At the urging of my friend, Paul Welke, I’ve begun making my own wine in my basement.  I’ve picked up a variety of equipment second-hand (Kijiji is a great service, BTW), as well as buying a few items new (and I will be borrowing a few things from my parents, also).  Part of the appeal of this hobby is that it’s dollars a bottle, rather than tens of dollars.  According to the person I talked to at Winning Wines Plus (on the southside), a $75 winekit will make a wine at a $20-30/bottle quality for about $4/bottle.

Truth be told, the actual process of making the wine (at least thus far) is boring.  You mix water, grape (or other fruit) juice with “Package A”.  Take a hydrometer reading, record.  Cover the primary fermenting vessel and wait for at least a week.  Take another hydrometer reading.  Once the hydrometer gives you the appropriate reading, transfer the wine to a different vessel, and wait for several weeks.

Yea.  Not much goes on there.  However, I hope that through making a variety of kits and working through this process, I can start developing a greater understanding of how the wine develops and perhaps make my own changes to the wine-kits to tweak them more to my liking.

And of course, there’s also Beer to be made.  That process sounds a bit more exciting.

Much excitement!

I’m anxiously awaiting my order of Had A Glass 2009, which is the 2009 version of the book I recommended back in March.  Based on the extremely high quality of the wines chosen from last year, I will have to say that it will be difficult for this book not to provide some excellent choices for wine.

Speaking of excellent choices in wine, I was incredibly lucky to get my hands on a couple bottles of Inniskillin ‘Discovery Series’ Chenin Blanc (2005).  If you see this wine, buy it.  It is incredibly tasty, but the supply is rather limited.  With that said, Earl’s does have it on their wine list, so you can buy a bottle there.

In other news, I also purchased the Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Supplement for Star Wars Saga Edition.  From my reading so far, it adds a great deal of information to increase the coolness of your game.  The more I take a look at supplements and the like for SWSE, I’m finding that Wizards is doing an excellent job with the support for this title.

Wine as a Hobby

Earlier this year, I made the conscious decision to take up wine as a hobby.  I consider myself fairly lucky on that front, as Emily’s parents are also enjoy wine, which gives me the opportunity to try a lot more than I’d normally have the opportunity to try.  This also means I get to look over older issues of various wine magazines and the like when they are done with them.  Saves me the money that I’d potentially spend on these sorts of things, especially given my track record with reading magazines.

However, I did invest in a book about wine (Wine for Dummies, if you must know), which I have read bits and pieces of to help me understand various wine terminologies as I come up to things I don’t quite understand.  Even though I’ve been doing reading on wine and all that sort of thing – I’m still not all that sophisticated in my tasting of the actual products.

I can follow the ‘procedure’ for wine tasting, but when it comes right down to it, I’m not really that good at describing the taste or smell of the wine that I’m tasting.  It could just be experience (or lack of).  I don’t know.  It doesn’t bother me all that much though.  When it comes right down to it, either I like the wine or I don’t.

So, with that said, I’ve recently had a few wines that I’d like to recommend to you.

First is from Cono Sur’s Viognier (2007) from Chile.  I really enjoyed this wine.  I found it to be very easy to drink.  Can’t beat the price either as it goes for around $12. 

I also had an inkling for a Rose (and by that, I mean it was hot out and I didn’t really want a white).  Emily picked out a bottle from Capcanes Montsant, Mas Donis Roset 2007 (~$23) from Spain for me, and I was quite pleased with it.  I enjoyed drinking this wine, though I did note that the flavor could have been a bit fuller.

Finally, I think I’ve noted this wine before, but Gazela’s Vinho Verde (2007, Portugal) is really enjoyable.  A slight carbonation makes the wine tickle your tongue in very good ways.  Another easy drinking wine that is excellent for enjoying with people on a patio.  Again, very affordable, ~$13.

So, I like my wine.  Maybe I can’t tell you what flavors I taste or smell, but I don’t care and neither should you.

Cherry Wine?

Recently, I picked up a bottle of Elephant Island Cherry (2007).  That’s right, a wine made from cherries rather than grapes.  In fact, all of Elephant Island’s products are made with fruits other than grapes.

I had heard good things through my interweb travels about this producer, so I decided I’d check them out.  Originally, I was looking for the Black Currant (2006), due to the good review in my Top 100 under $20 book, however, I found the 2007 Cherry and Black Currant at Aligra in West Edmonton Mall.  Intrigued by the Cherry, I opted for that bottle instead.  I also picked up a bottle of Moselland Riesling Avantgarde (I can’t recall the Vintage), mostly because the bottle was too cool looking not to buy.

Before I get back to the wine, I’d like to note the enjoyment I received from shopping at Aligra Wine and Spirits.  The individual that was working at Aligra was very helpful in helping me select a Scotch to purchase for my Dad for Father’s Day.  He hasn’t received it yet, so I can’t vouch for the reliability of the advice.  She did note that the bottle I did purchase was well received at the Scotch tasting they had a few days prior to my visit.

Anyway, the wine.  I’m really unsure what to think.  The first glasses I had was pretty average in my opinion.  It tasted like cherries.  I certainly wasn’t blown away.  The next day, I had a couple more glasses.  It was really tasty, I quite enjoyed drinking it.  So, perhaps the food pairing the first night wasn’t quite right, or the pairing on the second night was perfect.  I don’t really know.  Maybe it tastes better as it sits open in the fridge (which I doubt).  If you want to give something different a try, Elephant Island Cherry is definitely that.  I don’t think I’ll be buying another bottle of this one, but I’m definitely still on the prowl for their other offerings.

Also, I’ve posted a new recipie, Stuffed Pork Chops.  I hope you enjoy it, I certainly did.

Various Updates

I’ve got several differing updates today.

I’ve added some more wines to my cellar and I’ve added two of my favorite recipes:

I’ve also included some recommended sides and wine pairings with the recipes. Please let me know how the meal turns out for you if you give them a try.

Also, Darren and I have started up a new website for our little game design project. Dead Planet Creations is your new source of information for our game, Extinction: Zero Point.  We’re quite excited about the project, so check out the site for more updates.

Trying Something New

As I had indicated in yesterday’s post, I’m going to try and keep a list of wines (and recommendations) for you folks in internet land to use for reference.  I’ve also decided that since I quite enjoy food with my wine, I should try putting up some of my favorite recipies (except for the ones that Emily and I keep a secret!!!).

I’m also going to put up a list of games that I have, along with any thoughts about them.  I’m not sure what I’ll include and exclude, but I’m definately putting up my RPGs and Board Games.

I could put up all sorts of lists, but really, I think three is enough.

 So I hope that this information interests you as it is populated.  As always, your comments are welcome and appreciated!

Book Recommendation: Had a Glass 2008

Had a Glass 2008

Had a Glass 2008

I recieved this book from Emily’s parents for my birthday this year, as I had asked for wine related stuff.  Inside, you’ll find 100 quality wines for under $20.  I have only had the opportunity to enjoy three wines from its pages thus far, however, they have all been quite tasty.  The book itself is written in such a way that anyone can figure the wines out, which is handy, since I don’t know anything!

The introduction to the book has some background on wine and a bunch of information on the varieties of grapes used.  It also provides some basic guidelines for food pairing, mood pairing and the like (the advice is deeper than Red with Red, White with White).    The authors also present a half case (6 bottles, for us non-vinos) of wines that they recommend storing for a few years (they are also quick to caution, don’t store it too long, or it will go south!).  This information is basic, easy to understand, and perfect for a newbie.

The wines are separated by “type”: White, Rose, Red, Apartif and Dessert.  Each page is dedicated to an individual wine.  The label is clearly presented, paired with a short paragraph describing the wine (usually in a funny, non-uptight way), followed by two recommened food pairings (sometimes, these are quite specific or quite general) and event suggestions (eg, BYOB, Romance).  The variety, the vintage and price is listed on the bottom corner of the page.

The authors of this book, Kenji Hodgson and James Navison also write a weekly column for The Province (A Vancouver newspaper) and an E-zine at www.halfaglass.com.  Their goal is to make wine more accessible and fun – which this book definately does.

In a somewhat related topic, I shall be creating a page (or two) dedicated to listing my ‘cellar’ and wine recommendations/or list.  Keeping in mind my ‘ratings’ will likely only consist of something like “Good”, “Great”, “Gross”, at least until I learn more; I hope somebody will find it somewhat helpful.