Archive for April, 2017

Chinese Cuisine Celebrated

April 17th, 2017

Vancouver BC chinese restaurant

Vancouver continues as the most Asian city not actually situated in Asia. Accordingly the influence of Asian-orientated restaurants remains strong with such a diversity of creative culinary dishes. Chinese dining has led the way celebrated again in 2017 by the 9th annual Chinese Restaurant Awards ( honouring Critics’ Choice 10 Signature Dishes, 21 Diners’ Choice Awards and 5 Social Media Choices. Restaurant of the Year went to Dynasty Seafood Restaurant. Check them out.

A banquet on April 12, 2017 at the historic Pink Pearl Chinese Restaurant presented a culinary journey of Chinese Cuisine over the last 4 decades. Dishes represented the eighties through to the present decade that provoked a lot of ingredient discussion with fond nostalgic memories. Also reinforced the idea of how well Chinese food can be matched with Sparkling wines, Rose, as well as both white and red table wines of lower alcohol with some residual sugar. This 10 course menu will be available for service at Pink Pearl from May 1 to August 31 for 10 people together at one table to benefit the Greater Vancouver Food Bank & Vancouver Sowers Society of Education learning programs for children. Worth experiencing!

Which Chinese food dish do you like best?

china456 china123

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The numbers are in! Global wine production for 2016

April 14th, 2017

OIV report on wine 2016

By Joseph Temple

The numbers are in!

This week the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) released its annual report on the state of the industry for 2016. While not as bad as some experts had predicted last year, the information did confirm that annual global output is definitely on the decline. Dropping 3.2% from 2015, the countries hit the hardest were France, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa, who all felt the impact of bad weather conditions. According to the OIV, the top ten wine producing nations contributing to a worldwide output of 267 million hectolitres (mhl) in 2016 were:

1. Italy (50.9 mhl – up 2% from 2015)
2. France (43.5 mhl – down 7%)
3. Spain (39.3 mhl – up 4%)
4. United States (23.9 mhl – up 10%)
5. Australia (13.0 mhl – up 9%)
6. China (11.4 mhl – down 1%)
7. South Africa (10.5 mhl – down 6%)
8. Chile (10.1 mhl – down 21%)
9. Argentina (9.4 mhl – down 29%)
10. Germany (9.0 mhl – up 1%)

Over a sixteen year period, global output has varied, reaching highs in 2004 and 2013 with 298 mhl and 290 mhl respectively while dropping to 258mhl in 2012. But when looking at country-by-country, we see that as most of Europe and South America are either stagnant or in decline, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand have seen the most impressive gains over this past decade.

Moving from supply to demand, the numbers for 2016 show that worldwide consumption reached 242 mhl, slightly up from the past two years. Still recovering from the global financial crisis of 2008 when demand hit a record high of 250 mhl, the OIV report confirms that the market has been relatively stable since the recession began. When it comes to who is drinking all this wine, the top ten countries are:

1. United States (31.8 mhl – up 2.5% from 2015)
2. France (27.0 mhl – down 0.7%)
3. Italy (22.5 mhl – up 5.3%)
4. Germany (20.2 mhl – down 1.8%)
5. China (17.3 mhl – up 6.9%)
6. United Kingdom (12.9 mhl – up 1.4%)
7. Spain (9.9 mhl – down 0.4%)
8. Argentina (9.4 mhl – down 8.3%)
9. Russia (9.3 mhl – up 0.3%)
10. Australia (5.4 mhl – up 2.4%)

Interestingly, while the United States reigns supreme for the sixth year in a row for total consumption, when looking at it on a per capita basis, Portugal receives top honors at approximately 54 liters per person annually. In comparison, the average American over 21 years of age consumed just 11.9 liters, nowhere near the top ten and well below countries like Sweden, Switzerland, and Romania.

Trade-wise, Spain, France, and Italy represented roughly 55% of all wine exports in 2016. However, in terms of dollars and cents, the French Republic owned 28% of the market, earning over 8 billion euros last year. The greatest increase in imports comes from the Chinese, which has shot up a remarkable 45% from 2015, placing them in the top five countries alongside America, the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada.

What do you think of all these facts and figures? Does anything stand out? Comment below.

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Ask Sid: What is TDN in Riesling?

April 12th, 2017
Ask your question here

tdn riesling wine grape petrol

Question: Why and how does the Riesling varietal produce so much TDN (Trimethyl Dihydronapthalene), especially in comparison with other varietals, which, apparently, also produce TDN, but not on the scale of Riesling? What is it about the genetic heritage/chemical reactions of Riesling that give rise to the “petrol” notes in the wine?

Answer: Here are some wise technical insights on this difficult petrol question that have been provided to me by a learned attendee at the Alsace tasting-dinner with top Rieslings I blogged about earlier this week. So today’s answer is really all Ask Mary:

1. TDN is created during the aging process from carotenoid precursors by acid hydrolysis. The initial concentration of precursors in the wine determines the wine’s potential to develop TDN and petrol notes.

2. Factors that increase the potential for TDN include ripe grapes and low yield at harvest, high sun exposure, water stress, ie. no irrigation and hot, dry years, and high acid content.

3. If the “petrol” notes are too pungent/aggressive, the fault is not in the presence of TDN, but due to the fact that the wine is probably out of balance.

4. TDN belongs to the chemical class Benzenoids, and subclass Napthalenes – (think mothballs) –napthalene is made from crude oil or coal tar, and occurs in cigarette smoke, car exhaust, smoke from forest fires…

Olivier Humbrecht (the “god from Alsace” according to the Wine Advocate) says that “off aromas” like petrol can be caused by harvesting under-ripe grapes, machine harvesting, and “reduction” – ie. a reduction in fruit aromas which leaves something that is mistaken as petrol, caused by the winemaking process (airtight environments, stainless steel or old oak, poor use of sulfur, leaving wine on the lees). He says a good winemaker can avoid all that, and that a young Riesling should never smell like petrol. He further states that there is a desirable form of petrol in mature Riesling but the term is ill chosen. Instead, the terms should be “wet stone, minerals, sea air, iodine”. However I would like to note that several of the wines at our Alsace dinner and especially the 2011 Riesling Clos Windsbuhl Zind Humbrecht really did smell and taste of petrol!

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A Flourishing Wine Tasting Group with a Difference

April 10th, 2017

wine tasting for women

The International Wine & Food Society has been forwardly thinking allowing joint memberships which encourage couples to join and attend together at their wine & food events. However some branches around the world are still mainly composed of men. Other associations including Commanderie de Bordeaux, Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin and others for a variety of reasons have been less successful in bringing in women. The result in Vancouver has been the recent formation of two flourishing wine tasting groups aptly named “Steal a Bottle” and “Women and Wine”. Most members are already very wine knowledgeable but always interested in learning more as they and their spouses are keen wine collectors. Their events are usually scheduled to coincide with evenings when those guys are scheduled to be out at another fancy tasting-dinner to which they have not been invited. The latest one last week was hosted at home by my wife Joan (without me) with the usual BYOB and contributing food course based on an Alsace theme. Another tour-de-force tasting of top wines matched with appropriate foods supplied by the attendees. In fact the current buzz is that these informal female events are as good as or even better than the main event for males held at a downtown restaurant. There is a social aspect to these gatherings but also preparation research resulting in intense discussion for nearly four hours on the merits of the wines served, the order of them, and the success of the food pairings. Someone should be writing these special events up!

Here is a brief second-hand overview of the Alsace dinner. 10 wines half of them Riesling and the other half Gewurztraminer nearly all Grand Cru with vintages ranging from 2015 to 2002. I am told the Albert Mann vieille vignes 2012 gewurz furstentum matched so well with crispy flatbread with gorgonzola & pears. The Faller family Domaine Weinbach at Kayserberg used to advantage their old large oak casks for the fresh 2015 Riesling Schlossberg Clos de Capucins paired with another classy Riesling the Clos Windsbuhl 2011 of Zind Humbrecht. Both of those wines were apparently delicious with the traditional tarte flambee with micro greens salad. Main course was the Alsace classic Supreme de Volaille au Riesling et Legumes (chicken braised in Riesling with fresh vegetables) with a magical pair of aged Riesling from the fuller Zind Humbrecht 2003 Herrenweg de Turckheim to the drier Trimbach 2002 Frederic Emile (actually a blend of 2 Grand Cru vineyards Geisberg & Osterberg). For the cheese course the mature spicy flavours of two Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminers 2009 & 2002 was supposed to have been amazing. The apple and berry tart dessert with vanilla ice cream tamed the young sweetish 2014 Domaine Weinbach Cuvee Laurence.

Congrats on this fantastic wine and food menu that seems to deliver the best of Alsace in Vancouver. Really like your concept. Please keep it going and hope someone who actually attends will report these memorable tasting dinners on another blog site.  Do you have a similar unique wine and food tasting group in your city?  Let us know!

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10 interesting facts about the wines from Nova Scotia

April 8th, 2017

nova scotia wine

By Joseph Temple

At just under 600 vineyard acres and producing around 500,000 cases annually, Nova Scotia’s wine industry is relatively small, representing just 2% of all Canadian production.  However, given a number of positive articles and endorsements that have appeared over the past couple of years, it appears that this peninsula is destined for bigger and brighter things!  With its local wine industry earning approximately $196 million dollars per year, expect to see more award-winning vintages from Atlantic Canada’s most promising winemaking province.

wine nova scotia samuel champlain

1. Legend has it that French explorer Samuel de Champlain attempted to plant Nova Scotia’s first grapes in 1611.

Annapolis Valley winemaking Nova Scotia
[GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Nova Scotia had no documented history of winemaking until 1913 when horticulturists from an Agriculture Canada Research Station began experimenting with different grape varieties in the Annapolis Valley, located in the western part of the peninsula.

l'acadie grape nova scotia wine
By Charles Hoffman [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

3. In 1972, a political science professor from California successfully harvested a hybrid grape he called l’Acadie Blanc, which flourished in Nova Scotia due to the cooler climate.  It become the province’s signature varietal.

climate for winemaking in Nova Scotia

4. Mostly surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and home to 5400 lakes, Nova Scotia is considered to be a cool grape growing region.

grapes grown in Nova Scotia
By gLangille [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

5. The most successful grapes to be harvested in Nova Scotia are usually white hybrids such as Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, & l’Acadie Blanc.

wine regions Nova Scotia
By James Ellison [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

6. The four main wine growing regions are Annapolis Valley, Gaspereau Valley, South Shore, and the Malagash Peninsula.

prohibition wine nova scotia

7. A major hindrance for the local wine industry is Nova Scotia’s antiquated liquor laws that date back to the Prohibition era.  In fact, today there are 105 dry communities throughout the province.

wineries in Nova Scotia

8. Nova Scotia’s two dozen wineries are all within a few hours’ drive from Halifax, the provincial capital.

sparkling wine in nova scotia

9. In addition to white wines, Nova Scotia is earning a reputation for producing quality sparkling wine, which some have compared to Champagne.

icewine production in Nova Scotia
By Dominic Rivard [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

10. Much like its provincial cousins, Nova Scotia is also home to icewine, which isn’t harvested until after the first frost.


Aspler, Tony & Leslie, Barbara. Canadian Wine for Dummies. Mississauga: John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd., 2000.
Canadian Press. (2017, February 9). Nova Scotia’s bizarre liquor laws that date back to Prohibition are under review. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from
Crosariol, Beppi. (2011, September 6). Surprise! One of Canada’s best wines is from Nova Scotia. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from
Pellechia, Thomas. (2017, April 1). Settled in The Seventeenth Century, Nova Scotia’s Wine Industry Has Just Begun. Forbes. Retrieved from
Schriener, John. The Wines of Canada. London: Octopus Publishing, 2005.

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