Wine sales at grocery stores are on fire. No huge surprise there. Buying wine while grabbing milk and eggs makes sense these days. So here’s a handy list of delicious finds at the Wine Shop and Wine Rack, the two stores often located inside large supermarkets.
At The Wine Shop, keep your eyes peeled for the new NV Small Mercy Easy Going Red, an international blend from imported and domestic wines ($10.95/750mL). It’s not fancy, but it’s well-balanced and jammy — a juicy, easy-drinking red that won’t break the bank. The nose suggests muddled black cherries, the wine slides in with a rush of smooth, ripe fruit and each sip finishes clean and dry. The flavour suggests homemade bumbleberry pie and lingers nicely on the finish. The wine delivers honest value if you’re looking for a casual but tasty red. Score: 90
For something a bit more premium, the 2019 Thirty Bench Winemaker’s Blend Riesling, VQA Beamsville Bench ($22.95/750mL) is a smart buy. It exudes scents of lime sorbet then floods in with spiralling flavours of lemon-lime with a salt and stone undertow. Each sip is shot through with vibrant acidity that keeps this off-dry white crisp and quenching. And the resonant length leaves the palate nicely seasoned. Score: 92
For something splurge-worthy, the NV Trius Brut Rosé, VQA Niagara Peninsula ($29.95/750mL) certainly over-delivers and proves again Ontario makes excellent sparkling wine — and can do so at a reasonable price. This bottle of bubbly shines pale coral, teems with the soft fragrance of fresh strawberry custard tart and echoes those allusions on the palate — fresh berries, cream and pastry — all understated yet articulate. After the attack, flavours shift toward rhubarb, baked apple and sea salt and then linger. This dry, impeccably balanced wine does not disappoint. Score: 95
But skip the less impressive NV Peller Family Vineyards Light Cabernet Sauvignon, an international blend from imported and domestic wine ($9.45/750mL till April 25, regular $10.45). Labelled as “light” with “35 per cent less calories than our regular Cabernet Sauvignon,” “2g carbs per 3/4-cup serving” and “8.0 per cent alc./vol.,” it tastes diluted, one-dimensional and short. You’re better off having a smaller glass of a truly delicious wine to cut calories, carbs and alcohol.
If a Wine Rack store is in your local supermarket, the 2019 Open Smooth Red, VQA Ontario ($13.45/750mL) delivers sure value and will appeal to those who like a little sweetness in their red wines. Expect silky-sweet flavours of ripe red and blackberries with a touch of dark chocolate underpinning the fruit. And balancing acidity ensures the wine finishes dry. Score: 90
The 2019 Inniskillin Niagara Estate Late Autumn Riesling, VQA Niagara Peninsula will appeal to those who like that sprightly sweet-sour thrill of an off-dry Ontario ($11.95/750mL till April 25, regular $13.95). Lime, honeysuckle and sliced pear aromas and flavours are forward and refreshing. The mouth feel is soft rather than shrill. And lively lift keeps the wine bright and invigorating. Score: 89
For the splurge, consider the 2017 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine, Niagara Estate, VQA Niagara Peninsula ($7.95/50mL; $44.95/375mL till April 25, regular $49.95). It’s a dessert wine that’s fabulous to have on hand for something decadent, such as a well-chilled sip after dinner with cheese. Each glass starts with honeyed apricot and candied citrus zest aromas then bursts with exuberant flavours of stone fruit, marmalade and toasted nuts — all lit with lemon-squirt zeal that balances the succulence beautifully. The 2017 vintage on shelf is developing nicely and is certainly drinking well now but will reward patience if properly cellared. Score: 93
On the flip side, you might think twice about buying the NV Saint and Sinner Shiraz Cabernet, an international blend from imported and domestic wines ($12.95/750mL). With blackcurrant syrup on the nose with nondescript red fruit on the palate, this wine tastes simple and sweet. It lacks much of the elegance and nuance that lends charm to wine.
With 100 locations of the Wine Shop and 164 Wine Rack stores in Ontario, many of which are in supermarkets, these recommendations might prove handy. But wine selection may vary by location, so if you have your eye on one of these finds call ahead to confirm availability.
Carolyn Evans Hammond is a Toronto-based wine writer and a freelance contributing columnist for the Star. Wineries occasionally sponsor segments on her YouTube series yet they have no role in the selection of the wines she chooses to review or her opinions of those wines. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org