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Fort McMurray Wine Snob

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It is said that millions die each year from bad water, yet no one has ever died from bad wine. I am here to help the people of Fort McMurray avoid bad wine, try new wines, and find bargains. Unlike some wine reviews, these wines are available here in town, taste better than their price tags would suggest, and are ready for drinking now.


1. Garnacha De Fuego (Spain)
I have heard this wine described as tasting like liquid pie and I tend to agree. There is great warmth of berry flavors with this wine, making it perfect on a cold McMurray night. The only thing that may scare off a few red wine drinkers is a mild black licorice taste hidden under the cherry and pepper flavour. Don't let it stop you. Spanish red wines are not as popular as their Italian counterparts; therefore, it drinks like a $25-$30 red at half the price. Garnacha De Fuego is easy to find and is around $15 a bottle. Pairing: Grilled red meat.
4. Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel (USA)
While ready to drink now, this is the only one in the list that will improve with cellaring two to five years. This is a textbook Zinfandel with tastes of wild berries, mocha, tobacco, leather, and exotic spices. The 2010 Vintage is rated 93 points by Wine Enthusiast. Four times in the past 10 years, this has made Wine Spectator's top 100 wines. If you buy and drink this young, make sure you leave it open for two hours, preferably decanted. It can be hard to find but look for the "Sonoma". Pairing: Hamburgers.
2. Catena Malbec (Argentina)
Year after year, Catena is offered at a shocking price for the quality. The 2007 vintage was Wine Spectator's no. 69 wine of the year. This is perfect for serving when you don't know what kind of red wine a guest likes as there is nothing offensive about this wine. It is smooth, balanced, and has all the right tastes to expect of a quality Malbec at a fraction of the cost. With a great balance of ripe plums, black currant, and chocolate, this is a favourite of mine for any day of the week. It is widely available in town with Extra Foods Liquor store selling it at an amazing $17.00 Pairing: Roast turkey with stuffing.
5. Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)
If you like crisp white wine with a green apple taste, this is the wine for you. For at least six years, every vintage has scored 90 or more points and been considered a best buy by every wine magazine. It's easy to find all over town but price ranges around $6. Pairing: Summer salads, chicken, fantastic with asparagus.
3. A to Z Pinot Noir (USA)
This would have taken a higher spot except for price and availability. I have bought this at under $25 in town and paid $30 as well. When it comes into town, it sells out. The taste is ripe bing cherries, cranberries, red currants, raspberries and strawberries that epitomize Oregon Pinot Noir. Pairing: Chicken and fish.

*Note that wine prices change and these are current as of the time of print. When a wine is in high demand, it can drive up the price. I have not included vintages as these are consistent year to year as amazing wines.

WINE TIP: If you buy a white or red wine that you don’t like, the colder the wine is, the less intense the taste is. If it is not what you wanted or expected, put it in the freezer and drop it a few more degrees. The taste will be toned down.

WINE TIP: Cellaring wine is easier than you would think. Just remember the goods, the bads, and the evils. The goods are cool, dark and quiet.  The bads are heat, light and vibration. The evils are letting the cork dry out (storing standing up or with no humidity) or extreme swings in temperature. 

WINE TIP: Ever buy a white wine and find it has crystals in the bottom?  Don’t worry. This happens when a wine gets too cold and it hasn’t been that cold before. The Tartaric Crystals drop out of the wine and are harmless. 

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