Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

Hello Prince Albert! Wine drinkers tend to be social folks; not solely due to the happy buzz from the wine, but mainly because they like to share their passion and excitement for delicious-tasting wines. They want others to experience the joy of discovery from a new varietal or a flavor that their peers have yet to come across. What better way to explore new flavors and wines than a wine tasting?

Wine enthusiasts will be pleased to learn that Lake Country Co-op has started doing wine events at their WSB (Wine Spirits Beer) Cornerstone location in Prince Albert and their first event titled “Petals and Prosecco” took place on Wednesday and Thursday this past week (May 10-11). I was lucky enough to host and attend the event for both dates and everyone had a blast tasting wines and planting their own flowers to take home at the end.

Participants in the tastings divided their time between delicious charcuterie, specially-selected wines and creating their own centerpiece of flowers. There were many laughs and enjoyable moments throughout the tasting, but I wanted to go through some of the highlights and describe the wines that we had the pleasure of sampling over the course of two days.

Guests were greeted as they arrived with an opening/welcoming sparkling wine, the Segura Viudas Cava from Spain. This Cava was bright and crisp with an aroma of fresh citrus, toast and hints of honey. It paired beautifully with creamy brie and rice crackers. The quality of Cava is very high and this one was no exception. After all, Cava by law is made using the traditional or Champagne method and the resulting wine is both refreshing and especially affordable for the quality-level. Segura Viudas can be purchased for around $22 and contains 12% alcohol.

After the introduction of the first wine, guests are given the choice of which flowers they would like to plant and the soil, tools and gloves to complete the planting into a small centerpiece. Once everyone had a chance to get their plants settled and wine tasted, the second wine of the evening was introduced: the Santa Margherita Prosecco Superiore from Italy. This sparkling wine had a touch more sugar and a high-intensity flavor of pears and green apples with a burst of bright acidity. This one really made the mouth water and livened up the tastebuds for pairing with Genoa salami and Prosciutto. The contrast of savory meats with the crisp wine was an amazing combination and it is a flavor matchup that can easily be recreated at home for friends or family. The value ratio for this wine is quite high as the Santa Margherita Prosecco Superiore easily outmatches other Prosecco wines on the shelf for similar or sometimes less-expensive prices. The Santa Margherita sells for $25 and has an ABV of 11.5%.

As I like to design some of my wine tastings like a rollercoaster, the Brunel de la Gardine was the perfect way to mellow things out and give the tastebuds a small break from the heights of the first two wines. This blended white wine came from the Cotes du Rhone region of France and impressed with its oily, round texture and smooth, gentle flavors of fresh fruit. This was the driest wine of the tasting and definitely the most polarizing for many of the attendees. This is actually one of the benefits of going to a wine tasting as you can taste what a wine is like without buying an entire bottle. Even though the Brunel de la Gardine was the least-intense wines of the tasting, it was a great addition to the list and provided the neutral backdrop for the next two wines to shine. You can get a bottle of Brunel de la Gardine for $25 but you may have to wait awhile as all the bottles were bought up at the end of the tasting (one specific participant really enjoyed it). This French white has an alcohol level of 14% and would be perfectly suited for fresh walleye or rainbow trout from Saskatchewan.

The second to last wine jumped out of the gate from the first sniff with fresh strawberries, raspberries and the scent of freshly cut flowers. Beautiful and soft on the palate, the Hush Rose from Dirty Laundry Vineyards makes one yearn for a warm day on the deck with friends and family. It went down a bit too easily and paired incredibly well with strawberries, raspberries, cheddar, salamis and salty snacks. The Hush Rose is an award-winning VQA wine from Peachland, BC and is well worth its $28 price tag. Following the neutral wine which proceeded it allowed the red fruit aromas and flavors to leap out of the glass and highlighted the beautiful freshness of the wine. The rose is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah grapes and had the highest sugar content so far (off-dry) with an alcohol content of 12.5% ABV.

Last but not least was one of my new favorites, the Gunderloch Fritz’s Riesling from Germany. The intensity and acidity of this wine are both intense so this wine ends the event on an enjoyable high note. On the nose, there is a bevy of green apples, pears, lemon/lime, limestone mineral and rubber bouncy ball. All of these flavors are also found on the palate along with that high acidity and medium-dry sugar level which keeps the mouth happily buzzing and tingling. This wine paired well with everything on the charcuterie board and guests were also informed that it will pair wonderfully with Vietnamese foods, spicy dishes and my favorite low-brow pairing, KFC (yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken). This German Riesling has an alcohol content of 10.5% and costs $20 per bottle.

After all the wine had been tasted, the charcuterie board had been emptied and the flowers had been planted, it was time for a few small gifts for those in attendance. Guests took home their flower planters and gloves, coupons for discounts at other Co-op locations and they were also entered to win one of several large flower centerpieces. What a great way to kick off a beautifully-hot summer here in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan! Keep your eyes and ears open for other wine, spirit and beer events coming soon.

Cheers and thanks for reading!