Day 1 of the Coffee project. Am I going see anyone. Will I see You!

First off let’s say I despise coffee shops, I mean if I unable to make a reasonable cup of coffee at home for 1/10 of the price why would I go to a coffee shop. Yet here I am convinced by a friend that this would get me “out there”. Divorced, dateless, and far from desperate (I like my time, I like making decisions with only me to consult with), Am I doing this because one day I hope to stumble upon the ever elusive knight in shining armour. So here I am brushing my hair getting dressed, and there it is another bonus to coffee at home it can be done without brushing your hair and clothes are optional.

Should I have some sort of mission statement do I need to clearly outline my objectives. What is the goal??? My partner in crime today suggest that perhaps a relaxed approach may be best for the first day.
Hmmm where to sit, need to be seen, yet also need good scoping locations. Lol location location. Hmmm perhaps my methodology for buying a house can be used here again. Location, upgrades, brightness, price, lol sister’s advice go over budget and get what you want.
So now what, I am here sitting, tea in hand, looking around there are few single people, all collectively staring at their lap tops, more couples, group of ladies, thank goodness one of the servers provided just enough eye candy to sweeten the first day of the Coffee Project. Did I gain any perspective in today’s project? To be honest one day hardly complies enough data to statically make an assumption of good or bad. Happiness is for today a good cup of tea.

Are my actions the same as my words, my thoughts?

What better wine to contemplate this thoughts than a Italian Chianti.  Normally this wine for me is a second choice, however on this circumstance of thought and actions it fits the bill perfectly.  Chianti is made to share with food, this is when the true essence of the wine comes to life,  Unlike many new world wine where the winemakers adjust their wines to make them suitable for drinking alone, in true European fashion a Chianti is made to enhance the food and the food is cooked to enhance the wine.  Much like having a thought that is executed into action there is substance behind it.  A good thought is only as good as the action it brings about.    My Friend Maren Hasse recently released her book “Fierce Integrity” a story and workshop on her journey of truth of her thoughts through the words and actions she revealed. 

Which brings about another aspect of Italian wines, for many years money spoke in the wine world and one could gain appellation status by greasing the right palm.  Over the years this has proven detrimental in sales and the Italian’s like me must pull up our socks and start living life with integrate.   To be true to me means telling the truth, regardless of how much I think it may hurt.  For months I have told the little white lie than I left my job when in reality I was in a polite way asked to leave (yup fired).   What a total devastating event for me, yet I survived and am now beginning to tell the truth:  not having to hide the truth has been one of the greatest discoveries.   Everyone is accepting and most have been in similar situations and some even applaud my ability to recover with dignity.  

The Italians too have recognized their errors and are making adjustments, so go ahead pick up that bottle of Chianti, yes before it could of been hit or miss, today they are really trying to be who they say they are.   

The name Chianti is a specific geographical area in the Italian region of Tuscany, and is known for its tangy, medium to high acidity, firm tannin dry red wines.  Made predominately from from the Sangiovese grape (some may add up to 25% of Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot), the wine will exhibit aromas and flavors of cherry (tart cherry), with a flora nuance of violet.  Paired with classical Italian dishes  one can see how the wines acidity pairs well with tomatoes, or how well acidity and salt compliment each, think charcuterie meats, it can even counterbalance oily or fatty heaviness in food.  Like they say when in Rome do as the Romans.  Cheers till the next time.  

The Fermented Sister


Selection of Wines

Host your own wine tasting party. 

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Quail’s Gate Chardonnay 2011 BC VQA

Grape Variety:  it is not only appreciated by wine drinkers, vine growers love the ease in which this grapes assimilates into a variety of climatic environments.  The grape can produce golden crisp acidic wines with green apple notes to rich tropical fruits in warmer climates. 

Viticulture: Located on the favourable south facing slope above Lake Okanagan and below the extinct volcano of Mount Boucherie, this site is home to our most prestigious vineyards. Our vineyards are planted in soils complex with volcanic rock, rich clay, gravel and glacial till. These minerals give the wines depth, strength and character. This unique cool climate region provides good heat and ripening potential while retaining bright acidity in the fruit due to cool night temperatures. The soil composition of this location provides exceptional drainage and is ideally suited for our premium Chardonnay clones.    Quail’s Gate employs a holistic ecosystem management approach to grape-growing to preserve the diversity of our natural surroundings without compromising the quality of fruit.  Quails’ Gate is proud to partner with Nature Conservancy of Canada in the development and protection of important ecological sites throughout the Okanagan Valley. 

Tasting Notes:   sweet floral, green apple, citrus, honey and hazelnut nose, underpinned with rich tropical fruits, biscuit and sizzled butter notes. A portion of the wine is barrel fermented, for a nicely oak integrated richness and complexity, while the tank portion provides bright high notes of tropical and citrus fruits.  It has a nice long finish. 

Food Pairing:  Dungeness Crab, deviled eggs or creamy Pecorino Risotto, also pairs well with salty/acidic foods…. a wine for your next salt and vinegar chip craving. 


JoieFarm 2011 Riesling

Grape Variety:  Riesling varietal exhibits a flowery, steely, honeyed and racy tartness.  This varieties hardiness makes it ideal for North America’s cooler climates.

Viniculture and Viticulture:  Owned and operated by Heidi Nobles, (winemaker), and Michele Dinn.   JoieFarms is situated on the Naramata Bench in the Okanogan Valley of British Columbia.    JoieFarms utilizes contract vineyards to produce their Riesling varietal wines.   They focus on achieving well balanced vines through well time canopy management (pruning), which allows them to take full advantage of the constant breezes of Okanagan Lake.   Joie Farm practices sustainable farming practices using vineyard composting material to avoid erosion, and increase nitrogen level organically by planting high nitrogen plants in between the rows. 

Tasting notes:   Lifted apple and pear aromas are found on the nose of this Riesling, with mineral, spearmint and a hint of lime. With 19 grams of residual sugar, it should taste sweeter that it does, but it is well balanced by crisp acidity and bright tropical fruit. Serve well chilled while relaxing on the patio this summer – Wine Access. 

Food Pairing:   Spicy foods, curry, freshwater fish off the grill, seafood and shellfish, chicken and pork sautéed in a cream sauce.   


Vina Robles Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Paso Robles Jardine

Sauvignon Blanc


Grape Variety:   Sauvignon Blanc is expresses lemony and herbaceous white wines

Viniculture and Viticulture:  Vina Nobles sources its Sauvignon Blanc fruit from a small lot on our Jardine Vineyard. Sauvignon Blanc heralds the beginning of the harvest in late August to early September. The fruit is hand-picked in the cool morning hours and immediately delivered to the winery. The membrane press we use to process the fruit leaves a very low level of solids in the resulting juice and therefore preserves more of the varietal characteristics and acidity in the finished wine. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks to preserve the aromatics of the variety. Following fermentation the wine is transferred into smaller tanks for four months and a lees stirring takes place to soften the wine and increase mouth-feel and texture.  Our Jardine Sauvignon Blanc did not undergo malolactic fermentation to preserve the fresh, crisp style.

Tasting notes:   Vina Robles Sauvignon Blanc is a brilliant straw color with green hues.  On the nose it has aromas of green apple, white peach with notes of minerality.  On the palate this is a medium bodied, smooth wine balanced with fresh acidity and a lingering clean finish – winemakers notes.  There’s no oak on this wine, but it was aged on the lees, which gives a yeastiness to the sweet orange, pineapple, lime, green apple and vanilla flavors. Crisp acidity provides clean balance. Nice now as a cocktail sipper – Wine Enthusiast. 

Food Pairing:   Crab Cakes with Fresh Lemon Dressing, or a Crab Meat Salad with Pear and Mint.  Fresh shucked oysters with a soy-wasabi dip, and Seared scallops with a mango or papaya salsa.


Domaine Des Cedres Cote Du Rhone


Grape Variety:   60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Carignan.  Most Rhône red wines are made with a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, and Cinsault. Each grape is grown in its own vineyard and each soil type contributes a unique characteristic to the grapes. Each winemaker in this region creates his own particular style and blend of grapes but in general these wines are known for their easy drinkability and lively fruit flavors.  It is a popular blend of three dark-skinned grape varieties used extensively in Southern France and north-eastern Spain. The blend is differentiated from the Chateauneuf-du-Pape blend by the inclusion of Carignan, which is not one of the permitted grape varieties of that appellation.

Viniculture and Viticulture:  Grapes for this wine come from specific local areas with the best exposure and deep mineral sub-soil that produces a more structured, complex wine.  It is aged in new oak barrels for more than a year before bottling.  Domaine des Cedres uses fining agents that are suitable for vegan diets. 

Tasting notes:   Showing loads of red fruits, cedar, ground pepper, and spice characteristics on the nose, it is medium-bodied, chewy, and mouth filling on the palate, with plenty of tannin emerging on the finish. Slightly one dimensional, this nevertheless shows good fruit and has plenty to like. It should drink nicely for 2-4 years – Jeb Dunnuck

Food Pairing:   Perfect with grilled meats, pizza, hamburgers, and Mediterranean foods and sauces.



Michele Chiarlo Barbera D’Asti Superior Le Orme


Grape Variety:  Barbera is one of the most famous wines from the Piedmont region in north-western Italy.  The Barbera d`Asti covers the area around the Town of Asti, and exclusively focuses on red wine made from Barbera.  It is softer and more approachable than a Nebbiolo. 

Viniculture and Viticulture:   Vineyards are located in the hilly area of the Asti on the eastern boarder of Piedmont.  The vineyards range in altitude from 300 to 1000ft.    According to DOC regulations an Barbera d’Asti must contain at least 85% Barbera, the remaining can be comprised of Freisa, Grinnolino and Dolecetto.  Bottle must not be released for sale before March 1st in the year after harvest, and it must have a final minimum alcohol level of 11.5% by volume.  Superior designation requires a minimum of 12 month of aging and at least 6 months of this time is to be spent in a barrel. 

Tasting notes:   the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and is then aged a least one year in oak. The result is a brilliant ruby-red wine with an intense yet airy, vinous bouquet and a medium-bodied, bone-dry robustness that is exceptionally pleasant on the palate. The best vintages, with age, tend to garnet in color, and show a velvety, harmonious quality of considerable elegance.–Winemakers Note.  Sweet blackberry, plum and pomegranate fruit is fresh and vibrant as this red unfolds across the palate. Hints of flowers and spices intermingle, but this is more about the juicy fruit. Drink now and through 2018. —Wine Spectator

Food Pairing:   This is a good red for fish, pizza, Chinese duck, dishes that feature tomatoes, Thanksgiving dinner and rabbit. 


Arboleda Carmenere 2009

Grape Variety:  92% Carmenere, 5% Syrah, 3% Mourvedre.  Carménère wine has a deep red color and aromas found in red fruits, spices and berries. The tannins are gentler and softer than those in Cabernet Sauvignon and it is a medium body wine.   Although mostly used as a blending grape, wineries do bottle a pure varietal Carménère which, when produced from grapes at optimal ripeness, imparts a cherry-like, fruity flavor with smoky, spicy and earthy notes and a deep crimson color.

Viniculture and Viticulture:   The grapes for the Carmenere Arboleda 2010 were rigorously selected in our vineyard, located in the Colchagua Valley, 200 kilometers (120 mi) south of Santiago. The region features rainy winters and dry summers. The grapes that go into this blend came from the vines planted in 1997 in the deep, clay-loam soils typical of the Colchagua Valley. The vineyard is vertically trained and drip irrigated, which allows for strict control to achieve balance and keep yields low.  The grapes were picked and closely inspected by hand, then gently crushed and deposited in stainless steel tanks. Fermentation took place at 24–28°C (75º–82°F), and three pump-overs were performed daily with 50–150% of the tank volume to suit the desired level of extraction. Maceration lasted from 15 to 30 days, depending on the development of each lot. The final blend was aged for 12 months in 83% French and 17% American oak barrels, 28% of which were new.

Tasting notes:   Carmenere displays a deep violet-red color, with a spicy, sweet, and enjoyable nose of black fruit notes, nutmeg, roasted red peppers, smoke, and coffee. On the palate, the black fruit mingles with exquisite sweet spices, tobacco, and dark chocolate notes from the barrel aging. A balanced, vibrant, juicy wine with smooth tannins that are as inviting today as they will be several years from now, owing to the wine’s promising cellaring potential, — winemakers notes. 

Food Pairing:   Teriyaki beef, Sheppard`s pie, lentil soup, fettuccine Carbonara, lamb with mint  jelly, beef tacos. 

Chakana Malbec 2011

Chakana Mendoza Malbec Reserve

Grape Variety:  Malbec is a black-skinned grape variety native to southern France (specifically the area around Cahors), but now better known as the icon wine grape of Argentina. Through its success in the vineyards of Mendoza, in a few short decades Malbec has shot from relative obscurity to international fame, simultaneously bringing new-found attention and respect to Argentina as a wine-producing nation.

Viniculture and Viticulture:   Vineyards are situated in the rain shadow of the Andes Mountains.  Mendoza benefits from a dry climate and high average temperatures.  The warm dry harvest periods means the winemakers can pick their grape according to ripeness rather than when the weather allows them. 

Tasting notes:   100% Malbec.  Colour: Deep purple. Nose: reveals plum, strawberry, fine spices and dried flowers melded beautifully together. Flavour: Fruity, intense with velvety tannins. This range of fruity wines offers a wide variety of young wines with a short ageing in oak. These wines are specially designed to be consumed within one to two years after being produced.

Food Pairing:   The medley of mushrooms, oregano, basil and thyme provide the ideal starting point to mingle Malbec with lamb. This unique red wine varietal craves mushrooms and delights in herb-based dishes surrounding hearty meats.



Hillside Estate 2009 Syrah

2009 Syrah

Grape Variety:  Syrah (Shiraz) is a deeply color wine, with full body, firm tannins and aromas of dark fruits, smoked meats, black pepper, and tar.   

Viticulture:  Hillside Estate is a small lot winery and prides themselves in producing terroir driven wines.  More traditional techniques are applied to the reds involving open top fermentors, French and American oak barrels, and a very hands-on winemaking team, resulting in rich, classic style wines that have consistently won accolades

Tasting Notes:   Crafted from grapes grown in our Hidden Valley vineyard, our 2009 Syrah opens with black raspberry and notes of clove, pepper and espresso which interweave with black currant, black cherry, sage, a touch of cardamom and chocolate on the palate. Elegant, fine-grained tannins lead into a powerful, juicy finish.   Youthful tannins to dissipate but it’s well balanced and should age well for 2-4 years.

Food Pairing:  Grilled lamb, steak, spicy sausage, and rich cheese eggplant Parmesan, or burgers topped with Blue cheese. 


Hillside Estate 2009 Syrah

2009 Syrah

Grape Variety:  Syrah (Shiraz) is a deeply color wine, with full body, firm tannins and aromas of dark fruits, smoked meats, black pepper, and tar.   

Viticulture:  Hillside Estate is a small lot winery and prides themselves in producing terroir driven wines.  More traditional techniques are applied to the reds involving open top fermentors, French and American oak barrels, and a very hands-on winemaking team, resulting in rich, classic style wines that have consistently won accolades

Tasting Notes:   Crafted from grapes grown in our Hidden Valley vineyard, our 2009 Syrah opens with black raspberry and notes of clove, pepper and espresso which interweave with black currant, black cherry, sage, a touch of cardamom and chocolate on the palate. Elegant, fine-grained tannins lead into a powerful, juicy finish.   Youthful tannins to dissipate but it’s well balanced and should age well for 2-4 years.

Food Pairing:  Grilled lamb, steak, spicy sausage, and rich cheese eggplant Parmesan, or burgers topped with Blue cheese. 


Connecting wine with Emotion

Emotional Connection to Wine

“I cook with wine, and sometimes I add it to the food,” Winston Churchill.

Many Wine masters will tell you wine was designed to pair with food, I say that although these persons are highly acclaimed (and admired by me); they are missing out on some very key life events.   I say lets broaden our imagination, open up those boxed up creative energies and take pleasure in a wine fit for every occasion, event or emotion.

In my life I have loved, laughed, been tossed, punted, and bullied, met dreams and goals as I have learned, cried over failed attempts and showed gratitude for the joy and the courage to do it all.   Under the light of the sun, my life reclaims its primordial goodness of truth and beauty; only one wine encirclements the sun and the paths that led us all to here.  The wine is Brunello di Montalcino.


Brunello di Montalcino is the youngest of the Italian prestigious red wine, a clone of Sangiovese.   What allows this grape to stand apart from Sangiovese is the climate in which it is grown.   Montalcino has one of the warmest and driest climates in Tuscany with the grapes in Montalcino ripening up to a week earlier than those in Chianti Classico.  The increased exposure allow for higher brix levels (increases the alcohol content of the finished wine), while the open landscape provides excellent ventilation and cool evenings allowing the sugars to gradually reduce the acidic content of the grapes so to ripen the grape in a harmonic steady state.    Brunello di Montalcino possesses striking depth as endless layers of sweet, perfumed fruit emerge with tons of grace. This, too, is an intense, full-bodied wine. The balance here is utterly exceptional, and the wine’s sheer plumpness makes for a highly rewarding glass of Brunello. Succulent dark cherries, spices, underbrush, minerals and new leather come to life as the wine sits in the glass.    Brunello di Montalcino is, for some, the ultimate wine for grilled steak, marinated and grilled portabella mushrooms over polenta is another excellent partner, and the wine is considered classic with rabbit (those that live in Canmore may have just have found a new way to enjoy our rabbit explosion).

I will hold true to me and state that there is be no better wine to sit at the crossroads of one’s life than to hold a glass of wine that is full, graceful with endless layers to explore.

Love, light and a glass of Brunello to all!

The Fermented Sister

Savoring Wine

Savoring Wine

Do you taste wine?  A human brain can recognize over 10,000 possible scents and given that the olfactory (smell) senses are connected to our oral (taste) passage we both smell and taste our wine.  We smell, fruits, spices, vegetal, flora nuts, wood, mineral, undergrowth to name but a few.  We taste sweet, sour, salty, bitter and Unami, and we feel fizziness, temperature, viscosity and dryness and see we color and clarity.   Ergo we savor wine.

When Wine tasters are discerning a wine they are looking at four basic concepts, which are the wine’s appearance, nose, palate, and overall impression.


Clarity:  Look at your wine, is it clear or hazy?  Are there floaties (OK floaties may not ooze snooty wine snobbery terms however it is highly descriptive and you get what you are suppose to be looking for)?

Intensity:   Looking down into your wine glass is the color pale, medium, or deep.  Tilt your wine glass and now look, (best done against a white backdrop) the outer edges may appear to have a different color.    A Riesling will have a green tinge, whereas a Pinot Gris or Gewurztraminer will have a pinkish hue.  A Blue outer tint in red wine indicates the youth of the wine; where as an orange to yellow hue suggests the wine that has been aged.

Color:  For simplicity is it White, Rose or Red?  As you acquaint yourself with color you will find varying degrees of lemon, gold and amber in white wines.  Rose’s can be pink, salmon to orange and reds will go from purple, ruby, garnet to tawny.


Condition:  Clean – unclean, it should smell like wine if images of vinegar or a wet cardboard box come to mind this wine may be faulty.

Intensity:  Light – medium – pronounced, do you have to work at smelling the wine or is it pronounced.

Aroma:   From your memory bank of aromas what is it that you smell?  Fruits, flowers, spices, nuts, herbaceous, vegetables, oak, and animal are scents that are commonly associated with wine.


Sweetness:  is it dry with no residual sugar noted, or does it take you back to your childhood of getting a good old fashioned sugar rush.    Wines will also fall in between with off dry and medium descriptions.

Acidity: low – medium – high

Body: Light – medium – full

Flavor Characteristics:  Fruits, flowers, spices, nuts, herbaceous, vegetables, oak, and animal

Finish:   Faulty – poor – acceptable – good – very good – outstanding



This is the best part; you get to decide after you have tasted a wine on whether or not you liked it.

You can analyze the wine’s strongest component, sugar, fruit, acid or tannins, where they balanced for you.   Was the wine worth the price and what food would you serve it with?

So drink up, it is the only way to discover what wine excites and melts you into a puddle of blissful enjoyment.

Yours Truly,

The Fermented Sister


The grapes are grown, now What?

The grapes are grown now what?

Ripen grapes are harvested when they achieved the desired degree of brix.  Brix (pronounced bricks) is a scale measuring the total dissolved compounds (concentration of grape sugars) in grape juice.    The balance of acids and sugar levels at harvest corresponds to the quality of wine produced.  Grapes are picked when the ratio of .9% acid to 22 brix is reached for most white wines.   For those inquiring minds 2 brix of sugar corresponds to approximately 1% of alcohol in the finished wine product. 

Vinification:  the practical art of transforming grapes into wine.

Crushing:  Roll up your pants legs and start stomping; modern technology has replaced this primitive method with machines that are designed to breaks open the grape berries so the juice is more readily available to the yeast during fermentation.    Stemmers: And additional step occurring with the crush for grapes destined to make white wine whereby the stems are removed.   The product generated from crushing is referred to as the must.

Maceration:  This step occurs when producing red wine (the time the juice is macerated will be shorter for Rose wine).  The must is allowed to mingle with the grape juice (and you thought the party started when you opened a bottle of wine).  The must is kneaded or poured over the grape juice till the desired colour, tannins and flavour is soaked up.   Fermentation also begins here for red wine.  In Carbonic Maceration the grape berries are left whole and fermentation begin inside each berry without the assistance of yeast, it produces a light and fruity flavour with red fruit aromas, a typical production method for Beaujolais in Burgundy France.

Sulphur Dioxide (SO2):  Addition of sulphur dioxide aids in inhibiting or killing bacteria and wild yeasts.    This technique is used by 99% of winemakers and is regulated to maintain safe and acceptable levels.  All wines naturally have Sulphites as it is a by-product of fermentation.   Sensitivities and allergies have resulted in compulsory labelling information, stating if the wine contains added sulphites or preservative 220.  If you have said or have heard someone saying, wine gives me a headache, I would strongly recommend reducing your consumption, rather than drink 3 glasses of wine have one of wine and two of water.  Dehydration often plays a huge role in how you feel the next day,  for those with sulphite sensitivities try organic wines, they shy from the standard procedure of using the addition of SO2, however as said it does occur naturally and total avoidance therefore is impossible. 

Press:   This process removes the skins, seeds and stems producing free-run juice.  The skins can be further pressed to make pressed-juice.  Winemakers may blend the two pressed juices together to add flavours and tannins, a common practice when making red wine.  The pomace is the debris left over after the collection of juices; white grape pomace is used to make pomace brandy such as Grappa.   No offense to Grappa lovers, however I for one favor the winemaker who returns the pomace to the vineyard for fertilization purposes. 

Fermentation: The first fermentation is referred to as alcoholic fermentation; yeast is added and reacts with the grape sugars to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2) and heat.  The process is done in specialized fermentation vats that regulate the temperature and vents off the CO2 without drawing in oxygen.   Malolactic fermentation takes place after alcoholic fermentation; almost all reds undergo malo fermentation for increase stability.  At harvest the grapes have high levels of tart malic acid (like green apples), winemakers will allow the naturally present lactic acid bacteria to convert the malic acid to the softer lactic acid.  This process gives the wine a rich buttery flavour. 

Lees:  Is the sediment that settles at the bottom of the fermentation vessels.  Less are made up of dead yeast cells, grape skin, and seeds and stem fragment and insoluble tartrates.  Sur Lie a French term for aging wine on the lees, the lees contact also encourages Malolactic fermentation.    Racking the wine removes wine from the lees (much like decanting).

Maturation:  Historically wine was aged in barrels.  Depending on the source of the barrels and how they were made can add flavors of cedar, vanilla, clove or coconut to the wine.  Today wine-makers can also choose to use stainless steel tanks or cement vats that allow the wines to remain oak free bringing out the crispness of the fruit flavours. 

Fining:  Fining is a wine-making process use to clarify and stabilize the wine with the use of fining agents, Bentonite clay, Casein, Charcoal, and Gelatin are common agents used today.   After fining the wine is filtered and ready for bottling.    

Bottling and ageing:  Contrary to popular belief only a small subgroup of wines benefit from bottle ageing, the majority of wine is made to be drunk within two years of being bottled.    So stop procrastinating and go ahead and open that wine. 

Cheers from,

The Fermented Sister