Wine Pairing, Salmon and Pinot Noir

Wine Pairing, Salmon and Pinot Noir

I have a couple of friends who told me they “don’t like wine” but claim to be “foodies.” I don’t believe in double negatives, so I conducted an experiment. I invited them over with the only stipulation being they leave the bottle of vodka at home. I have a hard time believing anyone doesn’t like wine. It’s the drink of the gods, liquid currency, ART! To be honest, if they didn’t leave my house with a new appreciation, it would be the last dinner we would ever share due to the fact that we obviously have nothing in common.

I decided to go all out for them by creating a stunning menu, intentionally revealing perfect balance. It must be said that the entire evening started out with giving my friends a leisurely tour of my custom wine cellar. There was no hum to be heard from my trusty wine cooling unit from Wine Guardian, since it’s so quiet; but the atmosphere had the obviously perfectly temperature for wine storage. The custom wine racking evoked oohs and aahs. With all duly impressed, we next went to my meticulously set dining table and got comfortably seated. The lighting was just right, to enhance the wining and dining experience.

Armstrong Cellar

A custom wine cellar is the perfect place to store your wine collection.

As an appetizer, I served antipasti with Sauvignon Blanc. I started them with a “sweeter” wine to ease them into their experience. Dinner was salmon over a lentil beet salad paired with a rich Pinot Noir. We were literally scraping our plates and fighting over the last drops of pinot!  Dessert was where I had to show off, of course.  Lemon poached pears with Muscat de Beaumes de Venise from Domaine de Durban, because I AM a true connoisseur.

Now I am happy to report that those same friends are bigger wine snobs than me! They actually began to pair their wines ahead of time when they do their weekly meal prep, simplifying their work week while still enjoying the pleasures of wine and food marriages. My friends have also invested in wine cabinets, to keep their wine supply properly stored. My hope for them is to someday have a custom wine cellar of their own.

Everyone knows that wine goes great  with blind dates, but they don’t realize that it can actually make food taste better. Magic happens when the tannins in the wine become attracted to the proteins in the meat,  bypassing the proteins in your saliva, causing the wine to become a softer experience in your mouth. Flavors you would have never achieved take over when you simply sip smarter.  Sometimes, you might have to fake it til you make it, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be great every time! Technology makes it too easy to get suggestions for what wines will complement your signature dishes. You do not need to be a sommelier or even a wine connoisseur to appreciate the miracles of combination.

So You Want to be a Wine Connoisseur: Savor

So You Want to be a Wine Connoisseur: Savor

Sparkling wineWe’ve offered tips on seeing, smelling, sniffing, and sipping wine. Now, to savor the wine. A true mark of a connoisseur is the ability to evaluate the wine. Having a clean palate and making good use of your taste buds can help you make evaluations regarding whether the wine is harmonious, balanced, complex, and/or complete. You can be sure that if the wine has not been properly stored, such as in a custom wine cellar in Toronto, savoring of wine leaves a lot to be desired.


The flavors in a wine should come together like a tasteful symphony, completely in harmony. It’s not unusual for certain components in a young wine to be more pronounced. In other words, blending hasn’t occurred. Skilled winemaking yields even young wine that plays harmonious notes on your taste buds.


Wine that is nicely balanced has desirable flavor components in advantageous proportions. Focus on detecting the sour, the sweet, the salty, and the bitter notes in wine, when evaluating balance. Saltiness is actually rare in wine and bitterness is better described as astringent flavors, which usually come from tannins. The sweet and sour or acidic notes are most prominent. If a wine is too sugary, too sour, or too bitter, it doesn’t have good balance. If you find out-of-balance flavors in young wine, it’s not likely it would have aged well. In old wines, it could be that the balance fell apart during an unsuccessful aging process.


Detecting complexity in wine is a sign of experience in wine tasting. The beauty of complex wines is that they have depth, similar to a sublime painting. One sign of a complex wine is that the flavors linger in your mouth long after swallowing. When wine has a strong and familiar flavor similar to a carbonated soft drink, it lacks complexity. Just as you took the time to see, swirl, smell, and sip the wine, allow the wine to dance on your tongue before swallowing, as a way of savoring its flavors.


When a wine is complete, it has all of the above-named qualities. It is harmonious, balanced, and complex. When you can evaluate the completeness of a wine, you have a solid foundation for a valid claim as a wine connoisseur.

More to come on becoming a wine expert

There is probably no one we appreciate more at Rosehill Wine Cellars than a wine connoisseur because a continuous supply of wine is needed. We understand that proper storage is a critical part of being a wine collector, and we are proud to provide the best in custom wine cellars Toronto. For more details on becoming a wine connoisseur, see our continuing series.

Explore wine and cheese pairings with friends

Explore wine and cheese pairings with friends

Wine and cheese pairings are magical!

Wine and cheese parties are a great way to spend time with friends while tasting new and exciting flavours. By mixing, matching and complementing the nuances of the wine you pour to the cheese you serve you can turn the ordinary get together into an extraordinary event. Here is a quick guide on how to pair wine with cheese from Rosehill Wine Cellars.

Hard Cheeses: It’s so Gouda!

Hard cheeses can be categorized as sharp tasting and salty. In addition, hard cheeses are usually aged. Examples include Cheddar, Emmenthaler (“Swiss”), Gouda, Gruyere, Parmesan, Provolone, Pecorino, and Manchego. These cheeses usually pair nicely with a bit of tannin. Therefore, red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Rioja compliment these cheeses nicely.

Hard cheese and grapes on board

Soft and Fresh Cheeses: Spreading the Joy!

Spread soft cheeses over crispy crackers. Light, easy going cheeses such as Ricotta, fresh goat cheese (chèvre in French, cabra in Spanish), Neufchâtel, Champlain, and Boursin pair well with white wines such as Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chenin Blanc. If you are feeling adventurous you can also pair a bottle of Beaujolais with feta cheese (brined goat and/or sheep cheese). Other soft, creamy cheeses – Brie, Camembert, Triple Crème – pair nicely with Chardonnay and sparkling wines: French Champagne, Spanish Cava, or Italian Prosecco.

Cream cheese spread on cracker

Blue Cheese: Don’t be Blue, there’s Wine!

Blue cheese has a very strong flavour. It’s sharp and tangy and its salty bite  pairs beautifully with sweet wines, including dessert wines. The likes of Italian Gorgonzola, French Roquefort, English Stilton, and Danish Danablu bode well with Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Moscato, Vin Santo, Icewine, Port and Sherry. The strong taste of the cheese accentuates the sweetness of the wine and balance the flavours.

Tip 1: If you really want to bring your cheese plate to life add some fruits and nuts!

Tip 2: Peanuts pair perfectly with crisp, sweet, fruity and herbal wines such as Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet sauvignon or sparkling. The menial snacking of peanuts while drinking beer goes luxe when the brew is subbed in with prosecco or Champagne.

Glass on wine sits on a table next to dish of peanuts


Unique wine & food pairings to try this holiday weekend.

You know that old standby that tells us to pair white wines with chicken/fish and red wines with red meat? Well, it no longer holds true. And besides, it’s boring!

Here are some myth-breaking food/wine couplings to experiment with this holiday weekend …

Japanese Cuisine with Champagne

“Try pairing a dry, crisp Champagne with sushi or sashimi. There is something wonderful about washing down the luxurious, fresh fish with a crisp sparkling wine. Other sparkling wines and even still wines that are crisp, acidic and fresh will work as well.”

Tater Tots & Barolo

“Not too surprising if you think about it, since potatoes are a nice vehicle for fats and starches, but with relatively neutral flavor so that the wine flavors are not compromised (Champagne and frites is a personal favorite). The combination of textures in this case works well, too. Leave the ketchup out of the equation, though, please.”

And as a silly pairing for dessert:

Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs with El Bon Homme from Valencia, Spain

“The gooey chocolate-and-peanut butter combo brought out the chocolate flavor of the wine while muting its initial strong bite. Despite the sweetness of the candy, the pairing was not too sweet overall. It tasted exactly like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Being huge fans of peanut butter and jelly, we will definitely be trying the combo again and again.”

Of course with the biggest outdoor cooking holiday upon us, you might want some traditional tips for pairing wine with BBQ foods:

Asparagus & Sauvignon Blanc

“Like other relatively strong-flavored vegetables, the flavor of asparagus can seem a little strange with wine, but remember the wine-pairing rule, “Match likes with likes.” A grassy, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc can be stellar with asparagus. Remember, too, that an awkward ingredient can often be introduced to wine through intermediaries: Pour a rich Hollandaise on your asparagus and bring it up to meet a similarly rich and buttery Chardonnay; stir the asparagus into a risotto and don’t spare the grated cheese, and it suddenly becomes friendly with a variety of wines from Sauvignon Blanc to Chianti.”

Steak & Baco Noir

“A great wine with ribs and thick steaks is Baco Noir. This wine has heft to it – very complex flavors, with wood, spice, richness, texture. Definitely a long finish, something that can go with a rich BBQ ribs dish.”

Want more ideas?

Check out our Wine & Food Pairing Widget By Natalie MacLean and match a specific food to a wine or vice versa. You’ll never be wondering what to serve again.