Category Archives: Wine

Wine Wednesday: Steve’s Wine Club at Lift Bar and Grill

The Lift Bar and Grill is one of those places I’ve walked in front of a hundred times and yet never thought I would ever enter. It just always seemed a bit too fancy (and to be honest, expensive) for me.

But when my friend Dianne Chow mentioned their monthly Wine Club events for 25$, I thought, what a great occasion to try this place! And since I want to dip a little deeper into the world of wines, I couldn’t pass up an unpretentious and un-fancy occasion to taste wines chosen by the restaurant’s wine director, Steve Lobsinger, paired with delicious tapas from the restaurant’s menu.

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Yesterday’s choice of wines focused on this holiday classic: the Riesling. I’m already a fan of Riesling, so it wasn’t too hard to sell me on the wines.

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The tasting featured five Rieslings from around the world (including two from BC). These were:

  • 2009 St-Hubertus Dry Riesling from the Okanagan
  • 2008 Claar Cellars Riesling from Washington State, US
  • 2010 Dr. Loosen Riesling from Mosel, Germany
  • 2009 Pierre Sparr Riesling from Alsace, France
  • 2010 Tantalus Riesling from the Okanagan

My favourites were the Dr. Loosen and the Tantalus, with the St. Hubertus not too far behind. I’m a sucker for sweeter, more fruity wines, and these suited by tastes better.

All of these wines are entry-level, between 15$ and 25$, which is great for trying your favourites again at home.

The accompanying food was perfectly paired with the wines: Japanese-style spicy eggplants with shrimp, fried squid, spicy sushi rolls, salmon patties and a delicious wild mushroom polenta. As I learned, Rieslings are best paired with spicy foods, and the eggplant and sushi sure were spicy… I ended up splurging on the softer polenta, salmon patties and squid.

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The greatest thing about the wine club is its unpretentiousness. Steve might be a wine expert, but he acknowledges that not everyone is, and that, in the end, wines are a matter of taste. You’re allowed to like or dislike anything, even if you can’t use the specialized vocabulary. And, newbie as I am, I indeed felt very welcome and not intimidated at all. I could ask silly questions (“am I right to think this wine tastes flat?”) and I got thoughtful and helpful answers from Steve. You also leave with a short pamphlet full of interesting information about the type of wine itself and some tasting notes about the wines of the evening.

Bonus: they saved my life by giving me two band-aids for my blistered feet (new shoes=bad idea). Excellent customer service, excellent food and excellent wines make for a great evening!

You can follow the Lift Twitter account for announcements about the next Wine Club. It happens once a month and costs 25$. When the event is up, you can buy tickets through Eventbrite (but the next one isn’t up yet).

25$ to learn about and taste five wines and get some food on a Tuesday sounds like a good deal to even kind of broke me. There are only 12 spots available each month, so grab your tickets as soon as they become available!

Disclaimer: I paid for this wine club on my own dime. No post was expected.

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Wine Wednesdays: Gray Monk Riesling

I got some nice comments about my first installment of Wine Wednesdays, so I’ll keep on doing it for a while :) Always happy to try new wines for my readers!

The other day, I stopped by this specialized wine store in Kensington Square. It only sells BC wines. The staff seems very knowledgeable (they taste all the wines in the store) and the lady guided me to a wine I might like. I was looking for something sweet, a white or a rosé.

She suggested the Gray Monk Riesling, a wine with golden tones and smelling of citrus (especially lime) and orchard fruit.

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I especially liked its spicy tones, which would work well with curries or even sushi (ooh! great idea). The finish is quite tangy and lingers for a while, too.

I liked this wine enough, but this Riesling is a bit dry for my taste. I like my wines more on the sweet side. I’m not such a fan of spicy foods either, so while I like a spicy taste, I don’t like when it stays for too long. Maybe I just didn’t have the right food to go with it, or didn’t describe my tastes well enough to the nice lady at the store.

So if you like spicy foods and the wines that go with them, Gray Monk Riesling is an excellent choice. At 17$, it’s also a good budget pick for an elegant wine. And it’s also a local product from the Okanagan, so you’re also encouraging the BC wine economy!

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Wine Wednesday: Finca los Primos Torrontes

I still don’t really know much about wine, but I’m trying to expand my palate and try new things beyond my usual two or three kinds of rosé.

In this spirit, I want to start trying new wines and telling you about them. And I will make the same statement every time: I’m in no way a wine expert. I don’t know the vocabulary or the specifics of grapes and soil and all that other stuff. So the opinion you’ll get here is the opinion of an ordinary person who’s just starting to explore the world of wines.

This week’s wine is a first try: The 2011 Finca los Primos Torrontes from San Rafael wineries.

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I’d never heard of Torrontes before, and with good reason: it’s a grape that grows almost exclusively in Argentina, but with some varieties in Chile and Spain (Wikipedia, Torrontés).

Since it was my first try with this variety, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. It has a pale color, more on the yellow side than golden.

This Torrontes is a spicy, citrusy wine that isn’t too sweet and would work perfectly with spicy asian food (think butter chicken or thai curry!). There’s a taste of cinnamon and cardamom that would make it perfect with Indian dishes. It’s complex enough to be interesting, but not too much that it becomes overwhelming.

Next time I make butter chicken (gosh, it’s been a while!), I’ll make sure to pick up this bottle. The price tag is around 12$; not too bad for an interesting, unusual wine like this.

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