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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 www.vinelines.ca

  • 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).
  • Gift of wine makes for a sweet treat

    I had a great surprise this Christmas. But it wasn’t the beautiful red sweater and burgundy lace top from my mom, Leota. Nor was it the funky kitchen scale from my brother, Grant. It also wasn’t the set of candles from my stepson, Kevin, or the multiple-roll toilet-paper holder from my husband Ken. (We joked that our romance must be dead, because I gave him a can opener and a big saucepan. Nothing says love like bathroom and kitchen accessories! But this is also a man who gave me a garburator one year, and gave his mother, Edna, a chainsaw. However, we both, she and I, wanted these particular items, so really, he remembered what we asked for and followed through, which, in itself, is a great present.
  • Beautiful bubblies to bring in the New Year

    There’s nothing that says ‘festive’ like a bottle of bubbly. But there’s been a strong movement lately to try to encourage people to consume sparkling wine not only on celebratory occasions, but anytime. It’s a lovely beverage that shouldn’t be limited to special events or milestones or what have you. Why else would people mix it with orange juice in the morning and call it a mimosa? I guess because that’s a way to legitimize drinking alcohol before noon!
  • Indulgent and inexpensive wines to accompany festive foods

    I got thinking the other day about my ideal holiday feast. Turns out I have more than one!
  • Getting into the "spirit" of the holidays

    There’s no point in beating around the bush — or in this case, the tree — so I’ll just ask this directly, without hesitation: Is booze, in whatever form, a mainstay on your festive gift-giving list? If the answer is yes, here are some suggestions for fabulous and extravagant potential gifts for the alcohol aficionados for whom you have to — or better yet, WANT to — purchase a present. This is the time of year we seem most inclined to spoil the people we love with special items they might not buy for themselves on a regular basis.
  • Pinots, Proseccos and more from the Westman Wine Fest

    Ah — Pinot Noir. There was a time, not that long ago, I’d never have written those words. I wasn’t a pinot fan, you couldn’t make me a pinot fan, and I was never going to be a pinot fan.
  • Drink Canadian wine at your Grey Cup party

    So tomorrow, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders at the 101st Greg Cup game in Regina. And while wine isn’t usually the first thing most people think of when they consider that event, for many of us, having our favourite beverage in our hands while we cheer for whichever team we choose (or ignore the game completely and just enjoy being in the company of those around us) is a big deal. And although there are lots of options available, I just think it’s kind of neat to consume Canadian products as one views, or at least pays tribute, to an iconic Canadian event.
  • Reality check: Westman Wine Festival faves revisited

    Wine festivals can be wonderful things. In fact, they almost always are.
  • Wineglasses can serve many diverse purposes

    Vessels. Some think of ships or boats when they hear that word. Others envision large pitchers or jars, generally ones in which to store, for however long or short a time, something in fluid form.
  • Some great finds at Westman Wine Festival

    Well, they did it again. Yet another stellar event was staged by the Rotary Club of Brandon a couple of weeks back, as the Westman Wine Festival showcased a record 31 tables at its most recent incarnation.
  • Crystal Head Vodka is a real treat

    It’s crisp, yet smooth. It’s delicate, yet fiery. It’s Crystal Head Vodka, and it’s the best I’ve ever tasted.
  • Zucchardi Q Malbec makes me a believer

    OK. There's no getting around it. I'm a convert.
  • Lovely whites to sip or to complement food

    “It’s SO nice to drink good wine again,” a young friend of mine murmured when she returned home from university at the beginning of the summer. She made the comment dreamily, a gentle, sweet smile playing across her face as she almost reverently contemplated her perfectly chilled glass of white while the sun filtered through the blinds and the giant hibiscus tree in her parents’ living room.
  • Weird Grapes Part Two: Unusual reds are yummy!

    I worked wildly to wrangle an amazing alliteration alluding to the wonderful wines we wrested from peppy, personable pourers at the Brandon Wine Society’s special season-starting session, which featured uncommon, usually unconsumed grapes, at least in this part of the world. But as you see, I failed miserably.
  • Odd grape varietals offer oenophiles interesting options

    Chardonnay. Sauvignon Blanc. Riesling. All of those are common white grape varietals most people are acquainted with, right?
  • Silver Patron Tequila an amazing indulgence

    It was, to be sure, a night to remember. My friend Doug was REALLY surprised when his family and a large group of pals, including my husband and me, celebrated his 50th birthday (which was actually this past Monday) two months early — on July 12th — at the Pelican Yacht Club in Ninette.
  • Montecillo Rioja Reserva is a great Spanish red

    Slowly, we raised the glasses to our lips, which were already parted in anticipation. As the brick-red liquid danced over our taste buds and slipped down our eager throats, our eyes met over the dinner table. Wantonly, we gazed at each other, sharing the moment, just we two. This slice of time was ours, and ours alone. As the wonder of this ethereal experience slowly dissipated, our minds caught up to our senses and our eyes widened, almost in disbelief. Locked in a stare that seemed to last an eternity, we finally lowered our glasses, and almost as one, said, “Ahhhhh.”
  • Bargain chardonnay a steal for the price

    It’s always great when you can find a reliable wine, something that hasn’t changed at all over the years, especially one that continues to be available to you at a reasonable price. Even though I think I’ve outgrown something — well, one ‘thing’ in particular, but bear with me for a moment — it’s really cool when I can go back to it and realize my palate can still appreciate something I think I’ve ‘gotten beyond,’ for lack of a better phrase.
  • Special sparkler stoppers save bubbly for another day

    I love bubbly. And it’s not like that’s a major revelation or anything. Regular readers of this column have witnessed me rave on and on about the wonders of sparkling wine for years now. But I love Champagne, I love cava, I love prosecco, I love sparkling shiraz, I love crackling rosé — I mean, unless it’s really sweet (and there are lots of those out there), I’m crazy about bubbly wine.
  • These reds are great paired with grilled meat

    Even though it’s summertime, I continue, as do many people, to drink red wine. While some folks think it’s a bit heavy for the warm season — and I agree with that sentiment as it applies to sippers, at least for me — I still really like red wine with red meat. I’ve gotten into the habit in the last year or two of having a glass of white — with me, that usually means Chardonnay — before dinner as my treat for having survived the day. And if we’re having fish or chicken, I’ll stay with white for the duration of the evening.
  • "Flavoured" beer: A good thing? Or bad?

    So I’ll be the first to admit it. I know nothing about beer. But I know what I like. And that’s the key to enjoying anything. Don’t try to overrule your taste buds. If you like it, drink it. What anybody else thinks doesn’t matter. Make yourself happy.
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