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8 Variations on Braida’s Barbera, the Arya Stark of Wine Grapes

(Spoiler alert, sort of! Seek refuge underneath the picture below to avoid such things.) I always saw Barbera as the Arya Stark to Sansa Stark's Gamay Noir. It's neither the king nor the queen of Italy's Piedmont, which, in effect, belongs to Nebbiolo's Barolo and Barbaresco, but it's also not the bourgeois Dolcetto. No: I see Barbera as a trick, a ninja often producing wines unfortunately crafted into expressions that are sour and thin and second or third-rate, when in fact, it can produce wines with such concentration and shrill acidity, you'd swear that your mouth was being deliciously pierced by castle-forged steel. It's a grape that brings in cash for producers while Nebbiolo unfurls itself in the cellar. And, when it's oaked - a...

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You can’t spell “Amarone” without “moan”: on 18 bottles at the 2016 VIWF

I don't know what my point is. Amarone is great before sex? In lieu of it? During, as a suggested pairing that I'd secretly sneak into some conservative wine magazine one day? Maybe, if your sex consists of dark chocolate, Careless Whisper, and a comfy mattress. Which, let's be real: Amarone is basically a liquid version of such. The northeastern Italian wine, a style of Valpolicella, is famed for producing sumptuous Corvina-based wines from dried grapes. My tasting notes usually consist of some kind of full texture, a handful of dried fruit, some level of chocolate, a variety of spices, and present structure that never tears the mouth apart. I'm tasting (almost) all of them at the Vancouver International Wine Festival (like I did...

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20 Prosecchi because Champagne is hella expensive and it’s only Tuesday

The thing is that Prosecco can be like a Top 40 pop star whose songs all start sounding the same, which isn't a bad thing - because I will literally dance to 80s Madonna even if it starts to play during a formal speech by the Prime Minister - in the same way that I'd down Prosecco regardless of the occasion. But yes: like Champagne, Prosecco seems to be all in the branding, but unlike the French bubbly, I feel that the Italian counterpart lacks a depth of individualism within its style. Of course, there exists the distinction between the higher-quality Conegliano and Valdobbiadene regions, the former that yields fruitier wines with some bitterness, and the latter being a bit more floral and...

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“1000 Years in Tuscany”: Getting Sangio-crazy with Barone Francesco Ricasoli

I was never really a history buff in high school. What I did, though, was take all of the sciences and maths unnecessarily earlier than I needed to, during, which I hate to admit, the coinciding apogee of the Big Bang Theory. I once took pride in every comparison to Leonard Hofstadter I received in university - which was purely from a fashion standpoint, of course - because I realized how dull I found quantum mechanics. Cringeworthy half-stories aside, I really mean to say that I've totally reversed: I've started to appreciate history in general as I got deeper into wine, and sometimes it's such a shame that having serious game plans to taste wines means I have to skip principals and their stories. So I'm glad for...

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12 other white Italian grapes for when you’re over Pinot Grigio

It's clear that we've taken a departure from the experimental seminars of 2015's Australia to the tacit themes of longevity and traditionalism of 2016's theme of Italy for the Vancouver International Wine Festival. It's expected that the colossal tasting room is skewed towards the stars of Tuscany, Piedmont, and Veneto, so this leaves the underdogs few and far between. There is not one Dolcetto (yeah I know: who cares) nor one pearl-clutching Franciacorta being poured during the whole festival, nor are there enough Montepulciano for me to make a terrible d'Ab(ruzzo) joke, so last year's boner for Australian Touriga Nacional would have to be partially satiated by a seminar on all things white and distinctively not Pinot Grigio. I often find the whites of...

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2015 ends and 2016 trends

I'm a bit late to this #bye2015hello2016 stuff! Anyways, I've said it way too many times than you care to read: I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. But this is the first year where reflecting and looking forward to the next year has felt the least forced. Despite my abrupt and perhaps ephemeral positivity, I won't be superimposing any fortune cookie pieces of advice onto filtered landscapes anytime soon - March seems to be my I-fucking-hate-everything downfall month anyway, so we'll see how much my outlook relapses. At the beginning of 2015, I made the tongue-in-cheek resolution to be a bit more selfish: to not to be guilt-ridden about having a balanced serving of things that make me happy and to give less of a shit about what...

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Odd Italy

The Vancouver International Wine Fest of 2016 is creeping up slowly - already? I distantly remember my tongue-related worries about trying Shiraz after Shiraz after Shiraz, so a duplicate worry replaced with the acidic Sangiovese grape was the first thing that came to mind when I found out that the theme for 2016 was Italy. And originally I wasn't super stoked to find out Italy was the featured region, but recent bottles of inspiration have reminded me of grapes and regions I, for some reason, forgot to consider. I'm secretly hoping there will be a seminar on something fucked like a long flight of artisanal Pinot Grigio or "You Won't Believe These 8 Pinot Grigios That Pair Well With Shitty Buzzfeed Videos". FINGERS CROSSED, YOU GUYS. If I...

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16 Wines to Pair with your Disappointing New Year’s Resolutions of 2016

Rarely do I scroll through my phone in the morning (still in bed, furthermore) and decide to go to an event on a whim especially after a slightly pixilated night involving absinthe and a plethora of Real Housewives taglines, but making quick decisions was one of my resolutions for the year - malformed somewhere in the summer - prompting a quick change and a leap out of the door. Were we supposed to RSVP? Yes, says my phone. Whatever. I remember attending the Annual Champagne and Sparkling Wine Tasting at Marquis Wine Cellars last year: it was a last-minute invite by text after the first Guild of Sommeliers blind tasting seminar held in Vancouver. I remember forgetting my wallet, so I had to borrow money...

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Barcelona: Cava to end the Saga

Spoiler alert: my few days in Spain were better than my two and a half weeks in France. Sorry, France. I was rooting for you, we were all rooting for you. #BeQuietTiffany Our hostel was superior to the one in Paris: Erin and I helped cook dinner one night, we met a Canadian from Edmonton, and we made a cab driver go through McDonalds after a hostel-hosted bar-hopping session that eventually ended on a club next to a beach. And then drinking on said beach, which was a reaaaaal big blur. Have you ever drunkenly told someone they look like Ygritte from Game of Thrones way too many times? There's a story later that night involving myself ejecting the Devil's Liquids from my soul, but...

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New York with Age; Brazil on the Page; Tuscany Backstage

There was another set of seminars: I had to choose between a study on South American wines, the range of Riesling grown in Alsace, or the aging potential of New York wines. When Brandon Seager - the Chair of the Winemaking Department at Tompkins College, Winemaker, and Finger Lakes Wine Country LGBT Ambassador (cool, I didn't even know that was a thing!) - used Brad Pitt analogies and pictures to explain the nuances of wine aging, I knew that I had chosen the right seminar. Huzzah. The wines were what I was mostly looking forward to, especially the aged ice wine, which can be quite a divisive topic when it comes to cellaring wine. Opponents of the idea believe that ice wine...

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