I love when imaginative people come up with a new idea yet it retains a B.C. ethos. The Wolf & Grouse Aperitif has Blue Gouse Winery at its core. Their delicious Quill White Blend that I’ve reviewed earlier this year. But then add flowers, fruit and roots and suddenly you’re transported from the Cowichan Valley to a piazza in Italy. You can make it your own by adding a splash of your favorite gin, sparkling wine or tonic water. What you’ll discover is a remarkably fresh aperitif with Italian aromatics that’s also low in alcohol. Perfect as a starter before dinner or as a backyard sipper on a summer’s day. If you’re visiting Vancouver Island drop into the winery for a taste.
Price: $34.00 plus tax
Available: Winery direct at Blue Grouse Estate Winery
Now that B.C. has entered Step 2 it means that I’m free to pour again. The pandemic shut down wine tastings over a year ago but the new protocols have allowed me to “free the grapes!” If you’re interested in a backyard or patio tasting I’d be happy to help create the winelist that suits both your taste and budget. Whether it’s BC wine or wines from another region I can find quality and affordable bottles that overdeliver for the price. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!
Dining out at your favourite restaurant or cafe was one of the first casualties of the Pandemic. It seems Vancouver has managed the impact much better than elsewhere in Canada. I’ve noticed Happy Hours have returned and decided to check out the offering at Homer Street Cafe. They’re following the direction of Dr. Henry with Covid-19 protocols in place. Contact tracing, staff wearing masks, appropriate spacing which I found reassuring. It’s important to remember your dining companion must be part of your individual bubble! The wine offering for HH is a reliable trio of French red, white and rose from the Languedoc. At $6 a glass you can pair that with everything from steak tartar to brussel sprouts bagna cauda and charcuterie. Service was excellent and prices affordable which encouraged me to seek out other options to add to my website. Stay tuned!
Homer Street Cafe Happy Hour is from 2:30-5:30 daily.
I’ve always felt a special connection to Evolve Cellars because I launched my website the same year they released their first vintage. My impression of their wines then holds true today. Evolve offers quality B.C. wine at a great price. This lovely pink sparkler proves the point. From the tiny bubbles, usually called frizzante, to the fresh fruity flavour and dry style this is a wine I enjoy year round. I taste berries in every glass…strawberries and raspberries to my palate which makes it a lovely sipper and very food friendly. I think of charcuterie as the perfect pairing for this wine.
Price: $21.49 plus tax
Available: B.C. Liquor Stores
Price: $21.99 plus tax
Available: Save-On-Foods Wines across B.C.
Apparently it was the Greek philosopher Plato who authored the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention.” If ever there was a time for invention in the wine world it’s now. The pandemic has closed restaurants and bars while others have pivoted with creativity to meet difficult times head on. Credit Matthew Landry (pictured) and the team at Fiore Mercato with an impressive reinvention that speaks to the winelover in me. There’s several options, dine-in, takeout, or buy all the ingredients from the market at the front of house and make in yourself. House made pasta, sauces, a focacia kit, olive oil, balsamic vinegars and WINE, glorious wine. Somm of the year Landry has a well chosen selection that pairs perfectly with the cuisine. It’s for sale at retail pricing that starts at under $20.00 a bottle. No need to stop off at your local bottle shop. The pasta and pizza menu shouldn’t be missed and discover that the wines of Italy go far beyond Pinot Grigio. The Vernaccia paired with squid ink spaghetti and prawns in garlic butter was note perfect. Given the difficult times facing the hospitality industry here’s an example of how they’re fighting back. All they need is our support. Cheers!
Fiore Mercato is on West 12th Avenue in the South Granville neighborhood.
I think most of us have a few favourite restaurants that have become like a second home. Provence Marinaside is that for me. As a wine writer I sought out places that moved the wine dial because I wanted to encourage followers to taste more often. Provence is a winelover’s dream. So I’m delighted to see them reopen while closely following safety protocols. I’ve posted some other photos on my social media accounts so please check them out. The reopening menu has plenty of familiar dishes, both appies and mains. As always the wine list, although pared down, has great options as befits an award winning restaurant. (Pictured) That’s SeaStar’s superb rose paired with the delicious crusted goats cheese salad.
The expanded patio and restaurant have physically distanced tables and the servers are cleaning them carefully after each guest. So if you’re tired of your own cooking and ready to venture out here’s where you’ll find me! Provence Marinaside is at the end of Davie street in Yaletown.
B.C. winemakers are justifiably proud of the amazing array of sparkling wines made in our province. My first experience with our bubbles was in 1999 at Blue Mountain winery. Since moving to Vancouver seven years ago Haywire “The Bub” is the sparkling wine I come back to time and time again. In case you’re wondering the wine gets its name from the winery’s first daughter, Alison, who was known at Bub, the Bubster and Alibubba when she was a youngster. If you’ve never tasted B.C. bubbles here’s the perfect introduction. A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this is a crispy sparkler with citrus flavours and brioche, or toast if you prefer, that you’ll also pick up in the aroma. The wine spent time in both concrete and stainless steel tanks and then a second fermentation in the bottle. The Bub is a remarkably well made sparkler that’s the perfect pour at any celebration from Thanksgiving to an anniversary or graduation.
Price: $28.29 plus tax
Available: Save-On-Foods wines across B.C.
Price: $29.99 plus tax
Available: Swirl wines in Yaletown
Price: $31.98 plus tax
Available: Everything Wine in North Vancouver, South Vancouver, South Surrey and Langley
When you’re a #winelover like me, the arrival of a new place to enjoy your favourite libation is a reason to celebrate. Lot 185 offers a cafe to start your day and a wine bar to wind down after work. It’s two levels on the west side of the Vancouver Convention Center beside Jack Poole Plaza. If you’ve been to the Vancouver International Wine Festival you’ll recognize the 2nd level as the former coat check location. It’s a bright and airy space that will offer patio seating next summer. For now you can enjoy breakfast sandwiches or pastries from the in-house bakery. Later in the day the 2nd level Wine Bar will offer a great place to drop in for a glass or two accompanied by interesting small bites. Check out my social media feeds for plenty of pictures. Pizza, duck confit sliders and and freshly shucked Kusshi oysters are just some of the choices. The wine list includes Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir, Quails’ Gate Dry Riesling and Culmina R&D Rose to name a few. You’ll also find wines from France, Spain, Italy and New Zealand so something for every palate. I’m told they hope to work with smaller B.C. wineries in the future. For example I’d welcome seeing Lock & Worth, Blue Grouse and Rust wines to help grow our exposure to newer and smaller wineries in our province. For now though I’m happy to see our city’s wine culture grow with Lot 185 Cafe and Wine Bar.
Location: Vancouver Convention Center with access from Jack Poole Plaza
Every #winelover I know is a huge fan of Prosecco and Rose so here’s a chance to combine the two. For the price you’ll be hard pressed to find a better value than this gem from Villa Sandi. Whether it’s for a celebration or just because put this Prosecco on your list. From the moment I poured this pale pink wine into a flute I was a fan. The aroma was a mix of flowers and fruit. The feeling of the bubbles in your mouth was full and creamy with apple flavours. This is a dry, refreshing sparkler that has a long finish. Perfect on its own but a great wine to pair with any cuisine.
Price: $16.45 (plus tax)
Available: Marquis Wine Cellars on Davie street
Price: $16.49 (plus tax)
Available: Everything Wine in North Vancouver, South Vancouver, South Surrey and Langley
Blue Mountain has earned much acclaim for their bubbles and the Gold Label is the perfect introduction for sparkling wine lovers. From the glass full of tiny bubbles to the toasty, crisp flavour this is a delicious wine that delivers on every level. The aroma of berries and lemon draws you in but the mouth feel will capture your taste buds. It’s creamy, medium bodied and with great acidity and a lingering finish. A complex wine made in the traditional method found in Champagne but at a fraction of the price. A perfect companion for celebrations of all kinds or pair it with seafood.
Price: $26.01 (plus tax)
Available: Sutton Place Wine Merchant on Burrard street
Price: $28.99 (plus tax)
Available: Liberty Wine (various locations)
Price: $29.00 (plus tax)
Available: Kits Wine Cellar on 4th avenue