New Gems: Portugese Wine

When I was invited to The Outsider’s Guide to the Inside: Portugese Wines at Cornucopia,  I really had no idea what I was in for, and just how many Portugese wines I would fall in love with. I’m very familiar with Italian wines, and love a good French wine, but I really knew nothing at all about Portugese wines! Portugal is often a section of the wine store I skip over, but not anymore…these wines have impeccable value and great taste. It’s all about learning a little more in order to appreciate a new (to you) region. Below I’ll show you my favourite red and my favourite white from the tasting.

Starting out with my favourite of the day, the Casa de Oleiros Vinho Verde was crisp, bursting with bright acidity, notes of apple and would be perfect for sipping in the summer. Best part about this wine? It’s under $20 (and actually good!) Not to mention – I love the label.


The red winner for me was definitely the Quinta de Cabriz Dao Colheita Seleccionada. Other than being a serious mouthful to say, this wine was aged in French oak and has delicious smooth tannins. It’s great with a simple appy of olive oil and bread. While this specific wine isn’t available at the BCL, I highly recommend browsing the reds of Portugal during your next trip to the store.


Have you tried any Portugese wines? What are your favourites?

My Top Picks from Cornucopia

I had the pleasure of going to Cornucopia this year, and along with that, comes a whole slew of new wines for all of you to try! When I’m tasting wine, my main focus is a) what is the price point? and b) do I like the taste? Once I have established that a wine is reasonable (well, there are definitely occasions for a special bottle here and there), and that I like the taste, that is when I start digging in deeper – where is the wine from? What is the winemaker’s philosophy?

I wanted to round up my top five favourite wines from one of my favourite events, Cellar Door Grand Tasting. Before I get into the nitty gritty, I have to tell you about my favourite wine tasting app, Delectable (fyi – this is not sponsored). You take a photo of the label, and it recognizes the wine you’re drinking. You can then rate it on a scale out of ten and add your notes. I use it to take notes when I’m tasting wine and I love how easy it is to use. Even if you are a very casual wine-tasterdrinker, it’s a great way to remember a bottle you want to buy at the liquor store.

Without further adieu, my favourite wines from Cellar Door.

Painted Rock Estate Grown Merlot ($34.69 at the BCL)- Painted Rock is a very consistent BC winery in my opinion. I haven’t had a bad wine from their line up, and their new tasting room looks like heaven on earth. This wine, in particular, had delicious notes of ripe berry and herbaceous undertones. Merlot is not usually the red grape I gravitate to, but this wine has changed those assumptions for me.


Barossa Valley Estate Ebenezer Shiraz (34.99 at the BCL) – I met the Barossa Valley Estate reps at the Vancouver Internal Wine Festival earlier this year, and it’s no surprise that I fell in love with their wines all over again! This red is big and juicy, perfect with lamb or steak, and great curled up by the fire at this time of the year, avoiding the rain. This makes a great gift as it’s drinkable now, or storable for 5 years.

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Barrage Cellars Trifecta Merlot ($28 online) – Ok, maybe I was lying about the Merlot thing? Unfortunately, this isn’t available at BC Liquor Stores (don’t we just have the best liquor laws??), but keep an eye on this brand as they’re not going away anytime soon. What I loved about this Merlot was it’s rich and tannic nature, a lot more robust than many BC Merlots that I’ve tried. Also, isn’t the label pretty?


Fort Berens White Gold Chardonnay (sold out) – I realize it’s really not fair of me to put up a wine here that is sold out. That being said, if you get the chance to try this wine, do it! Fort Berens is an incredibly versatile winery and I’ve never tasted a bad wine with their label. I’m not the biggest Chardonnay person, but this one changed my mentality. It’s aged for a year in American oak, and has a refreshing quality that California Chards just don’t possess. For their other whites, check here.


Fort Berens Estate Winery BC VQA Pinot Noir ($24.99 online) – Yay! A Fort Berens wine that isn’t sold out. Double bonus? It’s affordable, and delicious. This wine is ripe with juicy berry flavour, yet has smokey and rich undertones which make it perfect with your holiday roast. Pinot Noirs are one of my favourite wines to start the evening with if you’re feeling red wine. They’re not too heavy yet they pack a bunch of flavour into a refreshing (yes, it’s possible for a red) glass.


Did you get a chance to go to Cornucopia? They still have events this weekend, so it’s not too late!

Best of BC Wine Country – Kelowna


The sparkling 130km long Lake Okanagan, rollings hills lined with grapevines that are grown in soil of mainly silt with sand and clay, and liquid gold in a glass (aka WINE). What more could you want from a 3-day vacation? I don’t know about you, but one of my favourite things in the world to do is taste wine. There is something so magical about listening to a winemaker tell his/her story while sipping on the very wine they have made with their own two hands. Not to mention, drinking wine is fun (obviously!)

I was lucky enough to go to Kelowna with Peter, my best friend Gill, and her husband Adam. On Saturday morning, bright and early (10AM) we were picked up by Matt of Experience Wine Tours. Let me tell you, I will never in my life do a wine tour on my own again. Matt’s knowledge (all of his guides have sommelier training), combined with his knack for finding the best croissant I’ve ever had in my life (only available on Saturday from Okanagan Grocery) made for an incredible 5 hour tour of the best spots in Kelowna.


Our first stop of the day was Cedar CreekPurchased by Mission Hill, it’s soil is clay based which is perfect for Riesling. As you can see by the incredible view, Cedar Creek is super close to the lake and therefore does not have to worry about frost. We were told upon arrival that this year has been the best yet and boy do I believe it.

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Our tasting consisted of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir Rosé, Ehrenfelser and Meritage. I had never heard of Ehrenfelser, but absolutely loved it and brought it home with me! Having won many awards, it has notes of tropical fruit but is much more acidic and pungent on the taste, making it very easy to drink. The Riesling was also fabulous. It had lime on the nose and was balanced with nice acidity. I would pair it with a dijon marinated salmon.


Next up, just down the road, was St. Hubertus. It felt like a small farm off the highway in Provence. With a tasting room set up to encourage a quick taste and purchase, it was a perfect pit stop. My favourite wine from here was the Pinot Blanc – and at $14.95 it was a no brainer to bring home a few bottles! I served it with Spanish tapas at my last dinner party and it was a hit.

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I have to say that my favourite spot of the day had to be Tantalus. Tantalus has a LEED-certified tasting facility, gorgeous vineyards, and a serious art collection. The building was cutting edge and seeing their art brought a different twist into the day. The stand out wine here was the Riesling Lab for me. I bought one bottle but when I brought it home and had my first sip, I wished I had bought two cases (I will be doing that shortly). What they mean by “Lab” is that the winemaker can experiment a little bit. The French oak barrels that this wine ages in adds a serious punch of flavour and texture. Drinkable on it’s own, I’d also pair it with an aged gouda and honey crostini (YUM).

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Matt and I clinking glasses to celebrate finding my favourite spot of the day at Tantalus among the vines!

From LEED-certifid Tantalus to rock’n’rolling winery The Hatch. This place was seriously cool and reminded me of our time at Scribe in Sonoma.



The tasting room was playing Snoop Dogg (umm, already obsessed!) and we sat outside while Matt put together this incredible artisanal charcuterie and cheese plate. When Matt and his wife were in Napa, they put together a similar spread for themselves when they were wine tasting and decided that they needed to recreate it for their tour groups. Boy am I glad they did! Everything you see is local – the meats range from Ukranian-style ham sausage to cured links and chorizo. The cheese was Triple Island gouda, and Alpindon Parm. Top it off local tree cherries, ground cherries (these are the small things on the platter that look like mini tomatillos) and you have yourself a wine tasting meal!


My favourite wine at The Hatch was the Sauvignon Blanc. It was zippy enough for oysters, with notes of Apricot, citrus, and green apple. The best part of the The Hatch, though, was the demeanour of not taking themselves too seriously and the funky labels. It’s definitely not a spot you want to miss.

Last but not least, the beautiful Quail’s Gate. I mean, do you even need to taste wine with this amazing view? Don’t answer that. 


We snapped a few pics to go through the “proper” process of tasting a wine. First, you’re going to want to smell it. I usually close my eyes, shove my nose in the glass and take a GOOD whiff. Next, take a sip, but don’t swallow it. You’ll want to get some air in your mouth and swish it around. Last up, swallow (or spit if you have a lot of wineries to check out) and smile! It’s that simple. People always tell me they get super intimidated wine tasting, but it’s just about finding what you like. The best wineries will be helpful and anything but snooty, and we definitely experienced that during our visit to BC wine country!

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It’s easy to recreate this day, but I would highly suggest hiring Experience Wine Tours. They know what you should taste, and you don’t have to drive (double positive). If you want to have the same experience we did this weekend, check out the contest below!



The BC Wine Institute is running a BC VQA Pour & Pair Instagram and Twitter Contest from today until December 31, 2015 giving away a fabulous five day/ four nights wine tour for you and a friend to explore the world of BC VQA Wines.

How to enter:
Two easy steps:
1) Take a photo of your favourite BC VQA wine including the label on the bottle paired with food
2) Post it to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #BCVQAPourandPair

Prize Details:

TRAVEL in style with private car service, float plane ride and guided wine tours.
STAY in a luxurious winery villa, lakefront hotel and an acclaimed bed & breakfast throughout BC.
SIP some of the finest wine BC has to offer and learn about wine directly from the winemakers.

The 5 day tour includes:
Day 1: Island-Hopping Wine Tour on Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands.
Day 2: The Great Estates Okanagan Valley Wine Tour.
Day 3: South Okanagan Valley Floatplane Wine Tour.
Day 4: Similkameen Valley River Float Wine Tour.
Day 5: Lake Country Stand-Up Paddle Board Wine Tour.

Get instagramming! And make sure to tag me so I can see what you’re up to (@sophieccollins)

Thanks for following along our amazing trip!

Out Of Office: Wine Country

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taken last year in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France

We’re headed to adult Disneyland (aka Wine Country) and I cannot wait! For those of you who don’t know, British Columbia is home to some amazing wines. We are going to be spending 5 hours (yes, 5) touring around the best of the best in Kelowna’s amazing landscape. There is something so amazing about seeing and feeling the soil that grew the grapes in the wine you are tasting, all while the winemaker tells you his/her story. Follow along on Instagram while I taste my way through!

#PsBootcamp: What I Learned

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of taking #PsBootcamp from Bria of Digital Darlings. Bria and I worked closely together when I was writing a wine column for Framework Magazine and producing content for entertaining features. Framework Mag was the jumping off point for showing my love of entertaining and reminding people to celebrate every occasion, so it has been really fun to support Bria’s new business venture! Let me tell you, this girl can teach. It takes a certain amount of dedication and patience to teach something like Photoshop and B has it nailed. I learned so much and wanted to share some of my favourite graphics that I created (all alone!!)

Here is a header that I made. While it didn’t make it to a permanent spot on my blog, I did love the new font so have used a simplified version of it (up top!)

Blog Header

I’ve always been curious to know how people make gold foil prints, and now I know how easy it is. Hint: it involves googling.

Sophie Collins shapes Gold Foil

Love those quotes and graphics you find on Pinterest and Instagram? I’ll never have to “steal” one again!

Sophie types

Last but not least, we learned how to edit people by using our own photos. This can get out of hand really quickly and it made me realize the importance of understanding how different people can look once they’ve been photoshopped. The image below is only slightly altered (no face manipulation here guys!) but it was nice to be able to clean up a few stray hairs and smooth over some wrinkles in my shirt.

Sophie Headshot

If you’ve always wanted to learn photoshop, I would highly recommend taking the Digital Darlings class. It was two full days of great learnings, meeting some wonderful people, and honing in on a new skill!

3rd Annual Mother’s Day Brunch

A few years ago, Peter and I decided we wanted to start an annual holiday tradition for our family. Since most holidays already have traditions in place, we declared Mother’s Day the holiday that we would love to host our families for brunch! This year is probably our last year in our current home, so it was totally bittersweet! Bitter in the sense that we won’t likely have another big meal here, and sweet because fitting 8 people in our tiny dining room is more work than it looks!

We always like to incorporate elements of our Moms’ cooking into the mix. This year, the highlight was Nonna’s “egg dish” – a very simple, yet hearty brunch plate. My mom loves green salads, so we made a simple one to go along with it, and Peter’s mom always serves berries, so we took a page out of her entertaining book! It was a simple, leisurely meal and I had a great time.

Cadeaux Cake

The table was set to look like a smorgasbord: lots of food to choose from…no-one left hungry that’s for sure!

Cake and Bread

The cake was made by Cadeaux Bakery, and was a buttercream icing with lavender cake and raspberry compote. It was delicious.

Mother's Day Brunch

I threw together the detail below at the last minute. I love taking fresh herbs from our garden along with grocery flowers and putting together something small and special. When we served lunch, I took all of the rosemary and roses off of the plates and filled three small mason jars with water to make little arrangements that each mom took home.
Rose and RosemaryHow did you spoil your Mom?