A Touch of the Grape

The Okanagan Valley of British Columbia has the perfect environment for growing many types of wine grapes.

The Okanagan is famous for its pinot gris grapes (Hillside Winery). They produce a dry white that goes with many meals.

It’s very mild and damp in the winter and very hot and dry in the summer. Those conditions produce the right combinations of sugars and flavour profiles for many types of wines, especially “Bordeaux- style blends” (named after the region of France from where they originate), for which the Okanagan is also famous. In England, these blends used to be referred to as “claret.” Here they are often referred to as “meritage.”

Meritage is produced by blending certain types of grapes such as merlot, petit verdot, cabernet sauvignon and others.

One thing many people don’t realise about these grapes is that sometimes, a red grape produces a white wine.

Pinot noir grapes at Tinhorn Creek winery.

In fact, sparkling wines (in France, it’s known as champagne) usually result from red grapes.

The Okanagan also produces fantastic ice wine. This is a dessert wine that results when grapes are touched by a slight frost. Ice wine is terrific with cheese – a perfect combination of sweet and salty.

Often, I enjoy a good Bordeaux-style blend or meritage.

A lovely blend from Osoyoos Larose Winery.

With a steak or other hearty meal it’s heavenly.

Many people can be intimidated by wine and wine jargon. Try not to let that stop you, because finding a wine you like is one of life’s wonderful little things – and in moderation, it’s also good for you.

Do you like to enjoy a glass of wine?

25 thoughts on “A Touch of the Grape”

    1. Thank you very much. πŸ™‚

      Yes – we do as well along with some rose. A good red along with a stew in the winter can be so comforting. Not thinking much of winter right now though – it’s been very hot (and smoky too where we are – lots of fires). Cheers to you also. πŸ™‚

  1. I know nothing about wine jargon, but I don’t whine about it, I just drink it. πŸ˜‰ I do love me a glass of wine. I usually like a sweet red blend rather than white, but I do have white on occasion. Those grapes look yummy. I have some in the fridge and I’m going to go grab a few now. πŸ™‚

      1. It was the older generation (grandparents) that used to eat drink wine with meals, and mostly with pasta, but my parents never did. I know very little about wine, but don’t mind tasting to learn. πŸ˜‰

  2. I tend to use the same criteria to judge wines that I use for art….Do I like it?…Do I hate it? I know this makes me an rather unsophisticated wine drinker, but I am OK with that. My trips to Southern France were an eye opener. Most varietal bottles did not explain the grape at all, simply sayin Rouge, RosΓ© or Blanc. I never met a Cote de Provence wine I did not like and my “house” wines tend to come from there. That being said, we enjoyed some really great wines at Mission Hill in West Kelowna. Cheers. Allan

    1. I don’t think it makes you unsophisticated at all. Drink what you like. πŸ™‚ Yes, figuring out French wines is a bit more complicated because they are protecting their history and the names and processes. I love Cote de Provence as well and have some bottles in my fridge right now πŸ™‚ , but I have to say that for a young wine region, the Okanagan is doing pretty great. Now if only we could get those fires under control …

      1. Wishing the fires were out as well. Our air is thick with smoke right now. We had some rain. Hoping your area gets some soon, as well. Allan

    1. I’ve been wondering the same. The grapes can apparently be really affected by “smoke taint” but UBC has developed a test for it. Given how much smoke we’ve had the potential for a lot of “taint” seems pretty high to me. We’ll just have to wait I guess. Yes, I will enjoy my next glass! πŸ™‚

  3. Hi Lynette. I’m sort of a beer geek, though I don’t drink all that much.
    I have wine now and then. Didn’t know that red grapes can produce white wine. And hadn’t heard of ice wine before.

    Here’s to moderate drinking!


    1. I think that most “smoke tainted” grapes were removed from last year’s production, so it’s unlikely you would notice anything but the price. It’s going to be higher because a lot of the grape yield was lost – the 2017 bottles are just starting to come out. This year’s crop may be hit even harder – the smoke is a lot worse. But there are other effects too; apparently the ash in the soil is one of them. We will just have to wait and see.

  4. I’m with Neil, in that I tend more towards beer than wine these days, although I still dabble. (In my younger days, it was the reverse.) I love going to a craft brewery and trying out things that I’ve never seen before. Having said that, my two current obsessions are Shiner’s “Sea Salt and Lime” summer lager (Shiner is a Texas brewery) and sangria (which is sort of a cheat wine, but still). I’ve always liked sangria, but my craving intensified during my trips to Spain over the last few years.There’s just something magical about fresh sangria, fresh fruit and the golden air in the southern coast of Spain…

    1. Spain was really good for you. πŸ™‚

      You would enjoy a visit here, I think. There are lots of craft breweries and lots of tasting to enjoy (and great restaurants and great beaches). Sangria, too. πŸ™‚ My M and I have done something of a staycation this year – lots of walking and swimming and reading on the beach with occasional swimming to cool off. It’s been very relaxing and work in the north has been far away, both physically and mentally. Maybe that golden air is about being totally freed up to let your mind wander or to just be still. Something like that. πŸ™‚

  5. I’m no wine buff, but this was really interesting. I like a glass of red and have started drinking white in the summer. I drink cheap wine that has a label I like. I am THAT sophisticated. I will also buy a wine that’s described in a way I’d like to be described; fruity red, full bodied etc……. I have learnt that a like a spicy red wine. πŸ˜‰

    1. My apologies for not responding earlier- I somehow missed your comment.
      I’m glad you found it interesting. πŸ™‚ Like you I tend to drink reds in the winter (especially when I’m in the north and can have a hearty stew or roast along with it – so yummy) but also roses as well as whites in the summer.
      Spicy reds have a lot of depth. πŸ™‚

    1. I have only just seen your comment so my apologies for the very late reply! Almost all the ice wine in the world is produced in Canada and Germany. The conditions have to be right because the grapes should be touched by frost (about -10Β°C) but not frozen lumps, and then they have to be picked immediately. About 900,000 litres of ice wine is produced every year in Canada, the majority of it in BC and Ontario. It is delightful with cheese, but it can be very sweet, so pairing it with the right food is necessary. Mission Hill here in the Okanagan produces some good ice wine. πŸ™‚

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