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28 bottles of Nebbiolo to warm your lonely frigid heart on Valentine’s Day

For 2013's Valentine's Day, my 20-year-old collegiate self suggested Gewurztraminer to pair with Chinese takeout and Adele; Muscadet to pair with tears and oysters; French rosé to pair with loneliness; and Asti for guilty pleasures. I might be suggesting Nebbiolo this time around, but let it be known that I'm still as happily unkempt as the last of those 2013 pairings. Good job, past self. My university persona regrets almost nothing: maybe one moment involving that necklace MacGyvered from a nondescript sabred sparkling wine cork, some wire, and two mismatching chains. I wore this everywhere for a good chunk of time. Alas. Amongst what I would expect are the inevitable and seasonal release of tedious yet informative wine-and-chocolate-pairing articles (We get it! Port! Zinfandel! Go away!), here's a loose attempt to...

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Brun-hello? It’s me. San Francisco and a throwback to 12 bottles

You guys! It's been around three weeks since I've arrived in San Francisco for what I've been telling everyone are secret wine projects. Which they are. It hasn't really kicked in that I'm here yet, to be honest, and the whole city just seems like a stretched-out Vancouver with Inception-like shifting of buildings. And much less green. It's like Vancouver and San Francisco were made from the same grape - but clearly have different expressions - like Chianti and Brunello, or something. [caption id="attachment_6111" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] vermouth![/caption] And it's fucking tech central, you guys. I mean - yes, obviously - but have you seen HBO's Silicon Valley? I'm convinced that it's not satire. Attempting to suavely grab a baby carrot while maintaining eye contact during someone's pitch during a Stanford mixer, and...

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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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Vancouver International Wine Festival 2015: “Mod Oz”

It just feels slightly unfortunate that this seminar didn't sell out - I mean, if the idea of Australian Shiraz is being purportedly tired, why aren't we getting excited about every other fucking grape that can be grown there? Did you see Australian Grüner Veltliner coming? The answer is no. You didn't. I mean yes - I tire my face out by tensing my eye sockets and resisting an eye roll every time someone says they "don't like Australian wine", which is somewhat fair considering that the market can be saturated with its own stereotypes. I suppose it's just good business sense, but there's so much potential past the generic back-of-the-bottle tasting notes that preach deep berry fruit, "smooth", and an empty promise that it'll pair well with...

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Vancouver International Wine Festival 2015: “All About Syrah”

Legit tried to give my ticket away or sell it just hours before like a chump, because the previous day's Australian Shiraz tasting made me seriously question what possessed me to buy a ticket to an event where I was subject to taste eleven more Syrah wines. No ma'am. I couldn't even give my ticket away to someone for free, as he reluctantly looked at me as if I'd just knocked on his door and asked if his life had been saved by Syrah yet. I thought it was a bad sign when some sort of false fire alarm went off right when the beginning of the event rolled around. As soon as I was going to test if the rhythm would match up...

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Vancouver International Wine Festival 2015: “Shiraz: Aussie Superstar”

Legit just took some Tums right now because the ride home was a sketchy acidic one. Maybe ask the woman who sat to my right at the seminar because she didn't spit anything she tasted, but I guess that weird cheesy number I had for lunch didn't really do me any favours. But yes: I wasn't exactly super stoked about a seminar that had to do with 12 glasses of mouth-destroying Shiraz, but sometimes the best way to appreciate something so seemingly daunting is just to go for it. Just jump right into the pool of tannin and rip the bandaid off, maybe packing a toothbrush in your bag for later. Which I almost legit did, because I want my teeth to look decent...

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