Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Free Press editors wax poetic about their wine choices

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Every week I spend 750-ish words in this space talking about wine in what are fairly standardized wine columny terms. For a change of pace, I thought it would be fun to get some non-wine writers to talk about some of their favourites in this space. And since the Winnipeg Free Press is chock-full of talented writers and editors, I figured it was the perfect place to start.

What was surprising was how many of 'em are drinking darn good wines. (Can I chalk that up to them reading my column every week? No? OK, then.) I queried a number of Freep writers and editors, and many seemed pretty excited for the chance to talk about wine.

The answers were an incredibly mixed bag of funny and interesting stories, as well as some pretty insightful wine descriptions. These first two are from a couple of the paper's editors -- next week will feature two of the Freep's more notable scribes.



Paul Samyn


Recent sip:

CARMEN 2011 RESERVE CHARDONNAY (Casablanca Valley, Chile -- $11.95, Liquor Marts and beyond) was what the Winnipeg Art Gallery served up for their 100th anniversary gala. Everyone at our table loved it and I was surprised to find out how affordable it really is.

Go-to bottle of wine:

REBEL WINES 2010 THE SHOW (California -- $19.99, Liquor Marts and beyond) A big bold Cabernet Sauvignon from California. True story: I used to buy wine based on whether my kids, who I dragged into the store with me, liked the label. So we had lots of wines from Australia or South Africa thanks to the cuddle factor of kangaroos or zebras. I like the label on The Show, which I first had with friends thanks to a hockey mom who got it as part of a one-cent deal at Happy Harry's (in the States). You can't get it for one cent here but you don't have to break the bank to get a wine that lets you immediately know it's worth more than just a sip.

Most memorable wine and food experience:

My wife and I got invited to a dinner at the Mexican ambassador's residence when I was the Free Press national reporter based in Ottawa. The food was about 100 rungs above Taco Bell, and the wine pairings really made for a memorable evening. Alas, the tequila they served later erased any memory of the wines the Mexicans treated us to.

Wine tip:

There's nothing wrong with wine in a box. It travels well and you put it any way you like in our fridge.


Wendy Sawatzky


Recent sip:

ROYAL OPORTO TAWNY PORT (Duoro, Portugal -- $19.99, La Boutique del Vino). I was at the lake over the Thanksgiving weekend with friends and we shared a bottle with some stinky cheeses. I was only recently introduced to the pairing of Port with Stilton and I'm so enamored that I serve it to guests at every opportunity. In this case it was a perfect fall treat.

Go-to bottle of wine:

MUMM NV NAPA BRUT PRESTIGE (California -- $21.99, Liquor Marts and beyond) is my go-to for pretty much any occasion. I'm a big fan of bubbly wines; I like to celebrate all the little joys in life and a cork-pop is the sound of celebration to me. I've tried most of the under-$30 bubblies available in Winnipeg and a few beyond that price range -- plus a handful of genuine Champagnes (including a birthday sip of Dom Pérignon, which you can buy by the ounce at Mona Lisa Ristorante).

The Mumm is crisp and light and quite bubbly without being fizzy. My favourite bubblies are usually toasty, but this one isn't very toasty, it's more fruity -- but more of a green-apple fruity, not a citrus fruity. It's not very sweet.

Most memorable wine and food experience:

One of my favourite wines is OROYA (Tierra de Castilla, Spain -- around $17, The Winehouse), a white Spanish sushi wine. I first tried Oroya in Reykjavik at a restaurant that specializes in "Asian-influenced Icelandic fusion cuisine" (how's that for globalization?). My husband and I were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, and we plunged into the restaurant's "exotic menu," which saw the chef and sommelier pair food and wine over several courses.

I've only seen Oroya locally at Wasabi on Broadway [it's only available there but can be bought at The Winehouse -- Ben]. Eating there is a special treat for me. I'm no expert on wines so I'll just say that Oroya tastes to me like something special.

Wine tip:

When sabering open a Champagne bottle, point the bottle's neck at a location from which you can easily retrieve the cork and broken bottle neck. An overgrown front lawn is not such a location. [For an example of sabering, see the video below. I'd also add: Point it away from all people -- Ben.] Twitter: @bensigurdson

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 10, 2012 E4


Updated on Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 12:11 PM CST: replaces with colour photo

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