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Views from the Ontario Vines

with Fred Couch



Taste The Season - 2013

By F.G. Couch ©

There are two very popular passport events in November. One is held in the Niagara Escarpment/Twenty Valley area. This is called “Wrapped up in the Valley” and I reviewed that event in my November report. The other is “Taste the Season” which runs for four weekends in November. This year 27 wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake participated. Each winery offers a VQA wine with a locally-inspired food sampling. A one-price passport lets the holder visit each of the participating wineries on any of the four weekends.

Each of the wineries offered some interesting and some very unique food and wine pairings. The most unique would have to go to Inniskillin Wines. From the description is sounded like a very bizarre match but it was one of our favourites – Icewine corn dogs with chili aioli and a 2011 Vidal Icewine. This wasn't a typical carnival-style corn dog but one with a chef-made sausage. The Icewine was a perfect match for the slight sweetness in the cornmeal coating.

Inniskillin Wines – corn dog
Inniskillin Wines – corn dog



Our least favourite (but unique) pairing was at Niagara College – Pork trotter with compressed fennel brioche and the 2010 barrel-fermented Chardonnay. I guess pig trotter is an acquired taste. The Chardonnay, however, was delicious.

Strewn Winery always offers one of the nicest presentations. It doesn't hurt that there's also a cooking school onsite. This year's offering was a “seasonal nibbler trio” consisting of mushrooms with a Muskoka cranberry sauce, a creamy French onion & goat cheese spread and house-spiced beef with horseradish jelly. These were matched with the 2007 Strewn Three – a Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Strewn Winery – seasonal nibbler trio

It's difficult to pick out the “best” pairings because there were so many to choose from out of the 27 wineries and it's sometimes a subjective thing. However, some of the more interesting food and wine matches would include in the “meat” category:

Diamond Estates – the Winery: Meatloaf slider topped with red pepper jelly served with the 2012 Lakeview Cellars Syrah Rosé. This was a surprisingly tasty item that went well with the wine which is done in a drier style. A festive touch was added to the presentation with the cranberries on top of the slider.

Diamond Estates – meatloaf slider

Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery: Niagara Gold and smoked Ontario pork quesadilla with crème fraîche, sponge toffee and cilantro. The matching wine was the 2011 Grand Reserve Chardonnay which went well with the combination of sweet and savoury flavours in the quesadilla

Jackson-Triggs –pork quesadilla


Konzelmann Estate Winery:

Pulled beef and Quebec brie slider paired with the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. The light smoky tannins and the cedar notes of the wine matched really well with the slider.

In the “sweet” category, some of our favourites were:


Trius – dark chocolate ice cream bar
Trius – dark chocolate ice cream bar

Trius Winery at Hillebrand: Smoked bacon and dark chocolate ice cream bar with Trius Brut. They say that sparkling wine goes with nearly everything and this was no exception. I'm sure this was a creation from Chef Frank Dodd of the Trius Winery Restaurant. I've had his delicious ice cream bars before but not one with smoked bacon. This was one time I wish I could say “can I have the full-size version, please?” and “a glass of the Trius Brut to go with that”. Move over Magnum and Dove Ice Cream Bars. This one has got you beat!

Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery: Petite chiffon strawberry cake served with 2012 “Chocolate Allure”. This is fruit wine with aromas of dark chocolate and delicate strawberry undertones. It matches well with lighter desserts so it was perfect with the chiffon strawberry cake. More please!

Sunnybrook – chiffon strawberry cake
Sunnybrook – chiffon strawberry cake

 Not being a fish or seafood eater, I passed on any of the fish dishes and just had the wine offered. However, my wife enjoyed these pairings:

Château des Charmes: Beet cured rainbow trout served with three onion crème fraîche. This dish was paired with the 2010 Earth & Sky Pinot Noir.

Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery: House made clam chowder served with a 2011 Estate Chardonnay.

A special mention goes out to Riverview Cellar Estate Winery. They were supposed to serve an herbed goat cheese and oven-roasted vegetable tart with a 2012 Gewürztraminer. On the day we visited, they planned on 200 visitors. However, they were overwhelmed and more than 250 people showed up. Rather than disappoint the 50 or so people because they had run out of vegetable tarts, they served the goat cheese and roasted vegetable filling on a cracker. It was delicious and paired well with the Gewürztraminer.

Be sure to check the website for details of next year's event. You will not be disappointed. For more details about other events in Niagara-on-the-Lake:

Photos by © F.G. Couch

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