Top 10 situations to have a drink

I haven’t blogged in awhile.  However instead of a long winded personal update on why I have been so absent from the Blog, I figured a simple entry back into it was a far better idea.

So since everyone likes a top 10 list I figured why not a beverage themed top 10.  Plus I heard @fearless_fred talk about this on the radio the other day which resurrected an old idea I had and a post I actually started about 6 months ago.

Some of these come from my own head, some from others, and some from general conversations I have had over the years.  All of which should at the very least generate some insightful discussion.  So here goes, the top 10 situations where your drink of choice just seems mandatory.

10. Bowling
9. On vacation
8. Watching a sporting event – Live or on TV
7. Playing Pool
6. Adult League Softball
5. At the cottage on the dock
4. The first patio day of the summer
3. Friday night
2. Building IKEA furniture
1. While BBQing

Have a situation that’s better suited than those above?  We would love to hear your feedback.  Leave a comment below, email, or reach out on Twitter.  Would love to hear from you.

- Mark
@towineman

State of wine journalism – A commentary on objectivity

I have read a lot of press lately on the discussion of objectivity in wine writing.  As a blogger this has a direct impact on me so the subject got my complete attention.  It seems there are some mixed views out there.  Some feel as though wineries and wine agencies are effectively buying off the media with free samples and tastings.  This can lead to positive reviews of the product because they are effectively “hired through samples” to promote the wine.  Others (myself included) believe in the objectivity but encourage the consumer to do their homework to be sure they trust the source.  I believe strongly in objectivity and ethics in wine writing and as such wanted to provide my take and some additional context on the subject.

Take a look first at a recent post by Rick VanSickle (@rickwine), speaking to an event I actively participated in.  Though his wrath is directed at Ms. Maclean and he distinctly says (in regards to the other reviewers) “I do not know most of them so I cannot comment on motive. I have to assume they accepted the samples, loved the wine and tweeted about them. Whether they were paid by MacLean, I have no idea, but I suspect not. And after reading the reviews, there were a range of opinions from scores in the mid-80s to low 90s. My concern is not with them.”  So while I was not personally offended or attacked, his overall tone calls into question true objectivity in wine writing, using an event I participated in as his prime example.  This got my attention.

The second was written by Mr. John Szabo, a Master Sommerlier universally recognized as one of Canada’s finest writers and evaluators, as well as a man I have met on numerous occasions and admire greatly.  This one was published in no smaller a forum than the National Post.  Here Mr. Szabo speaks to the overall state of wine reviewing today and how the internet provides a forum for just about anybody to review wines, credible or not and objective or not.  His point is that you need to filter your sources, learn who you can trust, and then trust them.  It’s getting harder and harder to do that in the complicated world of social media, but as a consumer you have to do your homework to trust those that are objective and credible.  I agree with him.  But again as someone who has jumped in with both feet, taking advantage of the low barriers to entry that the internet provides, I am in the centre of the world that Mr. Szabo is referring to, so again I took notice.

So here goes.  A quick monologue on a complicated topic.

Let’s be honest the lack of trustworthiness on the internet is by no means limited to wine.  Bloggers can write about anything from sports to parenting tips and their credibility can be everything from an educated source to a catfish scheme.  I agree wholeheartedly that consumers need to filter their information, find sources they trust, and call into question those they don’t trust.  It’s so easy to publish an opinion on the internet, it’s getting harder and harder for consumers to decipher if that opinion is valid or not.

My general beef on the topic and with wine writers (and most other members of the press) is on the subject of objectivity.  I consider myself to be of the highest moral standards and completely objective when reviewing wines.  However being “objective” should not be confused with being “negative”.  As a writer if you go online to attack someone or attack an organization because you didn’t like their product this does not grant you instant credibility.  It might get you readers because everyone loves gossip and controversy, but it does not create credibility.  As a consumer I advise you not to confuse the two.  It’s far too easy to stand behind a keyboard and attack someone or something.  Be wary of those just trying to make a name for themselves.  Personally I consider myself a positive writer but also completely objective.  And yes… you can do both.  If I don’t like something I will tell you, but I also appreciate this doesn’t mean the product sucks or that everyone else needs to dislike it too.  Take for example this excerpt from a post I wrote about Yellow Tail wines in June of 2012.

“I am a wine writer and as such I try to be as objective as possible.  So here’s the deal… I am not a big fan of Yellow Tail Wine.  As I have documented on here before Australian Shiraz (which is their most popular wine) is simply not one of my personal favourites, whether made by Yellow Tail or any other producer.  Even beyond that though, Yellow Tail wines have never appealed to me.  However I realized on Thursday that Yellow Tail must be doing something right.  In fact they do a lot of things right as since their beginning in 2001 they have risen to become the #1 bottled wine exported from Australia.  They are hugely popular in Canada, they are a lock as a general list at the LCBO, and they are inexpensive.  After meeting the folks from Yellow Tail on Thursday I think I know why they have achieved that success.  They make very approachable wines.  Their target market is not the connoisseur segment or the wine critic.  Their segment is the everyday consumer who may be fearful of the big boys from France and Italy and who may not understand what the heck they’re drinking in those bottles anyways.  To that segment Yellow Tail wines make sense.”

Objectivity found in positive wine writing.  That is a concept I believe in.

So listen to Mr. Szabo and find sources you trust, my only tip is to not assume negativity equals honesty or objectivity.  In fact, I think this tip applies to all press out there and well beyond the world of wine writing.  If only some of the writers who cover the Leafs would listen to this advice every now and then (Damien Cox if you’re reading this I’m looking at you) who with every loss on the ice seem to feel the world is crashing down and every win seems to be “lucky” or an outlier.  Taking it a step further every snowstorm nowadays is “snowmageddon” and every TTC or Go Train delay is a flaw in the overall operation of those trains.  Negativity often fuels the public interest and gains viewers and readers.  I don’t see it that way.  My forum has but one purpose… to enhance your experience with wine… in a positive way.

- Mark
Follow me on Twitter: @towineman

Vino de Coyol

In mid January I was lucky enough to visit Costa Rica and spend an incredible week in the sun at a wonderful all inclusive resort.  It was amazing.  If you’ve never been to Costa Rica I would highly recommend it.  The people are wonderful, the country is stunning, and there is something to do for the adventurous and for those looking to relax as well as everyone in between.

But beyond all that what did I discover about Costa Rica? A drink that I can only assume noone has ever heard of called Vino de Coyol.  I still haven’t quite been able to decipher if this is an urban myth or not, but with some digging there does seem to be some substance behind it.  You see I initially found out about it from a resort shuttle driver who claimed it was “A wine produced in the trunk of a palm tree and if you have two glasses of it you won’t be able to walk.” he then went on “If you go out into the sun the next day, you will feel drunk again.”  Sounds like an urban myth right?  Too good to be true?  Well I knew right away that there was some fault to the story because “Vino” means wine and grapes don’t grow in the trunks of trees so I knew part of this was misleading.  However hearing that two glasses can get you extremely drunk, plus a buzz the next day just from going in the sun, that was enough for me to inquire further.  So I had my shuttle driver friend write it down for me and I have done my homework since.

Most of the sites reporting on it are in Spanish and the information is bleak but it appears this is more than just an urban myth.  The Coyol is a type of palm tree commonly found in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica – where my hotel was.  When the tree is cut down the liquid sap inside the trunk begins to ferment.  This fermented liquid is then collected to produce the beverage.  The name Vino of course is misleading, but it’s a local story and therefore they can call it whatever they want.  Interestingly though according to Costa Rica Wiki (obviously a reliable source) the natural fermentation process doesn’t actually produce a beverage with high alcohol content.  In fact in produces a beverage that contains enzymes and other substances which causes similar effects and feelings as typically associated with alcohol intoxication.

One thing is for sure every single site I checked mentioned the popular story of instant drunkenness and that same feeling resurfacing the next day if you spend some time in the sun.  That may be the myth, but it’s good enough for me.  I’d try it on my next visit… you?

- Mark
Follow me on Twitter: @towineman

Superbowl Post – Version 2013

At this time last year I made my first ever Superbowl post in honour of the yearly celebration of all things snacks and drink. Oh and Football.

Here is my 2012 Super Bowl Post: Superbowl Beverage of Choice.

I just re-read this post and I stand by it.  However I must make one edit to have this applicable to my 2013 Superbowl plans.  I am substituting Rolling Rock with Muskoka Cream Ale. At this point it’s my unofficial everyday beer of 2013.

Enjoy the game!

- Mark
Follow me on Twitter: @towineman

Unusual Cocktails & Drinks

Did the title of this post spark your interest? I hope so because it’s a vast and fascinating subject when you begin looking at the interesting concoctions being crafted by bartenders around the world. This topic is virtually endless and I’m sure many of you could add your own experiences to this post. Please do. Add your suggestions or thoughts on some “unusual cocktails and drinks” in the comments section. I’m sure some interesting dialogue will be triggered here.

I came across this post http://www.casinotop10.net/Unusual-Cocktails-and-Drinks and it provided the inspiration for today’s topic. However I am taking a different perspective on “unusual”. The following four drinks are insanely popular in their respective countries of origin. In fact they may be the most popular drinks in those countries. However like many things internationally they are relatively unknown to most in North America if you haven’t had the chance to visit these places you likely haven’t had any of the following.

1. Ouzo – Greece

Ouzo

Ouzo

Ouzo is an Anise flavoured liquor which is insanely popular in Greece. If you haven’t been there then you likely have not had it. It is usually served on it’s own as an aperitif or is often served with appetizers in restaurants. It usually sipped slowly (or in shots by tourists) sometimes mixed with water or on ice. The closest comparison we are going to find in North America would be Sambuca. Yes, that black licorice flavour is prominent in Ouzo.
I also decided to take to Twitter to find out what the public had to say about Ouzo and was interested to find some mixed results.
“Easy Sipping Liquor.” (@bsaunders33)
“Tastes like black licorice to me.” (@paproconsulting)
“Gasoline #highoctane…sorry that’s grappa.” (@mortgageblogger)
“Gross” (@brettvdb)

2. Pisco – Chile/Peru

Pisco Sour - Peru

Pisco Sour – Peru

In 2010 I was fortunate enough to visit Chile on my honeymoon and there I experienced plenty of Pisco Sours. Peru claims exclusive right to use the name Pisco (according to Wikipedia that is) but if it’s coming from Chile don’t let the confusing label get the better of you as they have to call it “Chilean Pisco”. Though rarely aged in oak, where it will gain some amber colouring, it is most often colourless. At the core it is a grape based brandy made in much the same way as the more typical brandy’s we would find in North America. However it is a harsher flavour and thus is most often used in the cocktail “Pisco Sour.” The Pisco Sour is actually the Peruvian National Cocktail prepared with egg white, ice shavings, lime juice, simple syrup, and bitters. The Chilean version by comparison usually omits the bitters. It’s actually quite an enjoyable cocktail, especially when your consuming it in the home country.

3. Caipirinha – Brazil

Caipirinha

Caipirinha

This one I must admit that I have never had, but I have read about it many times before so it was top of mind when I decided to write this post. Caipirinha has been proclaimed the national cocktail of Brazil. It is usually made with Cachaca, sugar, and lime and very much resembles a Mojito without the mint. Cachaca is an alcohol that is almost identical to rum with the big difference being that rum is made with Molasses and Cachaca is made with pure sugar cane juice. Just like rum you can get aged and dark versions which have seen time in oak, but most at the lower price point which is used in the cocktail would be colourless. Of course you could theoretically make this cocktail with rum and it would be virtually identical… but it would not be Caipirinha.

4. Snow Beer – China

SnowBeer_China

Snow Beer

So here is your next pub stumper when you’re at the bar with your friends. “Do you know what the #1 beer brand in the world is by sales volume?” Yes folks that’s right… SNOW BEER! Apparently the Chinese like their beer. It is commonly known as a pale ale, most closely resembling Bud Light and at 3.0%-3.9% alcohol you could probably have a ton of them. Well it appears that the Chinese do. Snow Beer brands sold 50.8 Million barrels in 2011, dwarfing sales by the worlds second most popular brand… Bud Light (45.4 Million barrels). To put that into context the Chinese drank 16.5 Billion pints of Snow in 2011. As the mass beer market shrinks year over year in North America, this continues to be the flagship moneymaker for beer powerhouse SABMiller, the makers of Peroni, Grolsch, and Miller Light. **All stats from The Drinks Business I’m sure you have more to add. What have you tried that could be considered an “unusual cocktail or drink?” Please share it with us in the comments section below.

- Mark

Follow me on Twitter: @towineman

Happy Holidays!

I’ve decided I’m not going to write a post with recommendations on what to enjoy this holiday season. We could talk Baileys and coffee or the perfect wine for your holiday feast.  Truth be told however there is really no need to over analyze this as the answer is quite simple.  It’s the holidays which is a time to be enjoyed with friends and family.  A time to leave work at the office and take a step back to reflect on the simple pleasures and joys of life.  A time to be thankful for all the wonderful things we have.

So kiss your kids and hug your mom and when you decide to have a drink pour whatever it is that makes you happy.  Indulge in whatever you enjoy most.  Easy isn’t it?

Lastly, and most importantly, above all else… please don’t drink and drive.

Here’s to a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

- Mark
Follow me on Twitter: @towineman

November in Niagara

An email chain began a few weeks ago amongst a number of my friends.  In many ways this chain was no different than most. We were trying to gather ideas for a group get together and settle on a date.  Then things changed for me when we decided on a casual Saturday of wine tastings in Niagara.  Naturally I was in and due to the subject matter I also volunteered to be a co planner of the event.  Luckily for me I know better then most the hospitality of Niagara wineries and the people who work them.  I banked on that and as usual I was not the least bit disappointed.

So what does a wine writer do to plan a wine day for his friends? I took to Twitter.  I sent a message out, seeking responses, that I was looking for wineries to attend.  I also used Twitter as a resource to discover anything unique happening at any of the wineries when my group was going.  After several Twitter conversations our itinerary looked something like this.
10:30-11:30 – portfolio tasting at Fielding Estates Winery.
11:30 – ???? – portfolio tasting at Vineland Estates Winery
???? – ???? – lunch at The Jordan House (i.e. wine break)
???? – ???? – Di Profio, Malivoire, or Green Lane Winery

You’ll notice the deliberate use of question marks above.  As I mentioned this day was a casual one, so your better off not to be rushed.  Plus if you’re fortunate enough to go to Vineland Estates and taste wines with winemaker Brian Schmidt you will want question marks in your itinerary because you’ll only do yourself a disservice by rushing out early.  Either way I do recommend some leniency in your planning as you can never be totally sure of the gems you might discover at a winery.

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So we set off for Fielding.  Unfortunately the “grape king” Mr. Curtis Fielding himself was not there, but nonetheless we arrived at 10:30 for our tasting. The first thing I noticed at Fielding was that you could try anything. If the bottle was open great, if not they would open it for you.  To the point where I was the first in the day to sample the Brut and they didn’t hesitate to open it.  I appreciated that.  As well as that I sampled a run of 2011’s including the unoaked Chardonnay, the estate bottled Pinot Gris, and the lot 17 Riesling.  I also sampled some 2010 reds including the popular Fireside and the Red Conception.  Overall I found the wines a touch young and sour, but the high acidity leads me to believe these wines could age a bit and very well might improve.  As such I bought a bottle of the lot 17 Riesling, the consensus winner amongst our group.  Beyond the wines however I can tell you one thing for sure, visit Fielding in the summer.  Not only are there whites better than their reds (i.e. summer) but they make high acid, refreshing whites (i.e. summer).  Plus they have a spectacular view across lake Ontario of the Toronto skyline, with a handful of Muskoka chairs (i.e. summer) lined up on the balcony to take in the view.  A winery cottage if you were ever seeking one.

Then it was off to Vineland Estates. Here I was fortunate because they employ possibly the most active winemaker on Twitter @benchwineguy.  I have connected with Brian Schmidt via Twitter many times before as well as with @vinelandestates (which I discovered is run by a very well educated sommelier who works their tasting bar).  We tasted many of their LCBO wines at the bar in the extremely impressive and extremely grand tasting room.  However, what was even better was we got a sneak peek into their upcoming 2012’s tasting both the Riesling (estimated release, spring 2012) and their Cabernet Sauvignon (estimated release, fall 2012) right from the tank.  What a great experience! Let me try to set the stage for you.  The cellar at Vineland houses tanks upon tanks just of Riesling alone.  Each tank is harvested approximately 5 days apart.  You’d think there would be no way these wines could differ.  Well I can tell you they do and quite noticeably so, not just to my palate but to everyone in my group who was in attendance.  The wines were dead dry with heavy citrus notes in the earliest harvested tanks, then got a touch sweeter with more stone fruit (peach mostly) showing as we went through them.  Now let me close the stage for you. The winemaker then blends all these tanks to create the uniform and balanced Riesling that we know and love.  Talk about talent.  The cab sauv’s we tried out of the tank were raw and pure, so I would be intrigued to try them again upon release next year.  Nonetheless look out for the 2012’s coming from Niagara.  Though production is down a touch, the grapes are ripe and concentrated.  So long as prices stay true, we could be in for a few gems from the 2012 vintage. The Vineland Estates tasting demonstrated this in its infancy and now I am anxious to see it play out.

So ended the somewhat structured part of the day.  We took lunch at a great pub called The Jordan House in Jordan Ontario.  A bit for a wine break and a bit because the winery restaurants tend to be quite pricey.  Over lunch I went back to Twitter to seek out afternoon winery stops.  Turns out Jordan Station is literally down the street from a new winery called Di Profio who responded and invited us for the afternoon, so we obliged.  What a great decision that was. Owned by the sweetest retired couple, Di Profio is just a tiny winery but producing outstanding wines that manage to contain a rare element these days… human touch.  Their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon was literally hand picked from a harvest that was ravaged by wildlife.  The crop was too small to put through the rigours of machine winemaking, so winemaker Fred essentially handmade this wine.  In a world dominated by corporations and conglomerates, the wine world is no exception.  For most wineries a reduced crop and the inability to machine process the wine, would jack up prices astronomically.  Yet somehow even with all that and in a vintage recognized by many to be the best in the history of Niagara, this 2010 cab sauv still retails for a mere $20.  I was thrilled.  I bought 3 bottles and I am tempted to go back and buy more.

Three wineries and another outstanding day in Niagara.  Though I traveled socially I felt it necessary to share my day with you all.  Not only did I learn about the future of 2012 wines from Niagara, but I discovered some new hidden gems.  Somehow that latter part happens every single time I visit Niagara.

- Mark
Follow me on Twitter: @towineman

A Few Thanksgiving Recommendations

I was in Muskoka last weekend and it finally sunk it what a wonderful time of year this is.  The colours on the leaves in Muskoka were breathtaking and I just love the cool mornings and evenings with very comfortable temperatures during the day.  I have declared on many occasions that Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday of the year and I stand by that.  The food, the drinks, and all the time with family.  All without the chaos and gift giving associated with Christmas.  It’s glorious.

Yesterday I sat in on a quick online chat on Canada.com where some of Canada’s top wine and food writers contributed their thoughts and recommendations for Thanksgiving dinner.  I managed to chime in a few times with my thoughts and I thought I would share those with you.

Here are my top Thanksgiving drink recommendations:

Wine: Late Harvest Riesling – Not typically as sweet as an icewine, this wine is excellent to serve with traditional Thanksgiving desserts like Pumpkin or Apple Pie.  Try the recent releases from Chateau de Charmes or Cave Springs.  Plus as I said yesterday in the discussion, doesn’t the name just scream Thanksgiving?
Beer: Muskoka Brewery Harvest Ale - Just released a few weeks ago, Muskoka Cottage Brewing has their Harvest Ale available now.  It’s a big beer at 7% but is loaded with flavour.  A bit spicy with a long bitter finish and some fresh carbonation, this beer will hold up to the many different dishes typically served with Thanksgiving dinner, including a great match with stuffing or squash.
General Serving Tip - The burning Thanksgiving question is always what wine do I serve with turkey, white or red? It came up in the discussion yesterday and many perspectives were given.  Turkey is versatile and as such you can confidently serve a red or white and the best advice is to try to pair the wine to the sauce you serve with your turkey as it is typically a dominant flavour.  Classic Thanksgiving pairings include a full bodied Chardonnay or a fresh Ontario Pinot Noir.  However my best advice is to include both a red and white wine on the table because Turkey dinner truly is versatile and so will be the pairing preferences of your guests.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

- Mark
Follow me on Twitter: @towineman

 

Costa D’Amalfi – a review of a trip to Campania

When you think of wine regions in Italy I can tell you one that likely doesn’t come to mind right away… Campania. However that is the region where I was lucky enough to spend the past two weeks.  Campania is essentially South/West Italy, south of Rome, but North of Sicily. The shin of the boot, as some like to call it.  It’s likely the least known of all Italian wine regions as most famous wines we know and love come from the central regions and north from there.  In Campania they don’t make Barolo, Brunello, Amarone, Chianti, or… you get the point. But don’t hold the popularity against them some nice wines are coming out of the region and it is an absolutely remarkable place to visit.

I spent my days on the Amalfi Coast which is one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been too.  In all honesty my trip wasn’t based on wine.  I spent two weeks with my family, relaxing, eating, drinking, and having a great time.  We had an apartment right on the mediterranean sea with scenery and landscapes that could take your breath away.  This was all probably a good thing because there isn’t much of a tourist industry for wineries down there.  You can’t really visit many so tours and tastings are near impossible to come by.  The one winery I set out to visit (Monteventrano) took 1:15 to get to and was closed when we finally arrived.  However as a wine writer I did find it an interesting experience and set out to try and explore as many wines as I could.  We know a lot about the famous Italian regions further north, but wines from the south are nearly impossible to come by in this marketplace.  So to visit the region and explore the wines, was a great experience for me.

While interesting is one way to describe it, my overall thoughts are not completely positive.  For the most part the wines are very one dimensional, fruit forward and not overly complex.  They are simple wines created mostly to be easy drinking and very food friendly.  In that respect they succeed as they pair very well with the seafood, pasta and pizza’s that the region is known for.  The simple, easy drinking, nature of these wines however comes at a cost – a very low cost.  Our “go to” wine for the family was a 1L regional table wine, which retailed for a whopping €1.5 (approx $1.95 CAN).  While far from complex it was a decent table wine and the equivalent of something that would cost you more like $9 or $10 here.  That really was a theme throughout.  The house wine in restaurants was pretty good for the most part and cost between €8 and €12 per litre.  Peroni beer was €1.15 in the store for a 660ml bottle a price which jumped to €3.50 should you buy it at the bar and carry it down to the beach with you.  So without a doubt you could certainly enjoy yourself on a budget.

However I’d done my homework and I knew that the region had more to offer me.  The wines were sitting very well with my family but I needed to see what else could be discovered.  In week 2 I decided to expand my horizons.  I tried the wines the region is known for going out and buying myself a Taurasi, a Greco di Tufo, a Falanghina, and a reserve Costa D’Amafi.  While I found the Greco a bit underwhelming I had finally discovered a few wines I can recommend if you manage to see them at the LCBO or can get your hands on them.

Taurasi – This is one of the only DOCG wines from the region and probably the most popular and respected wine emerging from Southern Italy.  Some call it the “Barolo of the South.”  It is made with 100% aglianico grapes and is a big, full bodied red wine, which as I mentioned above seemed a bit tough to come by.  These were typically the most expensive on restaurant menu’s, but I tried one bottle at €15 which was actually a poor expression of this wine and still great.  I ended up purchasing a 2004 for my cellar which I didn’t try but expect big things from when I open it 5-10 years from now.
Falanghina – These are easy drinking white wines but with a bit more complexity.  Some of the best seafood pairing wines I have tried.  Loaded with green apple and lemon they also had very nice and refreshing acidity helping balance the amazingly fresh seafood you could get anywhere.
Costa D’Amafi Reserve – Costa D’Amalfi is a broad DOC region covering a lot of ground.  However I got my hands on a €20, 2008 reserve, which was a blend of aglianico and piedrosso and I ended up bringing a bottle back for the cellar.  A big red wine with structure and balance.  Blackberry, olives, smoke, and earth show right through.  After being decanted for an hour it was a great pairing with pizza but could also hold up to many red meats or game we might make here at home.

Overall my wallet was very satisfied with the wine experience.  So was my curiosity and my need to understand what one of the least known wine regions, in one of the best known wine countries, could offer.  At the end of it all I came away with a great understanding and appreciation.  As I write this I am on my flight home. A flight which was delayed 3.5 hours due first to a computer malfunction on board, and then by two late passengers who caused not only a further 20 minute delay but also single handedly caused us to lose our takeoff spot thus creating further delays. True story. Once we landed a new spot to fly out we then found ourselves right in the middle of an air traffic control strike somewhere over France and since we were scheduled to fly right through France on route home a further 1 hour delay was caused.  But… I am sipping on a tiny little airline bottle of The Whistling Thorn, a Cabernet/Merlot from South Africa. It’s not amazing but it’s decent, and it’s good enough to ease the pain of leaving Italy and bridge the gap back to Ontario.

- Mark
Follow me on Twitter @towineman

Off to Italy!

Dear readers, followers, family, & friends.

Consider this post my “out of the office” message for the next two weeks.  If this was one of those classic bounce back messages we all receive it would read something like this…

“I’m sorry to have missed your e-mail.  Please note I will be out of the office from Sept 14th – Sept 30th.  In that time I will have no access to e-mail or voicemail as I will be touring the gorgeous landscape that is the Amalfi Coast of Italy.  I will be drinking some of the best wine the world has to offer and eating some of the best food you can find.  I may even get to Tuscany and Rome for a few days along the way.  But don’t worry your message is important to me and I will respond to it and also provide a recap of my trip when I return.”

Or something like that…

Talk to you all soon.

- Mark
Follow me on Twitter: @towineman