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.
PANCAKES IN MAPLE SYRUP
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.
PORK RIBS IN MAPLE SYRUP AND BBQ SAUCE
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.
MAPLE GLAZED SALMON
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.
ICE CREAM COVERED IN MAPLE SYRUP
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.