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Tonight I’ve set out to answer that age-old question, “what does a semillon sauvignon blanc blend taste like at room temperature?”

In reality, it’s 11:02pm and I’m still in my office working to meet a series of arbitrary and capricious deadlines. Turns out there’s been a bottle of this Yellow Tail blend lurking half-finished in one of my filing cabinets for roughly 3 months – I probably stashed it with the brilliant intention of soothing the pain of a night much like this one. I have, clearly, ignored the need for either dignity or refrigeration, but I think I’ve amply made up for it in despair and self-loathing.

And lucky for me, piss-warm Yellow Tail seems to be the perfect pairing for shame-based existential crises. Tasting somewhat like rancid pears – if rancid pears were made of stale mulch and kerosene – this tepid temptation exquisitely amplifies the absurdity of being. Or at least, of being here.

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A few months ago Wasabi Cowgirl posted a phenomenal recipe for butternut squash, sage and ricotta lasagna. I made it a couple of weeks ago and it was pants-droppingly good. The only thing missing was a good wine pairing. I’m going to tackle this recipe again for some guests this weekend, and I need help!

Here are the main ingredients: butternut squash, sage, nutmeg (layer 1) ricotta, parmesan, egg (layer 2), and a sage & walnut butter sauce on top.  What are your thoughts? I think I need a white with enough acidity to cut through some of the richness, but it should also have some backbone, some creaminess, to stand up to it. Maybe a zippy riesling with good complexity? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller…?

Sottano Cabernet 2005

Right now I have the pleasure of working on a video project with producer Lewis Manne, a sprightly, multi-talented ball of energy who served in the Angolan war and made hit records in South Africa before setting up shop in Canada. It also just so happens that he and his wife wrote all of the music for the original Degrassi series, aka Canada’s most famous cultural export that does not involve a screeching she-skeleton named Celine. His Degrassi repertoire includes perhaps the show’s most identifiable song, Zit Remedy’s “Everybody Wants Something”. This is of course a fantastic pop culture perk for someone who grew up watching reruns of the show and will never forget such touching moments as Shane’s post-LSD-induced-head-injury rant to Spike, “you should be kicked…in the head!” You’d have to be named Geddy Lee to have more Canadian street cred than Lewis.

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Perrin Reserve 2005 Cotes-du-Rhone

In theory, it’s possible that this Grenache and Syrah blend has a pleasant, peppery taste of tart cherries. It’s also possible that it has an enticing smoky smell. But I’ll never know, because all the potential strengths of this Perrin Reserve 2005 Cotes-du-Rhone are completely overwhelmed by alcohol and acidity. I left this bottle half finished and came back to it a couple of days later; the nose had settled down a bit, but the taste was still much too hot for me. Maybe this is something that would calm down with age? I’m generally not patient enough to leave a $9 bottle lying around for long enough to find out.

Edit: I did a bit of reading on this after finding out that Perrin also runs the famed Chateau de Beaucastel. Surprisingly, the New York Times called the 2004 vintage of this Cotes-du-Rhone its #1 red wine under $10 about a year and a half ago.  I can’t say I tasted the “dark earthy fruit flavours” that the Times writer found, but I’m curious enough to track down a bottle to compare.

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There’s a fine line between garden variety wine snobbery, and disturbed psychosexual horse fetish wine snobbery:

With Merlot, there is arguably an Apollonian ideal flavor — soft, juicy cherry and blueberry fruit with hints of chocolate, leather and some tobacco on the finish. Pinots, on the other hand, can taste strongly of anything from wild strawberries to horse sweat, and still be fascinating.”

I’m not going to ask. I’m not going to ask. I’m not going to ask….

I’m a bit late on picking this up, but the LCBO has responded to recent public outcry and back-pedaled on its decision to raise its minimum tender price for wine. The spin behind the proposed policy was responding to customer demand for higher-end wine, but really it was just fancy procurement-speak for “forcing the consumer to pay more”, or “slowly pricing hobos out of the market”.

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I generally don’t expect much out of my tiny local LCBO except long line-ups and credit card debt, so when an employee actually read my mind with his eye-lasers this weekend, I admit I was a little taken aback. I had wandered in to find a pinot grigio to pair with dinner when a friendly LCBO staffer stopped me at random in front of the Italian section. “You should get this”, he said with no further introduction, pointing at a Cavit 2007 Pinot Grigio. “It’s crisp and fruity, and an excellent deal.” Since I generally like my Saturdays to be crisp and fruity, I was sold, especially at the $11.15 price point.

Cavit 2007 Pinot Grigio

My disturbingly perceptive friend was fairly accurate with his recommendation. The Cavit, a yellowy straw colour in the glass, tasted vaguely of apple and citrus and had a surprising earthy spice that came through in the aroma. Now, to the drawbacks: it was lacking a lot of the promised crispness, and the taste really didn’t linger for long afterwards, so for drinking on its own, it was nothing spectacular. But when the food finally hit the table (an hour late…sorry, guests) it developed more personality. The citrus notes and acidity were amplified significantly by a number of ingredients, including the lime juice in the fresh guacamole, the rice vinegar and capers in the salsa on the broiled tilapia, and the awesome lemon tart courtesy of Alana and Dave. It was also a nice light contrast to the somewhat absurd panko-crusted macaroni and cheese we made, which featured an extraordinarily healthy sauce made of cream, pecorino, fontina, butter, shallots and truffle oil.

Overall, a good choice. I’m not sure I’m sold on Pinot Grigio yet, but I’d drink this again, especially with something citrus-y.