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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Vine Lines: Super sparkler for sunset sipping

DIANE NELSON Enlarge Image

There’s nothing like a sunset.

And while I maintain prairie sunsets are the most magical I’ve ever seen — ribbons of red and pink and purple and orange fill the sky, and when those colours inhabit the puffy clouds floating in the heavens, why, it’s simply enchanting — there’s also something special about seeing the sun sink into the ocean.

It’s impressive once it hits the water — I’m always amazed there isn’t a hiss — and watching this great ball of fire seemingly slip silently into the briny depths is usually a ritual, at least for the tourists, on the shores of any tropical paradise surrounded by the sea.

That’s certainly the case in the places to which I’ve travelled, especially where the view of the end of the day is unobstructed. Folks gather, often in large groups and with drinks in hand, to watch the spectacle, and I’m usually — almost always, in fact — in that number.

But people leave too soon! Once the great glowing globe disappears below the horizon, folks pack up their stuff, grab their glasses, and go! And I’m always tempted to yell, "Wait! It’s gonna get even better!" Because the colours, when they do appear, often aren’t fully showcased until 20 minutes or half-an-hour AFTER the sun sets.

So while others shuffle back to their rooms to shower off the day’s sand and sunscreen, I stay by the water, waiting for the (reflected) light show to begin. I’m usually on my own, glass in hand, patiently anticipating the impressive panorama that is likely to unfold.

And I’m rarely disappointed. The colours intensify, spread across the sky and can be awe-inspiring. Still not as good as prairie sunsets, but the trade-off in the degree of 'spectacularity' is that I’m in a bathing suit, I’m near or in the ocean, it’s really warm outside, there are no mosquitos, and, well, need I go any further?

Anyway, this year in Jamaica, where my husband and I usually spend a couple of weeks around Christmastime, I actually saw the green flash that’s supposedly a rarity — it happens just at the instant the sun’s last glint disappears. It was a memorable event — it happened the evening of Dec. 20 and then again about a week later. The first time, I was elated — I’d been trying to see the green flash for YEARS, and had never managed to glimpse it before. But once I did, I figured out (at least I think I did) what causes the flash. It’s never a good idea to stare at the sun, even when it’s setting, so I just take fleeting glances to see how far along it is. Once it gets down to only about a sixth remaining above the horizon, I can then watch it for a few seconds without pain (and hopefully without inflicting any eye damage). So my theory is this: I’ve been staring at something that’s essentially red, and once that red disappears, I get a flash of green, because it’s red’s opposite or complementary colour.

I did a little research to back up my postulation, and information I found in the Oxford University Press and on Wikipedia back my conclusion. (I get my scientist-for-a-day badge now!)

Regardless, it was still REALLY cool to see something that’s been eluding me for, well, ever! And I was happy I had a glass of lovely bubbly in my hand with which to toast my achievement.

I’ve encountered the Kraemer Blanc de Blancs Brut from France several times in Caribbean countries, and for the price, it’s always impressed me. It’s got some heft — only the slightest touch of citrus, and lots of the toasty vanilla caramel flavour I adore. It’s not available at Manitoba Liquor Marts — I don’t know about the private wine stores. But if this stuff was available here, I’d buy it for sure.

Well, a qualifier: If it was available here for the same price I can get it in the Caribbean, I’d buy it. But that’s not likely, since, for whatever reason, the Kraemer sells for the equivalent of less than $10 in Jamaica.

Wine prices in those tropical countries perplex me. There seems no rhyme nor reason to the variations in costs for these beverages. But then, I’m not an international marketer or distributor. I’m just someone who likes wine, and who appreciates a good deal when I can get one.

The Korbel Brut from California sells for $14.99 at our Liquor Marts, yet it’s close to $20 in Jamaica. And I like the Kraemer better. So in the tropics, the Kraemer Blanc de Blancs Brut is my choice, my go-to bubbly bevvy, my sunset wine.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 19, 2013

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There’s nothing like a sunset.

And while I maintain prairie sunsets are the most magical I’ve ever seen — ribbons of red and pink and purple and orange fill the sky, and when those colours inhabit the puffy clouds floating in the heavens, why, it’s simply enchanting — there’s also something special about seeing the sun sink into the ocean.

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There’s nothing like a sunset.

And while I maintain prairie sunsets are the most magical I’ve ever seen — ribbons of red and pink and purple and orange fill the sky, and when those colours inhabit the puffy clouds floating in the heavens, why, it’s simply enchanting — there’s also something special about seeing the sun sink into the ocean.

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