Planning a Wine Tasting

Several months ago I was asked by my friend Wendy in Dawson City to plan a wine tasting at her B&B, Bombay Peggy’s.

We’ll be doing it over the May long weekend, so by the time you read this it will have been completed.

I was explaining to a friend the thinking that I was putting into planning this wine tasting, and thought I’d share it with you, as some of the thinking I have been doing might be helpful for wine loving readers, or wine explorers, even if you’re just having a few friends over for dinner and want to serve a wine or two.

First I thought about how many reds and how many whites to serve. Up here in the Yukon, it seems that more people gravitate towards red wines (hooray!), as I do.

But this is a departure from when I lived in Kansas, as there more people there seemed to prefer white wines.

Given my personal preference for reds, I would like to attribute Yukoners’ preference to good taste, but I wonder whether it might be related to the relatively cold climate up here, versus the long and hot (30-35C) summers in Kansas.

Certainly, during those hot months, serious red wines are hard slogging!

So for the tasting we settled on two whites, four reds and a Champagne-style sparkling wine.

My second objective was not to have a selection of wines that the attendees had likely already tasted and were familiar with.

While Jackson Triggs Chardonnay ($8.80 at the YLC), Copper Moon Merlot ($10) and Yellowtail Shiraz ($15.45) are all reliable and popular wines, they are on what seems like most of the restaurant and bar wine lists in the Yukon, so I wanted to stay away from them.

By the same token, exploring wines can be a daunting and sometimes intimidating experience, so I wanted to have some familiar grapes or wine types, such as Shiraz, pinot grigio and Chianti, in the mix in order for people to feel the evening was successful, and not just filled with obscure things that people had never heard of.

And since this wine tasting was intended to be a fundraiser, we wanted to find decent quality wines that didn’t cost an arm and a leg… So my aim was to choose a mix of wines that averaged under $20.00 a bottle.

Finally, and most importantly, I wanted a mix of interesting tasting wines that novice tasters could distinguish from one another.

After all, the main objective of a wine tasting is to explore wines that you might not have tasted before, and ideally to come away with a few new favourites to buy and share with your friends.

I wanted the two whites to have distinctly different characteristics—one that would work well with creamy Briecheese, and another that would pair well with a salmon appetizer.

And I also wanted distinctly different reds that would pair with tastes as diverse as mushrooms, moose, Parmesan cheese and chocolate.

To top it all off, I wanted to get a broad representation of wines from different countries, so we could taste the products of vineyards as nearby as B.C. and as far away as Australia, Argentina and Austria!

So the lineup will be (or was, by the time you read this):

An Austrian Gruner Veltliner white ($21.20) paired with Brie cheese;

Ganton & Larson’s Ogopogo’s Lair VQA Pinot Grigio (white) from B.C. ($18.45), paired with a salmon appetizer;

Santa Cristina Chianti from Tuscany, Italy, a $20.35 red, served with a nibble of Parmesan cheese;

An Australian Lucky Country Shiraz ($21.25) and a Graffigna Centenario Reserve Malbec ($14.25) that we’ll taste with some moose and mushroom appies;

And to finish it all off, Moinetto Il Prosecco, a dry Italian sparkling wine, and a California Ménage à Trois red blend of cabernet, merlot and zinfandel grapes, both priced at $19.65, to accompany something gooey and chocolatey.

Mmmm! My mouth is waiting as I think about it!

I’ll let you know how it turned out, and what the favourites were!


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