open container. Red wines are fermented at hotter temperatures until all sugars have developed, while white wines are typically moved earlier for sweeter taste and a lower alcohol content.


Pressing and Malolactic Fermentation

Removing solids from grapes skins is done by a “punch down” or by pumping it over top of itself; this also feeds oxygen to the wine in order for yeasts to continue to grow. The wine is then matured (typically in barrels for red wine) in order to produce a softer mouth feel and reduce acidity.


Fining and Filtration

Wine is kept in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks where they can remain for months to several years before final filtration. This process ensures all sediments and solids are removed from the wine in order to ensure the product is not cloudy but smooth for consumption. Some wines are unfiltered and should be decanted when opened at home.



Using nitrogen or carbon dioxide, the wine is pumped into bottles that are then topped by either cork or a screw cap – depending on the wineries preference. Afterwards, a label is glued on, completing the wine making process. Bottles can be put away for further maturation or sent off to consumers.


From carefully selecting their ripest grapes to unlimited testing to reach perfection, we appreciate the winemakers who have mastered their craft and are now producing quality wines.

Welcome to Wine – wine journals

Keeping a wine journal is a helpful practice for wine beginners and professionals alike. Unless you are able to memorize each bottle you have ever tried, filling out a page or two of details can help you remember what made the vintage so special… or dreadful.


A typical journal makes space for you to list the name of the wine, vintage as well as the region and country it came from. You can also record tasting descriptions (eyes, nose, mouth) and additional notes or overall ratings. Most wine journals, like Wine Enthusiast’s leather bound journal ($34.95) also have areas for tasting date, alcohol, price, date purchased and where, food pairing and cellaring information. Basically, these notes make going back and finding the bottle you enjoyed six months ago a breeze.

Label areas are another feature typically included in a wine journal. After removing a label* from the bottle, pasting it among the notes really completes an entry and gives you a visual to find the vintage later on. You can remove a label easily at home.


If you prefer not to take the chance of getting burnt, label removers are essentially large pieces of adhesive that rip the label from the bottle. Labeloff sells 10 stickers for $8 and up to 1,000 for $400.


As a member of WineCollective you receive tasting cards with each bottle you receive with your package. With all the research done for you, these can help you write out each section of your journal – some of which include a slot to store technical sheets or cards such as ours. Through your WineCollective account online you can also view information on every wine sent to your door. Under “My Wines,” you can share your ratings and comments on every vintage you receive with the WineCollective community.

Purchasing a wine journal does not have to come at a price. If fancy leather isn’t your thing, Chapters sells a wide variety starting at $10. Or, if you’re really hesitant on carrying a book to dinner this weekend (you may look nerdy) then there is an app for that. Smart phones also have a large selection of wine apps, including Wine Journal for $1.99. It allows you to note much of the same information as a hard copy and snap photos to go along with the description.


Whichever route you choose, we guarantee keeping a wine journal is a handy exercise. You will definitely be glad you did it when you’d really like another glass of that Pinot Blanc we sent you last month… What was it called again?

Welcome to Wine – favourite regions

Familiarizing yourself with different wine regions from around the world may help you recognize grape varieties and what sets them apart in every country. Here we have the top ten wine producing countries and their regions that have made them a star.




Known for its superior red wines, the Bordeaux region of France has made wine for 2,000 years and is home to 10,000 producers. Dominating in mainly Merlot vineyards, the region is also famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab Franc; the popular Bordeaux Blend is a combination of these three favourite varieties. The Atlantic Ocean combined with the Dordogne and Garonne River provide a humid climate that spreads through the 54 different appellations which together equal 297,000 acres of vineyards. St-Emillion and Margaux are among the recognized sub-regions that make Bordeaux the largest region in France.

Treat yourself to the 2009 Chateau Domeyne St. Estèphe | Cab Sauv | $46.00




We all know that Italy is shaped like a boot. What you may not know is that held within its “heel” is the highest wine production region of Italy, Puglia. English-speakers may recognize the region as Apulia and it accounts for 17% of Italian wine. The production of the unique Puglian grapes, Negroamaro and Primitivo (twin to the Californian Zinfandel) make up 61% of vineyards. The region’s Mediterranean climate consists of persistent sunshine and calming sea breezes that feed the vines and create perfect growing conditions. Puglia also manufactures 50% of Italy’s olives and olive oil.

If you enjoy quality for price try the 2007 Candido Devinis IGT | Primitivo | $18.99



With 14,000 vineyards and 140 wineries, the Rioja region is able to pump out 250 million litres of wine annually that we all get to share! A friend of red wines (85% of production), Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta, Graciano and Mazuelo are the four main varieties grown in the area. Previously known for their long-term aging, Rioja wineries have established methods to make wine ready to drink sooner and clarify their reserves from “Crianza” to “Gran Reserve” depending on their time spent in Oak casks. The characteristics of aging and oak are very recognizable in Rioja wine.

We just sold out of our 2010 Bodegas Altanza Capitoso | Tempranillo | $20.00




A youngster in wine production in comparison to its European successors, Napa Valley, California has become highly reputable in the last 50 years. With 14 sub-appellations in 48 km, Napa Valley has produced fine quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Merlot. In 1976, during a blind judgment in Paris, a Napa Valley Cabernet beat out a Bordeaux and Burgundy wine, giving the region a giant push in recognition. Protected by the Mayacamas and Vaca Mountains, the 400 wineries owned and operated mainly by families are becoming masters of viticulture.

* In our WineCollective store, try the 2010 Yosemite View Cabernet | $18.00




Home to the world’s highest vineyards, Mendoza produces 2/3rds of Argentina’s fine wine. Within the eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains, the region succeeds in growing a variety of grapes 2,500-5,000 feet above sea level. More than a quarter of plantings in the area are the pink-skinned varieties of Criolla Grande and Cerez. However, Malbec is the region’s most produced wine; followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Chardonnay.

* On sale now at WineCollective 2011 Pascual Toso Reserve | Cab Sauv | $18.90



Barossa is nestled within hills of the south and is Australia’s oldest wine region, made up of two valleys: Eden and Barossa. 56 km from the city of Adelaide, German settlers planted vines in the 1840’s and influenced the region unlike others in the country founded by the British. Besides their signature Shiraz grape in Barossa Valley, the Eden Valley produces plenty of Riesling (the Germans were here), Semillon and Chardonnay. The hot climate of Barossa allows grapes to ripen quickly, creating wines high in sugar with low acidity.

Always creating quality wines try 2009 Peter Lehmann VSV 1885 Shiraz | $34.51




Although it is only the third largest production region of Germany, Mosel is definitely the most prestigious. Famous for its steep slopes, the area is mechanically impractical and needs the expertise of manpower to weave within its incline. The slopes make for optimal exposure to the sun and heat is also reflected from the Mosel River below, making up for the cool temperatures. Without top soil, broken slate creates a unique means for growth of the Riesling grapes, known for their light and crisp flavours, low alcohol content and high acidity.

WineCollective staff loved the 2012 Clean Slate Riesling | $16.00



The large geographical unit of Western Cape is separated into districts dependent on political boundaries and then further, wards based on terroir differences. Containing the majority of South Africa’s wineries, Western Cape stretches from Cape Town to the Olifants River in the north and eastern Mossel Bay. Shiraz, Pinotage, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc are protected within the mountain ranges, giving soft breezes to vineyards that later create well-known fresh wines. South Africa’s oldest estate in Constania was founded in the 1600’s, leading the nation into hundreds of years of wine making.

Enjoy the 2008 Lammershoek | Chenin Blanc | $24.77



Surrounding Chile’s capital of Santiago, the Maipo Valley is praised for its world-class Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnays. The region is separated into three sections: Alto Maipo (2,600 feet above sea level), Central Maipo (the warmest area) and Pacific (influenced by the Pacific Ocean, and experimental with Sauvignon Blanc). Within these three districts and apart from their powerful varieties, Carmenere grapes are increasing annually and becoming Chile’s icon. Although low rainfall is to be expected for the wineries within the valley, winemaking has taken place here since the 16th century.

We recommend a 2008 Viña Tarapaca Grand Reserva | Cab Franc & Cab Sauv | $30.54



Douro Valley vineyards

The Douro River running from Spain through to western Portugal’s Porto (Oporto) is home to the creation of Port. This exclusive wine has been cultivated in the Douro region for 2,000 years and while other nations attempt it, they can never truly re-create Portugal’s signature. Hilly and mountainous, the area grows varieties specific to Portugal such as Tinta Roris, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cao. Apart from Port, the Douro Valley also creates table wines using the same grape varieties that are becoming increasingly popular.

Expand your palette with the 2005 Quinta de Fronteira | Touriga Nacional | $21.00

Who knows, maybe one day you will get to embark on a wine tour in France or travel down under and see what the Barossa Valley has to offer. Until then, while enjoying your glass of a favourite vintage, you can not only grasp its flavour but an entire appreciation from the beautiful vineyards it came from.

Welcome to Wine – varieties and temperature

Besides the commonly recognized Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon, thousands of CabSauvGrapesgrape varieties exist, each having their own characteristics, aromas and flavour.


In our last Welcome to Wine post, I highlighted some popular wine varieties and their typical traits in taste (mouth) and smell (nose). Wines, according to their grape variety as well as region also have differences in temperatures to serve and store. When held at the wrong
temperature, the taste, aromas and PinotGrigioGrapes
aging process can be altered.

Wine Storing Tips

  • Store wine around 12°C and horizontally
  • If you don’t have a cellar, invest in a wine cooler for short-term (typically priced from $200) or wine cellar fridge to lay down a bottle long-term ($1200 +)
  • Fridge temperature’s are too cold, but work well for a quick cooling
  • Forgot to chill the wine? Put a glass in the fridge for speedy serving temperature
  • Don’t forget a bottle in the freezer, the cork may pop out leaving you a mess


GE 30 Bottle Wine Chiller $348

White varieties are typically served between 7° to 10°C, where as reds are best at 12° to 18°C. If overly warm, the taste of alcohol may be stronger in reds. Although chilling is usually associated with whites, don’t be afraid to do the same to a Merlot or Pinot Noir.

Sauvignon Blanc

France original. Crisp and light


Pinot Grigio

Alsace. Citrus, melon and peach



Burgundy. Butter and vanilla



Germany. Melon and grapefruit



Red grapes with less skin contact


Pinot Noir

Burgundy. Berries and mint

10°C – 13°C


Previously blended. Plum and berries

13°C – 15°C


Rhône. Spices and berries


Cabernet Sauvignon

Bordeaux. Cherry and tobacco



California. Jam and black pepper


Welcome to Wine

Being new to wine culture and the art of tasting may make you feel like you’re jumping into an intimidating mixture of snobby know-it-alls and eclectic vocabulary. But here at WineCollective headquarters we know that different levels of wine education exist. Our team ranges from certified vino pros to the earliest of beginners – like me.

In the next few weeks our WineCollective blog will be featuring a “Welcome to Wine” series of posts that will go through all beginner basics, including terminology and various tips to help you learn. After all, our club is open not only to connoisseurs and collectors, but all Canadians wanting to share in the joys of wine.

My interest in wine began early, where a glass (or two) of my father’s homemade wine at the family dinner table was always necessary and would lead us through hours of conversation and laughs. Today, my interest has spread to curiosity in all features of the wine industry that I hope to explore. So whether you just want to socialize and share wine with food and friends or have a thirst for knowledge, here is a delicious place to start.

DSC_4379  DSC_4379

We will begin with, tasting basics.

There are three steps to getting the most out of your wine tasting experience that will require you to indulge your senses of sight, smell and taste. While reading up on technique and a “systematic approach” will give you foundation in wine education, you’ll probably find that, like most things, practice makes perfect. So feel free to pop a cork and follow along.


Step 1 – Eyes

The best way to peek into the inside of your glass is to slightly tilt its delicious contents, preferably up to a blank canvas like a white tablecloth. Here you can look into not only the colour, but the clarity and legs as well (yes, wine has legs).

Red, white and rose wines all have a range of colour they can fit into determined by grape varieties, how the wine was aged and the overall age of the wine. These can all have an effect on how the wine appears. My Wine Tutor says that whites gain colour in the aging process, while reds lose colour.

Here is a spectrum of hues to look for as you tilt your glass:

White: straw-yellow ­­/ yellow-gold / gold / old-gold / yellow-brown

Red: purple / ruby / red / brick red / red-brown / tawny

Rose: pink / salmon / orange

You also want to make note of the intensity of your wine colour as well as the clarity – is your wine clear or hazy?

The legs of your wine can be seen as a clear film against the sides of the glass, which can indicate the alcohol content and body.


Step 2 – Nose

Swirling your glass as part of wine tasting is essential and powerful. Not only does the motion aerate the wine and release a bouquet of aromatic appeal, it also makes you look and feel extremely fancy. Or at least, I think so.

Aroma characteristics can coincide with varieties used. Learning the smells of more popular wines can help you match with your own experience. However, everyone is different; what you smell may be different from what someone else might take away from the wine.


Chardonnay: Melons, pears, vanilla, hazelnut

Sauvignon Blanc: Grapefruit, gooseberries, tart apples, lime or lemon

Riesling: Apple, pear, peach, honey, flowers


Pinot Noir: Cherries, strawberries, forest floor

Merlot: Blueberry, plum, tobacco, chocolate

Cabernet Sauvignon: Black currant, black cherry, smoke, cigar box

Winesworld’s Magazine gives a long list of favourite wines and their individuality.


“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.” – Paulo Coelho


Step 3 – Mouth

Finally, you get to taste. But don’t rush and don’t gulp it up. Instead, savour the flavour that the last two steps were piecing together. Taste buds and sensations are everywhere. Try to pull apart the components that make up the wine: sweetness, acidity and tannin (bitterness).

Flavour characteristics can coincide with aroma. Fruit and floral (like citrus and tropical) as well as spice, vegetables, and oak can all be explored within a wine glass.

What do you taste? Is the body of the wine heavy and rich, or light? Does it match with your meal? These are all questions to ask to ask to help you decide if the bottle is one you enjoy.

The last element of wine tasting to notice is the balance and length of your sip. A long finish leaves the taste of the wine and its components in your mouth. With time, you may be able to pinpoint which flavours hold.


WineCollective is an excellent place to start in your wine journey. Not only do we test and rate wines within our office, we also send you a variety of unique wines to expand your palette.

Along with the bottles, Tasting Cards are sent to members to share the vintage with highlighted tasting notes – Eyes, Nose, Mouth. We also include information on the vineyard, region and producer to add to every aspect of your wine education.


Tasting Cards can also throw an extra challenge with every card’s food pairing suggestion. Attempt a recipe to go along with the wine to see how flavours of food and wine can flawlessly marry.

Although wine tasting may have its science, the experience is entirely individual. Being aware and knowledgeable will not only help to impress your friends, but will also help bring you to find your palette and wine preferences.  Happy tasting!