Blue Galentine’s Party

I’m definitely a romantic, there is no denying that. Beyond romance with my fiancé (we’re cooking homemade pasta and meat sauce on Sunday and I can’t wait), I think celebrating your friendships is uber important. It’s so much fun to dress up and drink some girly cocktails and eat candy!!

I’m super excited to share some behind the scenes pics from our feature with Rue Magazine this month. PS. the February issue is unreal – I can’t wait to read the whole thing with a glass of wine tonight!

Keep reading below for a fun little Valentine’s cocktail that I made which is so easy to recreate this weekend!

DSC_7944I knew that I wanted to make a cocktail that was romantic and easy. Elderflower liqueur immediately came to mind but then when I found this tiny bottle I knew it would be perfect! It reminded me of the love potion that Romeo and Juliet drank that decided their tragic fate. Luckily, this party ended on a totally different note (a lot more fun – ha!)

Love Potion Cocktail
Makes 1 cocktail

1 oz. gin
1 oz. elderflower liqueur
3 oz. prosecco

Add gin and elderflower liqueur to coupe and top with Prosecco.

Photography: Tracey Ayton Photography
Lauren Armstrong‘s Dining and Living Room designed by Gillian Segal Design
PARTYSKIRTS worn by Sophie Collins, Gillian Segal, Lauren Armstrong, Mariel Armstrong
Food & Drink: Me!
Makeup: Jasmine Hoffman
Flowers: Botany & Co. (our wedding florist!!)
Candy: Karameller (Vancouverites, if you haven’t gone, you must!)

I hope you have an amazing week leading up to Valentine’s day!

Here’s last year’s Valentine’s post. 

Best of BC Wine Country – Kelowna

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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. 

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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!

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CONTEST DETAILS:

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!

Wine Wednesday: Easter Wine Trio

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Easter is coming up quickly, and I find that it is the type of holiday that is celebrated completely differently among families. Some families with small children host an Easter egg hunt and a brunch. Some forego the chocolate in favour of mimosas and muffins. Others celebrate with a lengthy Sunday night dinner and ham on the table. For the upcoming holiday, I wanted to put together three wines that are perfect for different types of celebrations. A bubbly that would be just as delicious in the late morning with pastries as it would be an aperitif… a light red that goes perfectly with ham and turkey, and would be an easy choice for lunch…and a full-bodied red perfect to match up with a traditional rabbit or lamb dish. The way you choose to celebrate is up to you, but always remember that celebrations don’t have to be over the top! It’s all about getting together with your loved ones, opening a bottle of wine, and breaking bread.

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My first pick for Easter wines is Moingeon Cremant de Bourgogne. This being Easter (aka, a special occasion) I wanted to open up my price range a little further. While I usually try and stick to the $20-$25 mark when it comes to wines, this is a perfect bubbly to bring as a hostess gift as it’s a little bit more special than a typical Prosecco. It’s also great for brunch, because not all of us are ready to drink red or white wines at this time of the day. A little hint of bubbles makes it shine alongside everything from croissants to tea sandwiches to quiche!

This bubbly is made in the traditional champagne method, but doesn’t carry the price tag of Champagne because it’s made in Burgundy. Lucky for us, it’s just as good! It’s quite fruity, not heavily yeasty with a hint of green apple acidity. There are also notes of ripe pear, which would be lovely with a pear cake, especially in spring! The flavours linger on your mouth and are nice and long lasting. At $39.99, this is a bubbly that has the elegance of Champagne, and the price point of sparkling wine.

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For an early evening dinner, I would suggest the Duck Pond Pinot Noir. If you’ve tried Oregon Pinot, you know that there are some very specific elements to the Oregonian classic. Minerality, earthy, balanced acidity and ripe berry flavours are among the many fantastic characteristics of these wines. The Duck Pond Pinot Noir is no different. It is light ruby in colour, and has a huge hit of cherry on the nose. I really enjoyed the ripe plum, dried fig and blueberry notes when tasting the wine. There is also a hint of cranberry jam, which immediately brought to mind a pairing with duck or turkey. Luckily, it’s light enough to drink on its own before dinner as well!

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My favourite special occasion wine for this Easter has to be The Chocolate Block from South Africa. I’ve featured this wine before, and even though I like to keep it fresh, I needed to include it, because wine is like chocolate for grown ups! It is a natural pairing for those red-meat eaters that want to indulge in something like rabbit or lamb for Easter. Perfect alongside potatoes, some spring asparagus and buttered rolls, your host (or your guests) will not be disappointed with the outstanding flavours in this wine. It’s not too in your face, so your meal will be able to shine through, but the slight hints of spice and raspberry are sure to delight your palate!

I hope this helps you when you’re buying some wine for Easter!

Easter flower arrangement by The Flower Factory.

Photos by me.

New Wines from VIWF

Last week, I attended the Vancouver International Wine Festival. For those of you who haven’t been, I highly recommend it next year. It’s a great place to try new wines, talk to winemakers, and mostly, it’s FUN! This year was my first year…as you know I’m obsessed with Cornucopia, but I was excited to add another wine fest into the mix.

This year, my goal was to find a few new reds and whites (and rosés, of course) too add into the mix at a good price point. There were LOTS of options, but here are a few of my favourites.

Did you go to the wine fest? What were your favourite wines?

WHITES & ROSÉS

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Spice Route Chenin Blanc – $25.99 (available by case at the BCL)

I’m usually partial to South African whites because I think you get big flavour for a small price. This wine had great flavours like passion fruit, but was a bit more full than typical South African Whites that I usually drink.

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The Wild Olive South Africa Rosé – $12.99 (available at the BCL)

I’m obsessed with how beautiful this label is – the winemaker’s wife painted this of her daughter. This is a “cheap and cheerful” rosé that is perfect with BBQ’ed chicken in the summer and also easy to drink on it’s own. The wine’s flavours are strawberry, berry and citrus. Perfect for summer!

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White Cliff Sauvignon Blanc – $17.99 (available by the case at the BCL)

This is a very easy drinking white. The higher residual sugar balances the acidity that is usually quite prevalent with Sauvignon Blancs. It’s a great everyday table wine.

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Sacred Hill Sauvignon Blanc – $18.95 (available by the case from the BCL)

I’m loving orange right now, and I think this bottle would look as beautiful on a table as it would styled on a black bar cart. I loved this Sauvignon Blanc – it was really fruity with some strawberry notes. Most Sauvignon Blancs are drunk a year after they are bottled, so the added aging gives this wine some nice complexity.

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Sables d’Azur Rosé Côtes de Provence – $17.99 (available at the BCL)

This rosé, to me, is typical of the Provençal style and brings me right back to our trip last summer (ps I want to go back!) This is a great value wine that is flavourful enough to stand up to food, yet light enough to enjoy on a hot summer day. It’s very dry.

REDS

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Angove Family Winemakers Family Crest Shiraz 2013 – $29.99 (available by the case at the BCL)

This is a beautiful, special occasion full wine. Great flavours like pepper and ripe berry. I think it would be great with a filet mignon. The mouth feel is rounded tannins – meaning that it’s meaty without being too intense.

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Fowles Wine Are you Game? Shiraz 2012 – $23.99 (available at the BCL)

Meeting the Fowles team was one of the highlights of the festival for me. The CEO of the wine label is a lawyer who found his knack making wine and hasn’t looked back since. The Are You Game? Shiraz is so delectable, fruit forward (mainly raspberry flavours) and it was definitely one of my favourite wines of the night.

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Fowles Wine Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2012 – $39.99 (available at the BCL)

Another special occasion wine, I was in love with this label and concept behind the wine. Ladies who shoot their lunch is a beautiful Shiraz with raspberry notes and round pepper flavours.

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Barossa Valley Estate Grenache Blend – $19.99 (available by the case at the BCL)

From the people who brought you Oyster Bay (a favourite amongst my friends), Barossa Valley Estate is aiming to bring great quality wines to the public at a great price. They hit the nail on the head with this blend.

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Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz – $21.99 (available at the BCL)

This is a really approachable Shiraz. It would be delicious with steak, but also good to sip pre dinner with some cheese and crackers. The main flavours that stuck out to me are blackberry and plum.

I hope this helps you pick up some new wines the next time you’re in the store!

#WineWednesday: Think Pink Brunch Edition

Hey Y’all! Happy #WineWednesday. You know it’s my favourite day of the week. While I won’t be indulging tonight (I’m getting over a cold), I did want to share the wines that I chose for mine and Gilian’s Think Pink Brunch hosted on Camille Styles. Being brunch, it’s really nice to keep things light and fresh. Instead of doing a full pairing menu with each food, I wanted to start with a mimosa (recipe below) and move to rosé throughout the meal. I wanted a pink mimosa, so I tried grapefruit juice instead of orange. I absolutely loved the result! It was more refreshing, a little less sweet, and my new go to brunch drink!

To make the mimosa, fill the glass with prosecco ¾ of the way and top with the juice you desire. Grapefruit is a great alternative to orange and keeps you refreshed.

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For the rosé, I wanted something punch in colour, and bold in taste to go with the smoked salmon bites. I found the perfect match in Olivares Jumilla Rose. At $12.99, this wine is a STEAL and a half. Bold flavours like strawberry round out this refreshing sipper, and I wouldn’t hesitate to serve it at night time either.

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I wanted to keep the glassware simple and elegant. Gillian found those gorgeous hot pink cups, so we decided to play with the heights of the glasses by using my super tall Champagne glasses for the mimosa, and a geometric white wine glass for the rosé. I truly believe the glassware you drink your beverages of can have a huge impact on the taste of your wine.

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Cheers to #WineWednesday! Don’t forget to read the full feature on Camille Styles.

Photos by Christie Graham. Wearing PARTYSKIRTS. Flowers by Botany & Co. Cookies by CookieVonster.

ps – I’d love to know, what wine are you sipping on tonight?