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About Diane Nelson:

Diane Nelson is a long-time journalist and former Sun staffer who really likes wine. A lot. Chat with her online at

  • Vintage Veuve an incredible indulgence

    I’d never had this before. Sure, I’d tasted plenty of Champagnes. And it’s certainly not because I can afford to buy them, because I can’t. It’s just that I’ve been fortunate to have been given the opportunity through my wine work — the incredible one-time-only Champagne tasting as an adjunct to the Winnipeg Wine Festival six or seven years ago springs to mind — or gifts from crazy-generous and loving friends, to taste one of the world’s most revered beverages from a variety of vintners over the years.
  • Francis Ford Coppola Winery a spectacular Sonoma experience

    Dear Mr. Coppola, Thanks to the efforts of a lot of people, including Peter Wilk, Melanie Eldridge, Olivia Koufakis, and many members of your on-site team, my husband and I enjoyed a fabulous day — the best of our entire time in Sonoma and Napa — at your lovely winery in June of this year.
  • William Hill and Louis M. Martini superb Napa wines

    I’d never tasted anything quite like it. Aromas and flavours of stone fruit and tropical fruit, a faint mineral quality I really liked, and man, was it buttery. OMG! Velvety, smooth, but still with a spine. I’d found my new Chardonnay.
  • Tastings vary in price, but offer unique wine memories

    Free? Thirty dollars? Or even more? Those are the pricing options for wine tastings around California’s Sonoma County and Napa Valley. As in most situations, you get what you pay for. But sometimes, happily, there are surprises, too.
  • Westman Wine Festival a wildly successful event

    It’s getting to be a habit, one that I’m extremely happy to indulge in each and every year. The Westman Wine Festival, which took place Oct. 26 and 28 at the Victoria Inn, was, as expected, a roaring success once again. The gala dinner on Wednesday was, in my opinion, the best Winefest dinner in the 14 years of the event’s existence.
  • Visit to Rodney Strong a mind-blowing experience

    I love Rodney Strong. Well, let me qualify that. I’m sure Rodney Strong himself was a very nice man. But it’s the wines produced by the vineyards he established and that bear his name that have earned my affection and admiration. Over the years, I’ve tried several Rodney Strong wines, thanks to generous friends who have made the trip to the vineyard in Sonoma County and have brought me back treasures, such as the Rodney Strong Knotty Vines Zinfandel, which I love to this day. I was also introduced to Rodney Strong Vineyards products by a dear friend whose name is Rodney, which makes this connection even more special.
  • Alcatraz authentic but Pier 39 a tourist trap

    For reasons I can’t explain, I’ve always wanted to see Alcatraz. Perhaps it’s just the mystique of the island prison. Maybe it’s all the stories about notorious prisoners who were incarcerated there — Robert (The Birdman) Stroud and Al Capone spring to mind — and the exciting and frightening tales of escape attempts.
  • Schulz Museum and Kendall-Jackson are a must in Sonoma

    I had the wine journey of a lifetime — well, in my lifetime thus far — this past summer when I spent two full weeks in the heart of wine country, Sonoma (and briefly Napa), California. My husband Ken, who had been there with friends in October of 2015, was happy to take me back when we were offered a gorgeous condo free of charge. And I was more than delighted to go.
  • Sonoma an epic journey for wine aficionados

    Sonoma, California. Wine country.
  • Some lovely wines to be truly thankful for

    I like turkey. I’m not a fanatic about it, but I really do enjoy it.
  • Warm to these wonderful wines as the weather gets wintry

    I get a little disgusted with myself for being so married to specific wines. And I’ve said this before. When I find a wine I like, rather than risk disappointment, I keep buying the same wine again and again until I’m in a situation where I try something new, and like it. But then the same pattern repeats over and over again, until I find something newer still, and on and on it goes. Which is why I really love the Brandon Wine Society as well as the Rotary Westman Wine Festival, which takes place at the end of October. The Wine Festival’s gala dinner is Wednesday, Oct. 26, and the ultra-popular public tasting is slated for Friday, Oct. 28, with both events taking place at the Victoria Inn.
  • A red and some whites to enjoy at bargain prices

    Until just recently, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was. I’ve always enjoyed both red and white wine, and while I know several folks who can also appreciate both colours, I have many family members, friends and acquaintances who, in some cases, not only prefer one to the other, but find the colour of wine that is NOT to their liking completely abhorrent.
  • WineStation offers plethora of delights at south end Liquor Mart

    I was in the south end Liquor Mart a couple of weeks ago to pick up some wine the fab folks there had set aside for me. I walked in the familiar doors, past the familiar tasting counter, and immediately noticed a very unfamiliar piece of equipment. “What’s that?” I asked product consultant Kevin Kotyk, who was, as usual, offering wine samples to eager patrons.
  • Red wines to take the chill off the season

    What is it about September? Unlike in spring, when thoughts are said to turn to love, it seems the advent of the new school year, and with it, the anticipation of winter, makes my thoughts turn to red wine.
  • An array of wines to try for the long weekend — and any time

    They say variety is the spice of life. (Whoever “they” are. And “they” are quoted quite a lot!) Regardless, when I thought recently about that statement, I agreed wholeheartedly. It’s fun to try new things, to experience the unusual, to step outside one’s comfort zone, to boldly go where you — and perhaps your palate — have never gone before.
  • One smooth, one hot -- vodkas are different than I thought!

    I have a few friends who drink vodka. And most of those who do are understandably very picky about which vodka they choose. Whether it’s for martinis, vodka/soda, or just plain straight — in which case I’d advise that it be well chilled — people are as passionate about their vodka as I am about my wine. Recently, I was invited to sample two vodkas that were similar in price, promoted by the same agency, but very, very different. Now honestly, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I first attempted to seriously compare these two brands. “Vodka is vodka,” I thought to myself. “How different can they be?”
  • Whatever the occasion, always take an extra bottle

    To say I was excited would be an understatement. It was to be a grand reunion with my longtime friends Marlene and Dean Gilmer, for whom I’d been a bridesmaid 31 years ago. While we’d seen each other occasionally over the decades (they’ve lived in Alberta for most of their married lives), it certainly hadn’t been often enough, and we calculated that the last time we’d been together was for an all-too-brief lunch a dozen or more years ago.
  • A white and a red for all occasions

    “I went to a funeral. And Lord it made me happy,
  • Lime liqueur and limoncello make for great summer sipping

    Hopefully, by the time this column is printed, we’ll have enjoyed some warm summer weather with plenty more to come. And with that in mind, or at least with thoughts of my favourite season dancing playfully through my head, I couldn’t think of anything but how suitable the two products I’m going to discuss today would be for summertime sipping.
  • Luscious reds for summer barbecues and beyond

    Some people drink only white wine. Some people drink only red wine.
  • Prairie Firehouse wine -- and prices -- are fabulous

    I finally made it to the Prairie Firehouse for lunch a couple of weeks ago. And the waiting was on purpose, as I usually like to give any new place a few months to sort out the inevitable kinks that occur during the opening days of its existence. Anyway, I’d heard mostly good things, and the reports grew increasingly more positive as time progressed. So when a friend suggested lunch out, I said, “Sure. Let’s go to the Firehouse.”
  • Tanqueray No. Ten a glorious gin

    I have a pair of close friends who really enjoy gin and tonic in the summertime. Come to think of it, I have other friends who indulge in what they call gin and Titonics (they use ice cubes shaped like the Titanic — it’s actually very clever!) all year long. And while I quite like gin, I usually prefer not to have it with tonic because tonic’s too sweet for me. If I do have a G and T, and it’s very seldom, I usually cut the sugary intensity of the tonic with some club soda. And some fresh squeezed lemon juice (thanks for that tip, Bob) makes it a lot better, too.
  • Gnarly Head Zin a gnarly deal

    We’ve all likely heard the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” And I’ve usually found that sentiment to be pretty accurate. But what I’m about to tell you is the exception.
  • Now is a fine time for rosé wine

    With apologies to John Lennon, this is the time of year most wine writers are urging their readers to give pinks a chance. While some fabulous rosés are being created all over the world, there still seems to be a steadfast reluctance on the part of the wine-buying public to embrace these blush-toned wines. Perhaps the stigma (for lack of a better word) of White Zinfandels, which are generally sickly sweet and are pink, not white, still turns some people away from what can be a truly marvellous beverage, especially in the summertime.
  • Las Vegas you've gotta eat and drink here!

    So. Long story short. In April, I was in Las Vegas on business. I focused on media education during the day. But in the evenings, I focused on my other business, namely wine and food. This is the final instalment in my wine and food guide to the tiny bit of Vegas I’ve managed to discover in six years of going on an annual basis.

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