Everything You Need to Know About Wine

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Over the last 20 years, the Okanagan Valley has established itself as one of the world’s best wine regions.The region’s wineries are regularly featured among the world’s elite at international competitions, and USA Today even named it the 2nd best wine region to visit in the world, only second to Portugal. So what’s the secret to the Okanagan Valley’s burgeoning wine industry?

Wine Quality

It all lies in the region’s soil and climate conditions, which control the quality and production of wine. The province’s diverse terrain allows growers to produce a wide variety of wine varietals, from bold Merlot to refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. There are 131 licensed wineries in the Okanagan Valley; 40 of them located within 20 minutes from Penticton.

The Basics of Wine

You don’t need to be a wine connoisseur to enjoy a glass of red but knowing the basic facts about wine will help you the next time you’re at a restaurant, and trying to decide between two similar varieties.

Dry vs. Sweet

When a wine is called “dry” it means it doesn’t carry any residual sugar, making it less sweet than other wines. However, the type of grape, region and oak aging can greatly affect the flavour of a wine, which is why a dry wine can sometimes be sweeter than a well known sweeter wine.

Acidity

Wines that have high acidity feel light and spritzy while wines with low acidity are more rich in flavour.The most common characteristic of an acidic wine (otherwise known as ‘tart’ wine) is experiencing a tingling sensation around your tongue when enjoying a glass.

Rich vs. Thin

A rich wine has strong fruit flavours while a thin wine has acidity but little substance. If you taste great flavour and aroma with a glass of wine, you’re drinking a rich wine variety. For further wine descriptions, Wine Folly does a great job at breaking all the terms down for you.

Courtesy of http://winefolly.com/

Old World Wine vs. New World Wine

Old World wines are wines that are made in Europe, as the first techniques of wine production were invented in the Roman Empire. Old World winemakers follow traditional methods of wine production. Some of the most popular Old World regions are Italy, France, Spain, Hungary and Portugal. New World wines, meanwhile, are made using the traditional Old World methods but with some modern agricultural techniques thrown in. United States, Canada, New Zealand and Chile are some examples of New World wine regions.

The Process of Wine

Autumn is the season when grapes are harvested. Winemakers will wait for the optimal moment but this process generally begins in mid September and is completed in November.

Once the harvested grapes arrive at the winery, the stems are separated from the fruit and discarded. The remaining seeds, pulp and skins that remain are then crushed to extract the juice.

This is when the fermentation process begins: Yeast is added to turn the sugars in the grape juice into ethanol (alcohol). This stage takes between three days to three weeks.

After the fermentation period, the ageing process begins. White wines are aged a few weeks to a year while red wines are aged for about 1-2 years.

Once the aging process is complete, winemakers will often add different characteristics to their blend (to achieve a specific style of wine) before putting the wine through a filtering process and then finally bottling their creation.

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The Top Okanagan Wines

Over 60 different grape varieties are grown in B.C, but the top planted grapes in the Okanagan are Pinot Noir, Merlot, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. All are classics with distinct looks and tastes.

Merlot

With over 1600 acres of Merlot grapes currently planted in the Okanagan, it’s no surprise Merlot is one of the most popular wines produced today. The Merlot grape originates from the Bordeaux region in France but has large growing sites in warmer climates like California, Chile and in the Okanagan as well. Merlot is a well-known blending partner for other wines; Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon especially. When blended together, the different styles create a very delicious, complementary blend to be enjoyed. It’s most often paired with red meats to match the weight and and polish of such dishes, but it is not uncommon for it to be paired with lighter meats as well.

Pinot Noir

The Pinot Noir grape has strict growing conditions that require consistently warm days and cool nights, which the Okanagan is lucky enough to have. While originally from Burgundy, France, Pinot Noir is now grown all over the world and has nearly 1000 acres dedicated to it in the Okanagan. Because of its more stringent growing conditions, distribution is lower than other wines, making it a little more exclusive and expensive in comparison with similar red wines. Pinot Noir is considered one of the most versatile food wines, playing well with various meats, cheese, chocolate and spicy foods.

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris stems from the same white grape as Pinot Grigio and they are in fact the exact same wine. Over the years, however, the french Pinot Gris has established a distinctly different style than its Italian counterpart. Full bodied, rich and fruity, Pinot Gris wines are fitting with nearly every type of food but complements seafood like crab and salmon especially well. With 25,000 acres of Pinot Gris grapes planted, Italy has the most vineyards dedicated to producing Pinot Gris wines, but the demand for the wine variety has become so great that it’s become one of the top produced wines in the Okanagan Valley.

Chardonnay

This crisp white wine originates from the green-skinned grape and is known for its sophisticated dry flavour. It goes beautifully with seafood and cream-based dishes. The Chardonnay grape’s ability to adapt allows it for to be grown in abundance worldwide. Its diverse range of flavours makes it one of the most popular white varieties on the market today.

Specialty Wine

Ice Wine

Ice wine is a unique wine variety because its harvest time is in a completely different season than regular wines. Instead of a September- November harvest, grapes are picked between November and February, in sub-zero temperatures. The grapes that have been left frozen on the vine are selected and kept below -8 degrees celsius until they are pressed. Only a small amount of concentrated juice is extracted, resulting in a very sweet dessert wine. Because of the difficult harvest and fermentation process, ice wine is rare and more expensive. Thanks to Canada’s regularly cold temperatures, the country produces 75% of the world’s ice wine.

Now that you have a little background on wines and Okanagan wines specifically, are you ready to plan your next trip to the Okanagan? Penticton is lucky enough to be in the heart of the Okanagan Valley, with quick access to dozens of great wine tours. There’s something here for everyone. Check out Wine B.C’s official site for more wine details, or get in touch with Penticton Lakeside Resort to plan your stay!

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Summer Wine Tourism In The Penticton Lake Area

Summer Wine Tours in Penticton Lake AreaIn the heart of British Columbia, the Penticton Lake area offers some of the most spectacular wine tourism around. This part of Canada offers you as much sun as Hawaii or southern California, which is why it is home to acres of fruit orchards—especially vinyards. The Penticton Lake area is part of the “Napa Valley of Canada,” so spending some of your summer sunshine time here sampling hand-crafted wines is a sure bet.

Planning Your Trip

To start out and plan your trip, visit the Penticton and Wine Country Visitor Centre. There you’ll find listings for more than 40 wineries in the immediate area—none more than a 20 minute drive from central Penticton. You can also take advantage of the Vintners Quality Alliance boutique which offers wine-tasting tutorials.

Another great tool for planning is the British Columbia tourism board, which calls the Penticton area “the heart” of the Canadian wine scene. The board lists almost 50 different wine tours in the area. (more…)

7 Travel Apps For Your Best Vacation Ever

Travel apps are a must-have when traveling
Travel made easy with these easy to use travel apps

You’ve just booked your first vacation in years. You know who you’re going with and for how long. You know you can expect beautiful weather, spectacular culture and unreal memories. But as you pull your dusty suitcase out from your closet, your vision blurred with the dozens of destination photos you scanned earlier on Google, you suddenly realize: Where the heck do I even begin in organizing this trip?

No need to fret, avid-traveler. All too familiar with the stress that can arise from planning and executing an unforgettable vacation, I’ve put together a list of the best travel apps to use to guarantee a smooth trip. Oh yeah, and all these travel apps are 100% free.

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What You Need To Know About Travel Insurance

Do you really need to buy travel insurance? Get the facts and find out.
Do you really need to buy travel insurance? Get the facts and find out.

Chances are great that you’ve been faced with the issue of whether or not to buy travel insurance before. If you’re like most people you probably didn’t buy it, and that may have been a wise choice. However, it’s important to understand what you need to know about travel insurance if you want to make a smart decision about whether or not to use it.

The Basics

There are four kinds of travel insurance generally, along with several add-ons and variations. The big four are: Trip Cancellation, Lost Personal Effects and Baggage, Emergency Medical, and Accidental Death. Variations and add-ons include 24 Hour Traveler Assistance, Dental, Emergency Evacuation, Rental Car Collision/Damage, and Travel Delay. How much travel insurance costs depends on your age, what kind of coverage you’re getting, and the total cost of the trip. According to the Insurance Information Institute, typical policies run about 5 to 7 percent of the cost of the trip. The majority of policies are sold by travel industry professionals who also earn commissions on sales. (more…)

Pros and Cons of Using a Travel Agent

Is it still wise to use a travel agent?
Is it still wise to use a travel agent?

Traveling is so different than it once was; to book much of anything you really needed to use a travel agent. However, now that almost everything is online, you probably book a lot of travel yourself. So is there are reason to use a travel agent anymore? In reality, there are the pros and cons of using a travel agent—and also to booking online on your own:

Advice and Insight into the Industry

Pro: Agents often know the best days and times to travel, how early you should book to save the most, and which attractions and resorts are the most inviting. They are also more adept with warning you about advisories and risks, not to mention obscure must-sees that you otherwise might miss.

Con: Travel websites put most of their resources into accessing many different deals and travel options. For this reason you may be able to find all kinds of choices yourself just by searching effectively. (more…)

Great Ways to Stay Cool With Your Kids

Make this summer the best one yet for you and your kids
Make this summer the best one yet for you and your kids

Already planning on ways to beat the heat this summer? There are so many awesome things you can do with your kids to stay busy and keep cool. Check out these fun ideas:

Join the Club

Check for kids’ clubs at your local library, community center, or college. You’ll be surprised at how many opportunities are out there, especially in urban and suburban areas. Why not stay cool with your kids while getting into fun new hobbies?

Get Away

If the summer equivalent of “cabin fever” has you down, improve your outlook and your kids’ dispositions by taking a quick weekend trip. You don’t have to break the bank or take time off of work to have a really special weekend together. Head out to camp for a night or two or take in the local culture in another town, exploring just for fun as you stay cool with your kids. (more…)

What’s all this Easter Bunny Business Anyway?

Photo of a bunny in a meadow of flowersGlorious spring has finally arrived, and despite the rather mild winter us BC-ershave enjoyed these past several months, (while the lucky ones ice-climb Niagra Falls and dig themselves out of their snow-trapped houses), we can’t help but smile at the induction of spring.  Easter, a hallmark of the season, is just around the corner.  When many of us think of Easter we either think: fabulous, scrumptious brunch buffet, quality family time conversing around the table, pastel colors and festive spring designs or hunting for those notorious chocolate eggs. Oh yeah.  And then there’s the part about the resurrection of Christ.  Yes, there’s something very juxtaposing about this rather peculiar holiday.  For many, Easteris a non secular holiday – an excuse to eat more chocolate (as if we didn’t have get our fair share at Christmas and Valentine’s).  However for others, Easter is one of the most important of all religious holidays.  So how do we, as a society, reconcile the paradoxical idea of a large bunny hoping around delivering chocolate eggs in a made-to-look-like-bird-nest-basket during the night for all the little boys and girls,with the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  While most of us follow and accept these peculiar customs without a second thought, (as they are so well ingrained in our commercial culture), if we were to actually take a moment to think about why, we would find that ironically, bunnies and eggs enjoy a close symbolic relationship with Eastertide. (more…)

Weighing In: The New GMO Non-Browning Apple

gmo-appleIn this emerging world of Food Inc.-enthused, health-conscious pundits, (where magazine articles have made experts of us all in one way or another), the demand for more fresh, organic, locally-sourced and naturally-derived products has given birth not just to the hipster movement, (yes, love it or hate it) but to a whole new breed of thinkers and doers.  For the first time in decades, we, the consumer, have regained some kind of control over our food source by choosing to buy or not to buy certain products. In doing so, we bear witness to the vast social, environmental, political and fiscal implications of such power projected on a global scale.  It’s taken a little bit of time, but slowly we’re learning and growing, building our houses out of much stronger materials.  First hay, then sticks, now bricks.  For better or worse, the Information Age, has opened our hearts and minds to the endowment of knowledge, making three very healthy, nut-raised, antibiotic-free porkers out of our three little piggies and one, terrible big bad wolf from the GMO food industry. (more…)

Why You Need To Travel Solo At Least Once In Your Life

Traveling alone is good for the soul.
Traveling alone is good for the soul.

Traveling is wonderful no matter how you do it, but there’s something really special about traveling solo. The first time I did it I was much younger, and although I was excited I was nervous, too. I didn’t need to be, and you don’t either; in fact, I can assure you without reservation that everyone needs to travel alone, regularly if possible, but at least once. Here’s why.

It’s All About You

We should all be ourselves all of the time, but most of us fail at this at least some of the time when surrounded by other people who want or need things from us. Traveling solo, especially far from home, you can be yourself, and you don’t care who knows it. Being able to act, eat, dress, and say whatever you feel like replenishes your reserves. (more…)

Casino Chic 2015: Best Casinos Worldwide

Some of our best casino picks for 2015
Some of our best casino picks for 2015

If nothing sounds more exciting to you than the constant, adrenaline-fueled night life of the casino, then this is your ultimate guide. Casino Chic is in full force for millions around the world, and these are the absolute best destinations worldwide for lovers of the lifestyle. Check out our list of best casinos worldwide.

Macau: City of Dreams

For the adults-only, high-end experience, spend some time at the City of Dreams on the Cotai Strip, certainly one of the best casinos worldwide. Its chief competitor, the Venetian, provides the family-friendly experience, which might detract from the whole if you’re a real aficionado. The City of Dreams boasts 420,000 square feet of space filled with lush décor and around 400 gaming tables and 1,300 gaming machines. Play baccarat, big wheel, blackjack, sic bo, fan tan, craps, whatever you like. See the hot TABOO cabaret show and watch the Red Dragon, the biggest poker tournament in Asia, which takes place every month. (more…)