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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

  • Price difference a source of frustration and annoyance

    I’m a proud Manitoban. Always have been, always will be. I get that we have to pay taxes in order to keep the province running. I understand that money is supposed to look after infrastructure, health care, education, and more.
  • Sweet wine a sweet deal for consumers and producers alike

    There’s no getting around it. Sweet wines are everywhere these days. And I’m not talking about wines that are generally that way, like some German Rieslings and Gewurztraminers.
  • This Fat Bastard is the perfect warmweather wine

    Goodness knows if we’ll ever get summer. I say that as I write in the middle of a rainy weekend, which — while it’s annoying for me on a personal level because I love to be on my screened-in deck in the sun and heat — is highly conducive to productivity. I’m putting a column together without feeling I’m missing out on a gorgeous day.
  • Watch what you're pairing wine with -- and have a beer on the side

    I learned a really valuable lesson a few weeks ago. Well, perhaps I should say relearned it, because I knew better than to do what I did. But circumstances that were initially disappointing turned out for the best and, come to think of it, I actually benefited from two lessons, not just one.
  • Vegas offers plenty of fine wines to accompany great meals

    Many people go to Las Vegas to gamble. Not me. I hate losing even one nickel of my hard-earned cash.
  • Wine's residual sugar can wreak havoc on calorie counting -- and health

    ‘Residual sugar.’ It’s a term frequently bandied about by wine professionals. And while what it means seems relatively obvious — to put it most simply, it’s the sugar that’s not converted into alcohol during the fermentation process — its implications can be something one might not immediately consider.
  • Inception could be the start of a beautiful relationship

    It’s a rarity for me to be in a quandary about how I feel about a particular wine. I usually either really like it, really hate it, or am just kind of ‘meh’ about it. But from the ‘inception’ of my sampling of this particular product, I was conflicted. I knew my husband would like it. And he did. In fact, I kind of liked it, too.
  • "Poor man's Sangria" a hit in much of the world

    Three years ago, I wrote a column about my friend Chris, who drinks red wine with Diet Coke — a combination that appalls his wife, and frankly, most people with whom he shares the ingredients of his favourite beverage. But ever the adventurer, when he told me, then showed me, what he was drinking, I was up for a taste. I was skeptical. And while I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it either. It wasn’t bad! As strange as it might seem, it really didn’t taste as wretched as I thought it would. In fact, it didn’t taste wretched at all.
  • Sandhill wines are wonderful, and Trinchero's are a great deal

    “Is there anything Howard Soon can’t do?” I asked a pourer of Sandhill wines at the Winnipeg Wine Festival a couple of weeks ago. I was amazed yet again. The renowned winemaker from the Okanagan’s Sandhill Winery has knocked my socks off in the past with his Chardonnay, which has just the right amount of butter and oak for me (and I like plenty of both). The Sandhill Chard is creamy yet crispy, and has an impressive depth of flavour. It boasts lots of fruit, and has a slightly spicy finish.
  • Proseccos and Cavas and others -- oh my

    They seem to have taken the world by storm lately, and that certainly was evident at the Winnipeg Wine Festival two weeks ago. I’ve always loved sparkling wine, and I know not everybody feels the same way. But there’s nothing fresher, more delightful, more universally accepted as an appropriate beverage for any occasion. In fact, there’s a huge move afoot, and I’m certainly among the proponents, to not just keep bubbly for celebrations, but to drink it regularly, much as one would a table wine.
  • Winnipeg Wine Festival offers delectable surprises

    “What can I pour you, sir?” the friendly chap at one of the Australian wine booths at the Winnipeg Wine Festival asked the somewhat frantic man who had just darted up to the table. “Oh god,” the man said, rolling his eyes. “Anything but Shiraz!”
  • Sledgehammer Zinfandel is a great deal

    I was doing some research for a friend on, of all days, Good Friday, and was perusing the Manitoba Liquor Marts website for some wine suggestions. This isn’t something I do often — I usually just go to the site to find out prices or see what’s still available or what isn’t. But a friend who was travelling in the States had emailed, asking me for some recommendations of wines that would be about $40 here at home, because he thought he could pick them up for about $20 in the U.S. to serve at a picnic reception he was hosting for a bunch of broadcasters.
  • Two whites to try while dreaming about spring

    As I write this, the forecast is calling for snow over the Easter weekend. But since the deadline for this column is much earlier in the week, it may or may not: a.) have snowed, b.) be snowing, or c.) be going to snow. Forecasts can be fickle, because weather patterns can be tricky things to monitor and predict. But I can’t wait any longer. I feel like I expect most of you do — I’m ready for spring! Heck, I’m ready for summer! This has been a hellish winter, the worst ever that I can recall, and it just needs to be over.
  • Crown Royal cocktails get Winter Fair off to a classy start

    I always like it when I’m introduced to something new. Or when something that’s NOT new surprises me because it’s presented in a totally different way than I expected. The latter was the case a couple of weeks ago at the kick-off reception for the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair. Not, until recently, a whisky drinker, I’ve never — at least, not in the last three decades — been much of a cocktail person. I don’t like the sugary, syrupy concoctions full of fruit juice or wannabe juices that are just gaggingly sweet. And fairly or unfairly, that’s always how I’ve found them.
  • Winter Fair reception gives VIPs the (Crown) Royal treatment

    I’ve never been much into whisky. Until recently.
  • Rodney Strong wines impress -- again

    “What’s this wine?” my husband asked a couple of weeks ago. I stopped cold. He almost never queries me about what wine he’s drinking. He just takes whatever I pour him and either says, “that’s nice,” or shrugs and says, “it’s ok,” or says nothing at all and just keeps sipping.
  • More on our 'unhealthy' tap water

    I know this is a wine (and occasionally, spirits) column. But sometimes, infrequently, I veer into other areas to examine an issue that I hope will be of interest, and of import, to Brandon Sun readers. So in a column a couple of weeks back, I detailed why I don’t drink Brandon tap water. I won’t bore you with a rehashing of all the details, but I’d suffered from stomach cramps and aches and nausea for many years. And when I stopped drinking Brandon tap water, all those problems went away.
  • Some green memories for St. Patrick's Day

    After many years of futile attempts to come up with a clever angle for a column that precedes St. Patrick’s Day (although I suspect the bulk of the parties will be happening tonight as opposed to Monday), I decided to go with what I know, and perhaps push the limits a little. Anything remotely close to Irish wine has eluded me for the past seven years (I don’t suppose anyone makes wine from shamrocks, do they?), but I do like Jameson Irish Whiskey (which sells at the Liquor Mart for $29.06 for a 750 ml bottle). I especially enjoyed a shot of it after my volunteering shift at the Irish Pavilion at the Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival on Feb. 1 this year. It was slightly chilled (unintentionally, I think) from storage on a wretchedly cold day. I drank it straight and it really hit the spot. It comes in a green bottle, too, hence what follows.
  • Drink wine -- it might be better for you than tap water

    Eight years ago, I stopped drinking Brandon tap water. I was born and raised in this city, and with the exception of a couple of years spent on the road with a band, during which I’d still be back home every few weeks, I’ve never lived anywhere else.
  • An intro to aeration and two deep, dark, delicious reds

    Aeration. It’s something that’s been written about time and again in these lines, but I’ve discovered some new tools that I think bear further exploration.
  • Two pinots and a syrah to try, each less than $20

    A few weeks back, I was lamenting that I hadn’t been able to discover what I considered was a really decent pinot noir for a really decent price. I sang the praises of the 2011 Rodney Strong Estate Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir from California. It’s primarily cherry aroma had just a hint of earthiness, which is one of the qualities I adore about good pinot. Velvety smooth and delicate, this wine still had plenty of backbone, and I loved it.
  • Sharing bubbly a lovely way to celebrate St. Valentine's Day

    Nothing says ‘I love you’ like the gift, or the sharing, of a bottle of sparkling wine. Well, unless your sweetheart doesn’t like sparkling wine. Then it says, ‘I find you contemptuous,’ or ‘Your feelings don’t matter to me.’ Which would make me question why you were together in the first place. But let’s think positively, shall we, and use the premise that you both like — or at least your significant other likes — bubbly. Then she/he is happy and feels spoiled and adored, and you’re sweet, thoughtful and/or chivalrous. Anyway, there’s just something about sparkling wine, be it Champagne or a bubbly that doesn’t come from that esteemed region in France. While there are many reasons to enjoy it these days — it’s refreshing and delightful at any time, and goes exceedingly well with heavily sauced or spicy foods, in that it cleanses the palate with every sip — folks still seem to associate it with special occasions. And while I urge — and indulge in — sparklers at any time, I also agree that it adds an extra-festive touch to get-togethers and celebrations.
  • Reyneke Sauvignon Blanc makes me a convert

    As I wrote a few weeks ago, there’s a first time for everything. But this was like nothing I’d ever experienced before.
  • Stunning Pinot Noir a worthy investment

    There once was a lady from Brandon Who chose wine with wildest abandon
  • Don't eat asparagus before drinking wine

    A few months ago, I had dinner at The Keg with my friend Jennifer. We make it a point to get together — well, I was about to say frequently, but while our intentions are good, we certainly don’t see each other nearly as often as we’d like. So when we do manage to arrange a visit, we usually make it an extended time — an evening, as opposed to just a quick glass here and there. Anyway, we both had steak, as we are wont to do. I ordered a side of asparagus, which Jennifer also thought was a good idea, so she did the same. She had white wine because she can’t drink red, but I had a couple of glasses of my favourite, the J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon from California ($21.41 at the Liquor Mart).

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