Mulled Wine


Serves 1/8

Mulled Wine
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  • 2 bottles dry Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Peel of 1 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into halves
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • orange slices


  1. Pour wine in slow cooker.
  2. Wrap the orange peel, cinnamon stick halves, cloves, and nutmeg in cheesecloth.
  3. Add to slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 2 to 2.5 hours.
  4. Discard the spice bag before serving and use the orange slices to garnish each glass.
Recipe Type: Drinks

Shiraz Cabernet

Shiraz-CabarnetThe second wine I’m featuring this month is a special Inniskillin blend of 75% Shiraz, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Cabernet franc. Since 2007 was such a great year for wines in the Niagara region a lot more variety was being created.

The aromas of this blend include raspberries, currants, smoke, spice, black peppers and flowers while the taste has a finish of raspberry, flowers and spice.

This wine is great paired with heavy meats like lamb, venison and prime rib and goes well with aged cheese like cheddar.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet SauvigionThe past several months have been disappointingly more of the same; Pinot noir and chardonnays which is why there has been any posts in the Wine Club lately. However this month we finally received something different. Mind you they are reds, which are not getting drank as fast as the whites, but it’s nice to know we have plenty of variety on hand.
The first wine I want to talk about is a Cabernet Sauvignon. Of all the grape varieties out there, this one is known to age the best. A hybrid of the Sauvignon blanc and Cabernet franc, it has small, black, thick skinned fruit that are fairly resistant to disease and wet conditions.

 The grape has distinct aromas and flavors of black cherry, blackberry, black currant, bell pepper, green olives, ginger and green peppercorns. Once processed and aged you get hints of vanilla, coconut, oak, mushroom and cedar.

This wine pairs well with gamey meats, beef, duck, lamb, mustard and pepper sauces, and mushrooms and squash. You will want to avoid serving it with seafood, light meats and citrus and cream sauces.


MerlotThis red grape is a vigorous grower that needs regular pruning to control the amount of yield this vine produces. The grapes ripen at least a week earlier than Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon and has flavors similar to the latter wine. Ripeness plays a role in how the wine will taste with under and over ripe fruit tasting more herbaceous.

Aromas and flavors both before and after processing include currants, plums, black cherry, rose, cloves, oak, vanilla, sweet wood and earth.

Pair this wine with tuna, salmon, beef, red wine and meat sauces, and vegetables like mushrooms. Merlot also goes well with mild cow and goat cheeses.
Avoid drinking this wine with fish, seafood, pork and cream or citrus based sauces.

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris


I’ve recently become a huge fan of this white wine also known as Pinot Grigio. The grape is considered the ‘white’ pinot noir and is often used to lighten up that red variety. The grape loses it’s acidity as it ripens but will produce a very high level of sweetness with elements of lemon, apple, pear, vanilla, almond, butter and oak in it’s flavors and aromas.

Because of its light sweet flavor, Pinot Gris is best paired with light fish, chicken, veal, ham and light pasta dishes, ravioli and antipasti. Avoid serving it with red meats, duck, salmon, tuna and rich cream sauces.


DSC_0095When I opened the box for this months wine I was slightly disappointed to see yet another Pinot Noir.  It seems we have lots of red wine already in our collections and not enough whites (maybe I’m just drinking them too fast…yikes!)  Luckily the second bottle was just what I was hoping for though I have never heard of this type of wine before.

Viognier, until recently had been a dwindling variety of grape for growers in areas outside the 35 acres in France.  California, Australia, Canada, Brazil and other parts of the US have recently planted new crops however due to slow growth and light yields a lot of these grapes are not ready yet for commercial production.  Viognier grapes are highly susceptible to powdery mildew and must be harvested at their peak maturity making them extremely temperamental and their resulting product quite expensive.

Viognier have complex flavors of fruits like apricots, mango, pineapples, kiwi, guava and tangerines, floral like orange blossoms, violet and honey and spices like anise and mint.  It works well with spicy foods as well as chicken or fish topped with fruit salsas.


Mango Salsa Recipe

Vidal Icewine

DSC_0066Icewine is created from grapes that have been frozen while they are still on the vine.  Because the water freezes the grape is more concentrated with sugar and other dissolved solids that produce a super sweet wine.  This process creates smaller amounts of liquid and can be extremely risky and labour intensive requiring skilled winemakers and cooperative weather. If the grapes stay on the vine too long they may rot yet if the frost is too cold they cannot be pressed.

Canada has been established as the worlds largest producer of Icewine due to it’s ideal weather conditions, with Inniskillin considered the most well known in the country.  Riesling, Vidal and Cabernet franc varieties are the most commonly used cultivars though other countries are experimenting with all other kinds of grapes to produce atheir own distinct drink.

The Vidal Icewine exhibits a delicious taste of tropical fresh fruit such as papaya, lychee and tangerine and like most ice wines should be paired with fresh fruit, fine blue and cream cheeses and rich, creamy desserts.  Because of its sweetness it may be served as a dessert all on its own.

White Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Brae Blanc

DSC_0063This month we received something a bit different from Inniskillin.  Uniquely crafted by the wineries own winemakers Brae Blanc is a unique blend of three different white wines all distinct on their own; Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Riesling.

Named after the Brae Burn Estate that houses the vineyard this crisp wine white has light flavours of apricot and peach with floral undertones.

This wine holds it own quite well but is equally enjoyed with food from spicier cuisine like Mexican, Indian, Thai and the Caribbean.

Shrimp Pad Thai Recipe


This month I received another Pinot Noir, this one from 2004. I’m looking forward to possibly having a tasting between that one and the 1999 I received from Inniskillin.
2007-chardonnayThe second bottle of wine I received was a 2007 Chardonnay. This white wine grape is quite easy to grow and adapts well to different climates making it a popular choice with wineries all across the world. It is a relatively light wine with aromas of butter, fig, vanilla, clove and nutmeg if it’s been oak aged or fruitier like apples, pears, lemon-lime and pineapple when it’s young.

When pairing food with a Chardonnay choose dishes that are creamy, buttery and earthy like lobster, shellfish mushrooms and cheeses like provolone and Gruyere. Tomato dishes are too acidic and meats like steak are too overpowering for the flavour of the wine.

chardonnay-grapesOne thing to note is that Chardonnay loses their fruitiness if they are too cold so let it rest out of the fridge for a bit before serving.

This recipe requires white wine as an ingredient. It’s always great to use the wine you are going to serve with it in the recipe.

White Wine and Garlic Cream Sauce Recipe

Pinot Noir

1999-pinot-noirThe second bottle pulled from the box of our Inniskillin wine clubs May selection made me feel rather “professional” in the wine connoisseur world. The 1999 Pinot Noir was still dusty like it had been just that moment pulled from the cellar.

Pinot Noir is most notably grown in the Burgundy and Champagne regions of France as well as being popular in Germany and California. It is a difficult grape to cultivate but produces some of the world’s finest wines.

This red wine grape tends to produce a light to medium bodied flavour tasting of black cherry, raspberry, strawberry and herbs and spices like cinnamon, oregano and black olives.

Pinot Noir grapes

Pinot Noir grapes

Pinot Noir has a delicate flavour and texture so it should be matched with simple and rich foods like grilled meats, creamy soups and pastas with white sauce. Any dish containing mushrooms really showcases both the flavours of the food and the wine.

One of my favourite kinds of salad is spinach with warm bacon dressing. Here is a simple recipe that includes mushrooms.

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing Recipe

What do you like to pair a Pinot noir with?


2007-rieslingMay brought the first of my 2 bottles of wine from Inniskillin and it felt like Christmas. I opened the box not knowing what was inside and discovered a 2007 Riesling, which was a pleasant surprise. I have had Rieslings before and really enjoyed them plus I heard that 2007 was one of the best years for Ontario wines.

Riesling is a white grape grown mostly in Germany and the Alsace area of France dating back to the 1400’s and grows well in those colder climates. They are produced to make dry to sweet and sparkling wines making them a versatile cultivar. They can be enjoyed young but hold up well to aging. Riesling is very popular in producing “late harvest” dessert wines.

Riesling grapes

Riesling grapes

Natural aromas include apples, peaches, pears, tropical fruit, rose petals and violets. Because of it’s high acidity and sugar levels it pairs well with almost all foods. From savoury dished like quiches and frittatas to spicy sausages, Thai and BBQ, Riesling is best pair to a sauce and seasoning instead of the choice of meat.

Riesling matches really well with Indian food, a favourite of mine so I though it would work great with this low fat Butter Chicken recipe.

Low Fat Butter Chicken

What would you pair this wine with?

Would you like some cheese with that wine?

The Cheese Spread

The Cheese Spread

I went to my first amateur wine and cheese tasting last night where the guests were required to bring a wine and cheese from the same region and I discovered a few key things,

  • 1) I don’t like stinky cheese. Muenster, Camembert and Limburger all curled the hair on my arms.
  • 2) Apple slices and almonds work really well to cleanse the palate between tastes
  • 3) Most great wine regions don’t make much cheese while really great cheese regions don’t make much wine.
  • 4) No matter how many different cheeses there are in the world someone still brings the same as me (actually two people did)

But despite the over abundance of Niagara Gold I got to try a few wines and cheeses that I discover I enjoyed very much.

Just a few of the many choices we had.

Just a few of the many choices we had.

Angel’s Gate Riesling was just sweet enough to please my sugary taste buds while a Ninha Verde from Portugal was the second red wine in the past month that I absolutely love. As for the cheese my favourites of the night was a nutty Beemster from Belgium and Asiago from Italy.

Oh and the last thing I learned;

  • 5) There is actual cheese in Cheese Whiz. (paired nicely with a tasty American wine).

Tell me about your tasting party experiences.

Garden Show Wine Club

I had a dilemma this past weekend. The Wine and Cheese show or Canada Blooms. My weekend was too busy to do both so I decided I needed a burst of spring. I choose Canada Blooms. Ironically while I was there I joined a wine club.

Inniskillin and Jackson Triggs wineries had a beautiful pavilion showcasing some of their great wines which for a small price you could sample. I was instantly drawn to a sign that mentioned something about joining a wine club. (Quite honestly I really only saw the words “wine club” and was drawn in). After being directed to the VIP section we were given the whole spiel about the benefits, price etc between the two. While talking with the winery representatives they offered us a choice of wines to sample. I only drink sweet wines like whites and blushes while my boyfriend prefers the dry reds. This can be a pain when dining out and wanting to get more than just a glass with our meal since our preferences couldn’t be any more different. Naturally I choose a Jackson Trigg 2006 Sauvignon Blanc and he picked a 2006 Cabernet Franc from Inniskillin to taste.

2006 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc

2006 Inniskillin Cabernet Franc

I always insist on trying any red that he does drink in hopes of finding one that makes it down my throat without raising the goose bumps on my arms. In turn I make him try mine hoping to bring him over to the sweet side. What a pleasant surprise when I tried the Cabernet! Instead of catching in the back of my throat it slid down so smoothly that I had to double check I was trying a red. I loved it! It had such a mellow fruitiness to it yet wasn’t at all sweet. Of course we were both excited to finally have a wine we both agreed on.

So oddly enough I left the garden show with a case of red wine and membership to the Inniskillin wine club. I wondered what would have happened if we had gone to the Wine and Cheese Show?