Codorniu Brut Cava Pinot Noir Rose Sparkling 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]

Audience Score

Yellow Tail Merlot 2006

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

Audience Score

Inniskillin Late Harvest Riesling 2006

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

Audience Score

Pelee Island Baco Noir 2006

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

Audience Score

Jackson-Triggs Proprietors’ Selection Pinot Noir

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

Audience Score

Naked Grape Chardonnay

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

Audience Score

Concha y Toro Casillero Del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

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
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

Audience Score

Back of the Door Wine

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.

Audience Score

Whey Protein Cookie Recipe

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


Audience Score

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

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

Audience Score

Beer Malt Taste Test

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 ♥♥




Audience Score

How to keep fruit flies out of your airlock

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! 



Audience Score

Make Your Own Hard Cider

In a nutshell: making decent homemade hard cider is very possible!!!

Here’s the story:


When going to restaurants and pubs, I occasionally find myself ordering hard cider. BlackThorn and Strongbow are personal favourites as I find Perrys too mild for my tastes.

It doesn’t take a wine connoisseur’s palette to quickly realize that Hard Cider is 99.9999% apple juice (or fresh pressed sweet apple cider)

Me being the guy who can’t leave well enough alone, I decide to make some and share the experience with everyone here … good or bad result.

First begin by sanitizing everything that will come into contact with the juice. I used boiling water but you can also use a home brewing sanitizer.

Begin with 1 gallon of Preservative Free sweet apple cider or juice. The only additive allowed here is ascorbic acid (vitamin c). I used 70% cider and topped off with canned apple juice.




Using a hydrometer, take a Specific Gravity reading (SG) so you can tell the amount of sugar in your juice and thus the alcohol potential in your final product. My reading was 1.043 which should yield a final product of around 4.5%. Add sugar if you need to, I went without.


Re-hydrate 1/2 pkg of wine champagne yeast (Lalvin EC-1118) in 3 oz of lukewarm water for 10 minutes.


Pitch the yeast into your 1 Gallon primary fermentation vessel (glass carboy in my case). Plug with a bung/stopper and install the airlock which allows gasses out but not in. Put it in a cool corner of your basement and add time.

Day 0 – 3 Hours after adding yeast: 1 bubble through the airlock every 60 seconds
Day 1 – 1 bubble through the airlock every 5 seconds
Day 2 – 1 bubble through the airlock every 3 seconds
Day 3 – 1 bubble through the airlock every 3 seconds
Day 4 – 1 bubble through the airlock every 3 seconds
Day 5 – 1 bubble through the airlock every 5 seconds
Day 6 – 1 bubble through the airlock every 11 seconds
Day 7 – 1 bubble through the airlock every 22 seconds
Day 8 – 1 bubble through the airlock every 30 seconds
Day 9 – 1 bubble through the airlock every 40 seconds
Specific Gravity is now 1.001 ( Very Dry )

Add 1/2 tsp. of sugar per 500ml bottle and fill with your cider (at this point it’s called still cider and can be bottled as-is without the sugar which will induce bottle carbonation) and store at room temperature for 2.5 weeks. After that, put it in the fridge for a few days. Enjoy.

Final Notes:

–Next time I would use Ale Yeast for beer and hope it doesn’t turn out as dry.

–When pouring, I first add 2 tsp of white sugar to the pint glass to back sweeten.

–From juice to pint glass takes 5 weeks (conditioning time included)

Audience Score