Shades of Sherry

This year at The Vancouver International Wine Festival, the host countries were Spain & Portugal. And I was able to attend a few trade seminars to learn about terroir, the wines of Rioja (1994 was one of the best vintages, fyi) and a Shades of Sherry masterclass.

Have you explored sherry? I haven’t given it the time it deserves, so I always find these classes fascinating.

Quick side story… several years ago, I travelled through Southern Spain with friends and we were headed right through the “Sherry Triangle” of Jerez (pronounced Hereth), Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto Sta. Maria. I was new to wine back then, but really wanted to learn more. We were about to pass through Jerez on our way to Seville. I was driving our rental and asked “this is where sherry is made! Do you want to stop and do a tasting?”; all 3 of them replied “naw, we’re good”; again I asked “but you guys, this is like the HOME of sherry! We can stop in quickly to just one Bodega?! Or how about you guys wait in the car and I’ll just go in and do a tasting…?”, they replied “naw let’s just go to Seville”. 😦 Note to self: don’t listen to your friends when YOU have the car keys!!!

Anyways, I’ve learned my lesson 😉

Made with the Solera System, sherry has sooo much to offer. I highly recommend you explore the different styles: Manzanilla, Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, Palo Cortado, or Cream. From dry to sweet, they all offer such a delightful personality!

You can pair the different styles with food, or even have a glass by itself.

What is the Solera System? “Solera is a process for aging liquids by fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years.” And trust me, this solera system is amazing to learn about, see in action and taste it’s final product.


Here is a list of some popular brands to try & how to serve them:

Lustau – Manzanilla Papirusa – Sanlúcar de Barrameda – D.O. Manzanilla

(Dry. Serve chilled, with pate, oysters, salads, ceviche, cheese)

González Byass – Tio Pepe – Fino – D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

(Dry. Serve chilled, as apéritif or with salads, pear dish or briny, umami foods)

Alvear – Fino – D.O. Montilla-Moriles

(Nutty. Pair with Indian, spicy, nutty foods or hot-pot)

Lustau – Los Arcos – Amontillado – D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

(Light, nutty. Serve with antipasti platter, mushroom risotto, ramen or a tomato based pasta)

Lustau – Don Nuño – Oloroso – D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

(Oxidative. Pair with osso bucco, smoked meats or couscous)

González Byass – Apostoles – Palo Cortado – D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

(Rich, hint of sweetness. Pair with foie gras, onion tart or umami foods)

Lustau – East India Solera – Cream – D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

(Sweet. Serve as apéritif, or with apricot mousse or white chocolate)

González Byass – Noe – Pedro Ximénez – D.O. Jerez-Xérès-Sherry

(Sweet. No pairing needed for this one, maybe just gelato!)


Happy Sherry researching! 🙂


One Amazing Winery in Italy

So I know there are thousands of wineries to visit in Italy, let alone the rest of the world. But I discovered an amazing one that you must know about.

the vineyard


On a recent trip to Italy in late September, I was visiting in and around Florence and Bologna in the province of Emilia-Romagna. I had wanted to explore the small towns of Modena, Reggio-Emilia and Parma, so I went researching what wineries were in that area. There are a few, however I would say only a handful stand out, and in that handful is the gem I discovered!

the owner and the view

Emilia-Romagna province is known for growing and producing a traditional yet modern wine called Lambrusco. Have you heard of it? I hope so, because its not just delicious, but unique. You see, it’s slightly frizzante (light bubbles), and meant to be chilled and paired with charcuterie, antipasto and well, it’s just perfect with pizza! I am a super fan of Lambrusco, I love that it has history, it’s complex, and it can range from a natural rosé style to a deep, rich burgundy in colour and style.

So, imagine my surprise when I learned Opera 02 Winery made 4 kinds of Lambrusco, had their own cellar for producing Balsamic Vinegar, were a small hotel and had a restaurant. I couldn’t have booked it any quicker!

aging barrels in the vinegar cellar

Located just 15-20 mins. taxi ride from the Modena train station in the countryside. This quaint yet very modern winery is a slice of heaven. The views are like being in a painting, it almost doesn’t seem real. From the restaurant and its patio and every single room you overlook the valley filled with vineyards. It offers a mini retreat with a steam room and sauna for guests, a pool, private or public tours of the Vinegar cellar and of the winery. If you care to take a country walk, just 30 minutes or so is a small village called Levizzano. But really, who would want to leave this beautiful place! The rooms are simple yet modern and extremely comfortable with linen sheets and pastel colours, which just add to the view outside the window.

pasta with zucchini and truffles

I did a tasting of vinegars and can now really appreciate why Modena is home to the true original Balsamic Vinegars, and why they are what they are. They offer 6,9,12,20 and 51 year aged vinegars, a great way to discover your favourite style. Mine was between the 9 and 12 year aged. I also tasted through the delicious, naturally made, bio-dynamic Lambrusco wines produced. Out of the 4, the Opera Pura was the highlight for me. And let me tell you, these Lambruscos were the best I have ever tasted (so far). From a traditional dark coloured to a rosé version, all naturally made, these were all pure finesse in a glass. And to be able to have them with lunch or dinner was a perfect way to enjoy them. On their restaurant wine menu they also feature their neighbours wines which represent the area – and on of their own still wines –  Fiano (an overlooked white and not often available).

the view from my room with a glass of rosé lambrusco

I left with a full and happy tummy, luggage bursting at the seams with lambrusco, and a slight glitter in my eyes from the wine I’d been drinking at lunch while taking in the view. Probably the best way to depart any beautiful place. If you get the chance and are in the area during your next trip to Italy, please visit this wonderful gem of a place – Opera 2 Winery.

Until next time, ciao! 😉

The view