Maple Syrup and Drinks? Yessss!

By Melanie Lloyd

The joys of going to the Sugar Bush and visiting the various Sugar Shacks or Cabanes à Sucre as we French Canadians call them. Make a fun day out of it to celebrate the end of winter and beginning of spring.

Maple syrup is rich in our Canadian heritage, brought to us by the Indigenous people who taught us how to harvest the sweet sap and turn it into surgery goodness.

Here are a few suggestions on how to pair maple syrup with wine and beverages.



I paired the pancakes with a flute of pear nectar bubbly, kind of like a Mimosa but with pear nectar instead of orange juice.

Either a Sec or Demi-Sec Champagne would work as they both have a bit of residual sugar, Demi-Sec being slightly sweeter.  A sparkling White with a bit of residual sugar would also work. Sugar is needed to match the sweetness of the maple syrup.



My pork ribs were marinated in both a smoky BBQ sauce and maple syrup. I paired the meal with Leese-Fitch Zinfandel 2014 from California. This wine is fragrant with aromas of blueberry, blackcurrant, ripe strawberry, violet, sweet spice, vanilla, and hints of menthol.

On the palate, there are flavours of juicy blueberry, blackcurrant, ripe strawberry, cloves, smoke, and black pepper.

It is smooth with medium tannins and gentle acidity that is well integrated with the flavours and body of the wine. It has a slightly bitter finish.

The flavours of the wine brings forward the sweetness and the smoke found in the barbecue sauce. It works quite well!

Another good match with these ribs is Noble Vines Collection 446 Chardonnay 2015 from San Bernabe, Monterey, California. It has aromas of candied pineapple, apple, oak, caramel, vanilla, and hints of almond.

On the palate, it is rich and full bodied with flavours of red apple, tropical fruit, clementine, vanilla, oak, and a bitter nutty finish.

This wine brings forward the sweetness of the ribs. The apple and woody flavours in the wine enhances the maple and BBQ flavours of the meat.


My maple glazed salmon was marinated in maple syrup, brown sugar, and a small amount of soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic. I paired this meal with Huff Estates Reserve Pinot Noir 2014 from Prince Edward County, Ontario.

This wine is perfect as it does not overpower the meal, nor does the salmon take away from the flavours of the wine.

This Pinot Noir has floral and earthy notes on the nose. There are also aromas of blackcurrant jelly, ripe blueberry, and vanilla.

On the palate, it is medium bodied and has flavours of tart plums, blackberries, blackcurrant, floral undertones, and coffee at the finish. It has invigorating acidity, silky tannins, and a long finish.

I served the salmon with a kale salad that included tart dried cherries. The similarity in the tartness found in both the cherries and the wine complement each other.



I chose butter pecan ice cream which went amazingly well with the maple syrup. Vanilla ice cream would work too. I paired the ice cream with a cup of espresso spiked with Sortilège Canadian Whisky and Maple Syrup.

For those who have yet to try Sortilège, it is dangerously delicious at 30% alcohol. It has maple syrup, butterscotch, and nutty aromas.

On the palate, it is marvellously sweet with flavours of maple syrup, butterscotch, wood notes, and vanilla.

The spiked espresso pairs perfectly with the ice cream dessert. Sortilège, on its own, would also pair well with the ice cream.

Wines To Warm Up Your Winterlude Party

By Melanie Lloyd

Ottawa is a wonderful city for experiencing winter in all of its splendor. With Winterlude here, the time has come to gather friends for a skate on the Canal and a viewing of the ice sculptures. Whether you live in Ottawa or any other city that offers outside winter activities, this blog will offer easy wine and food suggestions for your winter after-party.

So go on, breath in the crisp fresh air and get a hefty amount of exercise. Then, gather your friends in your cozy home and light up the fireplace! Time to warm up the soul with some nice toasty wines and nibbles.

Food wise, keep it simple; Charcuterie boards, cheese boards, and plates to share are quick and perfect for snacking.

Here are a few cost-friendly recommendations that are sure to thaw out the chilliest of guests while not breaking the bank. For folks who are in Ontario, these wines are available through the LCBO.

Dry or Off-Dry Riesling:  Sunshine in a Glass to Bring Back Warmth

I Iove dry and off-dry Rieslings. Ontario has some wonderful options in terms of these wines and one of my favourites comes from Norman Hardie.

The Norman Hardie Riesling 2016 is a zesty off-dry White with plenty of minerality on the nose. It also has orchard fruit such as peach and apple, hints of tropical fruit, and some citrus notes.

On the palate, it is beautifully vibrant and the small amount of residual sugar is nicely balanced with the tart flavours of the wine. The fruit aromas follow through on the palate and it has a nice lemon finish. It is a beautiful product.

I paired this wine with a platter of various dry sausages, Gouda, Camembert, and roasted garlic crostini. My favourite pairing was with a mildly spicy dry sausage.

Oaky Chardonnay: A Toasty Wine for Sipping by the Fireplace

An oaky, full-bodied Chardonnay will bring some heat on any cold day. It is rich, has a good amount of alcohol, and lots of toasty aromas and flavours.

The wine I sampled for this blog is the Ghost Pines Chardonnay Winemakers Blend 2014 from California. This toasty wine has aromas of baked apple, oak, pineapple, caramel, herbs, a touch of truffle, sweet spice, and hints of white pepper.

On the palate, it is rich, creamy, buttery, and has apple, pear, and nutty flavours which linger at the finish.

I paired this Chardonnay with a fruit and cheese platter that included smoked Gouda, Brie, dried apricots, and hazelnuts, perfect for a night in front of the fireplace. I also served a platter of bacon wrapped scallops which went well with this wine.

The most phenomenal pairing was with the smoked gouda. This wine and cheese combo brought out the best from each other, mostly because of the smoky flavours and creamy texture found in both.

Californian Cabernet Sauvignon:  California Dreaming On Such a Winterlude Day

For this blog, I sampled the SIMI Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma County 2014. On the nose, this full-bodied Red has aromas of blackcurrant jam, ripe blackberry, raspberry, as well as hints of vanilla, cedar and sweet spice.

On the palate, we get tart blackberries and bitter espresso notes at the finish. The tannins are smooth and nicely balanced by the acidity which brings an enjoyable harmony to the wine.

I paired this with a platter of blue cheese, cranberry and hazelnut crackers, walnuts, and a cassis spread. The food flavours were a  perfect match for this wine.

A Tawny Port: A Strong Wine that Feels Like a Cozy Blanket

Feel free to splurge on a 20 year old Port or older, they tend to be best, but for those on a tighter budget, a 10 year old Port can still provide similar aromas and flavours.

For this blog, I chose the 10 year old Tawny Port from Taylor Fladgate. It has aromas of dates, fruit cake, honey, vanilla, and walnut.

In terms of flavours, there’s dried fruit, mostly dates and sun dried raisins, as well as nut, oak, and vanilla. The tannins are velvety and the flavours linger on the palate.

This was paired with a platter of dried fruit including dates, dried apricot, dried cherries, hazelnut, and dark Venezuelan chocolate. The pairing was beautiful, especially with the dark chocolate. This is a fun and easy desert to end the night.

LCBO links to the wines sampled:
Ghost Pines Chardonnay Winemaker’s Blend

Norman Hardie Riesling 2016

SIMI Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny Port