Almost any trip to the Niagara region includes much more than just marveling at massive waterfalls, which is as it should be: In addition to its stunning and eponymous cataracts, Niagara is home to world-class entertainment, history, culture, and wine. Especially for the true and budding oenophile, the Niagara Peninsula’s wines are a major draw.
Some of the finest in all of Canada, Niagara wine attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to our wineries every year for the unforgettable experience of touring our vineyards first-hand, meeting winemakers, and enjoying vintages and varietals that can’t be found anywhere else. In addition, many of our wineries offer events and learning opportunities to assist wine-lovers on their quest for further knowledge and appreciation. One such offering takes place the first Saturday in June, when Reif Estate Winery gives a class in pairing wine with food.
Pairing food and wine is as much science as it is art, and for newcomers to the effort, it can feel overwhelming. How do you bring out the raisin and coffee notes in an older cabernet sauvignon? What can you eat with an unoakaed chardonnay that will coax out the wine’s more subtle notes for a fuller experience? What wine should you serve with a particularly stinky blue cheese? What wine is best alongside pot roast?
For the food and wine lover, these questions are of extreme importance, and it’s only with guidance and experience that the answers can be discovered. For the uninitiated in the process, the class at Reif Estate Winery is a great way to start putting together the world’s oldest dining pair: food and wine.
Part of their Start Living the Reifstyle series, the class is held on June 6th at 2 p.m. in the Reif Estate Winery Sensory Garden and Winemaker’s Loft. Reif’s Wine Sensory Garden is the only one of its kind in the vineyard- and winery-heavy Niagara-on-the-Lake, and it exists as a tool to enable guests to consider the many colors, flavors, and aromas that are often used to characterize the wines made in the area.
For example, the riesling and sauvignon blanc section of the garden boasts delicate flowers and includes aromas of coriander, mint, honeysuckle, grapefruit, and more. The icewine and chardonnay section is located in the yellow quadrant of the garden, and there you will smell peach, sage, pineapple, and vanilla to name a few. Likewise, cabernet sauvignon and merlot are represented in the red section with oregano, mint, and chocolate plantings. In every way, the Wine Sensory Garden is an invitation to experience wine anew by increasing your understand and engaging even more of your senses.
In addition to your time in the Wine Sensory Garden, the class will also include a tasting of four estate-bottled wines that have been paired with four local, herb-inspired samples. As you taste each pairing, the principles of matching food to wine and vice versa will be discussed. The cost is $30 a person, and it’s the kind of experience that can only be had in Niagara’s wine country.