I’ve been trying to find the perfect word that describes what I’m doing when I roam around Niagara wine country.
I think I’ve found it – gallivanting.
When I think of gallivanting, I immediately think of of fun, light-hearted exploration. Turns out my impressions about the word are pretty close to its definition. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, its proper meaning is “to visit or go to a lot of different places, enjoying yourself and not worrying about the other things you should be doing”.
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.
The only thing those folks at Cambridge forgot to mention, is that a glass of wine in hand makes gallivanting even better.
It seems I’m not the only one who feels this way. Last weekend, I was joined by fellow gallivanters for the fun that is known as Wrapped Up in the Valley.
Held for three weekends in November in the Twenty Valley region, Wrapped Up is a weekend passport program for premium food and wine tastings. More than twenty wineries in the area are participating, and when you see the list of possible combinations to choose from, you’ll feel like gallivanting too.
See, I can’t stop saying that word.
But catchy words aside for now, I’ll say it can be tough to decide where to start tasting. To make your selections a bit easier, I’m going to recap my five favourite pairings from Wrapped Up. Trust me when I tell you it was hard to pick just five.
These are not in any particular order.
I love butternut squash soup, and the one from Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery had some additional deliciousness – served with duck confit and pumpkin seed oil, paired with their 2013 Falcon’s Nest Pinot Noir. From the start I thought this would be an interesting pairing. When I see butternut squash soup I automatically think “rich and creamy”, so therefore I think “Chardonnay”. However, with the duck confit the Pinot was a fantastic choice. Also, in the cold weather months I seem to want more red wine than white, so I really enjoyed this pairing.
Di Profio Wines offered what they called “More Than Just Pulled Pork”, and boy, was it ever. The pulled pork was placed on a garlic flat bread, topped with caramelized onions, shaved stilton, and drizzled with reduced balsamic vinegar. This one was a surprise to me. I love stilton, but would never think of putting it on top of pulled pork – which is crazy really, cause isn’t everything better with blue cheese? It was delicious. The combination of flavours worked so well, and even though I’m not a huge Gamay Noir fan, their “Just What the Doctor Ordered” was a pleasant match for it.
The Good Earth provided another of my favourite pairings. There is just something about a hearty sandwich, and in my world, a muffaletta is pretty much the ultimate of that. Salami, porchetta, provolone cheese, roasted peppers, artichokes, onions and black olives are some of my all-time favourite ingredients, and when combined into one thing, I’m a very happy girl. This was topped with white balsamic peperoncino jelly for a nice bit of heat. Their 2015 Gamay Noir was poured with this, and it was also a nice match. I love it when there are some more casual food options made for these tastings, as it shows how versatile wine can be. It’s not just for fancy dishes – there is a wine out there for your favourite sandwich, burger, or pizza too.
Vineland Estates Winery usually has tantalizing and beautifully presented dishes for these programs. This one was no exception – Southern Fried Chicken, Buttermilk Waffles, and Pickled Icewine Cabbage with their 2015 Castaway Rosé.
I know the fried-chicken-buttermilk-waffles thing is liked by many, but it’s never tempted me before. I now understand why people seem to like them – the savoury chicken, creamy soft waffles, plus the tang of the pickled cabbage made for a nice balance. I thought it was perfect in this size too, and could see it making a nice hors d’oeuvre for a festive gathering. As for the wine pairing, the recipe card says that the Rosé is a “bright, refreshing splash of pure sunshine on the palate”. Yes, it certainly is. Makes me think I might drink Rosé in the cold weather months after all.
You may be noticing I said “recipe card” above.
A bonus for Wrapped Up in the Valley is that at each place you stop, you can pick up recipe cards so that you can recreate the recipes at home. Even if you’re not that skilled in the kitchen – like me – it makes for a nice souvenir of your time in Twenty Valley. It also can help you remember the wines that you liked for future purchasing. Unless you stocked up while at each winery already, which I think is a marvelous idea.
Another bonus, of course, is the pretty views you will find meandering through Twenty Valley wine country.
The final pairing I’m going to talk about is from Kacaba.
The ultimate cold weather comfort food for me involves creamy polenta – it’s almost like a warm hug in a bowl. Pair it with slow braised beef with chocolate and red wine gravy, and you have a dish from winter heaven. Well, winter is anything but heavenly to me, but given food as delicious as this, it just might get close. The dish was matched with Kacaba’s 2014 Cabernet Syrah, so the celestial factor increased here dramatically.
Kacaba always provides attentive service too. The gent helping us personally escorted us to the tasting room, explained the food pairing, and caught up with us after we tried it to see what we thought. He also offered to show us some grapes that were in the process of being punched down, and gave us a little demo. Those personal touches always make my experience at Kacaba a good one.
I know I’ve reached my quota of five picks. But I just realized I haven’t mentioned any dessert pairings, so I’ll quickly tell you about two that I liked.
First, GreenLane Estate Winery’s Vanilla Scented Crepes with Cardamom Cream & Caramelized Italian Plums.
I was intrigued that they provided a red wine pairing for this tasty dessert – their 2013 Meritage. Usually if I see dessert accompanying red wine, it’s a chocolate based one. I love seeing the versatility of red wine with more than just chocolate, and the caramelized plums went with the Meritage nicely. Actually, I think everything goes with Meritage nicely.
You also might notice the lighter coloured beverage on the right in the picture above. That’s not Meritage, it’s the mocktail that GreenLane offered. Another thing I have to give Wrapped Up big kudos for is their attention to the Designated Driver option. At every single stop, there is a special mocktail offered for the DD in your life. Ken was really happy about this.
The final dessert I’ll mention was provided at Rosewood Estates Winery.
The added perk was that you could purchase additional treats from Scratch on your way out. If you’re thinking about holiday stuff, I’ll mention that I bought my Christmas baking from Kit at Scratch last year, and what a great idea that was. Baking’s not my thing, eating is. I get to have the best of both worlds when I get Kit to do it, and her holiday menu for this year looks pretty darn delicious.
So, after my slightly lengthy recap, are you ready to go gallivanting through wine country? Wrapped Up in the Valley continues for the last two weekends in November, so you’ve still got time. All the ticket details are here.
I’d love to hear which pairings make your own top
seven five list.