It is very possible to find a fine restaurant in Ottawa that offers the most appealing wines of the area, and the cuisine to best complement the flavors. Canada has a very healthy wine producing economy, and there are many wines bottled in the area that rival any from France or typical US wine markets such as California and Washington. The grape harvest in Canada is perhaps more prone to weather-related influences, as the winters can be long and harsh, but it is also the case that some of the most renowned wines come from Canada.
There are a few tips suggested for the novice wine enthusiast when visiting a wine bar or restaurant in Ottawa and ordering a bottle. Knowing some basic characteristic of distinctive varietals and having the ability to describe the flavors and quality shows some expertise in the realm of wine tasting. The restaurant in Ottawa or other Canadian region visited may have some house specialties, chef’s recommendations, or even wine sampling available for those who would like a bit of guidance in making their selection.
The less-experienced wine connoisseur should know that temperature is very important in optimal taste, and different varietals are most appealing in various temps. White wine should be chilled, but not frosty or from the freezer; ideally 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. Contrary to popular belief, red wine should not be served at room temperature, but rather cool and refreshing to the palate. Many recommend a range of 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit for the reds. Sparkling wines need to be cold, but be careful not to store the “bubbly” in an ice bucket during consumption or a meal at the chosen restaurant in Ottawa. Even this type of wine can be too cold for optimal flavors and taste. Ice buckets are used to bring a bottle quickly to temperature, but should not be used to hold bottles during the consumption.
Many restaurants and establishments that specialize in fine wines are reconsidering the issue of decanting wines from bottles prior to serving. Pouring the wine from the bottle into a fancy decanter has been a practice that seemed to give wine-drinking an air of sophistication and elegance- in addition to having qualities of utility as well. Conceived to be a means of segregating the sediment frequently found in the bottom of some older vintage wines, this protocol has also been used as a way to oxygenate the wine, or allow it to breathe, before drinking. It is now the common opinion that most wines don’t necessitate this practice for removing sediment, and the best way to aerate wine is to simply pour it into glasses. One misstep of many wine enthusiasts is to over-aerate wines, which can result in the drinker missing the fleeting moments when the wine is at its very best as it sits aerating, and as too much exposure to oxygen occurs. While it may be the case that decanting is not necessary, it is still a fun and classy display!
When describing wine and the distinctive flavors of each varietal, terms may be used that warrant clarification. Some commonly used terms include:
- Crisp, which refers to a refreshing and appealing level of acidity.
- Dry regards a wine with no sweetness.
- Clean is a term used for fresh tasting wine with no foul tastes or odors.
- Complexity is the many layers, notes, and flavors present in a wine.
- Body makes reference to the heft that a wine possesses in the mouth. This may refer to the “thickness” of the varietal.
- A still wine is any wine that is not sparkling or that has no bubbles.
- A sparkling wine is any wine with bubbles.
- Finish refers to the taste left in the mouth after tasting the wine, and swallowing.
- A flabby wine is one with not enough acidity.
- The nose is the smell of the wine.