Appreciating Fine Canadian Wine

Green are the vines in Nova Scotia
Green are the vines in Nova Scotia

Recently, I had the pleasure of wining and dining in Cape Breton, where I was delighted to discover that Nova Scotia’s wine industry (the third largest behind Ontario’s Niagara and BC’s Okanagan) is producing some outstanding pours. Gaspereau, Jost, and Domain de Grand Pre are just some of the vineyards producing award-winning bottles. Tidal Bay, the region’s signature appellation, compliments the bounty of seafood. Since wine is to Bucket Lists what paint is to art, I thought we could all use some tips into its appreciation.  I happened to find myself in Portugal’s Douro Valley with Angela Aiello, a delightful Toronto-based wine expert and founder of the 10,000-strong IYellow Wine Club.   Here’s what I learned:

1.  Pouring the glass

Hold the bottle with the label facing out, pour with a smile, grace and conviction.  Only pour 2-4 ounces depending on the glass, as you’ll want lot of room to swirl.  Be confident, and look sexy.

2. Letting it breathe

According to Angela, red wine needs oxygen to party.  “Decant your big reds up to an hour before you serve them.” She says we often drink wines way too young. “The art of wine lies in sipping fine older vintages and appreciating its age. By decanting a wine you are imitating age: an hour in a decanter is the same as one year spent in the cellar.”

 3. The Art of the Swirl

Play with your wine, and get your swirl on! “Swirling is wine foreplay. It adds oxygen, bringing out the aromas, allowing you to smell and converse like any fine wine nerd/maverick.”

 4. Sniffing the notes

Take short small sniffs of your wine and try to identify what you smell. Swirl, smell, swirl, smell, think, correlate, talk, repeat.

5.  Taking a sip

“Never judge a wine on its first sip,” says Angela.  “Sip some more, let it linger on your palate and analyze the finish.  Was it sexy and soft, did it feel like crushed velvet in your mouth, does it leave you wanting more?”

6.  Drink water.  

Wine and water compliment each other in a glass and on the palate.   If you’re drinking a lot of wine, stay hydrated.  Angela suggests a 1:1 ratio.

7.  Eat Cheese

Wine and cheese are perfect partners in crime because of their complimentary acidity and fat.    Impress your guests by pairing wine with chocolate too.

Anyone can drink wine like a pro.  “Your journey starts with whatever you’re already sipping right now, and understanding why you like it,” says Angela.   “It’s all about being confident about what you like and why, but being open to discovering and learning new things too.”

To find the next iYellow Wine Club tasting event, visit:

Great Canadian Bucket List