Wine Tasting Terms

Going to Diamond Estates this weekend. This is from their site.

Acidity– There are many acids that are essential for zest, freshness, aroma and long life in a wine. The best wines have enough acid to balance the sweetness and flavours of the wine. Too much acid makes the wine taste sharp.

Aroma – The primary smell of young wine. The aroma of wine will change as it develops.

Balance– The relationship of all the physical components of the wine: fruit, acid, tannin, alcohol. When a wine is well balanced its elements have combined to produce a harmonious and satisfying sensation.

Body– The weight of the wine in the mouth related to its alcoholic content and extract.

Bouquet– The pleasant and characteristic smell of mature wine. Also more specifically refers to the odour created by the development of the wine as it ages.

Dry – Lacking in sweetness; on the sugar code refers to a (0).

Horizontal Tasting– A number of different wines of the same vintage are compared.

Nose– A winetaster’s term for aroma or bouquet.

Off- Dry– A term used to connote wines with a slight sweetness to them; on the sugar code refers to (1) – (3).

Sediment – Solid matter deposited in a bottle in the course of the maturing process. It is harmless and can be decanted before serving.

Tannins– An astringent acid found to some degree in all wine, but more in red wine that in white. The proper degree of tannic acid is essential to age high-quality red wines. They are found in the skins, stalks and seeds of the grapes and can also be absorbed into wine from oak barrels.

Vertical Tasting– A comparison of different vintages of the same wine.

Weight – The heaviness or lightness of a wine depending on the alcohol and extract it contains. It varies with the type of grape, wine and climate.


Sunnybook Farm Estate Winery

Sunnybrook Estate Winery

Why Fruit?

Our Wines

Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery is a winery that specializes in fruit wines and they do have a diverse selection

If you’re looking to expand your palate and diversify the wines you enjoy or if you would prefer to try some wines that are more fruit forward with a touch of sweetness Sunnybrook is well worth a visit.

This is an intimate and friendly winery with no pretension. Most of the fruit to produce their wines is grown on the farm itself and all of the fruit is locally grown.The staff were knowledgeable and able to answer all of the questions we had on this day.

We tried a few wines and found the Chocolate Embrace 375 ml for $24.95 was a highlight and certainly belongs beside dark chocolate. It would make a special gift for someone you may know.

Chocolate Embrace 375ml

“A medium Blueberry wine is infused with rich Belgian chocolate. Serve with seafood, lobster, lamb, soft cheeses, or cheesecake.”

Most of the other fruit wines were off dry and not as sweet as some fruit wines I have tried in the past. They doe have a raspberry wine which is sweeter like framboise but that is the exception.

A unique wine worth trying was Burgundy Plum.

Burgundy PlumBurgundy Plum – $23.95

“An off dry wine made from a blend of the ripest red and blue locally grown plums. Hints of raspberry, black cherry, and honey round out the distinctive plum bouquet. This is a versatile dinner wine to serve with red meat, game, or shellfish.”

They also produce some fruit ice wines from apple, cherry and peach. I tried the peach and found it disappointing when compared with the other ice wines of Niagara. It was off dry and didn’t offer the mouthful of flavours found in traditional Vidal ice wine.

Sunnybrook also produces an apple cider and the Ironwood Hard Ironwood Hard CiderCider was noted by a friend as comparable to the more famous Strongbow.


Strewn Winery

The staff were attentive and friendly on this weekday at Strewn Winery. The entrance is inviting with a beautiful garden and overhanging trellis.

Strewn Winery
Strewn TreeThe wines we sampled here this day were alright but not something special. It was disappointing as in past visits I had found some better quality wines.The staff had reasonable but not in-depth knowledge of wine and the vineyard. On a previous visit during the Wine and Herb Weekends, which typically occur in May, Strewn offered a remarkably good combination of wine and food. The restaurant on site is evidently skilled at creating these combinations.

Herb Inspiration: Basil
2009 Riesling Semi-Dry
“Basil Sampler”: Three Pepper with Basil and Lemon Bruschetta, Creamy Goat Cheese and Basil Spread, Sundried Tomato and Basil Tapenade

Strewn Winery is well known for its restaurant. I have tried the restaurant in the past and had a delicious meal of Brome Lake Duck Leg Confit. The restaurant, Terroir La Cachette, opens onto a garden view and includes a patio section. You will find they have an extensive list of Ontario wines to complement the menu. 

“Located within Strewn Winery, Terroir La Cachette restaurant offers a truly regional experience. Through the use of locally grown and raised products, we bring the flavours of the Niagara region to your palate, both on the plate and in the glass.

We invite you to taste the wines of the region, with our all-Ontario wine list, and chef Alain Levesque combines French Provençal style of cooking with the best local ingredients, bringing together the finest the region has to offer.”

The current dinner Menu mains include:

Egg Fettuccini 22-
w/ Spinach, Wild Mushrooms, Truffle Scented Cream & Shaved Parmesan
Spicy Chili Linguini 24-
w/ Little Neck Clams, Filetto di Pomodoro, Leeks & Pernod
Atlantic Salmon 26-
w/ Grilled Lemon & “Café de Paris” Butter
Guinea Fowl Suprême 26-
Duxelle Stuffed w/ Cabernet Pan Jus
Brome Lake Duck Leg Confit 26-
Crispy Skin w/ Strawberry Mignonette Glaze
AAA Beef Rib Eye 29-
w/ Sun Dried Tomato Compound Butter & Balsamic Basil Jus
We also have a 5-course tasting menu available with wine pairings
$70 without wine accompaniments ~ $95 with wine accompaniments

Duck Confit

Strewn also offers cooking classes on weekends as well as private and corporate events during the week at the Wine Country Cooking School.

SouthBrook Vineyard

This was an excellent place to start on our way into Niagara on the Lake from Toronto. This vineyard is recently built to be sustainable and organic. The outward appearance does not resemble other vineyards in the area but it is well worth opening the doors for a visit. You can see the water surrounding the entrance is integrated as a part of the environmentally friendly design.


Southbrook (Photo credit: chrishanz)

Organic Winery Sustainable Design

Organic Winery
Sustainable Design

The staff were especially knowledgeable and represented the vineyard well. They were well informed about wine and about what was happening in their vineyards.

I found a lovely 2012 Triomphe Cabernet Franc Rose (19.95) which is approachable as a wine for the patio or to start an evening but also shares the structure of the Cabernet Franc grape. This will not resemble the sweeter Rose wines you may have tried in the past.

The Cabernet France varietal has the character to cut through excessive sweetness and is used by SouthBrook to make a distinctive Ice Wine. If you find the sweetness of many ice wines made from the traditional Vidal grape a little cloying you may want to try the SouthBrook Cabernet France Ice Wine. Bring some dark chocolate with you as it is a great complement to this Ice Wine.


A surprise here was that my companion this day, who does not typically enjoy Chardonnay which is oak aged, found one here that delighted her so much that she choose to buy a bottle. Perhaps this has to do with the organic nature of the wines but it is definitely a suggestion to try some wine here that you might not ordinarily reach for.

Off to another side SouthBrook also had some delicious looking pizza available for visitors on this day. We didn’t take the chance to partake but if you do please leave a comment below to share your experience.

And for some of their library wines online –

Hidden Bench


I came away from my visit to Hidden Bench more knowledgeable about Pinot Noir which is the primary varietal grown on the estate. I sampled a flight of Pinot Noir and selected the 2009 Felseck Vineyard for $48. That is more than I would ordinarily spend on a bottle unless it held something special, and this certainly did. In fact a few weeks later when I happened to be in the same neighbourhood with a friend we shared a sampling and she came home with another Pinot Noir, the 2009 Estate Pinot Noir. It is more approachable on the palate and, at $38, on the pocketbook as well.

Hidden Bench

They also produce some well constructed Chardonnay and some Reisling if that is to your taste.

The estate is not large but does offer the convenience of a patio where you can enjoy a glass of wine along with a light picnic or with a selection of artisanal cheeses from the nearby Upper Canada Cheese.
Upper Canada Cheese

There’s an excellent event called Graze the Bench which is happening in the area on June 1 and 2 2013. It includes 7 wineries on the Beamsville Bench. This year you will be able to walk through the vineyards from one to the next. Each vineyard will have music and of course wine sampling. For $25 you get access to the seven vineyards as well as a full glass of wine with a food pairing.

At Hidden Bench they will share a delicious oak smoked brisket sandwhich with sweet and sour slaw and will be pairing that with their 2011 Estate Chardonnay or their 2012 Locust Lane Rose. This is not your traditional rose, it offers more resistance than you might expect.

Come! Enjoy!

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Graze the Bench

Stroll between all seven or just a few vineyards of the Beamsville Bench enjoying a glass of wine, some specially crafted dishes to pair with the wine and music at every vineyard. You actually can walk on paths through the vineyards from one to the next.

This is just an hour from Toronto, not as far as St. Catherines, and the vineyards have some wonderful wines from Reisling to Pinot to Cab Sauv for you to sample. Some also offer lovely Patios where you can re
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Daniel Lenko Estate Winery


Daniel Lenko Estate Winery Sign    Danile Lenko Estate Winery
       This vineyard offers a large variety of wines which can be sampled in the congenial atmosphere of the kitchen of the simple home which serves as the tasting room. The winery is open weekends and other times by appointment. This winery is run by the owner who is a third generation grower of grapes and winemaker. He was, as usual, serving the wine samples on the day I was there and was very knowledgeable when discussing the wine samples and the growing of grapes on his estate.

The Daniel Lenko Winery opened in 1999 and has received awards which are displayed, along with family pictures, on the wall as you enter the home.

I sampled 3 wines today. There were two 2008 Chardonnays, one with American oak($22.95) and the other with French oak($29.95). Both were candidates for purchase and I took the French oak home as it was more complete on my palate and I will enjoy it when it ages a few years to maturity.

I also tried a Meritage($59.95) which had received a 93 from another reviewer but was not what I expected. It was an uninteresting wine for me, not showing the character which I have experienced in other similar wines in the region.

Don’t be discouraged by the outward appearance of the vineyard if you would like to meet a friendly and knowledgeable owner as you sample wines. It is not the typical winery you will find in the area and does not offer the expected refinements if that is what you are seeking. I was able to have a friendly and informative chat with the owner on this day but it can of course get busy in the high season. I was told some days find lineups out the door as the facility can’t handle too many inside.