There is a nice side affect to our hobby, by making our own wine and beer we gain an enthusiasm for tasting the fruits of our labour. I discovered early on that this translated past wine and beer, suddenly I was tasting my food in a whole new way. Then comes the food pairings, and not just with wine. Brewmaster dinner’s seems to be the next hot trend in the foodie world, where a different beer is paired with each course in a fine dinning setting.
So what’s the next step for us at home? We’ve tasted, we’ve paired, why not cook? Just like growing your own vegetables, there is something satisfying about cooking with your own wine or beer. So following that theory I decided to take one of my favorite recipes (Chocolate Stout Cakes…yeah, it’s as good as it sounds) and swap out the well-known commercial stout for my own Festa Brew Double Oatmeal Stout. I always favour Festa Brew’s stout to any other when reaching for a beer and it doesn’t disappoint in this recipe either!
Unfortunately I can’t take any credit for the recipe, it comes from Chuck Hugues, a chef from Montreal who has a show on the Food Network. Check out the recipe here http://www.foodnetwork.ca/recipes/recipe.html?dishid=9918
Chris Jans has a love for all things wine and beer and can usually be found in our Cole Harbour location.
Now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you what I’m talking about. Before I get downright lascivious and lust-addled like a prisoner on a conjugal visit, let me dial it in for you. “R”aspberry Chocolate Port is back!! Except this time, I’m even more excited, because she’s brought two of her most ravenous friends; Blackberry Port and Peach Ice Wine. There has never been a better threesome! (Get your mind out of the gutter!! I’m talking about the 3 specialty wine offerings this year.)
If you didn’t read my blog last year about my infatuation with “R”aspberry Chocolate Port, we reposted it yesterday. Check it out.
Needless to say, hedonism comes in a glass, and brings her sister, ambrosia. They dance together magically in your mouth, culminating in such an explosion of silky satin flavours that I can’t even possibly do it justice; words should have sent a poet J . If you haven’t tried any of this trio yet, you’re missing out. I know that it sounds like I’m incredibly smitten with my adorable “R”aspberry Chocolate baby, but I’m VERY intrigued by Blackberry, and cute little Peach has seductive qualities of her own.
… Oh my, I have to catch my breath! You’ve got only 3 days left to have your every sense comprehensively seduced by this sultry and alluring temptress. ;) Sign up today!
Noble Grape Quinpool.
There is a great article in the Globe and Mail this week about what causes headaches in some people when they drink wine. Many people mistakenly blame tannins or sulphites for these allergic reactions. Apparently it turns out that the culprit is glycoproteins – proteins coated with sugars – that could be at the root of many wine allergies. Here is the link:
I have a theory. Many, many people report that they have no adverse reaction to consumer made wines while they do have reactions to commercial wines. I am wondering if it’s possible that our wines contain less of these glycoproteins than commercial examples. Makes sense to me!
Obviously, this is out of my realm of expertise and I would be open to any comments that might add to this interesting topic.
For now, I’m just happy that our wines seem (from my experiences) to provide an alternative to people who report these headaches.
…and I’m also glad that tannins and sulphites seem to have been exonerated. (What did they ever do to anyone, anyway? ;)
Late last summer a friend and I were sitting on a dock at the edge of a secluded lake in Ontario drinking some wine. My friend, and former co-worker Josh was part way through a move across Canada to start a Sommelier course in Vancouver. Reminiscing about our time in Halifax and at Noble Grape we laughed about how both our career paths changed over the years leading us into the wine industry, asking ourselves how we managed to get to here. The answer…we drank a lot of wine!
Perhaps a better way to describe it is that I “sample” a lot of wine. Because I am so lucky as to work in such a fun industry, wine and plenty of people who enjoy sampling it are always around. The difference between “drinking” and “sampling” is simple, take your first few sips of wine and think about how it tastes, then discuss or write it down. Just by taking a few extra seconds to analyze the wine you will remember how a Shiraz is different from a Merlot, or even how a French Sauvignon Blanc is different from a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
This can be a great social occasion as well. Last summer my roommates and I invited a bunch of people over, asking each one to bring one bottle of wine. We sat in the backyard slowly sampling through the different varieties trying to pick out flavours and pairing them with finger foods that one of our friends had the fore thought to bring over. This way we got to try many more wines than we would have on our own, and it was fun!
There are also formal wine tasting events available all over Halifax and Nova Scotia. We are lucky to be close to many wineries, and the NSLC holds it’s Port of Wines Festival every year. Then of course there is Noble Grape’s annual tasting, always lots of fun and I leave with new wine knowledge every year.
Essentially what I realized is that you don’t have to travel the world to learn about wine. You don’t have to take expensive courses or poor over wordy literature on the issue. Wine should be fun, if you share the passion it doesn’t matter how much knowledge you start with or what your tastes are.
Main St. Dartmouth (among other places)
We occasionally have customers who get concerned with the colour of a wine or a beer in a carboy. Maybe they think it should look lighter in colour or maybe they bought 2 at the same time and are concerned that they look different in the carboy. I wanted to put everyone’s mind at ease on this subject, hopefully once and for all.
The reality is this: Carboys are thick and light doesn’t travel through one very easily. Minute differences in colour can look dramatic when amplified in a carboy.
Also, yeast in suspension makes a wine or beer look lighter in colour. When I recently made 2 batches of Festa Brew ESB, I decided to take some photos and write a quick blog.
I put on 2 batches of our delicious Festa Brew Dry hopped ESB at the exact same time and for unknown mystical reasons, (Ahhhh…. those mischievous brew gods) the beer on the left started working about an hour before the beer on the right. (and no, I wasn’t even remotely concerned ;) The first photo shown was taken shortly thereafter. The beer on the left looks dramatically lighter in colour because it has started fermenting a tiny bit sooner and the billions of yeast cells reflect light causing it to look lighter. Combine this with the depth of the carboy and the effect is dramatic.
After 72 hours though, in the second photo, the beer on the right is fermenting at its peak while the beer on the left has already started to settle causing it to look much darker…. same beer, same colour, but dramatically different looking again.
The final result? Both of these finished beer now taste identical, look identical, and are ridiculously delicious.
The moral of the story? You can’t judge a book by it’s cover, and don’t judge a “bock” by it’s “colour” either! (Same goes for wine too).
After attending a wine tasting event a while back, I found myself wondering if the cost of the event was worth the experience I left with after it was over. The general consensus among the group of us was, “Nice event, but I wouldn’t pay $60 again for the same experience.” Well, now you don’t have to. It just so happens that there’s an awesome Noble Grape tasting and food pairing event next Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for only $12!! Now, THAT’S more like it!
Imagine a relaxing evening sampling 5 different wines from fantastic wine regions around the world. Now imagine sampling 5-6 different foods together with these wines. NOW, imagine actually learning something about these wines too. How much would you pay to attend an event like that? $12.00? SOLD!! Tickets are moving fast, obviously. When will you get another chance to experience such a cost effective teasing of the senses? This year we have Tim Vandergrift as a guest speaker too. He’s quite a celebrity in the wine world and we’re very excited to have him.
Remember, most wine tasting events are $50 or more per person. This event is $12 per person. Call your local Noble Grape for more details, reserve tickets, and get in on this amazing experience. You’ll regret it if you don’t, trust me. We hope to see you there.
Noble Grape Quinpool
Well I have to say, what better reason to celebrate? 1 to 7 in 17 years!17 years ago Steven and Mark opened up their first store in Cole Harbour. I remember covering the odd shift for them, (it was too hard for them to attend any family function together and keep the store open). They were energetic and keen, trying different products and learning from their mistakes. Their first newsletter was mailed out (pre-email years) and contained full pages of text only.
In 1997 they purchased the Burnside store. I remember them being nervous about this move, but they did it anyways. There were a few very tough months but they hung in there and finally it started working. They invented some new products (Can-add-a beer mix, etc.) and kept themselves busy.
In 2001 they decided to open another store. Starting from scratch they built the Bayers Lake store. I was there from the beginning and let’s just say the beginning was tough… very tough! They had moved into an area that promised to be busy but we seemed to be there a year too early.
In 2004 (once Bayers Lake was a little more stable) they were offered the chance to purchase the Quinpool Road store. This store was owned by John Arnold who was ready to retire. He liked the idea of Steven taking over his baby. (Steven had worked with John in the very early days.) In 2006, with four stores under way and plenty of great staff looking to grow, Steven and Mark decided that Sackville was the next move.
This store services customers from Sackville through Fall River and straight through to the valley.
In late 2007 Steven and Mark ventured outside of Nova Scotia and opened up their first ‘urban winery’ in Fredericton N.B. Running a store so far away would normally be stressful but they were lucky to have found a partner in Trevor Scott, who was eager to move back home to New Brunswick and loved the industry.
Just in time for their 17th Anniversary they opened their 7th store on Main Street in Dartmouth where the old Chris Brothers used to be. This location has made many people in Dartmouth and on the Eastern Shore happy. We have never had a store so busy, so quickly and already we are certain that it was a good move. At night time you can’t miss this store, the Noble Grape sign lights up the #7 Hwy. Even though we have grown to seven stores we are still a small business that is community based. We have all managed to continue loving what we do and enjoy every day we work at Noble Grape. We have all become very good friends over the years and have met some great interesting people. This anniversary sale is Noble Grapes way of saying Thank you to all of our customers who have helped us grow (and keep our jobs). We’ve enjoyed your stories and we’re thankful you’ve let us get to know you.
can be found at our Bayers Lake store or sometimes at other locations in her new role as District Manager.
September is here, which means the kids are back to school, the weather is starting to change, and……Chocolate Raspberry Port is back!! If you’ve never had the opportunity to take a sip of this seductive ambrosia, let me tell you, it’s breathtaking. My wife and I had the opportunity to attend a dinner a while back where a couple of bottles of Chocolate Raspberry Port were present. They were not present for long! I’ve actually never seen my wife drink something so quickly :) After a nice roast beef dinner, a friend opened up a bottle, and we were floored by the complexity and smoothness of this delicious treat. I can’t imagine a better after dinner drink than Chocolate Raspberry Port. I recently designed a dessert specifically to pair with this beverage and it was unbelievable! Raspberry brownies, hollowed out, with a shot of Chocolate Raspberry Port poured into the middle, tickles the senses. It actually soaks into the brownie and tastes so…..well, we’d like to keep this PG rated;) Try it to believe it. Those that signed up are very fortunate.
Raspberry Brownie Recipe:
What you’ll need:
4 squares of baker’s unsweetened Chocolate
3/4 cup butter or margarine
2 cups Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 cup Pure Red Raspberry Jam
3/4 cup whipping cream
6 squares Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate, finely chopped.
PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil. Microwave unsweetened chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in flour until well blended. Spread into prepared pan.
BAKE 30 to 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not over-bake.) Cool in pan. Spread with jam.
MICROWAVE the cream in medium microwavable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until simmering. Stir in semi-sweet chocolate until chocolate is melted and mixture is well blended. Spread glaze over jam layer. Refrigerate 1 hour or until glaze is set. Lift brownies from pan, using foil handles. Cut into 32 squares.
Noble Grape Quinpool