Christian Moueix Merlot 2003

Date March 7, 2008 | Chuck | France & Merlot & Red Wine

Yes, some people may say it's only merlot, but this merlot is by Christian Moueix.   Not sure who that is? that's ok, neither did I until researching him and found he is the mastermind behind wines such as Dominus which at the time of writing the 2004 goes for just over $200/bottle. Too rich for my blood, unless I get a transfusion. But I think I may be getting a deal on this $14.85 bottle.
Pour this wine into your glass 5-10 minutes in advance as it opens up nicely.
Tip: balloon glass
At a Glance
Taste ripe dark fruit, blackberry
Smell raspberry, strawberry, cedar
Food baked pasta
Sweetness extra dry
Price $14.85
LCBO# 961227

Tangley Oaks Merlot 2003

Date March 6, 2008 | Sean | Merlot & Red Wine & USA

I'm now convinced there might be such a thing as heaven. California makes a variety of wines at many price points. Good California wine is known for its price tag and the sky is the limit. At $17.95 a bottle this wine drinks like something double the price. This is simply awesome wine.
We always approach a bottle of Merlot with some caution, you never really know what your going to get. This is an incredibly well structured wine with amazing length and great earthy soft finish. Tonnes of flavors and smells to fill your glass.
Tip: Drink before 2011
At a Glance
Taste black cherry, dried fig, tea
Smell plum, berry jam, coffee
Food burger with caramelized onions and cheese
Sweetness dry
Price $17.95
LCBO# 68155
Tangley Oaks Metlot 2003

What's in that Bottle. What’s on the Label.

Date March 6, 2008 | Sean | Editorials & Wine Basics

The big guys are very protective of their brands and the big dollars they command for a bottle that come along with it. That's in its self isn't really news, just ask anyone at BMW, Prada or Armani. But here is a little gem about the wine industry big boys. It's not unusual for them to press too much juice, or press a second lot of juice. There could be any number of reasons why they decide not to use the juice. But some have speculated they don't want to flood the market with too much premium product so not to devalue their brand. We don't know about this for sure, but here is what we do know. The excess juice is sometimes sold to another winery in secret or wine is made by the winery and marketed under a different label. Here's where it gets interesting. These wines are often nearly identical to their much more premium relatives, but can cost up to half the price. It's hard to know when this will happen, or where grapes come from. But sometimes the rumors are just so strong that word gets out, and sometimes the writing is on the wall. And we found one (kinda)! In the case of Tangley Oaks and Rutherford Hill it's not a big secret that they are owned by the same company. The Tangley Oaks Merlot from 2003 is exceptionally good stuff. It shares a lot of characteristics from it's big brother Rutherford Hill 2003 Merlot which is $10 more a bottle. This is likely a second pressing from the same vineyard, or a blend. But who cares! At $17.95 a bottle this is simply too good to pass bye. See the Tangley Oaks Review. Rutherford Hill Label

Miguel Torres Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2004

Date March 5, 2008 | Chuck | Cabernet Sauvignon & Chile & Red Wine

Anyone else notice the small Chilean invasion on the site lately? Here's why, good quality, no-frills wine at a fair price, and this cabernet proves the point. You don't have to just take our word for it, the LCBO has labeled this a 'vintages essential'. I think I'm going to assign myself the mission of tasting all the essential picks from the LCBO, it's my mission and I choose to accept't stop me, and if I'm not done in a few months, just wait longer :)
This red has a lengthy finish so it's best paired with a hearty meal.
Tip: let this wine open up if the tannins are too much at first
At a Glance
Taste black cherry, leather, tea
Smell plum, earth, oak
Food steak
Sweetness dry
Price $14.95
LCBO# 177451

Chateau des Charmes Aligoté 2006

Date March 3, 2008 | Chuck | Aligoté & Canada & White Wine

This estate bottled aligoté is a French inspired, dry white wine with a medium body. It has a crisp fresh apple and floral taste with a similar bouquet. Very nice when served as an apertif due to it's acidity and crispiness.
Tip: serve fridge chilled, also good on it's own
At a Glance
Taste green apple, floral, citrus
Smell citrus, green apple
Food fish with lemon
Sweetness dry
Price $13.45
LCBO# 284950

Viu Manent Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2004

Date March 2, 2008 | Sean | Cabernet Sauvignon & Chile & Red Wine

Another outstanding bargain here. This is a rather big cab and pretty dry. What's nice about it is the very obvious cherry and wild berry flavor. It smells absolutely amazing the minute it hit the glass. One of the few times I have detected blueberries in the smell from a cab. It's obviously a Cab Sav, but there is something different about it.
Tip: March 1, 2008 Vintages Release - hurry! Room temp.
At a Glance
Taste wild cherry, wild raspberry, licorice
Smell blueberry, chocolate, cassis
Food chicken or veal parm, chicken pot pie
Sweetness off dry
Price $12.75
LCBO# 59196

Chateau De Quincay Sauvignon Selection Tradition 2006

Date March 2, 2008 | Sean | France & Sauvignon Blanc & White Wine

Ignore the big fancy French name. What we got here folks is Sauvingnon Blanc. What is special about this wine is it comes from a part of France that is known for making outstanding wines (Loire region). It's the next door neighbor of where the really expensive stuff comes from. This wine is zesty and has lots of character for what we sometimes think of as a boring white grape. Very crisp, very clean. Total bargain.
Tip: March 1, 2008 Vintages Release - hurry! Chill well.
At a Glance
Taste green apple, citrus, honeydew
Smell white flowers, fresh herbs, cedar
Food grilled salmon, goat cheese
Price $12.95
LCBO# 66183
Quincay Sauvignon

Demystifying Vintages – Part I | Special Feature

Date March 2, 2008 | Sean | Editorials & Special Features

This three part special feature will take you on a journey inside the LCBO’s Vintages section. We will look at what exactly is in Vintages, who works there and how to navigate it easily. The Vintages section is probably one of the most exciting and literally to some, terrifying, aspects of the LCBO experience. We will prove that Vintages is a great area of the store to shop for bottles under $20.00 which will impress the heck out of your friends. We will explain what to look for and some secrets to making Vintages work for you. While this feature is tailored to our Ontario audience, anyone will enjoy the experience and might learn a tip or trick for their own store wherever you might be.

Demystifying Vintages – Part I

So austere, so formal, so mysterious. The automatic doors slide open as you approach the store with a sturdy mechanical whoosh. You press on confidently marching towards old faithful. That bottle of wine with a playful name you can never remember, something about a penguin or duck, always pleases but never wows. Always in stock, and at least fifty bottles are lined up neatly on the shelf waiting for you. You were probably first introduced to it one night your friends were over for dinner and someone proudly burst in to the kitchen announcing "the wine has arrived" with bottle in tow. Since then you’ve memorized the location of that bottle at your local liquor store, moving past row after of row of beige steel shelving. Like a carefully choreographed ballet you grab the non-descript red or white by the neck, turn on your heel toward the cashier. Air miles card and a twenty dollar bill in hand of course. But each time you turn toward the cash you catch a glimpse of a cave like area at the back of the store, big letters staring down at you from overhead…VINTAGES. Almost museum like, with dark stained wood, soft lighting, and carefully designed shelves presenting the labels at optimal angles. Wine bottles meticulously arranged in groups by country. The floor dotted with wicker baskets overflowing with bottles of Chateau Pont Allerieux du Whatever, and other names you dare not pronounce for fear of showing your lack of wine knowledge or because you’ve already forgotten basic French from elementary school. Relax. Not all Vintages look like the one described earlier, but if they did who cares. Some LCBO stores only feature a shelf or small wall of product, some none at all. Stores like Summerhill, Bayview or Laird’s (which spills out in to the aisles in every direction) are very impressive beasts indeed. You’ve probably visited Vintages in the past. Most likely around the holiday season looking for that impressive bottle with an equally impressive price tag for your boss or that friend who’s “in to” wine. There is no dispute that Vintages contains some seriously pricey offerings, look a little deeper you will find bottles exceeding a thousand dollars. But, if you’re anything like us, you prefer a mini vacation or new LCD TV over a bottle of wine. So what exactly qualifies as a Vintages product and what does it cost. We're sure if you posed the same question to someone in the marketing department at the LCBO you would get a rather lengthy answer, but here is what it boils down to. To be considered for Vintages there has to be something unique about the wine. That’s it. This could mean it was a small production from a particular producer or classic Bordeaux, maybe an unusual grape. It could be a special series from a winery or the LCBO just managed to get their hands on a limited quantity of something tasty. There are certainly some staples that are constant or make a regular appearance. One example of these is the 2005 Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, it’s a featured product always available. The most important thing, if you take nothing away from reading this, the most important thing to remember is that there are literally hundreds of bottles under $20.00 and some of them are simply outstanding. The weekend this part of the special feature was written, picked up 15 bottles of wine under $20.00 at Vintages (for research purposes of course, cough cough). Your assignment should you choose to accept it. Cross the imaginary line on the floor and take a quick tour of your local Vintages. Take note of the wide range of prices and grab a copy of the free Vintages magazine. We will be talking about it a little later on. Cheers. In Demystifying Vintages – Part II you’ll meet the Product Consultant, your new best wine buddy. Who are they, and what makes them qualified to give you advice. Also, a few tricks to getting the good affordable stuff.

Hillebrand Collectors' Choice Cabernet Merlot 2004

Date March 2, 2008 | Chuck | Canada & Red Blend & Red Wine

With this meritage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes, Hillebrand has created an easy going, medium bodied and very very smooth red blend. Coming from some of Niagara's warmest vineyards and aged in oak barrels for a year, this vintage is very compatible with a wide array of food.
Tip: tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste strawberry, cherry, very mild oak
Smell strawberry, roasted red bell pepper, cherry
Food italian
Price $16.45

Oyster Bay Chardonnay 2005

Date March 1, 2008 | Chuck | Chardonnay & New Zealand & White Wine

Oyster Bay is a popular choice for the average buyer who feels like splurging a bit [yes, it's a bit pricey], and this chardonnay from New Zealand's Marlborough region is a nice change from the typical chard. If you're used to drinking the chardonnays from North America you may find the majority are quite heavy on the oak, rich and buttery. Love it or hate it, it's the number one selling white varietal in the world. Back to this wine, you find it much lighter because it's only partially barrel fermented and not at all buttery but rather more fruity with a crispiness to it that is very enjoyable.
Another cool method the winemaker chose to preserve the fruitiness of this vintage was the decision to skip out on the cork and use a screw top. They're not taking any chances down under :) If you like this wine, try their Sauvignon Blanc, it's on my to-do list.
Tip: balloon glass
At a Glance
Taste floral, melon, apple
Smell light floral, apple, pear
Food pork chops
Sweetness dry
Price $18.80
LCBO# 326728

Bodegas Castano Hecula 2005

Date March 1, 2008 | Chuck | Monastrell & Red Wine & Spain

This spanish red has an amazing inky violet colour that lasts all the way to the rim. The flavours are very deep and intense as you pickup on the oak, blackberry, vanilla, tar with a hint of tobacco. The bouquet features a cherry, cassis and cedar.
Dry red lovers will love the chewy tannins on the finish. An excellent value wine.
Tip: balloon glass, no quality loss on second day
At a Glance
Taste oak, blackberry, vanilla
Smell cherry, cassis, cedar
Food red meat, pasta with red sauce
Sweetness extra dry
Price $13.85
LCBO# 718999

Hillebrand Trius White 2006

Date February 27, 2008 | Chuck | Canada & White Blend & White Wine

My table full of guests found this well rounded white to be amazing. Even more amazing is that the 2006 is the first release of this wine and received critical acclaim. Trius White is a careful blend of Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling and unoaked Chardonnay, which offers bold fruit flavours that settle into a dry, clean, refreshing finish.
Trius proves to be a very dependable product line from Hillebrand. More reviews to follow. Many more... :)
Tip: lightly chilled in a tulip glass
At a Glance
Taste fruity, apricot, floral blossoms
Smell grapefruit, orange peel, floral
Food seafood, pasta with cream sauce
Sweetness off dry
Price $18.80
LCBO# 54957

Sawmill Creek Sauvignon Blanc

Date February 27, 2008 | Chuck | Canada & Sauvignon Blanc & White Wine

Here's a nice medium-bodied white wine with a sticker price you can't beat. It exhibits a dry crisp citrus flavour with hints of green apple and oak. I did notice that this wine is non-vintage, meaning that the juice is a blend of wine from more than one year. Should I care? well, for this class of white wine, nah.
This wine was also my first go at a Tetra-Pak® and I have to say, if I'm traveling with wine it can't be beat, however I would never bring it to the table. And for me, yes, it does lose the romance factor of uncorking a bottle.
Tip: serve well chilled
At a Glance
Taste citrus, green apple, light oak
Smell citrus, light oak
Food shrimp
Sweetness dry
Price $9.95

Ernest and Julio Gallo Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Date February 25, 2008 | Chuck | Cabernet Sauvignon & Red Wine & USA

E&J is a house-hold name in California wines, releases this medium body, slightly sweet cabernet sauvignon. I shouldn't be bias here, but I'm not a fan of sweet cabs, however I wasn't the only one at the table who wasn't a fan. I could however see myself gulping down this red in the summer heat when I'm thirsty.
I did however get a surprise I truly wasn't expecting with this mass produced wine, and that was sediment. At least it was strange to me, anyone else have this happen ?
Tip: balloon glass this wine and decant of yours has sediment too.
At a Glance
Taste strawberry, mixed berries
Smell berry, red liquorice, floral
Food medium cheeses
Sweetness medium sweet
Price $10.40
LCBO# 223552

Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Trentino Riserva 2005

Date February 24, 2008 | Chuck | Italy & Pinot Grigio & White Wine

Thankfully, this golden straw, off dry grigio put me back into the pinot spirit after my last attempt at it.
Here is a wine that tastes just like it smells and it's good in both areas. A white that proved to be a crowd pleaser and gives you the chance to explain to people that the nice but unfamiliar taste is Mineral! Have a semi-snobby moment on us ;)
Tip: a good choice over the Santa Margherita & use a balloon glass
At a Glance
Taste minerals, lemon, subtle oak
Smell minerals, lemon, subtle oak
Food pasta with cream sauce, pork ribs
Price $15.85
LCBO# 32714

Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio 2006

Date February 24, 2008 | Chuck | Italy & Pinot Grigio & White Wine

Labeled as an LCBO essential, this dry, pale straw colored pinot grigio (otherwise referred to as pinot gris) threw me a curve ball. I absolutely second guessed myself when writing notes about this wine due to all the attention it's been receiving. I could not distinguish very many flavors and aromas from this wine and thought it to be a little bit indistinguishable. This was confirmed by our resident editor Sean who shared with me that this grigio had been excellent in past years but the 2006 was not a red letter year for them.
A couple years ago, people would have been happy to pay this price for a Santa Margherita, but I found this less than stellar harvest to be a bit too pricey. Surely coming as no surprise to the winery and dealers, I ask, shouldn't the price follow the quality from year to year?
Tip: tulip glass worked best for this vintage
At a Glance
Taste golden apple, peach, lemon
Smell apple, peach
Food seafood or just as an aperitif
Sweetness dry
Price $16.85
LCBO# 106450

Rocca Delle Macie Chianti Classico 2005

Date February 23, 2008 | Chuck | Chianti & Italy & Red Wine

Chianti is Italy's most famous wine, and rightly so, it's an excellent varietal that goes very well with (surprise) Italian food.The winemakers at Rocca Delle Macie are chianti specialists and this vintage is proof in a bottle. Enjoy it's fruit and oak flavours with a touch of black pepper in it's long dry finish.
Interesting: Try a taste test between normal chianti and chianti classico. See if you can taste the difference between the types due to aging and grape quality. The classico will be much more sophisticated and less table wine like.
Tip: swish this chianti around for 5 seconds to get a hit of black pepper (sans sneeze)
At a Glance
Taste raspberry, oak, black pepper
Smell raspberry, oak, earth
Food antipasto, pasta
Sweetness extra dry
Price $16.80
LCBO# 741769

Codorniu Brut Cava Pinot Noir Rose Sparkling Wine

Date February 23, 2008 | Sean | Spain & Sparkling & White Wine

Yup, pink sparkling wine. Rose's get a bad wrap often as they became known as bad wine, not always true. No we weren't hanging out on the set of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, just dinner at home on a Saturday. This is a nice example of what happens when you let some of the grapes true colors shine through. This sparkling wine, like most, is made from Pinot Noir (a red variety). It has lots of Pinot Noir qualities like strawberry and cherry flavors. This is a really refreshing sparkling wine, enjoy it any day with lunch or dinner. Sparkling wine isn't just for special occasions.
Tip: Go from fridge to freezer 10 minutes before serving
At a Glance
Taste cherry, strawberry, cotton candy
Smell stone fruit, flowers, plum
Food appetizers, feta or goat cheese
Price $16.85
LCBO# 665372]

Yellow Tail Merlot 2006

Date February 23, 2008 | Chuck | Australia & Merlot & Red Wine

Yellow Tail....ahhh, the world's top selling brand. Lets begin.
This is definitely a love it or hate it wine, I found it to be in a class on it's own. If you're a typical merlot drinker, you may not like this one. If you're not a typical wine drinker you may love this wine.
This wine has been labeled as being created in the boardroom rather than in the vineyards (translation: that's what the kids call a 'diss', or what adults call an insult). So they try to appease the masses, good business and it shows, hell, they are the first winery I've found to display Nutritional Information.
Tip: open this bottle up for non-winedrinkers, you just may convert them to the dark side ;)
At a Glance
Taste an entire spice rack, juicy ripe fruit
Smell plum, oak, vanilla
Food bbq
Sweetness off dry
Price $12.20
LCBO# 625350

Inniskillin Late Harvest Riesling 2006

Date February 23, 2008 | Chuck | Canada & Riesling & White Wine

Is this late harvest Riesling Fashionably Late? Lets see, late harvest usually means it’s going to be a bit sweeter so it gets a check mark there. It has a classic honey finish that we like (check mark there) and it has a nice bright straw colour with hints of floral and fruity notes on the finish. So yes, wine too, can be Fashionably Late.
Tip: chill a bottle of this for white drinkers who prefer a sweeter wine
At a Glance
Taste apple, pear, honey
Smell apple, ripe juicy citrus
Food midly spiced courses, fruit flan
Sweetness sweet
Price $12.25
LCBO# 219543

Pelee Island Baco Noir 2006

Date February 22, 2008 | Chuck | Baco Noir & Canada & Red Wine

Picture yourself at a gathering huddled around the bar, uncorking a bottle and someone feels the need to review a wine aloud and says “I can taste earth and smell forest”. You think to yourself, what the heck..I’m just having some wine here! This bold baco noir will make you a believer and will make you say “oh yea, I can really taste and smell what that guy is talking about”. It’s medium body with a nice finish make this wine a good one to have on hand.
Tip: try this baco noir over merlot on your next pizza night
At a Glance
Taste raspberry, blackcurrant
Smell earthy, wet forest
Food pizza
Price $10.95
Sweetness dry
LCBO# 485128

Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Selection Pinot Noir

Date February 22, 2008 | Chuck | Canada & Pinot Noir & Red Wine

Crafting a good pinot noir is not an easy task, it’s even more difficult to pull off for under 13 dollars. If you are an old hand at pinot noir, you know they have their ups and downs, if you are new to pinot noir, don’t let this one shy you away from trying other vintages.
Tip: let this pinot open up in the glass for 5 minutes before serving and enjoy it with food.
At a Glance
Taste raisin, black tea, black cherry
Smell cherry, jam, strawberry
Food soft cheeses, chicken
Sweetness off dry
Price $12.50
LCBO# 549105

Naked Grape Chardonnay

Date February 21, 2008 | Chuck | Canada & Chardonnay & White Wine

Why on earth would you call your wine Naked Grape? well, it's not just marketing hype, it's also because this winery chooses to go against the grain [haha, insert golf clap here] and not use oak barrels to age their wine. This gives a wine a lighter, crisper and a more fruit-forward stance without the possibility of drowning it in oak or vanilla flavours.
In general we can say this is a fun outdoor summer sipping wine with it's tart tropical fruit finish.
Tip: Enjoy this wine straight from the fridge as it will lose it's crispiness as it warms up.
At a Glance
Taste pear, green apple, citrus
Smell pineapple, citrus
Food shellfish
Sweetness off dry
Price $10.25
LCBO# 665232

Concha y Toro Casillero Del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Date February 20, 2008 | Chuck | Cabernet Sauvignon & Chile & Red Wine

An excellent example of a Chilean cab that’s pushing new world wines to the forefront!
This deep red, leggy wine paired quite well with BBQ steak and pizza. Enjoy it’s well balanced flavours of cassis, black cherry and mocha
Tip: pour it in your balloon glass 10 minutes before drinking.
At a Glance
Taste red berry, leather, black cherry
Smell cassis, berry, mocha
Food bbq steak
Sweetness dry
Price $12.85
LCBO# 278416

Back of the Door Wine

Date February 18, 2008 | Sean | Editorials & Wine Basics

So you have a couple of special bottles you've been hiding for that perfect dinner. Dinner is served and you break out this gem you've been so patiently waiting for. The wine was great, but went really fast. People are enjoying the food, conversation and the wine. Next your guests shout "Grab another bottle, that first one was great!". This is a critical moment for your little collection you've been selectively building for the last couple of months. Go ahead and grab something good, but not your best. After having a meal and the first bottle of wine most people can't differentiate between good and great wine. Every collection, no matter the size should have Back of the Door bottles. These are the bottles that are the 3rd and 4th soldiers in line after the first great bottle of wine. You don't want to wake up the next morning and realize your 4 bottles down and $80 went with it. In the end, no one really remembered the great subsequent bottles. Just make sure the first one really counts.

Chuck's Fresh Pasta Recipe

Date December 24, 2005 | Chuck | Food

Version as of Dec 2018


Servings: 1

75g white flour (00, double zero, tipo 00) substitute: unbleached all purpose flour
25g fine semolina flour (or more of the above)

1 whole large egg
1/4 tsp salt


Step by Step Directions:

  1. Mix and hand knead for 7-10 minutes
  2. Cover with plastic and rest for 45 mins.
  3. Roll and cut.
  4. Boil in well salted water. 
  5. Fresh pasta only needs 2 or so minutes to cook.
  6. Finish cooking in sauce.  Never rinse.



  • Freezes well for several months or 5 days in fridge.
  • For stuffed pasta, I usually skip the semolina and use all white flour.
  • Roller setting for stuffed pasta: 2nd thinnest.
  • Roller setting for long pasta: 3nd thinnest.



Chuck's Pizza Dough Recipe

Date March 8, 2005 | Chuck | Food

Version as of Dec 2018


Yield: 1 medium pizza.  serves 2 adults
250g Robin Hood unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant dry yeast

(mix the above)

152g cold filtered tap water
1 tsp extra virgin oliive oil
(mix the above and stir in the flour mixture)

Step by Step Directions:

  1. Knead by hand for about 7 minutes.
  2. Oil dough ball, cover with plastic wrap, place in fridge.
  3. wait approx 24 hours. For pizza Saturday night, make the dough Friday night.
  4. 1 hour before baking, remove from fridge & turn on the oven.

Baking Instructions:

  • Pizza stone on the 2nd highest oven rack.
  • Convection roast 450F for 1 hour to heat the stone up.
  • Before stretching and topping the pizza.  Put your broiler on high.
  • Stretch out dough. Avoid squishing the crust. Thinner is tastier.  If it springs back, let it rest for 10 mins.
  • I use a 50/50 mix of all purpose flour and coarse semolina to dust with.
  • Before putting the pizza in the oven, turn off the broiler and reset the oven to convection roast 450F.
  • Pizza will be done in 6-8 minutes.  I often turn the brolier back on for the last 3 or so minutes.
  • The trick is to balance the cook on the top and bottom.  





Chuck's Pizza Sauce Recipe

Date March 7, 2005 | Chuck | Food

Version as of Dec 2018


Yield: Sauce for 2 medium-large pizzas.

1x750mL bottle pureed tomatos (passata) I usually use Molisana.
1.5 tsp sugar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried basil


  1. Mix the above and re-season to taste. 
  2. Sauce will cook while on the pizza but simmering for 1 hr can improve taste.
  3. Spread over dough at room temperature


 Note: Freezes well for at least 1 month


Chuck's Pasta Sauce Recipe

Date February 1, 2005 | Chuck | Food

Version as of March 2015

 Ingredients (for 3 large bowls of pasta)

3 tsp butter (unsalted if available)
3 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 lb ground pork (or 2 large Italian sausages - peeled & chopped)

1 28oz can whole san maranzano tomatoes in juice.  blend.   if in water, strain first.
1/4 cup red wine

1 tsp salt (more to taste)
3 tsp sugar (more to taste)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil


Step by Step Directions:

  1. Brown pork in butter & oil
  2. Add garlic, sautee a bit more
  3. Add wine and scrape pan for a minute. 
  4. Add tomato.
  5. Mix and add spices.
  6. Simmer for 1 hour+ (uncovered)
  7. Tomatoes vary and usually require further sugar and salt adjustments.  Taste without bread.


 Note: Freezes well for several months or 3 weeks in the fridge

Bolognese Recipe

Date January 31, 2005 | Chuck | Food

Version as of Sept 2015

 Ingredients & Directions

Makes: 6 large portions

2 tbsp butter (unsalted if available)
4 cloves minced garlic
1 large carrot
1 large stalk celery
1 med-large onion


(Simmer the above till tender)


2 lbs ground veal (or other ground meat) 
Brown the meat well then slowly add each of the ingredients below scraping the bottom until absorbed:


3/4 cup 2% milk
1 can condensed beef broth (undiluted) approx 250ml
3/4 cup red wine (to taste)

(Simmer until most liquid is absorbed)

1 28oz can whole san maranzano tomatoes in juice (blended up) if in water, strain first.


Season to taste with: olive oil, salt, sugar, black pepper, dried basil



Whey Protein Cookie Recipe

Date January 30, 2005 | Chuck | Food

This is a pretty flexible whey protein cookie recipe I've developed over a few iterations.  Change it up swapping 1 scoop of chocolate whey for 1 scoop of coffee flavoured whey.  The best part is you only dirty one bowl to combine all of the ingredients at once.



2 scoops chocolate whey (1 scoop is roughly 35 grams)
1 c. peanut butter (crunchy is best)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 c oats

splash of milk if needed



roll into 12 balls (each slightly smaller than golf balls)
lightly press with a fork (cross fashion)
use parchment paper or sprayed foil on top of the cookie sheet


Cooking Directions:

350F for 13 Min, Middle Rack, Slide off sheet onto cooling rack



6 grams of Protein per cookie


Pickling Liquid for Hot Pepper Rings Recipe

Date January 29, 2005 | Chuck | Food

This is a simple and very basic pickling liquid for hot pepper rings.  I imagine you could use this for a variety of things but I've never ventured past Jalapeños.  I've found they last almost a year in the fridge.  No boilling required.



3/4 cup water
3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

3 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt

4 cloves garlic, crushed

Jalapeno pepper rings (cored)



Makes 350ml of liquid (good for a 500 canning jar)

American Yeast Comparison: WLP001 vs US-05 vs WLP090 vs Conan

Date January 11, 2005 | Chuck | Beer & Homebrew

Experiment Date: October 2015

White Labs: WLP090 San Diego Super

Will use in future batches where a more malt forward profile is required.  Rye Pale Ales, RIS, Stouts, Some mellow ales.  Middle of the road, less hop presence than WLP001, maltier, had the most head.


White Labs: WLP001 California Ale

Will use in future batches where hops are featured.  IPA, Pales, Blonde.  Needs whirlfloc more that WLP090.  Very clean, no yeast or malt character.  Bright and slightly fruity.


Safale US-05

Will not use in future batches if liquid is available.  Not as clean as WLP001 with more malty and more body.  Was overall lacking and much darker than others.


The Yeast Bay: Vermont Ale (Conan)

Will not use in future batches.  Overpowering and makes itself a big part of the recipe.  Peachy, malty, full mouthfeel, lingering finish.  The yeast works faster than the others.



Recipe Used for an American Blonde Ale (4 gallon batch):

100% Pale Malt (2 Row)
Centennial [11.60 %] - Boil 10.0 min for 20 IBU
2oz Centennial [11.60 %] - Hopstand for 45 min
2oz Simcoe [13.00 %] - Hopstand for 45 min

SG 1.043 (~4.4%) 
20 IBU


White Labs: WLP090 San Diego Super
The Yeast Bay: Vermont Ale (Conan)
White Labs: WLP001 California Ale
Safale US-05 


Video of Fermentation

Watch on YouTube

Beer Hop Smell Test

Date January 9, 2005 | Chuck | Beer & Homebrew

Hops have many uses in beer making.  They can be used to add bitterness, flavour and aroma.  They can be added in the boil, whirlpool, hopstand or after fermentation happens (know as dry hopping).  Now that you know this, saying a beer is 'hoppy' doesn't make a ton on sense because some people consider hoppy to be very bitter while others use the term to describe a strong hop aroma (late kettle/dry hop).


Below are my notes and reviews for hops I've been using.


Purchased in 2016
Name (Year) Characteristics Rating out of 3
Cascade (2015)  orange, light tropical ♥♥♥
Citra (2015) tropical, citrus, mandarin ♥♥♥
Columbus (2015) dank, pine, grapefruit ♥♥
Galaxy (2015) tropical, citrus, lime, fruit ♥♥♥
East Kent Goldings (2014) earth, forrest ♥♥
Northern Brewer (2014) forrest, grapefruit ♥♥
Mosaic (2015) ..coming soon..  


Purchased in 2015
Name (Year) Characteristics Rating out of 3
Amarillo (2014) Resiny Citrus, Floral, Earth ♥♥.5
Cascade (2014) Grapefruit, Citrus, Light Pine ♥♥♥
Centennial (2014) Floral, Citrus ♥♥
Centennial Type (2013) Light Grapefruit, Slight Lemon Citrus ♥♥.5
Chinook (2014) Pine Tree,  Grapefruit ♥♥
Columbus (2014) Pine Resin, Light Fruit ♥♥
Falconers Flight (2013) Earthy, Citrus, Spice ♥♥
Simcoe (2013) Young Sweet Pine, Light Grass ♥♥♥
Sorachi Ace JP (2013) Lemon, Light Citrus ♥♥
Summit (2012-2013) Onion, Light Garlic, Woods
Orbit NZ (2014) Juicy Fruit, Peach, Tropical, Light Butter ♥♥♥
Waimea NZ (2014) Honeydew, Juicy Fruit, Peach, Light Grass ♥♥.5
Wakatu NZ (2014) Lime, Light Citrus ♥♥



Beer Malt Taste Test

Date January 8, 2005 | Chuck | Beer & Homebrew

After a handful of odd recipes, I've decided to taste test a bunch of malted barley in order to get a sense of what each style contributes to a finished recipe.  Below are my results.  More to come!  Have an addition?  Please leave a comment!



1 oz of crushed grain in 250ml 150 degF water for 10 minutes.


Base Malts
Malt (Maltster) Grain Characteristics Rating out of 3
( OiO aka Gilbertson & Page )
grassy, hay
Pale Ale Malt
( Weyermann )
light malt, slight nut, touch of grass
Overall: light sweet malt
Golden Promise
( Thomas Fawcett )

Between 2-Row


Pale Ale Malt ( Weyermann )

Vienna (Weyermann)

straw, light toast




Light Malts
Malt (Maltster) Grain Characteristics Rating out of 3
Munich 10 malty, no grass, golden hay ♥♥
Aromatic medium done white toast ♥♥
Melanoidin barley soup, very plain, flat
Honey honey, butterscotch, bit fruity
Victory woody, nutty (hazel/walnut) ♥♥
Carabelge (Weyermann)
light leather, malty
CaraHell (Weyermann)
8.1 - 11.8L
malty v.light chocolate, tangy, c15-20 like



Crystal / Caramel Malts
Malt (Maltster) Grain Characteristics Rating out of 3
Caravienne 20 light-med caramel, slightly sweet ♥♥♥
Caramel 20 darker than Caravienne 20, med-dark caramel, nutty ♥♥♥
Crystal 40 solid medium caramel ♥♥♥
Crystal 60 toffee, sweet dark-med caramel, light tannins ♥♥♥
Caramel Munich 60 (Briess) sweet malty caramel, slight coffee ♥♥
Crystal 90 molasses ♥♥
Crystal 120 burnt raisins, dark toffee, light coffee ♥♥



Roasted Malts
Malt (Maltster) Grain Characteristics Rating out of 3
Special B weak coffee, slight toffee, raisin ♥♥
Brown mocha ♥♥
Pale Chocolate medium astringency, old coffee, burnt toffee ♥♥
Chocolate bitter dark chocolate, coffee
Roasted Barley tar, ultra roasted coffee, guinness like
Black Patent burnt plastic, ashy .5


Malt (Maltster) Grain Characteristics Rating out of 3
Rye (Weyermann) watered down whiskey ♥♥




Whitby Water Profile

Date January 8, 2005 | Chuck | Beer & Homebrew

From my experience campden tablets are good don't replace a physical low-flow chlorine and chloramine water filter.  This is twice as important in Whitby since the water smells like a swimming pool (night and day difference compared to Toronto)


Modifying your water profile is one of the last hurdles for an advanced homebrewer.  Changing your water will not make a bad beer good.  It will make a great beer...fantastic.


Your city's water profile will affect your final beer.  You can manipulate how a beer is perceived by fine tuning your water's mineral profile.  For example: higher calcium and sulfate levels can make your hops and bitterness brighter and less will lend itself to a maltier beer.


To help me figure out the amount by weight of my water additions I use EZWaterCalculator.  There's also the popular Bru'n Water (more powerful but has a big learning curve).  Having tried both, I've found the numbers come out very close. 


City of Whitby
  From the City
August 2016
Calcium (Ca ppm) 35.63
Magnesium (Mg ppm) 9
Sodium 15.36
Chloride (Cl ppm) 28.72
Sulfate (SO4 ppm) 30.1
Bicarbonate (HCo3) ?
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) ?
Total Alkalinity (CaCO3) 85.67
pH 7.58


Toronto Water Profile for Homebrew Beer

Date January 7, 2005 | Chuck | Beer & Homebrew

Modifying your water profile is one of the last hurdles for an advanced homebrewer.  Changing your water will not make a bad beer good.  It will make a great beer...fantastic.


Your city's water profile will affect your final beer.  You can manipulate how a beer is perceived by fine tuning your water's mineral profile.  For example: higher calcium and sulfate levels can make your hops and bitterness brighter and less will lend itself to a maltier beer.


To help me figure out the amount by weight of my water additions I use EZWaterCalculator.  There's also the popular Bru'n Water (more powerful but has a big learning curve).  Having tried both, I've found the numbers come out very close. 

City of Toronto
  Toronto Water
June 2015
Ward Labs 2014
3rd Party Analysis
Calcium (Ca ppm) 34.1 41
Magnesium (Mg ppm) 8.78 11
Sodium 13.7 18
Chloride (Cl ppm) 26.5 27
Sulfate (SO4 ppm) 28 11
Bicarbonate (HCo3) ? 113
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) ? 202
Total Alkalinity (CaCO3) 87.8 93
pH 7.56 7.6


Link: Toronto Water Quality Website


How to keep fruit flies out of your airlock

Date January 6, 2005 | Chuck | Beer & Homebrew

A common issue I've seen in homebrew forums is regarding fruit flies getting into the airlock.  Most airlocks have caps with tiny holes to let gas escape but large enough to let fruit flies in (then they drown in the sanitizer)  


I'd prefer they not get in at all so here's my air lock hack:  Simply twist a napkin around the top portion of the cap! 



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