Last Tuesday, I was invited to the Vancouver International Wine Festival California Wine preview (phew, that’s a long title!). There were over 250 wines to taste at this intimate gathering (yep, that’s no typo – 250 wines!).

We were welcomed and encouraged to pour whatever we felt like tasting. I’ll have to admit, I am no wine expert, but I enjoy a great wine when I can. Sometimes I feel like people think that they can’t get into wine because there is a lot of ‘snobbery’ that comes with the territory – but I think there is always room for fresh and new palates (myself included) to learn more about wine. The more I learn about what goes into the wine making and how to really find those subtle flavours, the more I learn about what I like and what are my tastes.

While these types of events I leave to Nickie, Gastrofork’s new resident wine/alcohol specialist, I definitely appreciate times where I can learn and experience new wines. I think of it as an adventure and learning how to refine my palate. I can definitely say that the wine choices I was making 5 years ago have greatly changed (for the better!) as my taste buds change.

Here are some of the wines I tasted and what I enjoyed:

Bubbly. With the holidays coming up, I wanted to try both bubblies to see if I could bag a new favourite that I could bring to parties.

 The first one I tried was Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut ($29.99). I definitely liked this one, it was very rich tasting with a hint of sweetness to the wine. The price point is affordable and would probably make a fantastic choice to bring to a dinner party.

The second one I tried was Mumm Napa Brut Prestige ($25.99), and this was a great bubbly. It was light on the palate and refreshing, it had a great light taste to it – a light sweetness but still nice and dry. Again, at the price point, this might be my go-to bubbly for the holidays.


The first one I tried was Hope Family Wines’ Liberty School Chardonnay (2011, $21.99). I enjoyed this wine, it had hints of citrus and was refreshing as I sipped on it. I prefer a lot of the drier, white wines but once in a while I’ll find something that is citrus-y that I like. This is one of them.


The next wine was Benziger’s Chardonnay Carneros (2010, $21.99). This is more of a full bodied white wine that would pair well with a big holiday meal.


Another Chardonnay I tried was Signorello Hope’s Cuvee Chardonnay (2010, $89.99). Definitely another full bodied white wine that could compliment creamy pastas or chicken dishes.


I’m not going to lie, I overheard Grace (from GraceCheung604) recommending the next wine to a fellow attendee and so I wanted to try it out. Hess Chardonnay ($19.99). I think this was probably one of my favourite white wines at the tasting. It was very crisp, slightly sweet and refreshing with a subtle fruity flavour. The wine goes down particularly well, so I really enjoyed it. I could see this being great with seafood.


Okay, food break time. As much as this was a wine event, it was important to find a menu of tapas that could compliment over 250 wines. Well, I firmly believe that Blue Water Cafe did just that. The tapas ranged from red meats, to vegetable wraps, tuna and sushi.

I was also fairly impressed with this plate that also doubled as a wine glass holder. Ingenious. Wine events, please take note that this is a fantastic idea.

Finally, the Reds.

I didn’t try a lot because I find that I’m sensitive to red wines (I get instantaneous headaches). However, the three I tasted were not so bad and didn’t result in a headache!


First, I tried Alexander Valley Vineyard’s Temptation Zinfandel (2009, $21.99). Dianne Chow actually recommended this one, as she said it was very fruity tasting. The taste was very full bodied and did have a fruity taste to it. It was still a little too strong for my taste, but again, I’m not a habitual red wine drinker.


The next one I tried was probably the most expensive wine I tried during the evening. Miner ‘The Oracle’ Proprietary Blend (2008, $99.99). This wine is full bodied and very complex. I think it’s a little beyond my tasting level, so I can’t even begin to describe this.

The last red I tried was recommended to me by May Pang (From Pangcouver). She recommended a wine to me when we were up in the Okanagan and I really enjoyed it, so I definitely do take her recommendations to heart (especially for reds!).  It’s Michael David Winery’s Petite Petit (2010, $27.99). I definitely enjoyed this one the most out of the reds I tried. It was a full bodied wine but it was much drier than most of the other reds (which I like). It was quite sweet and had a great after taste to it. I would definitely recommend this wine for a holiday meal.

I’d like to thank the folks at the Vancouver International Wine Festival and Praxis for inviting me to this preview, it was a great learning experience and I look forward to the VIWF!

Tickets for the Vancouver International Wine Festival go on sale January 8th at 9:30am for the festival that runs from February 25 – March 3, 2013. For more information, visit