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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

  • Wonderful wine week in the Wheat City

    So the Rotary Westman Wine Festival has come and gone for another year. As usual, there were many impressive beverages on offer. And as usual, hundreds of folks came out to enjoy what is easily one of the best nights of the year in Brandon. But rather than one night, I’ve come to think of the festival as sort of ‘Wine Week in the Wheat City.’ With the gala dinner being held on Wednesday, and my good fortune this year to be included in a private tasting on Thursday, then the public tasting on Friday, followed by the Brandon Wine Society’s regular tasting on Saturday night (this has nothing to do with the wine festival, except that the society contributes by buying four tickets to give away at our first gathering in September), I was pretty much wined out by the time Sunday rolled around.
  • Folie à Deux a fabulous find

    Sometimes good things can turn out to be bad things. And vice versa. And other times, it’s a combination of the two.
  • Cellared in Canada not always a bad thing

    This is not the sort of wine I usually advocate. And I’ll get to it shortly. But before that, a couple of definitions are in order.
  • Bargain bubbly worth a try

    It’s ludicrous to say this, but I’m going to anyway: You never know what’s going to happen at any minute of any day. Take, for instance, the dinner party I hosted a few weeks back. Two couples, really good friends, were coming over for dinner, so I had a selection of plenty of wines that I loved and knew these folks would like — all from California, incidentally.
  • Vine Lines - Spanish wines provide great value

    Thanks to some encouragement, prodding and recommendations from the MLCC’s Jeff Wolfe, Cindy Rousseau and Kevin Kotyk, I’ve really become a fan of Old World wines. And while I now enjoy Italian wines, particularly because they go so well with Italian cuisine of which we eat a fair amount, and really like French wine as well, my favourite Old World wine country — at least currently — is Spain.
  • Where there's a grill, there's a braai!

    Today is the second annual Canada Braai Day. If you didn’t know that, or don’t know what it is, don’t feel badly. I didn’t either. Until, that is, I was informed by a marketing agent who specializes in South African wines. Coincidentally, or perhaps not so coincidentally, her wines are Two Oceans and Nederburg, both of which are the presenters of this event.
  • Be cautious when ordering wine by the glass

    I’ve never been a glass-half-empty kind of gal. I just fill it up again!
  • Anniversary anecdotes and some wine along the way

    Today is my 28th wedding anniversary. And while it’s not one of those round-number ones that everybody thinks is worthy of a big celebration, it still means something. A heck of a lot, as a matter of fact. A friend said recently, after I told her I’d be having a semi-milestone birthday in September, “Woot! Time for a party!”
  • Ice adds quick cool factor to white wine -- but proceed with caution

    I know the very idea of this appalls many purists. And while there are some caveats to what I’m about to suggest, I know lots of people do this on a regular basis. And they do it unapologetically, unreservedly and unbowed by the sniffs of disapproval that might meet their action.
  • Séguret a stunning example of fine French wine

    It had been a long, long time since I’d had anything like this. And I loved every bit of it.
  • Cans are convenient and cost-efficient

    It’s the long weekend. I’m sure that’s not a bulletin for anybody, but to me, long weekends speak of fun, frolicking, friends, and no fuss. Because it’s likely you want to be outside, if possible near a large body of water. You want to visit. You want to entertain or be entertained. And sure, you want to eat and drink well. And truthfully, you’ll perhaps do a bit too much of both.
  • Funky bottles containing good wine make great gifts

    Summertime generally means wedding season is in full swing. And with next weekend being the long weekend, and with long weekends being extra-popular with lovebirds looking to bring family and friends together from near and far to celebrate, I thought this might be an ideal time for some suggestions about gifts of wine.
  • 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.

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