Charlene Owen is wine department team lead at Save-On-Foods in Sahali. KTW posed some vino-related questions to her.
Q: April is BC Wine Month. Why is that important and what happens during the month?
A: April is very important as it let’s us celebrate all the wonderful wines that we can get right here in B.C. Normally, there would be tasting events and special food and wine pairings, but with the current situation, things need to look a bit different. So we encourage customers to visit their local retailers for B.C. wine suggestions and, of course, the knowledgeable folks at select Save-On-Foods locations can help them find a new favourite.
Q: What bottle of wine would you recommend as an introduction for someone who has never had wine and is looking to become more educated on all things vino?
A: I would start someone out with a rose. Roses are very easy drinking and have a lovely fruitiness that isn’t overwhelming. Then we can move into white and make that big step into reds.
Q: What makes British Columbia wine different from imports found on shelves of liquor stores?
A: Buy local, shop local. It’s a product made right here in our home province and the VQA standard adds transparency that everything in that wine bottle has been grown, produced and bottled in B.C.
Q: Can you list a few of your new favourites and their attributes?
A: Too many to list, really, but I will try. Tender Hope sparkling rose is a lovely bubbly with a delicious fruity approach. Hester Creek pinot gris viognier is a favourite every summer and is bright, fresh and crisp. Tinhorn Creek The Creek red blend is big and bold with a dark fruit finish balanced well with a hearty tannin.
Q: Can you relay to us some of the more notable products that have recently arrived?
A: Two new reds from Black Hills, Ipso Facto and Addendum Adega just sent us a new red blend called Manuel. Sandhill has released a new white, Sovereign Opal. Hester Creek has released its new vintage of pinot gris viognier
Q: Again, for those looking for some expertise, can you provide some wine pairings for a few meals?
A: Two traditional pairings would be a turkey dinner with pinot noir, fettucini alfredo with a dry white, but one I like to use a lot is halibut with a cabernet franc. It’s great to be daring in your pairing choices, such as a sweeter riesling with pepperoni pizza.
Q: Can you give us two or three fascinating facts about wine of which we may not be aware?
A: 1. B.C. has 369 licensed wineries. 2. The red we grow the most of is merlot and the most white we grow is pinot gris. 3. Switch up your summer sangria recipe by using a rose instead of red. 4. There are now 14 region and sub-regions that make up B.C.’s geographical regions. 5. There are 80-plus grape varietals grown in B.C. 6. The ratio of white grapes to red grapes grown is 49 per cent to 51 per cent.
Q: Finally, which do you prefer on its own, without a meal — red or white? And why?
A: My hands-down, all-time favourite is Cipes Ariel 1998 sparkling. It spent 15 years on its lees, slowing developing over time. A soft burnt caramel, hints of marshmallow on a slightly smoky finish make this a bubbly for all time. It is simply exquisite.