Let’s Wine Together
As a certified sommelier with a passion for the wines of the Lake Erie North Shore, I am not here to tell you what you should drink; taste in wine is very personal. My goal is to open your mind – and your palate – to different ideas and options.
Please submit wine-related questions for publication and I will also share my experiences with local wines. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, at www.facebook.com/GrapeAspirations and on Twitter at @gr8grapz.
This month’s question comes from PR, in Kingsville:
I confess to being a first-time attendee at the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival this year. What tips can you give me to make the most of my weekend pass?
The Shores of Erie International Wine Festival is a great opportunity to sample wines from almost all of the local wineries (14 will be represented), paired with 16 restaurants from Windsor and Essex County and live music from local musicians and bands, including Merlin’s own sweetheart, Michelle Wright, and local favourites, including Billy Raffoul.
On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, my friend Gary Killops will be doing wine walk tours and local chefs will be giving cooking demonstrations in the Culinary Pavilion.
The Festival has come a long way in the nine years since its inception (with only three wineries in attendance)… there’s even an app you can download for your mobile phone or tablet!
The first tip is to keep a close eye on the weather and dress appropriately with VERY comfortable shoes; the terrain of Fort Malden National Historic Site is … well … rugged in places and you don’t want any physical mishaps to ruin your experience.
Number two: PACE YOURSELF. With 14 wineries represented, there are a number of ways to experience the fruits of their labours. At the Vine Pavilion, you can purchase four tastings for $5. You can also purchase tokens at three points throughout the park, which you then use to purchase glasses and bottles at each winery’s booth (between the 14 wineries, they have 23 booths throughout the park.
It’s a great opportunity to sample some wonderful food, too, from a variety of restaurants (each restaurant’s booth will have several dishes available to purchase)… and please let me know if you come up with any memorable pairings! And, of course, enjoy the music and the views – the sunsets can be breathtaking.
Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions of the representatives at each winery’s booth; this is a wonderful opportunity to get insight into the winery’s winemaking process, their approach to pesticide and fertilizer use, as well as their plans for the future, just to name a few.
I hope you have a ticket for the Winemakers Dinner on Friday night… a wonderful five-course meal served in an elegantly appointed open-air tent on the bank of the Detroit river… each course accompanied, of course, by award-winning local wines. And each table is hosted by a local winemaker… don’t forget your notebook; it’s a rare treat to get into a winemaker’s head and get her or his personal take on the local wines, the viability of different grape varieties and, of course, why that wine is being served with that food. You’ll also want to take notes on which wines you liked and why… the aromas, the flavours, the colour… and, of course, the name so you can purchase more of it.