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Pairing Wine Varietals

Chardonnay | Gewürztraminer | Pinot Blanc | Pinot Gris | Riesling | Sauvignon Blanc
Cabernet Franc | Cabernet Sauvignon | Merlot | Pinot Noir | Sparkling Wines | Dessert Wines

Chardonnay

Flavour: Apple, baked apple, pear, lemon-lime, pineapple, tropical fruit. If barrel-fermented and/or oak aged, also butter, butterscotch, toast, fig, vanilla, hazelnut, nutmeg and clove.
Intensity: Restrained to assertive.
Texture: Firm and crisp if stainless steel fermented: round, full-bodied if oak treated.
Sweetness: Dry.

Chardonnay's rich elegance find its match in foods that are equally stylish. Bolder examples show well with strongly herbed dishes, while more restrained versions shine in the company of luxurious cream and butter sauces and mellow, earthy flavours such as mustard and mushrooms.

The Basics: Lobster, Dungeness crab, prawns, scallops, salmon, halibut, sautéed oysters, chicken, turkey, pheasant, quail, rabbit, pork, veal and sweetbreads.

The Flavours: Marjoram, tarragon, thyme, sage, rosemary, saffron, garlic, mustard, mushrooms, fig, lemon, pear, apple, nutmeg, ginger, orange, mango, walnuts and hazelnuts.

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Gewürztraminer

Flavour: Clove, rose, lychee, grapefruit, fruit salad; drier styles also mineral, earth, pepper and citrus.
Intensity: Highly aromatic, assertive.
Texture: Medium-light to full-bodied, lively.
Sweetness: Dry to semi-sweet.

Gewurztraminer is one of our most popular varietals, and for good reason. Its intense, exotic aromas and flavours seem ideally suited to spicy cuisines from China to Thailand to India, and it stands up equally well to the fruitiest salsas and smokiest grilled and barbecued flavors of contemporary North American cuisine.

The Basics: Spicy fish and shellfish dishes, chicken, turkey, pork, ham, sausages, cured and smoked foods of all kinds (smoked salmon and prosciutto are classics).

The Flavours: Ginger, honey-garlic, green, pink, black, white and Szechwan peppers, caraway, fennel, sage, cilantro, coconut, tropical fruits, fruit-onion salsas and curries.

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Pinot Blanc

Flavour: Apple, lemon, pear, banana, fig, straw, sometimes slightly earthy or herbaceous; if barrel-fermented and/or oak-aged, butter, butterscotch, toast, vanilla and nutmeg.
Intensity: Subtle to moderate.
Texture: Firm and crisp if stainless steel fermented; if oak-treated round and medium to full-bodied.
Sweetness: Dry.

Sometimes called the poor man's (or woman's) Chardonnay, well-made Pinot Blanc can show remarkable strength of character. It is a chameleon of a wine, providing a rich, subtle background for whatever dish it accompanies.

The Basics: Salmon, crab, prawns, halibut, clams, oysters, chicken, turkey, pork, rabbit and veal.

The Flavours: Chives, leek, onion, mushroom, garlic, nutmeg, lemon, thyme, oregano, parsley and nuts.

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Pinot Gris

Flavour: Dried apricot, vanilla, almond, spice and smoke.
Intensity: Assertive.
Texture: Medium to full-bodied, firm, mouth-filling.
Sweetness: Dry.

Proving to be a brilliant performer in Canada, the best examples of Pinot Gris are distinctive, complex and incomparably appealing. Vinified with or without oak, bone-dry and well-structured, they are a match for elegant Canadian and Continental cuisines.

The Basics: Fresh and smoked salmon, fresh and smoked trout, halibut, crab, prawns, scallops, clams, mussels, oysters, squid, chicken, turkey, pork, veal, quail and pheasant.

The Flavours: French accents such as tarragon, thyme, saffron, mustard; Italian flavours such as tomato, garlic, onion, basil, fennel, orange; contemporary North American cuisine with the accent on grilled foods and light cream sauces.

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Riesling

Flavour: Ranges from mineral, citrus and petrol to ripe peach, apple, herb and floral.
Intensity: Restrained to assertive.
Texture: Light to medium-bodied, crisp.
Sweetness: Dry to sweet.

No matter what the style, Riesling maintains an attractive balance of fruit and acidity, making it an exciting match with dishes incorporating their own sweet and tart elements. The most fruit-driven examples take well to barbecued or smoke foods and a wide variety of fruity and subtle spicy flavours.

The Basics: Crab, fresh and smoked salmon, scallops, halibut, barbecued or baked oysters; chicken, turkey, pork, ham, mild sausages (choucroute is a classic), cured meats such as prosciutto.

The Flavours: Sage, onion, caraway, orange, kumquat, peach, ginger, fruit salsas, mild teriyaki; with drier, leaner styles, also chives, capers, lemon, lime, grapefruit and dill.

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Sauvignon Blanc

Flavour: Grass, gooseberry, sometimes smoky, blackcurrant and melon.
Intensity: Moderate to assertive, distinctive aromatics.
Texture: Light to medium-bodied, usually crisp.
Sweetness: Dry.

Sauvignon Blanc is crisp, refreshing, high-acid wine for summer sipping, on its own, or as an aperitif. It is excellent with shellfish or light, subtle dishes or, in its oak-aged versions, with richer fare.

The Basics: Hors d'oeuvres (antipasto), oysters, quiche, salads, smoked salmon, ginger or lemongrass influenced Thai dishes and almost all fish (with or without sauces).

The Flavours: Lemon grass, ginger, baby onions, gooseberries, sharp white cheeses, parsley, baby greens, and cilantro.

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Cabernet Franc

Flavour: Currant, raspberry, blackberry, cedar, herb and mint, sometimes bells pepper, green olive and dill.
Intensity: Moderate to assertive.
Texture: Medium-bodied.
Sweetness: Dry.

Cabernet Franc is similar in style to the better-known Cabernet Sauvignon, although almost always lighter and less tannic, and often with a characteristic "green" or herbaceous edge that pairs seamlessly wherever vegetables play a strong supporting role.

The Basics: Mild sausages, duck, beef steaks, roasts and hamburgers, lamb, venison and cold meats.

The Flavours: Thyme, savoury, rosemary, basil, parsley, bay, olive, green peppercorn, olive oil, Mediterranean vegetables, such as eggplant, green pepper, zucchini, garlic, onion, fresh and sun-dried tomato.

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Cabernet Sauvignon

Flavour: Black currant, cedarwood, blackberry, sometimes eucalyptus, bell pepper and green olive.
Intensity: Moderate to assertive.
Texture: Medium to full bodied, tannic.
Sweetness: Dry.

While the classic accompaniment is rack (or leg) of lamb, Cabernet Sauvignon stands up beautifully to virtually all red meats, whether served simply with "jus" or rich, reduced sauces. Fine, older Cabernets are excellent accompaniments to special occasion meals, while younger ones match simpler fare.

The Basics: Rack of lamb (classic), filet mignon, roast beef, game birds, duck or goose, venison: younger, tannic cabernets with rare red meats.

The Flavours: Herbs (rosemary, bay, thyme, sage, but only light garlic), rich sauces, currants, plums, onion, sun-dried tomato.

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Merlot

Flavour: Raspberries, plums, black cherries, licorice, orange, coffee, toffee and chocolate.
Intensity: Moderate to assertive.
Texture: Medium to full-boded; can be tannic.
Sweetness: Dry.

Merlot is the red wine for red meats. It has the weight and fruit to match wine-braised stews and roasts, and the structure and polish to pair with rare-grilled prime cuts.

The Basics: Squab, duck, beef, lamb, vension: lighter and softer Merlots also with lighter white and red meats and game birds.

The Flavours: Rosemary, bay, sage, thyme, juniper, pink peppercorns, black olive, balsamic vinegar, currants, plums, prunes, dried blueberries, onion and garlic.

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Pinot Noir

Flavour: Cherry, strawberry, plum, violet, beetroot, mint, smoke, cinnamon: mature examples also tea, leather, brown sugar, mushroom and even barnyard.
Intensity: Subtle to moderate.
Texture: Light to medium-bodied, silky, generally soft tannins.
Sweetness: Dry.

Pinot Noir's greatest strength is its suppleness. Without the hard tannic structure found in many red wines, it pairs effortlessly with a wide range of foods --- from fish through game birds to grilled beef and lamb. Don't overwhelm its gentle fruits and refined complexity with strong or spicy flavours; simply-prepared dishes are best.

The Basics: Salmon, scallops, halibut, tuna, (see notes on Red Wine and Fish), chicken, pheasant, quail, duck, pork, veal, beef, lamb and sweetbreads.

The Flavours: Thyme, mint, basil, chevril, figs, cherries, orange rind, wild mushrooms, pinenuts and soy-honey-garlic.

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Sparkling Wines

Flavour: From delicate floral, citrus, green apple and fresh yeast to richer vanilla, toast, nut and earth nuances, depending on style.
Intensity: Subtle to moderate.
Texture: Soft and creamy to crisp.
Sweetness: Usually dry.

Sparkling wine's crisp, almost crunchy effervescence makes it the perfect accompaniment to deep-fried foods --- mini egg-rolls, tempera prawns and vegetables. The lightest, crispiest styles also work beautifully with sushi and sashimi... just remember to go easy on the wasabi.

The Basics: Not-too-spicy appetizers and finger foods of all kinds, sushi, sashimi, fish and shellfish, especially raw oysters and delicate poultry dishes.

The Flavours: Almost anything goes, but never stronger than the wine itself.

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Dessert Wines: Late Harvest and Icewine

Flavour: Ranges from citrus through peach, pineapple, and apricot to caramel, raisin and nut.
Intensity: Moderate to highly concentrated.
Texture: Medium to heavy, smooth, satiny.
Sweetness: Sweet to ultra-sweet.

Any dessert served with a lusciously fruity dessert wine is a spectacular way to end a meal. Just remember, always choose a dessert wine that is sweeter than the dessert; otherwise, the wine may taste bitter, thin and coarse by contrast.

Simple is Best: pound cake, crème brulée, shortbread, nuts; or poached fruit and fruit-nut tarts with or without a custard base. Chocolate, unfortunately, is rarely a flattering companion.

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