We recently attended our first official wine tasting. Why did it take so long? Who knows, but we’re glad we did. The event took place at the Wine Cave run by the iYellow Wine Club. The theme was Earth Day 2014 and the wines were from South Africa courtesy of Wosa Canada.
From the moment we stepped into the cozy and charming little space, we were transfixed by a warm, inviting atmosphere. Giddy (not drunk) with anticipation, we were given a wine glass on which we wrote our names along with a pad and pen for note-taking. This was an educational experience after all.
We learned there were five steps to tasting; 1. Sight 2. Swirl 3. Smell 4. Sip 5. Savour. The general rule is that after you taste the wine, you can consume the rest of your glass or toss the remainder in a wine spittoon, then rinse and repeat. As a first-timer it was hard not to just drink after pouring, but we did our best to follow the steps, at least in the beginning.
There was much to absorb and 14 different varieties to sample, so we started with a nice, light Pinot Grigio called Tiger Horse, followed by a 2011 vintage red called Roodeberg. The latter was a combination of Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot. Our wine guide/sommelier-in-training Natalie explained that many South African wines are blends of different grape varieties. We also learned that wines will list their blends from highest to lowest. Roodeberg 2011 features 50% Cabernet, followed by Shiraz and Merlot.
Sweet and Sauvignon
Armed with more information, we continued to the next station to sample a red blend called Honey Badger, a mead honey wine that had a sweet aroma and flavour. Not exactly Manischewitz, but probably closer to a dessert wine.
The next wine we tried, and probably my favourite was Durbanville Hills. This Sauvignon Blanc suited my pallet and the rest of my senses. I loved the colour, the body, the aroma, the flavour which was crisp and acidic, as a Sauvignon should be. Made with papaya, grapefruit, lime and winter melon, it’s the ideal summer wine and can be paired with seafood and pasta.
Karen’s favourite was called The Pavillion, a white blend from the Western Cape with flavours of citrus, gooseberry, melon and pear. Karen had found her summer wine!
Our final sip of the night was a Pinotage called The Grinder made with mocha and coffee as well as black cherry and raspberry. The wine has won gold and silver medals and is described as ‘Catnip for Wine Consumers’ (winethegap.com).
All-in-all it was a fun and educational event – a perfect way to celebrate Earth Day! I’m still a wine novice, but I do feel like I took away some interesting tidbits.
We were told that all the featured wines were sustainable and most are available at the LCBO.
To find out more about iYellow’s wine events, visit iyellowwineclub.com.