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It’s All In The Blend

Given the fact that our entire range of Union Wines are produced as a blend of grapes, we thought it would be interesting to share with our consumers some of the benefits of blends versus 100% varietals.

Ultimately, blending in winemaking is how producers get the complexity of multiple flavours and aromas, which allow them to grant us with a beautiful start and finish to each glass we sip. Most consumers buying a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay are buying the bottle because they know they enjoy the crisp tannins or citrus aromas they’re almost always guaranteed to get. Blends are all about the pursuit of balance, and mixing up those components to create something memorable and different. If a wine doesn’t have a strong scent, for example, winemakers have the ability to add a small percentage of a more potent smelling grape, thus allowing them to offer a more unique blend than a single varietal.

There are definitely certain grape varietals that can stand on their own and don’t need to be messed with. We’d like to think that by producing rich and complex blended wines, we’re messing with the grapes in just the right way!

Check out our 3 blended wines below, and why their blends make them taste so delicious:

1)   Blended White: Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer

Riesling and Chardonnay are two of the most highly regarded white grapes in the world, so it made sense for us to mix them together. The consistent roundness of Chardonnay coupled with the citrus notes of Riesling help to create an approachable glass of wine marked by high acidity. Adding the Gewürztraminer tops off the blend with a lovely floral aroma. Its lower acidity also balances out the more highly acidic Riesling and helps keep the sweet body of the Chardonnay.

2)   Blended Red: Cabernet and Merlot    

One of the most popular and well loved blends out there, these two grapes pair together in a marriage of fruit, elegance, and class. The soft fruits like cherry, raspberry and plum offered by the Merlot are complemented by the cassis and mocha of the Cabernet to make a rich glass of deliciousness. Merlot grapes are often more juicy and fatter, with their plumper berries giving way to more juice than skin. Coupled with the bold, tannic structure of the Cab, this makes the glass of wine smooth and refreshing.

3)   Blended Noir: Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir

Both of these grapes are quite commonly used as single varietals, but their blend comes together to make a rustically medium-bodied wine. Gamay is typically associated with being a more wild and fruity grape, while Pinot Noir has a longstanding reputation for its lightness and flavours. This allowed for us to make a blend of earthy, savoury goodness that pairs excellently with lighter proteins.

Ultimately we blend our wines for our consumers, and we thank you for continuing to enjoy all of our Union Wines!

 

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Hugs, Kisses, and Wine!

Happy Valentine’s Day to all our Union Wines aficionados! What better way to say I love you than with a couple of delicious winter cocktail recipes? I love you can not only be said to your significant other, friends or family…you can tell yourself you love yourself with either of these two cocktails too, so enjoy!

 

  • “Be Wine” Winter Sangria

Sangria may have been brought to us from Spain, but we are certainly not against indulging in this delicious cocktail in Canada. Often thought to be a summertime drink, we also enjoy it when the snow falls by adding some of these delicious ingredients:

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 bottle of Union Wines Cabernet/Merlot blend
  • ¼ cup of St. Remy brandy
  • ¼ cup of Crown Royal Apple Whisky
  • ¼ cup of honey
  • 1 cup of cranberry juice
  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 1 sliced lime
  • 1 diced pear
  • 4 small mandarins
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • fresh cranberries for garnish

PREPARATION:

  • Stir well in a large pitcher, making sure the wine and liquors are blended. If you think you’ve stirred enough, you probably haven’t…that honey needs dissolving!
  • Slice the fruit and add to the sangria along with the cinnamon.
  • Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour to maximize flavour.
  • When ready, serve over ice!

You can also enjoy this cocktail warm. Just grab a slow-cooker, heat it on warm/low and you’re on your way!

 

  • “Love Bite” Port Cocktail

‘Tis the season to enjoy our delicious Union Forté port in cocktail form. Naturally peppered with hints of sweet and sun-dried fruit, this fortified wine is an excellent addition to any cocktail, and will be sure to send hearts wagging this Valentine’s Day.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 oz. Captain Morgan white rum
  • 1 oz. Union Wines Forté
  • ½ oz. Grand Marnier
  • ½ oz. fresh squeezed lime juice

Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Union Wines; please enjoy responsibly! 

 

 

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Wine Trends 2017

As wine drinkers, the majority of us are pretty adamant about what we like to drink. As consumers, it’s easy to play it safe with California Cab Sauvs and Sauvignon Blancs from Down Under. You know what you’re getting. What we propose for this year is a bit of a tannic exploration so to speak.

Check out what’s trending for 2017 below!

Portuguese Whites

Portuguese reds have been on the radar for quite some time with wine lovers and connoisseurs, but we predict the following two white varietals will be on your LCBO list this year:

a) Arinto– Highly acidic with lemon notes. Perfect with a light salad, roast chicken or grilled white fish.
b) Encruzado– Voluptuous and complex with aromatic mineral notes and tropical fruit like green papaya, passion fruit, and melon. Paired great with a light, winter risotto.

So, why drink these? Both of these whites are Portugal’s answer to a Chardonnay, and who doesn’t love a good Chardonnay? When buying these varietals, be aware of the year of production; the older the vintage, the more nutty and lush the flavours will be.


Austrian Reds


Sandwiched between Barolos, Bordeauxs, and everything else in the Rhone Valley, Austria often gets lost in the shuffle when discussing European reds. These two varietals offer a delicious alternative to the norm:

a) Zweigelt– The most planted red wine grape in the country has aromas of violets, spicebox, punchy raspberry, and even cinnamon. Served best slightly chilled, this wine is paired deliciously with any type of grilled meat.
b) Blaufrankisch– Most of these wines are juicy and have slight hints of spice. Sometimes referred to as a Lemberger grape, Washington State are starting to produce quite a bit, which could lead to its trendiness increasing.

Don’t let the Germanic super-varietals like Riesling and Gewurztraminer deter you from trying something different. In Austria, the hills are certainly alive…with the taste of wine!


Bourbon Wine?


Typically when we think of aged wine we imagine massive barrels housing precious liquid until it is perfectly oaky…right? Beginning in 2016, and probably continuing into this year, bourbon-barrel wine is becoming popular. Barrels once containing whiskey or bourbon, are now being refurbished and used to age wine. This method of aging is primarily used to enhance aromas and flavour with charred undertones. Sustainability is always trendy, and here’s hoping this odd aging practice is one you get to try this year!

As always, please enjoy our Union Wines and all wine responsibly, and we hope you have a fantastic 2017.

 

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Keep The Festive Season Alive With Homemade Mulled Wine

Christmas may have sadly come and gone, but ‘tis always the season for a good cup of mulled wine. Check out the recipe below and enjoy this festive cocktail any day of the week…not just Wine Wednesday!

Ingredients

  •      2 clementines
  •      1 lemon
  •      1 lime
  •      200g of very finely granulated sugar
  •      6 whole cloves
  •      1 cinnamon stick
  •      3 fresh bay leaves
  •      1 whole nutmeg, for grating
  •      1 vanilla pod
  •      2 star anise
  •      2 bottles of Union Wines’ Cabernet-Merlot blend

Method

1)   Peel large sections of peel from the clementines, lemon, and lime

2)   Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, then add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice

3)   Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and about 10-12 gratings of nutmeg. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and add to the pan—then stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar

4)   Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine, then bring to boil—keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until the syrup becomes thick**

5)   When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes ladle it into heatproof glasses and serve

** The reason for making the syrup first is to create a wonderful flavour base by really enhancing the sugar and spices and getting them to infuse well with the wine. It’s important to make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you’ll burn off the alcohol.

Please enjoy responsibly and have a wonderful winter season!

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How To Taste Wine

How to taste wine

Wine Glasses- A Beginner’s Guide

Wine Glasses: A Beginner’s Guide

Wine Glasses- A Beginner’s Guide

Have you ever thought about the concept of wine glasses? Maybe you wondered when you were out shopping in the Kitchen section one day, or maybe you were curious when your friend was out of wine glasses and asked if a regular glass would do. Why is it that we have specific-shaped glasses for wine, and where did it start? We’re going to uncover a basic history of these glasses and some more details about them.

Wine glasses were used as early as 500-600 AD, and they even helped to emphasize one’s status. Upper class members would use a small cup with a thin stem, while the lower class would use goblets made of pottery. Many other materials for cups were used from 700 AD through the 1600s, including silver, wood, glass, and “black jack” which was made out of leather in the shape of a jug. But it seems that the basic shape of the cup with a thin stem originated as early as 500 AD, so when we use it today we can think of ourselves as drinking like the “upper class”.

You’ve probably noticed – whether you’re a wine connoisseur or not – that wine glasses come in different shapes and sizes. It turns out this isn’t simply for appearance, and instead each glass has a different use. Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Champagne Flute: We’d all recognize and know the use for this type of class. It’s perfect for champagne, sparkling wine, or prosecco because the small bowl preserves the carbonation of the drink.
  2. White Wine Glass: To preserve the crisp, citrusy flavour that white wines often come with, these special glasses have a smaller rim than Red Wine Glasses. They say this reduces surface area, which increases oxidation to enhance the flavour.
  3. Light Red Wine Glass: The rounded globe on a light red wine glass is designed to direct the wine onto the tongue in the area that best receives sweetness, to play up the fruits found in wines like Pinot Noir and Shiraz.
  4. Bold Red Wine Glass: The bowl on a full-bodied wine glass mirrors the swirling that wine-makers encourage. This allows the bouquet to develop in Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, and Malbacs.
  5. Standard Wine Glass: In a pinch (or on a budget), this glass could work great for both whites and red wines. It’s a combination of both shapes, and it can also be perfect for rosés.
  6. Dessert Wine Glass: Finally, the smaller shape of this wine glass concentrates the flavours and provides a better portion size for the rich and sweeter wines.

There’s a multitude of interesting facts about wine glasses – we could write a book about them! But the goal of this post was to summarize the different types of wine glasses and where they originated, to give the newbie wine buff some knowledge to start with!

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Try This Pairing: Chicken Pad Thai & White Wine

Feeling some thai and white wine for dinner? Try our white wine paired with Chicken Pad Thai!

Ingredients

 

  • 1 (12 ounce) package rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/8 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup crushed peanuts
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions

 

  Prep: 40 minutes 

  Cook: 20 minutes 

  Ready In: 1 hour

1. Soak rice noodles in cold water 30 to 50 minutes, or until soft. Drain, and set aside.

2. Heat butter in a wok or large heavy skillet. Saute chicken until browned. Remove, and set aside. Heat  oil  in wok over medium-high heat. Crack eggs into hot oil, and cook until firm. Stir in chicken, and cook  for 5 minutes. Add softened noodles, and vinegar, fish sauce, sugar and red pepper. Adjust seasonings to      taste. Mix while cooking, until noodles are tender. Add bean sprouts, and mix for 3 minutes.

 

Image Wine Myths blog post

Wine Myths: Debunked