Ontario’s Reif Winery Offers Wine and Herb Pairings

By Paris Wolfe, Blogmaster, The Herb Society of America

Reif Estate Wines

Wine and Herb ExperiencePhoto courtesy of Reif Estate Winery

In May, we launched our first motorcycle adventure of the year with a visit to the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada. The area is a pleasant three-hour trip from home, the dollar is strong and there’s much to do.

After oohing and ahhing over Niagara Falls, we rolled 14 miles north to Niagara-on-the-Lake. The small Canadian town is known for its Shaw Festival Theater, 37 world-class wineries and 30 restaurants. With 10 shows staged from April through October, the Shaw Festival theater spans decades, styles and geographies.

Per usual, I sought herb-related stops. I found three – a winery, a lavender farm and The Niagara Parks’ Botanical Garden.

The first, Reif Estate Winery, has both a Sensory Garden and Sensory Bar where herbs play a starring role.

If you’re over 21 and drink wine, you’ve likely paired a glass with cheese or food. The goal is to elevate your wine experiences with complimentary flavors. That’s when the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

So, why not pair wine with herbs? Reif does just that with the Wine and Herb Experience. They have four suggestions that play with the senses. We didn’t eat the herbs, but crushed them between our fingers and inhaled deeply before rolling the liquid across our taste buds. Or, at one point, we bit into them lightly and let the flavors wash together.

The experience was playful and helped expand my limited vocabulary of wine descriptors to include herbal adjectives. These can be done at home with similar wines.

Reif ice wineSauvignon Blanc … Imagine a wine described as fresh with crisp white grapefruit and lime flavors complemented by a zesty citrus finish. The pairing; Lemon Thyme.

Pinot Noir … Look for a cold-climate pinot noir with hints of cherry and notes of anise, earth and black pepper. The pairing: Rosemary.

Merlot …  Conceive an earthy wine with hints of leather leading into ripe plum and blackberry. The pairing: Oregano.

Vidal Ice Wine … Call to mind a layer of tropical fruit, peach, apricot and honey, followed by a crisp acidity. The pairing: Pineapple Sage.

(The wine descriptions above are courtesy of the winery.)

For the curious, additional Sensory Bar offerings include The Ice Wine Experience, Taste the Terroir and a Wine & Chocolate.

Watch the blog for other herb reports from the Niagara region.

What combinations might you make … Curry plant with Gewürztraminer? Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc with Sage?

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