Summer Guide to Wine in Mississauga
Summer is in full swing and it's time (and has been for a while) to start planning some super cool BBQs and, if you're fancy, dinner parties. Although we've been experiencing a prolonged (and welcome) craft beer renaissance, wine is an important and elegant accompaniment to any meal.
Wine is, if prepared competently, a flavorful and exciting beverage that boasts near-infinite variety in terms of taste. It can be enjoyed at home or in a chic fine dining restaurant and it's always -- always! -- in season. Although it's sometimes semi-affectionately associated with frazzled housewives and snooty faux-connoisseurs who slurp and splash and claim to taste a "hint of basil with a touch of coral," wine is, if you're not a complete teetotaler, a profoundly important part of a good meal.
All that said, choosing the right wine for your Mississauga gathering can be tough. If you want to open your mind (and palate) to new blends and seasonally-appropriate vintages, it can be hard to know where to start.
Thankfully, Rebecca Meir-Liebman, a sommelier and co-owner of Chef and Somm Bespoke Dining, a private chef and sommelier company that visits homes in Mississauga and beyond to prepare five to seven course meals with wine pairings, has some advice when it comes to choosing the perfect bottles.
"There are no right or wrong answers [when it comes to picking wine]," she says. 'It's like art. People should get what they want and open their minds. That's just a good approach to life. Your palate will change and develop."
If you want to stick to local (and local-ish wines), there are options. If you want to support a winery that boasts a Mississauga location, you can visit Colio Estate Wines, Magnotta Winery or E & J Gallo Winery. You can also check out the vintages section in any local LCBO (in fact, the vintages section in the Erin Mills Town Centre location is huge).
And if you want to make your own wine in the city, we've got you covered.
If you don't mind bringing in wines from a little further away, it's always good to see what's for sale at other Ontario wineries.
"I love the small boutique wineries in Beamsville, such as; Back 10 Cellars, Kew Vineyards and Rosewood Estates," says Meir-Liebman. "There are some good wineries in Ontario and you can buy directly from wineries or the LCBO."
If you don't have time to drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a bottle of Jackson Triggs or Peller Estates vino (both of which you can buy locally), you can actually order from a wine agency and have bottles delivered right to your door. If you want treat yourself or your guests to French or Italian wines, this is a worthwhile option -- especially if you're a big vino aficionado with a wine cellar.
"Mellecey Wine Group is a great agency for French wines," Meir-Liebman says. "Investing in Burgundy and Bordeaux is a very smart investment, if you have a wine cellar to store and age the wines. Halpern is a well-known agency that I highly recommend for French wines as well. For Italian wines, Le Sommelier offers some beautiful, unique wines from Italy, such as Il Carnaciale from Tuscany. If you are interested in organic and biodynamic and natural wines, The Living Vine is the right agency for that."
If you pay attention to winery news, you might also be aware that Prince Edward County is quickly becoming a hot spot for vino lovers.
"Norman Hardie is the guru of Prince Edward County," she says. "He is well known for his chardonnays and his pinot noir; I’d recommend trying his Melon de Bourgogne. If you love Gewurztraminer, Lacey Estate makes the best one in Ontario. Stanners is a small family boutique winery and they make some really nice Cabernet Franc."
If you do find yourself in Niagara-on-the-Lake area, Meir-Liebman has a few choice recommendations.
"For Rieslings, Rosewood Estates' Mima's Block [is great.] Henry of Pelham is doing great with their top tier ($25-$30) wines, which are worth the price."
Although it's great to have some recommended bottles in mind when planning a party, weather and atmosphere are also important. There are times when whites are king and reds a little heavy (think of a casual backyard BBQ on a hot day). It's also important to keep food in mind when selecting bottles.
"If you're having a garden party on a hot day, a red might not work," she says. "White is interesting with food and refreshing. Every wine has its time. [If it's a bigger party], go for bigger bottles. Chenin blanc can be enjoyed with sausages."
If you've been scanning the aisles at the LCBO, you might have noticed that blended wines are becoming more pronounced. Although you might tend to gravitate to Chianti, it never hurts to try something new. Most bottles aren't terribly expensive and if you don't like the blend, you'll surely find a friend who does.
That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when trying a vino with a mix of grapes and it helps to do some research and, if you get the chance, talk to winemakers and other people in the know.
"When it comes to blended wines, it is more about knowing the winemaker, and how good he is with his craft rather than a certain combination of grapes," she says. "Blended wine gives the chance to create a good balanced wine, even if the single varietal did not shine on its own. So for me, it is it is more about meeting interesting wine makers rather than interesting blends."
If you're more traditional, you might want to stick with roses -- the perfect summer drink for a poolside party or patio. If you love the soft pink glow of the beverage but aren't terribly into sweetness, you might be pleased to know that dry varieties are available.
"Gerard Bertrand offers good dry rose that is available at the LCBO," she says. "His rose wines are very food friendly. For a great value Rose, Sud Absolu, from Domaine La Ligiere is what I recommend; it is only $15.95 per bottle, easy drinking and delicious. For a higher end, try Cotes du Ventoux rose from Domaine Tix. Mellecey wine group imports both of them."
If you want to stay off the beaten path and try something a little different, Meir-Liebman says that Greek wines are more than worth a try.
"We are lucky to have Kolonaki Group in Canada, who bring some well-made Greek wines. I highly recommend their wines from Santorini, especially their Santo Santorini Reserve Assyrtiko, it almost tastes like a white Burgundy; a great wine to have with white meat, and dishes with cream sauce. Scours Moschofilero is another wine I really enjoy, especially on the patio on a warm day. It is very refreshing and good value wine that you can usually find at the LCBO as well."
Meir-Liebman also recommends a few hidden gems.
"Sicilian wines are a great choice; some are almost as light as Pinot Noir. I find the Etna Roso to be very interesting and complex. White Austrian wines, as Gruner Veltiner and Riesling, are pure and fresh and offer great value. I would also recommend that if you feel like having French wines; check the wines from the Loire Valley and from Alsace, especially for good value white wine as Chenin Blanc and Pinot Gris."
Bonus: If you don't plan on hosting a get together, it might please you to know that a ton of Mississauga restaurants boast exceptional wine selections. A few restos worth checking out when you're in the mood for vino include:
If you have a gorgeous collection and want to bring your own wine to a Mississauga restaurant, these restos allow you to bring your own bottle (but will charge a corking fee).