There’s nothing like having a wine expert on call 24/7.
In this case, the expert is available in 15-minute recorded video sessions when you buy one of the four-wine Virtual Tasting Collection packs from Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland.
The wine oracle is Vancouver-based educator, writer, judge and presenter DJ Kearney.
My wife, Kerry, and I ordered the Pure Whites pack online for $98 and it was delivered by courier to our home.
We settled in with the chilled wines, some charcuterie and clicked on OkanaganCrushPad.com/virtual-tasting-collection to go to Kearney’s 15-minute video for the Pure Whites.
She chats a bit about the winery. Okanagan Crush Pad has several brands, including Haywire, Narrative, Free Form and Bizou+Yukon, and then gets right into the follow-along tastings and suggested food pairings.
After all, Kearney is also a classically-trained chef.
For the Narrative 2017 Pinot Blanc ($23), Kearney waxes lyrically about the usually unheralded varietal that’s well-suited to the Okanagan.
Narrative has aromas and flavours of yellow apple, lemon, melon and honey and is an uncomplicated match for chicken, salmon or fish tacos.
The other wines in the Pure White pack are Haywire 2018 Chardonnay ($27), Narrative 2017 Riesling ($23) and Free Form Sauvignon Blanc 2018 ($30).
The three other Virtual Tasting Collection packs are Big Reds for Winter ($135), Holiday Cheers ($124) and Organic Wines Collection ($117).
Okanagan Crush Pad originally developed the Virtual Tasting Collection program because the winery was to be closed for tastings this winter.
However, it has decided to open three upcoming weekends for Winter Wine Experiences.
For $25 per person, you and those in your bubble can enjoy an unrushed, seated tasting lasting an hour-and-a-half in the cellar featuring six wines with appetizers.
Appointments are available for Nov. 27-28, Dec. 4-5 and Dec. 11-12.
Every year, this is the first wine you can taste of the new vintage.
It’s called Beaujolais Nouveau, the first bottlings of Gamay Noir from France that are rushed to market for the third Thursday in November.
This being the 2020 vintage means the grapes were picked only a month or two earlier in vineyards north of Lyon, and the resulting wine is deliberately young and simple.
“It’s a beautiful and pure focused wine that’s fresh, fruity, grapey and juicy,” said Barbara Philip, the wines of Europe manager with BC government liquor stores.
“It’s a wine that’s meant to be drunk young, before the new year. Really it’s just meant to be enjoyed and used as an indication of the ripeness and quality of the 2020 vintage.”
Philip grabs bottles every year, chills them and quaffs them with her husband, wine instructor and partner in Barbarian Wine Consulting, Ian Philip, with a plate of cured meats and cheeses.
This year, government liquor stores are selling three Beaujolais Nouveaus — a red from Mommessin ($19), another red from Georges Duboeuf Paper Label ($20) and a Rose ($21) to capitalize on the popularity of pink wines.
Since the wines were released on Thursday and they are always a hot commodity, you should get your hands on a bottle now before they sell out.
Beer vs. Wine
The name of this event immediately captured my attention because Beer vs. Wine pits our two favourite drinks against one another.
The Beer vs. Wine dinner is set for Thursday at 6 p.m. at Craft Beer Market in Kelowna.
With new COVID restrictions ordered provincewide, the event, as of Friday, was still set to go ahead.
Tables will be well separated and people will stick to their own bubbles.
The venue might indicate bias toward brews, but the restaurant stresses it always has both suds and wines on its menu.
If you attend the dinner (tickets are $65 at Eventbrite.ca) you’ll enjoy four courses, pan bread appetizer, tuna crudo, striploin steak and mille-feuille pastry dessert, each paired with a sample of a Parallel 49 craft beer from Vancouver and Mission Hill Family Estate wine from West Kelowna.
You cast your vote for the best pairing after each course and the champion will be crowned at the end of the night.
By the way, it looks like the most competitive course could be the dijon-and-herb-crusted striploin with the Nights of Wine & Roses beer and the Estate Series Cabernet-Merlot.
Steve MacNaull is an Okanagan wine lover. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org