Winter 2005:

March 22: German Wine Fair, Thomson Hall, which includes a spring/summer fashion presentation by Escada of Germany, 905/815-1581,

March 23: South African tasting, Toronto, 416/698-8112.

April 1: Quinte Arts Council wine/art auction fund-raiser, Ritchie Room, Belleville, 613/962-1232,

April 7-11: Vinitaly, Verona,

April 8-10: Toronto Wine & Cheese Show, International Centre, 416/229-2060, ext 224.

April 13: South American Cabernets, North York Memorial Community Hall, Winetasters Society,

April 14: The Canadian Club of Halton Peel presents Donna and Tonya Lailey of Lailey Vineyard, speaking on "The Future of Our Wine Industry: Why Make Ontario Wine?" at Oakville Conference Centre, QEW & Bronte Rd./Hwy 25. Contact Judie Preston 905/845-2862, or Barry Wylie 905/827-6302,

April 18: California Wine Fair, Fairmont Royal York, 905/336-8932,

April 18-27: wine/food in Tuscany with an AGO architecture lecturer and a sommelier, 519/753-2695,

April 20: Austrian tasting, Toronto, 416/967-3348, ext. 18,

April 25: Alsace-Rhône tasting, Toronto, 416/921-8400.

May 2-11: wine/food in Provence with an AGO lecturer and a sommelier, 519/753-2695.

May 11: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc tasting, North York Memorial Community Hall, Winetasters Society,

May 11-15: Santé: Bloor-Yorkville Wine Festival, 416/878-7955,

May 25: New Zealand Wine Fair, 705/444-5255,

June 4: Importing Wine For Pleasure & Profit, a one-day professional seminar by Steven Trenholme, a 25-year veteran of the beverage alcohol industry, details how to become an importer. $295.00, 416/503-9834,

* Always remember that I have taken more out of alcohol
than alcohol has taken out of me – Winston Churchill

Red, White and Blue
When you’ve got the blues and not just any sweetie will do…the classic match of blue cheese and sweet/fortified wine is delectable. Roquefort with Sauternes, Stilton with Port, Quebec’s Bleu Ermite with Icewine are foolproof: rich, bold, salty/sour cheese in harmony with sweet, round, fruity or nutty wines.

Messing with success can be risky, though. Metallic blues and strongly tannic wines make poor partners. (Imagine Danish blue and a too-young Barolo: yikes!) Still, a creative approach is well worth it. Matching mid-weight blues and fruity, high-alcohol reds can yield surprisingly complex and delicious results.

Here are some recent pairs recommended by cheese specialist Julia Rogers and sommelier Tonia Wilson of Cheese Culture: Colston Bassett Stilton with Peller Estates Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2001. St. Benoît du Lac Bleu Bénédictine with Magnotta Enotrium Gran Riserva 2001. Gorgonzola Piccante with Tedeschi Capitel San Rocco Ripasso 2000.

* Sir, if you were my husband, I would poison your drink! –
Lady Astor. Madam, if you were my wife, I would drink it
– Winston Churchill

Roll Out the
Switzerland’s Cybox has unveiled a square oak barrel.

“We had mixed reactions,” the company said, adding that three of its 225-litre ‘boxes’ take the space of one barrique.

Why the mixed response? Oak aging is an art. It adds vanillins and oak tannins that significantly influence the taste and protect the wine as it matures in the bottle. Molecular quantities of oxygen permeate the wood as part of the cask maturing process but the ‘box’ exposes the liquid to more air.

* Work is the curse of the drinking class – Oscar Wilde

To Your Very Good Health
A glass of red a day sharply reduces prostate cancer. A new study in the International Journal of Cancer says it cut the rate by half, and especially the most dangerous cancers. Red wine contains the antioxidant resveratrol, which may also help the prostate. Vitamins C and E and white wine help, too. Beer and liquor are useless. The other way to protect your prostate is, apparently, through frequent sex.

* The problem with the world is that everyone is a few
drinks behind – Humphrey Bogart

Rotten Shame
The world's priciest white truffle, $50,000 at a charity auction, has been solemnly re-buried in its native Italy after being left to rot in a London restaurant. For a week, manager Enzo Cassini had refused to cut it. Then it putrefied.

The truffle experts of Florence re-interred the über-fungus at a Medici castle hoping it will regenerate next year.

Wine Express Tip: store your truffles in a Tupperware container full of rice in the fridge. You’ll not only get a steady supply of truffled rice, the truffles will keep for weeks!

* “You’re drunk,“ she said. “Yes, but you’re also
very ugly. At least in the morning I’ll be sober”
– W.C. Fields

Faux Pas
KWV, South Africa's biggest wine exporter, has admitted adding artificial flavoring to two Sauvignon Blancs, 2004 Laborie and 2004 KWV Reserve, and fired the two winemakers. The Laborie was South African Young Wine of the Year. The country’s Wine and Spirits Board had been testing Sauvignons for manipulation.

Sub Rosa
Check out this very cool virtual restaurant in Dundee, Oregon. As the name implies - what goes here stays here.

How Sweet It Is...
Our 2004 Icewine harvest is big and one of the best ever, thanks to an early and brutal cold spell, and daylight picking, a welcome windfall after the tiny 2003. With the wind chill, temperatures reached minus 35C.

Growers are upbeat and Laurie MacDonald of Ontario's Vintners Quality Alliance calls it “the largest Icewine harvest in history.”

Paul Speck of Henry of Pelham says: “The quality looks fantastic and it is rare to be able to do the harvest during the day.”

Fat Chance
A quarter of Scotland’s fish & chip shops sell deep-fried Mars bars and customers also want deep fried Snickers, bananas, pineapple rings and ice cream. The Mediterranean diet is represented, too -- by deep-fried pizza.

Riff Valley
Interviewer to Yogi Berra: Can you explain jazz?

Yogi: I can't, but I will. 90% of all jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, its right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it's wrong.

Good Screw
Tyrrell’s Wines, in Australia’s Hunter Valley since 1858, is sealing all its wines under screwcap from the 2004 vintage.

"Cork is getting worse," says Bruce Tyrrell. "Screwcaps remove the incidence of corked wines and you don’t have to mess around with a corkscrew."

Tongue in cheek, he says the change will cut sales because "people won’t tip a bottle down the sink when they realize it’s corked, then go and buy another one".

Meanwhile, Ontario’s Malivoire has released its first bottlings with Stelvin (screwcap) closures – the 2003 Estate Pinot Noir, 2003 Estate Gamay and 2003 Estate Gewurztraminer, and we’ll eventually see most of Malivoire’s production bottled under screwcap.

* You’re not drunk if you can lie on the floor without
holding on – Dean Martin

Bottle A Day?
Invite 1,200 of your closest friends, open just one bottle of wine, and everyone gets a glass of Cabernet! Mind you, the bottle costs $66,000.

That’s what a NJ wine shop paid at Sotheby’s for Maximus, the world’s largest bottle, holding the equivalent of 173 bottles of Beringer 2001 Private Reserve Napa Valley Cab.

Go figure
In Britain, wine-drinking is soaring and beer falling, while in southern Europe it’s the reverse. In the UK, wine is up 27% in five years, with women accounting for 55% of sales vs 24% of beer sales, and by 2008 wine is set to rise another 16%, 27% in Ireland. Wine sales in Europe were 86 billion euros last year.

Red Letter Day
After the Calendar Girls, here come the Naked Winemakers. The Côtes de Bourg version features both genders in the buff. Organizer Marie Le Marchand says: “We wanted to show the natural aspect of the vigneron's work, to represent the slogan “sacré nature”.

Not all is rosy, however, with some winemakers objecting to the image of their Bordeaux wines being tarnished by such posturing.

* I drink to make other people interesting.
– George Jean Nathan

The Preservation of Man...
The horse & mule live 30 years
and nothing know of wines and beers.
The goat & sheep at 20 die
with never a taste of scotch or rye.
The cow drinks water by the ton
and at 18 is mostly done.
The dog at 16 cashes in
without the aid of rum or gin.
The cat in milk and water soaks
and then in 12 short years it croaks.
The modest, sober, bone-dry hen
lays eggs for nogs then dies at ten.
All animals are strictly dry –
they sinless live and swiftly die!
But sinful, ginful rum-soaked men
survive for three-score years and ten.
And some of us, though mighty few
stay pickled till we’re 92!

Tipple On
Women who sip beer or wine daily have sharper minds into old age than abstainers, according to a study of 12,500 US nurses, adding to the known benefits of a light tipple which can also prevent heart disease and stroke.

"Our study suggests that moderate consumption might provide older women some cognitive benefits," said Dr Francine Grodstein of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Vintners producing Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio have developed a new hybrid that acts as an anti-diuretic. It’s expected to cut the number of trips people make to the bathroom in the wee hours and be marketed as Pino More.

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