WINEMAS GIFTS 2017

Wine Gifts 2017.jpg

Hmmmmm, what to get for that super hard to buy for person? That savvy individual who loves wine, and seems to have everything they need. 

In this case, the person was me, buying things for myself, but I'm hoping you spot something on this list for a Christmas treat you'd enjoy too, or for the wine lover in your life:

1 The gold standard in wine bottle opening, a Laguiole. For a little extra history, this one's handle is made from a 300 year old tree from Versailles. Spendy, but will last a lifetime.

2 Playing cards as a wine gift? In our house, this is the idea of a fun Friday night. Opening some Port (see below), and sitting down to share a game of crazy 8's, bridge, or gin rummy, especially during the holidays. This Theory 11 deck is just plain handsome, and pleasingly tactile. Also, the faces on those court cards!

This year, I decided to invest in two online journals: The Feiring Line & The Art of Eating. By subscribing, I help support independent writers, and in exchange, am exposed to new ideas, great vocabulary, and inspiration galore. Seems like more than a fair deal.

3 The Feiring Line is run by natural wine supporter, Alice Feiring. She's an evocative and sometimes controversial writer, and focuses on wines and locations that otherwise wouldn't cross my radar. The ability to evoke the sense of place and taste through writing, now that is a gift.

4 For the food obsessive: The Art of Eating. An online magazine covering wine, cheese, heritage foodstuffs and more. Endlessly interesting, the articles will make you want to rush out and buy obscure wines to match obscure foods from around the world. Top notch writing.

5 325th Anniversary Taylor Fladgate Port. Yes, I'm a sucker for anything with this kind of historical detail, as the 17th century repro bottle here has. A blend of 10-40 year old tawnies. Very tasty indeed. 

6 I wasn't sure what to expect from this rather theatrically titled book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire. Cracking the cover, I loved the way Mark broke down wine from a consumer-centric viewpoint. Yes to more joie de vivre, wine should be fun! Would make a great read for the wine curious person in your life.

7 Maps galore! Historic maps of Champagne! Do you sense a theme in this list? A great book for those studying Unit 5 of the WSET Diploma, or as an armchair read: Champagne: the Essential Guide to the Wines, Producers, and Terroirs of the Iconic Region.

PS: On pronunciation... do you ever mispronounce words as a joke, and then they just stick? Then, you use your new pronunciation in front of someone and they look at you like, she doesn't even know how to say 'x'? I do this with Cham-pag-ne (Futurama reference).

Did you spot something on this list for a Christmas gift? Have an idea to add? Please comment below to share your wisdom!

Cheers & Cin Cin,

Rachel

WINETRIPPING: A GUIDEBOOK TO BC'S BEST OKANAGAN & SIMILKAMEEN VALLEY WINERIES

 Looking down towards Osoyoos from the Golden Mile near Oliver

Looking down towards Osoyoos from the Golden Mile near Oliver

I've been a busy bee lately, just back from trips to England and Italy, which were respectively to be an associate judge at the IWSC on Canadian and American wines and study at the Vinitaly Italian Wine Ambassador program.

Now that I'm back in Vancouver, regular trips up to the Okanagan and Similkameen have recommenced. I've been continuing my grand tour of wineries, both new and old favourites, as I finish the research for my book Winetripping. Which is no hardship! The weather's beautiful {pool weather in April? yes, please}, and the desert flowers are in bloom in Osoyoos, a rare sight.

Winetripping is something I've been working on for over a year, and am so excited to see released this June. My goal in writing this winery guide comes down to my passion for the region, which I think is some of the most beautiful wine country in the world. I want you to come and visit! 

Certainly, the Okanagan is one of the friendliest wine regions you can explore, with sweeping valley views, glistening lakes, oh, and let's not forget the hundreds of unique wineries with tasting rooms and restaurants ready for your arrival!

Ultimately, there are more wineries than you can visit, so I've curated a list of places I love recommending to friends and family. I want you to have an awesome time on your trip up to Osoyoos, Oliver, Naramata, Kelowna, Vernon or Keremeos!

There's nothing like hitting up the tasting rooms on a sunny day, choosing your very favourite wines to bring home with you, then opening those bottles up months later to reminisce about your trip.

I've heard from wine lovers that there're so many wineries that it can be overwhelming choosing where to go, and planning which you'll include and which you'll skip. So, my guide is all about making it easy for you to find the exact kind of tasting room you love, whether that's somewhere with a log cabin and dogs wandering through the vines, or a modernist producer with fancy glassware and a view over the lake.

In addition to the 89 wineries listed, other handy sections will cover arranging a tour, getting to know the local grapes, wine tasting etiquette, and suggested itineraries based on your interests (love bold reds, want the hidden gems, or maybe you're into Riesling? I've got you covered).

I feel strongly about supporting our local wineries, who work day in and out to produce this incredible beverage we all adore. By visiting the wineries, dining at their restaurants, and buying wines on site, we consumers are not only having a great experience, we're ensuring that they're able to keep doing what they love while making a good living. Cheers to that!

Find out more here.

STUDYING FOR THE WSET DIPLOMA?

Do you know someone who’s signed up for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust WSET Diploma? Or is that person you?

It’s a big investment, and massive commitment. I’m approaching the final exam to finish it – Unit 3 – and I can’t wait to pop some vintage Champagne to celebrate!

I’ve been getting lots of questions popping up asking which books are worth investing in. For me, there are two indispensable books that you’ll read every day while you’re studying: The Oxford Companion to Wine, and the World Atlas of Wine. 

But… I bought at least 30 books while studying. Did I need them all? No way. But about a dozen were well worth the money and made studying much easier.

So I put together the guide I wish I’d had when starting out in my diploma studies, including: which books you NEED to buy, a full list of websites to bookmark for each unit, what specifically to do 90 days before, 60 days before, and 30 days before your classes start, what one magazine you should subscribe to, what one social media site to join and who to follow, and how to find people for a tasting group.

Cheers,

Rachel

PS: The next enrollment for the Diploma Prep courses will begin in January 2017!

BEST WINE BOOKS FOR WINE LOVERS

There’s something about reading a story, that is infinitely more fun than studying from a textbook. Not only is it more entertaining, it’s easier to pick up and retain information, at least it is for me.

Today, I’m going to share the best non-textbook reads from my wine library. These are books I’ve read, re-read, and loved, that also helped me learn more about my favourite subject. Even better if they are enjoyed on a comfy couch, with a glass of wine on the side table and a pet at your feet. Enjoy!

Kermit Lynch: Adventures on the Wine Route

I’m starting with my favourite of the bunch, this book was just so much fun to read. Kermit has Personality (with a capital ‘P’), and strong opinions, always good things when it comes to being a protagonist. He’s just released a 25th anniversary edition which I’d recommend, as it follows up on parts of the story. This is a vivid story of an American who falls in love with French wine, determined to make a go of his California wine store. It follows his buying trips through France, and introduces us to some incredible characters in the vineyards and wineries of the Rhone, Burgundy and Loire.

Tilar Mazzeo: The Widow Clicquot

This is the story of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, who came of age in the aftermath of the French revolution, and inherited a wine business as a young widow. For those who have an interest in women in business, or the history of Champagne, this will be captivating. This is a woman who changed the world of my favourite beverage; I don’t think Champagne would be what it is today without her.

Lawrence Osborne: The Accidental Connoisseur

 This is a funny book, as in it made me laugh out loud funny. It’s from the perspective of an irreverent outsider falling into the wine world. Lawrence takes us into the most incredible scenes, a private lunch with Mondavi, to vineyards in the Northern Rhone, plus commentary on Parker’s nose. It’s a sceptic’s perspective, and he’s not afraid to skewer sacred wine cows.

Jancis Robinson: Tasting Pleasure (Confessions of a Wine Lover)

The word that comes to mind when I think of Jancis, is erudite. She’s a Master of Wine, and also a very prolific writer. This was one of the first wine books I ever read, and I loved it. She takes us behind the scenes to some of the most incredible places, with big names, in the wine world. It tells her story of going from a university student to a famous wine writer, and it’s eminently readable. If you want to be inspired, read this.

Elin McCoy: The Emperor of Wine (The Rise of Robert M. Parker, Jr,. and the Reign of American Taste)

If you’ve ever wondered why we use a point scale to score wine, or why people refer to “Parker” as a pejorative, this is the book for you. Love his taste or hate it, Parker has completely changed the way wine is made around the world. I remember while I was first getting into wine study, hearing Parker had claimed to remember every wine he’d ever tasted. That’s either hubris, or a man who’d make a fascinating subject for a book. This is a peek into the world of a famous wine critic, and it’s a thrill to read.

Let me know if the comments below, have you read any of these? What’s your favourite book about wine?