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Currently viewing the tag: "Wine"

Hmmm….so what could possibly go better with a happy hour than wine? Positively nothing, except perhaps some great company & olives. For any oenophile, happy hour can sometimes be a wasteland of options…unless you’re strategic about where you plan your happy hours that is.

Vino Vino

We personally love this happy hour and make it one of our regulars…The wine selection is so carefully curated, and turned over often enough that you never risk getting wine list fatigue. The staff is fantastic with a great level of knowledge that never wains in spite of their ever changing list. And the food is fantastic. During happy hour, they have $6 appetizers that range from their ridiculously good flatbread pizza to addictively marinated Castelvetrano olives and they offer $2 off all glasses of wine. It’s a great atmosphere that is truly styled for a wine lover – with a decor of stacked wine racks that can entertain any oenophile for much longer than a mere happy hour.

House Wine

Where to even start with the happy hours available at this South Austin spot? Every day they have great selections for $5/glass with specials Monday to Saturday 3-5pm, reverse happy hours at other times, along with wine tasting classes on Tuesday night. Great patio tucked away off of South Lamar that definitely is worth checking out!

Cork & Co.

If you happen to find yourself downtown and needing a laid-back space and a solid glass of red to carry you through the rest of your day at SXSW, Cork & Co. will be your place. Perfectly situated for everything going on at SX at Congress & 3rd, it will be hard to avoid stopping in for their happy hour. $3 off their glasses of wine…you can’t say no.

the backspace

This is a little gem just off Dirty 6th that we hope stays just that way! Brought by Chef Shawn Cirkiel and his team from Parkside situated just in front, it’s a great, intimate little spot that belies where it’s located. Their happy hour (every day til 6:30) is amazing with 1/2 off all wine on their great, representative Italian list as well as 1/2 off all of their delicious appetizers. Of course, being focused on classic napolitano pizza with a wood-burning oven, just try not ordering one.

Uncorked Tasting Room & Wine Bar

Certified Wine Professional, Ron Wright, has put together a great selection of wine and a great team to help you seek a moment of calm from the storm. Set just off I-35 on the east side with a patio looking west over the city profile, the spot always seemed like a curious one – til we got out there to enjoy the profile of our great city while getting off our feet one day. Only to learn that Ron practically loves to give away his wine on Mondays when all glasses are 50% off…

The Aviary

We love this place. What more to say? It combines our love of wine, delicious cheese, great company…and fantastic design over excellent 80s music. Done. Marco has put together a great list of wine that you can enjoy on its own, maybe with the odd surprise bottle being offered or alongside an outstanding cheese plate.


And what happy hour list could close without a reverse happy hour? After 10pm all of the healthy pours at this new North Loop joint are $5. What more does a girl need to say? They have a great wine list, which is something we would like to see more of at local pubs – a pub doesn’t need a wine program, but it wouldn’t hurt to get with the program a little. So, all that to say that we have managed to taste a few wines up here that have caught our eye at Spec’s – and for $5 as a follow-up to a great dinner at Foreign & Domestic or to change things up from a Brown Sugar Snow at the Tigress across the street, yes! Oh, and did we mention they have homemade Chex mix?

We are generally big fans of the crisp tropical flavours of a good Verdelho (not to be confused with Verdejo – which we are also big fans of), so we were interested in tasting this offering from Margaret River’s Miles from Nowhere.  While we generally tend (when we can find them) toward Spanish Verdellos from Gallicia, we have had a number of tasty versions out of Australia over the years and so had reasonably high expectations for this wine.

Fresh nose that is reminiscent of wet pavement, with a sweet floral note and a hint of citrus.  So basically, this wine smells like spring.  The palate displays the typical tropical fruit -especially pineapple, lime, honeysuckle and grassy notes that we expect from Verdehlo.  Not overly complex, but bold, well balanced and refreshing – just the kind of wine you want to have on hand as warmer weather starts making its annual comeback.

We had this with a curried cauliflower soup and fried Pacific Snapper sandwiches, which was a great pairing for the bold flavours and big aromatics of this wine.

8.2/10.0     $21.99

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This wine is a blend of Viognier, Gewurtztraminer and Pinot Gris so you know the aromatics are going to be huge – a big nose of peach, tangerine, myer lemon, rose petal, lychee and a hint of honey immediately impresses. On the palate this wine is bone dry with a crisp, refreshing acidity; great balance. Flavours of stone fruit, citrus and green apple with a clean streak of minerals leave you with a long fresh aftertaste. You’ll taste this one for a long time after it’s gone.

We had this with panko crusted cod fillets – wich was delicious – but we immediately thought the big aromatics on this would play well with something with a bit of heat.  Thai or earthy Mexican dishes would be an ideal match.

8.8/10.0 $24.00

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Nichol Vineyards has long been one of our favourite Okanagan wineries (we are generally quite partial to the old Naramata Bench wineries – Nichol, Kettle Valley, La Frenz, Lake Breeze, Elephant Island, Poplar Grove and Hillside), but we generally think of them for their pioneering Syrah and Cab Franc.  However, their whites should not be over looked as they produce one of our favourite Pinot Gris (leaving them on the skins like Kettle Valley to extract some of the beautiful salmon colouring) and this very tasty (and very dry) Gewurtz.

For a varietal that is usually known for its aromatics, this wine displays a surprisingly delicate floral nose: rose petals, lychee lime with the slight hint of wet pavement.  On the palate this is very far to the dry side of the spectrum of Gewurztraminer with crisp acidity.  The palate has notes of lychee, pink grapefruit, white peach, lime zest, hint of spice and a minerally note.  This wine has a long finish that carries on that minerally note with a grapefruit pith for what seems like forever.

This will pair well with Asian flavours- think five spice rubbed pork tenderloin or hoisin glazed chicken.  The spice holds up to the strong flavours and the crisp acidity a citrus notes beautifully cuts through fats and slaty flavours alike.

8.6/10.0       $20


Rich smokey notes of tar, plum and vanilla make this wine instantly enticing – just what we want in a good Montepulciano.  The plum notes follow through on the palate, with notes of blueberry, tea and a hint of cinnamon.  Nice balance and structure here, with grippy tanins that soften as it opens.  Nothing mind blowing here, but make no mistake this is a solid wine that delivers everything you want to see in a Montepulciano at this price point.  The deep purple colour of this wine only helps to draw you in more.

We had this with a spicy bruschetta and burrata – tasty.  You’ll be happy with this as your pizza and pasta wine, but it would also be great with a grilled steak served with a squeeze of fresh lemon, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil – it cries out for the flavours of Italy.

8.1/10.0      $29.99


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Aromas of apricot, citrus and wild flower honey with a hint of cinnamon give this a very different profile than most Vinho Verdes on the nose.  On the palate this is dry and crisp, providing a great contrast to the sweet and spicy nose, but without the mouth puckering acidity of some Vinho Verdes.  Flavours of dried apricot, orange zest and lemon lead to a clean mineral and citrus finish.  One complaint on this wine is that it lacks the usual effervescence that is typical to Vinho Verde.  Not the end of the world as this is still a tasty and unique wine, but we’re normally big fans of the refreshing citrus fizz of Vinho Verde.  This is a richer, more full bodied Vinho Verde than most – definitely not your typical cheap Portuguese fizz.

Try this paired with grilled white fish -the fattiness of halibut, sole or lingcod would be ideal the ideal foil for the crisp citrus flavours, but this wine also has the weight to stand up to them.

Unique and thrilling stuff – try this with The Weeknd’s latest mix tape Echoes of Silence.

7.9/10      14.99

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Our fondness for Spanish wines has been fairly well documented, so it is not surprising that this well-priced old vine Grarnacha from just outside of Zaragoza caught our attention.

Very concentrated deep ruby colour on this wine. Not a lot going on on the nose on this wine. Aromas of sweet dark fruit dominate with a herbal / floral note and hint of black pepper and spice. Flavours of raspberry, strawberry and under-ripe blackberry give way to a black pepper, carmel and vanilla notes. Good acidity and soft tannins, but a little out of balance. Overall a pleasant and interesting wine, but definitely not a blockbuster.

We had this with a delicious ghormeh sabzi (a Persian dish with lamb and herbs) – which was a great pairing. Lamb is a natural pairing for Grenache, and this wine is no exception.

7.5/10.0 $17.99

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Wow. This is some pretty fantastic stuff. We had very high hopes for this Riesling from Coal River Valley, Tasmania given that (1) we have been extremely impressed by most Tazy wines we have tried (especially the delicious Pinot Noirs) and (2) dry and off-dry Rieslings are among our absolute favourite whites. We were hoping the the combination of these factors – and Tazy’s general success with cool climate varietals – would yield something pretty special and Pressing Matters somehow managed to not only meet but wildly exceed our high expectations.

It make sense that Pressing Matters would know how to handle Riesling as they produce exclusively Rieslings and Pinot Noirs, including four different styles of Riesling – bone dry (R0), dry (R9), medium-sweet (R69) and sweet (R139) (the numbers in the name of each wine correspond to the residual sugar levels in each).

On the nose this immediately hits you with that classic sweet petrol note, but also has a delicate, almost floral, freshness and hints of pear. Great balance with the wonderfully oily mouth feel that good Rieslings have. On the palate, the few years of bottle age have allowed this to develop some very nice complexities. Flavours of crisp green apple, lime and pink grapefruit are predominate, with a hint of apricot and a nice streak of minerality that runs through it. The finish on this just keeps on going with hints of that green apple and orange zest.

We had this with a delicious creamy cauliflower and blue cheese soup and cornbread, but its crisp acidity would cut through any rich dishes very nicely – creamy pasta sauces, seafood risottos and Indian dishes all come to mind.

9.5/10.0 AUS$29

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Wild Goose has long been one of our favourite BC wineries and has for years produced some of the most consistently stunning Alsatian style whites being made in the Okanagan.  Autumn Gold was the wine that introduced us to Wild Goose years ago – long before we fell in love with their epicly delicious Rieslings.  A blend of Riesling, Gewurtztraminer and Pinot Blanc, Autumn Gold puts a BC spin on a classic Alsatian blend.

On the nose you get the big aromatic notes you expect from a good Alsatian blend:  honeysuckle, orange blossom, tropical fruit and lime.  On the palate, flavours of pear, spiced apple, pineapple and lime zest predominate with a nice mineral note that lingers on the finish.  Fresh acidity and a touch of sweetness that also carries through the long finish on this wine.

We had this with sushi, but it would pair well with almost any seafood dishes and spicy asian fare.  Of course, this would also be excellent with a nice Alsatian onion tart or a cheese fondue – which is to say, it is a very versatile and food friendly white.

8.7/10     $18.99
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You don’t often see straight Cabernet Franc from Spain, especially not on North American shelves, so this wine from Fincao Los Aljibes in Albacete province in south eastern Spain immediately intrigued us.  It did not disappoint.  This non-D.O. wine is exactly the kind of wine you hope to  discover when you go venturing outside of Europe’s classified appellation system – something unique, modern and rewarding.

The wine has a beautiful garnet colour and aromas of black cherries, mint and spice.  On the palate the Aljibes Cab Franc was incredibly well balanced, with soft tannins, bright acidity and a juicy mouthfeel.  Flavours of back current, stewed plums, anise and spice were immediately apparent.  As the wine opened up notes of blueberries, black pepper and dark chocolate also appeared.  The long, smooth finish nicely displays the smooth tannins and leaves you with that hint of chocolate and spice.

We had this with a delicious penne with a Bolognese sauce using our canned crushed tomatoes (which was excellent), but it would probably be even better paired with with lamb chops and roast vegetables.

We coincidentally had on Gotan Project’s Lunatico during dinner, which really does capture of the mood of the Aljibes Cab Franc very well – a modern interpretation of a classic.

9.0/10.0       $34.99

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