“Well, what are you looking for?” asked Bradley. I knew his name was Bradley because he wore a nametag saying “Bradley”. That’s a hard question in a wine shop. It’s not like going to a store that sells, say, buckets, where you can say—“I’m looking for a bucket” and the clerk will happily point one out that’s virtually the same as all the other items in the store. And I couldn’t state the obvious—“I’m looking for a good wine,” either as I doubt any shoppers enter the store and ask for a delicate little wine that is bad to perhaps only slightly sub par.
So in the end, and in the interest of saving time, I said, “Something I can take to a party that nobody has tried before and I can be sure won’t embarrass me.” Without hesitation the clerk led me to the back of the shop where a small group of Canadian Wines sat. “Canadian wines?’ I thought. In my mind I already saw how the party would go: The other party guests who got their recommendations from sommeliers and other enlightened Swamis would receive copious accolades for the bottles they brought while I spent the evening in the kitchen hiding behind the garbage can wondering why I just hadn’t stuck with California.
“Trust me,” said Bradley. “If they don’t like it I’ll give you your money back.”
SOLD! I wondered if I could just blame the selection on my wife.
Later that night, as the host opened the wine, I anxiously looked toward the exits. I still had time to visit Bradley for a refund. I imagined a wine from Canada would be something like an Amish electrician: good enough to service the locals but not really ready for the big-time. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Party goers loved it and quickly refilled their glasses as I began spewing the few facts about Canadian wine I learned from Bradley at the register.
Canada has produced wine for over 200 years. The Niagara Peninsula in Ontario is about 100 miles due West of New York’s Finger Lakes region and currently hosts more than 70 wineries. The wine below is a perfect example of their quality.
Vineland Estates 2008, Semi Dry Riesling ($14.99): Sweet, yes but it’s kept in check by a hint of minerality that reminds me of tasting a wet stone. There’s also pear, grapefruit, and honey…..eh?