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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 84 (April 24, 2006)

Monday, April 17: Received the following email from a chemistry professor:

Hi Tony,

I have a very unusual request-- in addition to enjoying the taste of a good wine-- I am a chemistry professor at the University of Northern Colorado who would like to design a chemistry lab in which students freeze various alcohol/water solutions and record the data on a computer.

I like to have a realistic (or semi-realistic) scenario for each lab (called problem-based labs)-- What would you think of "freezing wines" to increase their flavor or whatever as a scenario for a "freezing point" lab?

I realize this is a weird request but would like to get your opinion on it.


I replied:

Jerry, sounds interesting. I inadvertently left a bottle of Ontario Riesling in the freezer. I wanted it to chill down in a hurry but I forgot about it. When I returned the expansion had pushed the cork almost out. I left the wine to partially thaw and then poured a glass. It was still delicious. A technique for making Icewine (for amateurs) is to freeze the juice and then take the disc of ice off and ferment the remaining concentrated juice. The industry does the same thing through cryo-extraction (getting rid of water to concentrate). You might try freezing juices used for winemaking as well as wines. To my unscientific experience of tasting wines that have been frozen and then allowed to thaw there isn't enough difference in bouquet and flavour to bother. I'd be interested in hearing your results. Cheers, Tony

Today was taken up with medical business. Nancy went to the vet to get her teeth cleaned, I went to the doctor for my annual medical check-up and Pinot went to the vet for her first annual check-up. Mine cost $30 for blood work. The animals cost $680. Finished off the article on Riesling and filed the copy with Sociable Magazine in Calgary. For dinner, a bottle of Sula Vineyards Shiraz 2005 from India. The back label says, "...from the red hills of Nashik, situated 100 miles from Bombay and 2000 feet above sea level." And, "For Overseas Export Only." What does that mean? The only other wine I have tasted from India is Omar Khayyam, a sparkling wine. If I had the Shiraz blind I would have pegged it as a South African Pinotage. It had a smoky, iodine note in the blackberry flavour. Very drinkable.

Tuesday, April 18: One of those days for clearing the desk. On Sunday morning Deborah and I leave for London for a week and on Saturday night is the Ontario Wine Awards gala dinner down at Queens landing, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Lots of deadlines to meet – Post City magazines, Wines of the Week to line up, wine reviews for Tidings, etc. The weather has turned warm and Pinot is getting frisky. Nancy had her teeth cleaned, under anaesthetic, and is sleeping most of the time and not eating. She may have to go back to the vet. Last night's wine reminded me that it was some time since I had had Indian food. Deborah doesn't allow me to cook it at home because she says the house smells of curry for days. So we went for an Indian meal at Rangoli at Yonge and St. Clair with Anthony and Penny Bourne, English friends, who, like me, miss their monthly fix of Indian food. The distaff side had a litre of Henry of Pelham Chardonnay and the guys Kingfisher beers.

Wednesday, April 19: Worked out and then had a bone density X-ray which my doctor advised to find out if I was getting enough vitamin D and calcium. Another day of desk-clearing. For dinner, a bottle of Barco Reale di Carmignano 2003, which my colleague Gord described as "rotten leather strop and cooked sour dill on the finish." I don't think he cared for it. The importer, Tony Hirons, was not pleased, especially as this was a Vintages' Wine of the Month selection and would have been at least a 1000 case order. I tasted it at dinner tonight and Gord must have had a bad bottle. My notes read: "This blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Canaiolo is Vintages' Wine of the Month. Deep ruby in colour, it has a nose of cherry, leather, cherry pits and cedar. It's medium-bodied with a dry, savoury taste, sour cherry flavour, good acidity and a firm finish. ***½ (out of *****)."

Thursday, April 20: Interviewed Greg Zeismann at the Wine Establishment about designing and building wine cellars. A meeting this evening with Tod Halpern's committee for Grand Cru II, a fundraiser for Toronto General and Western Hospitals. Former top cop Julian Fantino has joined the committee. For dinner, with tilapia (boy, we eat a lot of tilapia), a bottle of Vineland Estates Rosomel Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2004, rich New Zealand style with guava and passionfruit flavours.

Friday, April 21: We have to board Pinot because we leave for London on Sunday. The kennel is in Aurora. Apparently Pinot barked the whole way there but had fun running around once she arrived. Had to go to court today in College Park. A spectator, not in the dock. You have to pass through an electronic screening device to get in, the same sort of system they have at airports. They found three corkscrews in my shoulder bag. My wife explained that I was a wine writer and I was not there to start an insurrection. Cleared my desk in time for an evening charity tasting for the Amici Chamber Ensemble. Grano supplied the food and I conducted a tasting of the following wines.

  • Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes 2004 (Loire)
  • Serego Aligheri Possessioni Bianco 2002 (Veneto)
  • Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Viognier 2004 (BC)
  • Fielding Estate Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2002 (Ontario)
  • Les Baumes Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 (France)
  • Ascheri Poderi di Montalupa Di Bra Syrah1998 (Italy)
  • Konzelmann Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2002 (Ontario)

Tomorrow is the gala dinner at Queen Landing for the Ontario Wine Awards. I have to pack for London. The flight is 9 am on Sunday so we'll have to leave the dinner early. The results of this year's competition are posted under Ontario Wine Awards on the menu of the Home page.




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