Cooking School

How to pick the perfect wine

By: Chef Mike Ward

Getty Images Author: Canadian Living Credits: Getty Images

Cooking School

How to pick the perfect wine

By: Chef Mike Ward
Intimidated about choosing the right wine to bring to a holiday get-together or to give to a friend? Try my trick: Approach wine the same way you do art. A quirky painting seems odd until an expert gives you the backstory about who painted and why. Then it’s suddenly interesting—you like it. Wine is no different.

Read on to learn the stories behind these unique wines and match them with the personality of your giftee.

For those who love a challenge:

Southbrook.com | 2012 Whimsy Wine Makers White $29.95
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
This is the little winery that could. Organic wine is difficult to produce in the Niagara region because of the humidity that creates mold and rot. Southbrook is the first certified biodynamic winery to manage it in this region. They also farm around the lunar calendar.

For the environmentalist:
Dreamingtreewines.com | 2013 Dreaming Tree Chardonnay $15
California
When celebrities get into the wine business, sometimes the product is less than A-list. Not so with musician Dave Matthews. This vineyard is part of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, which means they use less energy to create their wines. The labels are made of recycled paper and the bottles are thinner—less glass in manufacturing.




Chef Mike Ward (Photography by Richard Sibbald)

For the extrovert:

Paxtonvineyards.com | 2011 MV Shiraz $17.95
South Australia
This wine is an exciting example of a bold-tasting Aussie red, but gentle on the pocket. Paxton was an early adopter of biodynamic viticulture in the land Down Under. This wine is a benchmark of great quality and affordability from a winemaker with pedigree in organics.

For the introvert:
Normanhardie.com | 2014 Riesling $21
Prince Edward County, Ontario
Perhaps Canada’s most knowledgeable vintner, Norm Hardie is all about experience and old-world technique in creating his globally famous wines. Growing grapes in PEC is tough. Norm has proven that intelligence reigns supreme over modern quick-fixes and laboratory techniques,  and describes his wines as Vins de Terroir—tasting from “a sense of place.”

For the homebody:
Bluemountainwinery.com | Gold Label Brut Sparking wine $23.90
Okanagan Valley, BC
Family first is the motto here. The Mavetys have owned and operated this winery since 1971 and their wines are produced from grapes grown on their own estate. Surrounded by mountains, this spectacular area of BC is prone to dramatic weather shifts and microclimates, making for interesting wines. This crisp, sparkling wine is made in the classic Methode Traditionnelle style—minus the expensive French champagne price tag.

Mike Ward is a Toronto-based, Australian-born chef, food journalist and photographer who contributes to The Globe and Mail and lcbo.com among other outlets, and is a regular guest on CityLine when he isn't busy with his cooking channel,
youtube.com/chefmikeward .

For more on wine, check out how to pair the right wine with your meal.
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Cooking School

How to pick the perfect wine

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