Thursday, August 28, 2008

All About Wine

I’ve discovered everyone in the Okanagan is an expert on wine and wine making. I’ll include myself in that robust, earthy, full bodied, oaky group as well, thank you.

First some background.

Wine was discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus when he landed in the Napa Valley. In later voyages he also discovered the drunk tank, Australia, potatoes, chocolate, coffee, lattes, syphilis, fungus, the Tijuana Brass and bubonic plague (same thing really).

Back at the start though, Columbus took the wine plant home with him to Spain or Portugal or Italy someplace, where monks used the delicious fruit to make raisins. Some of the raisins stored in jars fermented and exploded – thus creating Pop Tarts. This has nothing to do with wine really – I just made that part up.

Anyway, wine plants produce grapes in all kinds of flavours and varieties. There’s Champoo, Cabriolet, Infantile, Riceling, Pie-note Blank, SovietMignon Blank, Blankety Blank, Merlin, Baby Duck, Moody Blue, Dire Straits and many others.

There are also a lot of wineries in the Okanagan. Some of the more popular are BrokeOrchard, Flooded Basement, DamnTheALR, TaxSchloss-Carry-Vorwart, and Concussed Defenceman.

The reason there are so many wineries in the Okanagan is because there are so many places where grapes are grown here. Sheesh – work with me here.

So wine is pretty popular hereabouts, as you can tell from the number of boating accident reports that include the phrase ‘alcohol may have been a factor’.

If you have just moved here from Alberta (and really – who hasn’t?) you probably think wine comes from holes in the ground and you are no doubt desperate to fit in. The fluid in the lake is not oil by the way.

All this means you should go on a few winery tours.

Winery tours are great for learning about wine and alcohol related bus accidents. You’ll learn things like what ‘delicately balanced’ means, or how the term ‘fruity’ can be used in a sentence without causing offense.

You’ll also hear things like “Try this one”, “Off the floor”, “Hand me your fat wallet”, and so on.

Really serious wine snobs actually spit out their wine on these wine tours instead of drinking it, if you can imagine.

When it comes to spitting out wine, I had lunch with a guy once who breathed instead of swallowed and actually sprayed wine out of both nostrils and I think his ears. He put on quite a geyser show – I thought he was pitching some sort of fit in a blatant attempt to get out of paying for lunch, the devil. I managed to wrestle his VISA card from his twitching clutches and got it to the waiter in time, but it was close.

Turns out everything was fine – he paid for lunch.

By now if you’re still on a winery tour you’ll have purchased several cases of fine wine, or some cases of maple syrup in Mountie-shaped bottles, depending on how drunk you were when entering the gift shop.

Now it is time to pair the wine with the appropriate food. Official wine people will tell you that correctly pairing wine with food is essential to achieving orgasms or something.

Being a family with young children, we frankly don’t care. At the end of a hectic day, all Mom and Dad really desire is getting as much plonk into our empty bellies as will fit in a short period of time, and if it goes well with Kraft Dinner and wieners then so much the better. Red wine is good with burgers, white goes well with Cheerios. There. Consider yourself paired.

As to specific wines and wineries, tourists in the Okanagan and other wine-producing regions of Canada should pay particular attention to the Tim Horton Estate’s 2008 Zesty Apple Fritterweine, which is available at many of their popular outlets.

Incidentally, their brewing division also has a great tasting beer this year called…wait for it…Tim Bitters.

Thank you. I’ll put a cork in it now.

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