Top Reasons to Do a Wine Tasting or Tour in the Fall and Winter
A Vineyard in the fall months is a sight to behold, especially in the Okanagan. As the foliage starts to show its autumn colours, and the grapes burst off the vine, beckoning harvest time, enjoying a wine tasting is a wonderful idea. Fewer crowds and milder temperatures are just a few reasons why you might want to embark on a wine tasting or tour at this time. Here are some more considerations, for those still on the fence.
A Winery in the Fall
For many wineries, visiting after the summer rush may allow you to observe some of the inner workings of the facility, from the harvest, to the winemaking process, to the bottling stage. In addition, you may be one of the first to taste a newly produced wine by sampling new releases that become available at this time!
Veraison, or the change of colour of the grapes on the vine, is a beautiful sight as grapes take on their signature rich and appealing appearance, but once the grapes are ripe enough for harvesting the winemaking magic truly begins. Deciding when to harvest is an important decision, as the ripening process for a grape ends once it is picked. Harvesting a grape later will yield a sweeter taste than a grape of the same crop harvested earlier, as more sugar remains with the later-picked grape. Thus the date a grape is picked can contribute to the sweetness, flavour and alcohol content of the resulting wine.
At Ex Nihilo, wine tastings are available in the fall months and Chaos Bistro is open until October 29th, with special dinners and events throughout the winter season for our guests. Check our website for details, and subscribe to our entertaining and informative e-newsletter to keep on the pulse with what is happening at the winery during this time.
Wait, Wine Touring in the Winter?
No, you are not crazy if you are curious about wine touring in the winter. It is indeed a thing, especially in the Okanagan. Some wine tasters even swear by touring in the winter. Doing a tasting or tour in the winter is smart, as the main harvest is over and winemaking is in full force.
Of course you don’t experience the stunning budding stage of spring, the vibrant colours of fall, or the summer heat, but winter has something special to offer visitors. Staff may be more available to answer your questions in depth and give you their full attention. There are often VIP or special events and experiences to take advantage of as well.
And it is icewine’s time to shine as the temperature falls and grapes are picked frozen off the vine. Canada is one of the countries at the forefront of icewine production, and Ex Nihilo offers a few icewines that you might want to explore.
It is abundantly clear that there is much going on beneath the surface at many wineries in the winter. It is the perfect time to cosy up and enjoy a winter wonderland, with a glass of premium wine as you peer out at the vineyard quietly hibernating, and perhaps lightly covered in snow.
Note - Be sure to check a winery’s website before embarking as not all may operate to the public at this time, or may have reduced hours. At Ex Nihilo tastings appointments are recommended in the winter, but not absolutely necessary.
Wine for Every Season
While the spring and summer put lighter white and rosé wines at the forefront, the fall and winter may bring focus to more full-bodied red wines that can be consumed warmer. Snuggling up with a glass of red wine in the colder months is common, but you can obviously enjoy any wine during any time of the year!
Of course the type of wine we choose does not solely depend on the temperature outside, but many other factors, such as the seasonal foods and meals you are enjoying. Having a hearty beef stew to celebrate a bountiful harvest? Perhaps pair it with a medium to full bodied red like our 2018 Privata Malbec, offering up notes of cherry, blueberry, star anise, and eucalyptus on the nose. Enjoying a rustic roasted chicken and veggies around the dinner table? A rosé may be an appropriate addition, and chardonnay can go well with many savoury seasonal foods of fall and winter. Overall wine sales are quite high in the winter, making it clear that people like their wine year round!
The Okanagan is known as a “four season playground” and the wineries in the region bring no exception. There is a common misconception that a winery’s doors close as the summer ends, but this is just not often the case. In fact some of the excitement is just beginning! For ideas of what to wear and etiquette for a wine tasting, check out our article “Wine Tasting and Touring Etiquette”. Doing a wine tour or tasting in the cooler months can be a very rewarding and fun experience. See you soon!
An Okanagan Valley Chef’s Journey - An Interview with Ex Nihilo’s Executive Chef, Danny Tipper
At Ex Nihilo’s Chaos Bistro, we are fortunate to have a small team of amazing individuals working hard behind the scenes to ensure a fantastic guest experience. One such person integral to creating culinary magic in the kitchen is our Executive Chef Danny Tipper. A few minutes spent chatting with this meticulous and driven chef reveals a strong culinary passion for creating enticing flavour profiles and combinations within every dish he prepares. We had an opportunity to sit down with Danny to learn more about him and his journey as a chef.
The Story Begins in Grandma’s Garden
Growing up Danny looked forward to visiting his grandmother’s house where the aroma of baked bread often welcomed him, along with fresh salami & delicious home-cooked meals. He would spend hours helping his grandma in the kitchen and wandering through her large garden, picking strawberries and beans straight from the vine.
His first especially vivid memory of learning to cook was at Thanksgiving when his grandma shared with him the art of making a roux. He was privileged with the task of adding the wine into the gravy the family would enjoy later that night. Knowing how to make a good roux came in handy during subsequent visits, as she would teach him how to make delicious soups from scratch.
Then there were stories of the great-great-grandfather he never had the chance to meet from the Netherlands, a chef at the famous ‘Hotel Amsterdam’. Perhaps, young Danny pondered, he would follow in his relative’s footsteps. A seed was planted that would eventually grow into a full-fledged dream.
Coming Full Circle - The Life Cycle of a Winery
Danny had grown up surrounded by Okanagan Valley wine culture, and after attending culinary school in Vancouver it seemed a natural direction for him to explore. His quest to cook first took him to Quails’ Gate Estate Winery in Kelowna, which would be his first time working in a winery kitchen. He subsequently became “hooked” on the winery scene, largely due to the sizable garden he had access to for sourcing his ingredients. Life seemed to have come full circle in a way, to the days of his youth spent in his grandmother’s garden.
Waterfront Wines Restaurant in Kelowna would be his next stop, and it was here that he learned much about wine and food pairing, further refining his palette and art as a chef. He grew to be more of a connoisseur of great wine and food combinations, learning about flavour profiles while gaining valuable knowledge that would help him ‘level up’ in his craft. He was now ready to embark on the next leg of his adventure, bringing him briefly to Graymonk and then on to Ex Nihilo when the opportunity presented itself.
When asked about what he likes about working as a chef at a winery, Danny tells us a big draw for him is the life cycle at a winery, which mirrors the seasons and cycles of nature. Spring brings new buds in the vineyard, along with the anticipation of the busy season. Summer entails growth on the vines and a constant hum of excitement at the winery. Fall yields the harvest as winery activity calms, and in the winter the vines go dormant, which is coupled with time for winery staff to catch up and plan for the upcoming year. The pace is not constant & unrelenting as it is with many restaurants. There is a time for everything, including reflection, and that is key.
The Farm to Table Philosophy
The simple farm to table cooking standard first appreciated in his childhood now permeates Danny's every day. At home, his family enjoys a huge garden and a constant inflow of fresh ingredients like he did growing up, and his own children enjoy helping out in the garden and kitchen just as he did as a little boy.
At Ex Nihilo’s Chaos Bistro he is able to extend this same ideology. Every day he ventures to a neighbouring farm to access such fresh staples as tomatoes, basil, and herbs, all of which make it into the in-house prepared tomato sauce for gourmet pizza and other mouth-watering menu items. Cheese is sourced locally from Tanto Latte Cheese; Abundant mushrooms come from Lake Country Gourmet Mushroom Farm, and a longstanding relationship exists with Dueck Falkland Farms. The list goes on, and he is constantly fostering new relationships with local suppliers to acquire premium fresh ingredients for his culinary creations, supporting the local economy while bringing scrumptious combinations to the plate. (Note: Read more about Ex Nihilo’s local suppliers in our blog article: Supporting Local With Ex Nihilo).
There are always a variety of wonderful selections on the menu at Chaos Bistro, but we just had to know Chef Danny’s current favourite. He was happy to oblige our curiosity:
“Right now my favourite dish is our BC Scallop Crudo. I have a fairly high acid palette so I enjoy the green apple and citrus. It also pairs fantastic with our EXN 2021 Riesling which mirrors a lot of those same citrus, granny smith apple, and herbaceous notes that the dish provides. A summertime must.”
What Does the Future Hold?
Danny is excited about the future and the "bursting potential" at Ex Nihilo. After spending some quality time in the cellar last fall with winemaker Jim Faulkner, he was able to coordinate and come up with some great combinations for the ongoing Dinner Culinary Experiences and Concert Events at the winery. Spending time with Jim has fostered more of an understanding regarding the winemaking process as a whole, deepening his already extensive knowledge of the wine varietals he is working with every day. Overall we have not yet seen all this talented chef has to offer!
A Guide To Wine Pairing This Summer BBQ Season
Often beer gets all the glory when it comes to BBQ season, but wine really has the potential to bring out the strong bold flavours enjoyed in BBQ grilled cuisine. Many people have questions about which wines pair best with their favourite BBQ’d fares, but in fact, the diversity of possibilities is surprising. With a bit of creativity and a few guidelines, you will be well on your way to creating satisfying combinations. Here we offer a by no means exhaustive analysis, to lend some insight into that all-important question, “What wine do I bring to the BBQ”?
Probably one of the most well known combinations involves pairing bolder red meat such as beef with fuller bodied red wines. For example, you may want to enjoy a cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, malbec, merlot or shiraz with a steak or beef burger. These higher tannin wines cut through the fat, and wines with a peppery and tobacco flavour work well with the boldness prominent in beef prepared on the BBQ.
Ex Nihilo Varietal to Consider:
There is a bit of a range here. In general, pork pairs well with higher fruit red wines with a little sweetness, as well as rosé and rich white wines, depending on what it is you are enjoying. In particular, pinot noir, or zinfandel can be a good choice for that cut of pork or ribs on the barbie, or you could go a different route and even try an icewine with a grilled pork roast. For a hotdog, a champagne or riesling might work well, cutting through the fat, and if adding mustard, a sauvignon blanc can highlight the ‘tang’ while combating the saltiness of the dog.
Ex Nihilo Varietal to Consider:
Chicken & Fish
Full flavoured white, rosé, and some reds can work in this area of the BBQ department, depending on the boldness of the item. Specifically, enjoy a rosé, chardonnay, or a lighter bodied red wine such as pinot noir for salmon. As for chicken, rosé can pair well with the chicken itself as well as the bbq sauce, if being used. Chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are often a good choice as well for chicken, and interestingly, a malbec can work in cases where the chicken becomes bolder on the BBQ.
Ex Nihilo Varietals to Consider:
For that veggie kabob, crisp white wines like a pinot gris or sauvignon blanc are a good go-to. More earthy veggies such as eggplant & mushroom can also pair well with syrah, zinfandel, or even cabernet sauvignon, but this is really just a start as there is such variety in the veggie department.
We encourage further investigation depending on your particular vegetable choice.
Ex Nihilo Varietal to Consider:
A Note on Pairing with Sauce & Spice
Not only do we take the food we are cooking on the BBQ into account when pairing wine, but the spice and sauce is quite important as well. In terms of sauces, sweet bbq sauces are accentuated with a sweet wine. If a sauce or glaze is more tart or acidic, off-dry whites might be a good choice. BBQ sauces that are more “mustardy” go well with white or light reds.
In terms of spice rubs, we could devote a whole blog article to this but there are a few basic guidelines that may help. White wines tend to go better with “soft herbs”, which include tarragon, basil and dill. “Hard herbs” such as rosemary and thyme often pair well with red wines. Rosé and white wines work really well with fresh herbs in general, and when combining spices, go with the overall style of the dish - i.e. middle eastern, etc. If that dish is particularly spicy, a riesling or gewurztraminer might be in order.
Ex Nihilo’s Summer BBQ Wine Bundle
Back by popular demand, Ex Nihilo has a special BBQ bundle available for sale this summer. A fabulous sauce we sell in our winery has been paired with a variety of specially chosen wines. As an added perk, our chef has included some great Icewine recipes. For more information visit our online store or tasting room. Now you can’t go wrong when showing up for that next BBQ!
Top 5 Reasons to Join a Wine Club
What exactly is a wine club and why might you want to join one? Besides the obvious of having fabulous bottles of wine regularly delivered straight to your door, there are a variety of benefits to membership, depending on which wine club you choose. So without further ado, here are a few of the top reasons you should consider joining a wine club:
1. Savings & Convenience
We have already mentioned the benefit of having wine regularly delivered to you, but did you know that many wine clubs offer wine discounts and deals on shipping, sometimes even shipping for free! Now that is something to get excited about and will ensure you will always have a little something special on-hand for that impromptu dinner party.
2. Perks, Member Opportunities & VIP Treatment
From discounts, to freebies, to member-only events at the winery, and more, the pros of being a part of a wine club often extend way beyond just the wine itself. Get the VIP treatment you crave and benefit from a sense of community and new experiences.
3. Learning From the Winemakers
Being a part of a club can give you better access to the people making your favourite wines. You may learn more about how the wines you love are made via member-exclusive events, newsletters, and more. Being part of a club can give you a bit of an education and a special glimpse behind the scenes.
4. Access to Limited Wine Varieties or New Releases
Often wineries will release specific limited or new wines to members only, giving ‘first dibs’ to those loyal customers that are a part of the club. You can be the first to taste a new variety. For example, Ex Nihilo released its first ever Gewurztraminer to members first!
5. A Great Gift Idea
A wine club membership can be a wonderful idea for a gift for that wine lover in your life. If you know your friend or family member’s taste in wine, you can give them a gift that truly keeps giving throughout the year, as they get to indulge in their favourites, discover new varieties, and enjoy the experiences that go along with membership.
The Value of Membership
When choosing to be a part of a wine club, think of the total value you will receive from the experience, not just the cost of the wine. As we can see, there is often much more to joining a club than just receiving wine. In addition, be sure to understand the fine print, the cancellation process, and what you are agreeing to, to avoid any disappointment. Overall you want to get the most out of your experience and capitalise on the fun factor.
Ex Nihilo’s Wine Club Experience
We should probably mention at this point that Ex Nihilo may just have the wine club you are looking for. Both Gold and Silver access members enjoy a host of attractive benefits. Below are the top perks as outlined by our dedicated wine club coordinator, Breanna Stienstra:
Customizable wine shipments
- 17% – 20% discounts on wine (some of the highest discounts in the Okanagan Valley)
- Exclusivity to cellared (Library) wines
- Priority access to events/concerts
- Two complimentary standard tastings on every visit
Being a wine club member at Ex Nihilo means so much more than just discounts and benefits. It's a community, a family, and a local social club. Members come to Ex Nihilo for their birthdays, weddings, and a variety of special events because they feel at home here and they know we will do everything we can to personalise each visit. We truly believe that we offer something extra special at Ex Nihilo. There is something magically intoxicating about this place and it draws people in.
Check out our wine club page for more information and start enjoying the joys of membership today!
Raise Your Glass To National Wine Day
Every day is wine day, right? Well maybe not, but May 25th is. It’s National Wine Day! Take this opportunity to learn about all things wine, and grab an idea or two on how to responsibly commemorate this special day.
Just how was wine invented?
Statista defines wine as, “an alcoholic beverage produced by fermenting grapes and sometimes other fruits or plants”. It is really hard to pin down exactly how and when wine came to be, but it is believed by some that wine may have been invented by accident between 6000 and 3000 B.C. or earlier, in the area that is now modern day Iran and Georgia, when stored grapes were fermented by wild yeast.
Christian monks had a role in making France one of the best wine making countries in the world. They took detailed notes on different varieties of grapes, growing methods & practices. In the new world region, i.e the Americas, it is believed that the Indigenous people may have played a part in wine’s emergence. However it came to be, it appears to have been a bit of a group effort and a happy invention, as people all over the world continue to enjoy this staple beverage.
History of the Okanagan Valley Wine Region
Ex Nihilo is located in the Okanagan Valley wine region of B.C., which has an interesting history, starting with Father Pandosy, a Frenchman who recognised the fertility of the land. He grew and produced wine for sacramental uses at the Oblate Mission in Kelowna in 1859. Following this, more wineries emerged until prohibition slowed down the growth somewhat. As time went on however, wine makers in the valley began experimenting with hybrid grape varieties. This resulted in a marked increase in the quality of wine in the area and a vibrant industry and scene began to take hold.
The rest is history as, according to Forbes, 85% of B.C.’s wine is produced in this magical area, which resides between the 49th and 50th parallel, the same latitude as Champagne, France and Rheingau, Germany. Consisting of about 9,000 acres of vineyards, it is Canada’s second largest wine region with over 185 wineries.
The Wine Industry in Canada and British Columbia
The wine industry is certainly substantial in Canada. According to Statista, red varieties are most consumed, but of course Canadians’ enjoyment of this diverse drink does not stop there. Retail sales of wine in Canada are forecast to exceed 13.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2022, showing that Canadians like their wine. According to per capita sales, consumers in Quebec purchase the most wine and those in Saskatchewan purchase the least. What's more, due to its colder climate, Canada is the top producer of Ice Wine in the world.
Below are the Top 10 white and red wines produced in B.C. according to the Wine Growers of BC:
How to Commemorate National Wine Day
It may seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but here are some creative ideas to capitalise on the day!:
- First and foremost, come enjoy Happy Hour with us at Ex Nihilo if you are in the area.
- Do a wine tasting or two and discover something new. Use this occasion to try a new wine that you may not normally have considered.
- Visit a winery restaurant and pair tasty culinary bites with premium wine choices.
- Pick up your favourite wine to enjoy it with a friend.
- Plan to host your own wine tasting party.
- Learn more about wine making processes, tasting, pairing, and more. You can start by reading through previous articles in this blog.
- Book yourself a future tour or wine tasting to look forward to.
- Sign up to be part of a wine club, like ours at Ex Nihilo. And while you are at it, sign up for our newsletter below!
- Try a wine and yoga class in your area.
Additional Wine Days
Believe it or not, there are quite a few days throughout the year to celebrate wine, included on the National Day Calendar:
1. National Drink Wine Day – Feb. 18
2. National Mulled Wine Day – March 3
3. National Bubbly Day – First Saturday in June
4. National Moscato Day – May 9
5. National Rosé Day – Second Saturday in June
6. National Strawberry Rhubarb Day – Third Saturday in July
7. National Wine and Cheese Day – July 25
8. National Prosecco Day – August 13
9. National Orange Wine Day – October 6
The Legacy of Wine
Wine is considered by some to be a symbol of transformation, a concept which we can observe throughout all stages of the growing and winemaking process. What’s more, it has influenced cultures throughout time, and connected people from all different walks of life. A much beloved and diverse beverage of choice, the world of wine is one that could take a lifetime to fully explore as there is always something new to learn. So take a moment today to join those around the world and raise your glass!
Supporting Local With Ex Nihilo
Not only is British Columbia undeniably beautiful, it is a bountiful region teeming with abundance. A lush paradise with almost everything you could desire, it boasts friendly family farms, fruitful orchards, vineyards, & more. Coupling all this with passionate artisans who take great pride in their one of a kind treasures, supporting local is not hard to do in the Okanagan.
Why Support Local?: Creating Vibrant Communities
Supporting local establishments helps to build communities and the local environment. Not only does it stimulate the local economy, keeping money in the community, it employs locals. What's more, local businesses have a vested interest in the communities that they are a part of, and when we support local, we tend to enjoy more variety and diversity. What is not to like about that?
The environment fares better too when we support businesses in and around our neighbourhoods, as products do not need to be transported as far, reducing fossil fuel usage significantly. Plus smaller businesses tend to have a reduced carbon footprint compared to big corporations. Supporting small local businesses not only gives them the boost they need, it benefits Mother Earth as well.
As a small local vineyard, the owners of Ex Nihilo know firsthand the importance of giving back to local businesses. When you visit the restaurant, tasting room, and online store, you will be supporting many individuals within the community.
Local at CHAOS
Taste the region within a farm to table framework at CHAOS Bistro with these local suppliers:
Tanto Latte Cheese - Salmon Arm
This family-owned business produces artisanal Italian cheese using Okanagan sourced whole milk. Their most popular product is their fresh bocconcini mozzarella, commonly enjoyed as a topping for pizza or on a gourmet sandwich!
Image Credit | Tanto Latte Cheese
Dueck Falkland Farms - Falkland
Started in 2011, Dueck Falkland Farms strives to ethically raise happy chickens, and they only partner with local family farmers (within 90 mins) when stocking their store. Their high standards are reflected in the meat they sell, from free-run chickens, to award winning sausage, and grass-fed beef.
Image Credit | Dueck Falkland Farms
Mycro Greens - Kelowna
Offering organic and non-gmo microgreens, this small business was founded by a group of friends. Coming to the business from a sustainable and environmentally conscious standpoint, they wanted to explore a way of offering a nutritionally dense superfood, as not only do microgreens look great on the plate, they pack a nutritional punch as well.
Image Credit | Mycro Greens
Lake Country Gourmet Mushroom Farm
Offering fresh and dried mushrooms, as well as tinctures and mushroom grow kits, this unique Lake Country mushroom grower also advertises a weekly chef mix. Their Facebook page is picturesque with oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms galore!
Two Rivers Specialty Meats - Vancouver/Abbotsford
Couple Margot and Jason Pleym proceeded to dream up Two Rivers while living in a yellow school bus in Golden, BC. They meticulously choose small farmers, mostly in BC to collaborate with to ensure the quality of their meat.
Image Credit | Two Rivers Specialty Meats
Local in the Tasting Room
Encounter unique items from these local gems while visiting the Tasting Room:
KARAT Chocolate Boutique & Cafe - Kelowna
KARAT found its start in the basement kitchen of West Kelowna’s Mission Hill Winery. Founder Julian has since grown the company with the help of her team and much support. Using local high quality and ethically sourced ingredients, & the best single origin and beans and couverture chocolate possible, it is no surprise that KARAT has won various prestigious awards and is often featured in notable publications, such as Chatelaine & WestJet Magazine.
Image Credit | KARAT Chocolate
Hairbrained Schemes Greeting Cards - Kelowna
Hairbrained Schemes Greeting Cards came to fruition when a stay at home mom combined her passion for design and her desire to work from home. Her clever cards are blank inside so you can add your own special message. Some of the cards are available as prints as well!
Image Credit | Hairbrained Schemes Greeting Cards
Vancouver Candle Company - Vancouver
A Vancouver-based “corporate couple” took their fascination with the power of scent and started Vancouver Candle Company after experimenting with premium natural waxes. Their goal was to create a quality luxury candle with truly unique fragrance blends. The business has since grown and they enjoy a cult-like following.
Image Credit | Vancouver Candle Company
Okanagan Candle Company
Okanagan Candle Company creates custom clean burning candles. They utilise beautiful essential oils for fragrance, and 100% soy wax. Not to mention they are hand poured and packaged with love in the Okanagan.
Image Credit | Okanagan Candle Company
Só Luxury Bath & Body
Close friends Amanda & Shylah run Só Luxury Bath & Body together, providing you with what you need to pamper yourself and your loved ones. Só actually means luxury in irish. They are not only dedicated to providing gentle and effective products but to giving back to the community as well.
Image Credit | Só Luxury Bath & Body
Karen Wentzel Jewellery - Kelowna
Hailing from Westside Road in Kelowna, Karen’s handcrafted stunning one of a kind jewellery features such premium materials as sterling silver, 14K gold fill, semi-precious gemstones and freshwater pearls. Her pieces are often inspired by the changing seasons.
Image Credit | Karen Wentzel Jewellery
Everybody wins when we give back to the community!
So be sure to take it all in while visiting Ex Nihilo. Simultaneously sip, shop, & explore what the region has to offer; and leave knowing that not only have you delighted your senses with a plethora of unique one of a kind offerings, you have done your part to support the local hard working small businesses that help make the community just a bit more vibrant!
Wine Tasting and Touring Etiquette: And Exploring Lake Country’s Beautiful Scenic Sip Trail
With the wine touring season beginning to ramp up in the Okanagan (April is BC Wine Month), it is important to understand the ins and outs of tasting and touring. Wine touring and tastings can be a joyous way to connect with others, explore the region, and learn about the wines in the area. There are not a ton of hard rules to enjoying a tour or tasting, but here we offer some etiquette, along with general tips that will help you get the most out of the experience.
When and how many wineries to visit?
When planning out your day, this can vary by region and how close the wineries are together, as well as how intimately you want to explore each winery. In the Okanagan, most full day packages offered by tour companies include 4-6 wineries. If you can, you may want to start with the furthest winery from where you are staying and work your way back, so you are closer to home at the end of the day.
In terms of the seasons of the year, this can depend on the region you are in. In the Okanagan, many wineries are open year-round, and each season has something unique to offer the wine tasting experience, such as hot weather and picturesque views in the summer & milder temperatures, coupled with the beauty of budding vines in the spring.
The Tasting Experience - Sight, Smell, Taste: Savour, Don't Rush
Whenever you decide to go, try to give yourself time to enjoy what each winery has to offer. If you can, dine at the restaurant; explore the vineyard; and discover the special offerings unique to each winery, (such as Ex Nihilo’s Creatio art exhibit!).
Be ready to ask questions at each winery, and go with an open mind. In terms of consumption, don't overdo it, and make a bit of a plan of what wines you want to explore. You can also use the practice of spitting.
Some General Tasting Tips
It is recommended to work from light to heavy wines and to cleanse your palate in between. Make sure to sample wines that you may not usually try to open your mind, not just your trusted favourites, and be sure to enjoy some food throughout the day with your wine as well.
When tasting, ask yourself a series of questions. For example, is this wine sweet? Is it heavy? Are the flavours somewhat balanced? Reference the tasting tips below for further questions to explore.
The Tasting Process
There is a myriad of advice out there on the tasting process, but here is a good starting point from Tour DeVine and the Wine Atlas of Canada:
- Look: Tilt your glass ever so slightly to observe the colour, clarity, and appearance. Young wines hold their colour to the rim and older wines begin to fade at the edge. White wines also gain a bit of a more golden colour with age. Red wines lose some of their deep colour over time.
- Swirl: Swirling helps the esters in the wine to rise to deliver the wine's aromatics. Swirling also helps you observe the wine’s viscosity. More droplets sticking to the side indicates higher alcohol content.
- Smell: Focus on the aromas as you bring the glass to your nose. Ask yourself what you pick up on & do not pick up in terms of smell. Imagine what the wine might taste like before-hand just based on the smell.
- Sip: As you sip, roll the wine around slightly in your mouth for a short amount of time, savouring it. First, you will notice the sweetness as it washes over your palette and the tip of your tongue -where sweetness is registered. The back of the tong picks up the acidity or the bitter aspects of the wine (tannins). Tannins soften with age. The weight of the wine in your mouth also tells us something. Heavier wines contain more alcohol than a lighter wine.
Random Tips & Winery Etiquette
- Hold your glass by the stem to avoid affecting the temperature of the wine and smudging the glass, which will affect your ability to judge the wine’s appearance.
- Bring a small notebook to take notes.
- Check the weather ahead of time and dress appropriately. Wear dark clothing to avoid stains and check the dress code at the wineries you plan on visiting before leaving. Avoid wearing dangly sleeves that may knock over a wine glass, and wear comfortable shoes for getting around. Also consider bringing a small purse or bag to stash your guide, notebook, water bottle, sunglasses, and other essentials.
- Avoid wearing fragrance as it competes with the aroma of the wine.
- Feel free to tip the pourer.
- Call ahead if you are with a big group.
- Come to sample, not just to party.
- Don’t talk over the guide, and take turns with others on the tour for questions.
- Pick out a bottle or two on your way out to help support the winery and enjoy your favourites at home, but consider bringing a cooler and don't leave it in a hot car.
- Call to check ahead if planning on bringing a pet.
- Do not drink and drive! Invest in a tour experience or have a designated driver.
- Take a few pictures to remember your experience.
Lake Country’s Scenic Sip Trail
The Lake Country region has much to offer those interested in wine touring and the Scenic Sip Trail is one such gem in the area. Experience it by hiring a Okanagan wine tour company, or on your own, responsibly. Enjoy world class award-winning wines and views along stunning Okanagan, Wood, and Kalamalka Lakes. This charming trail consists of 8 wineries:
50th Parallel, Ex Nihilo, Gray Monk, Peak Cellars, Ancient Hill, Intrigue Wines, Arrowleaf Cellars, Blind Tiger, O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars
With vineyards, orchards, rolling countryside, and remarkable wines, this is a great way to spend a day. Check the website for activities and events on the trail.
Ex Nihilo Releases Its First Ever Gewürztraminer!
A wine that is hard to pronounce (ga-VERTZ-trah-mee-ner), with an intense taste, Gewürztraminer is a bit of a curious enigma. Yet those who enjoy a good Gewürz stand by this wine! Popular for centuries around Germany, Gewürztraminer has grown in popularity around the world. It hails originally from Alsace, located on the border between France and Germany, from the Gewürztraminer grape.
Introducing the 2021 XXX Gewürztraminer
Considered one of the 18 Classic Noble Grapes, this deep pink coloured grape requires just the right combination of factors to thrive, from temperature, optimum soil, and protection from pests. The cultivation process is all worth it however, as once the grapes are harvested, the pink skins are removed, and the juice fermented into an exciting wine that is white in colour and an adventure for the taste buds.
Okanaganers agree, as Gewürztraminer is much enjoyed in the Okanagan valley. According to BC Wine Trends, the Gewürztraminer grape is the third most-produced white grape in British Columbia. Pinot Gris and Chardonnay take first and second place in that tally.
Properties of Gewürztraminer
Gewürztraminer is not to everyone’s taste but it certainly has a lot to offer. Those who like Moscato, dessert wines, or tropical fruits will be into what this wine brings. The wine can have a distinct spiciness, ("Gewürz" translates to herb, or spice), and is a little on the sweeter side. Side note- the wine often tastes sweeter than it actually is due to aromas, higher alcohol, and lower acidity.
Gewürz often is said to have a Lychee flavour. It is higher in alcohol, full-bodied, and aromatic, offering possible notes of pineapple, ginger, apricot, citrus, rose and more!
Food Pairing & How to Enjoy Gewürztraminer?
True to its eccentric nature, Gewürztraminer can be a challenge to pair with. It generally balances spice and is paired with exotic flavours such as Indian or Thai cuisine. Meats that are often enjoyed alongside a glass of this wine are duck, shrimp, crab, chicken, bacon, and pork.
Serve it chilled, but not overchilled, to keep the wine’s subtle properties. Gewurztraminer is best enjoyed young with preserved acidity.
Grilled Chicken Gewürztraminer Sausage
Be a part of history as we unveil our first-ever Gewürztraminer! Vibrant and juicy with a nice sweetness and spice. Enjoy the bursting summer flavours of lychee, passion fruit, with a hint of rose, pineapple, & guava with this white wine, available for purchase at the winery and in our online store. And if all that was not enough, you can also take advantage of a complimentary recipe for Grilled Chicken Gewürztraminer Sausage, provided by our Executive Chef, Danny Tipper. So go ahead and get your Gewürz on with Ex Nihilo!
The Versatile Charm of Rosé: The Saignée Process, & the Release of the Fabulous Vampata Rosé at Ex Nihilo!
There is no wine more charming than a crisp rosé. Not only striking and intriguing in colour, the flavours and aromas offered by a lovely rosé are something to behold. One of the oldest wines, rosé’s popularity has experienced a resurgence. There are entire festivals dedicated to this wine classification, and with such versatility, we can understand why!
Rosé is probably best known for its’ fresh, fruity quality. Best served chilled, it is most popular in the spring to early fall, due to its refreshing essence. The area of the world most known for this wine is the Provence region of France, but there are plenty of great rosé wines throughout the world, especially right here in the Okanagan.
What are the Distinguishing Characteristics of a Rosé?
Rosé wines have a low to medium alcohol level with bright acidity. Various varieties of red wine grapes are used, sometimes in a blend. Some grape varieties used include Grenache, Pinot Noir, Syrah and more! Rosé can be sparkling, sweet, or dry, and is broken down into many different types such as:
- Provence Rosé
- Pinot Noir Rosé
- Zinfandel Rosé
- Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé
- Syrah Rosé
- Grenache Rosé
- Tavel Rosé
Common Methods of Making Rosé
Some people think that rosé is just a mixture of red and white wine, and sometimes it is, (this is called the blending method). This is most often not the case, however, and except for Rosé Champagne, actually, a practice sometimes frowned upon in the industry.
In the maceration method the grapes are destemmed, sorted, and left to rest/macerate with the juices for up to a few days until the optimum level of pink colour is achieved. The skins are then removed and the wine is made from the remaining juices. Maceration is the most popular method used to produce rosé, but a newer method, the Saignée process has gained popularity and it brings rosé to a different level.
What is the Saignée process?
The saignée (“sohn-yay”) process produces a slightly richer rosé, and involves the removal of a portion of the juice, increasing the proportion of skins in contact. The resulting concentration results in a more vibrant colour and a bit more tannin.
A Rosé Inspired Picnic With Ex Nihilo's Furry Pal Pyper
Rosé Food Pairings
While sipping this versatile wine, there are many great pairings. Look to dishes such as duck, salmon, and lamb. Soft cheeses, such as goat, incorporated into a charcuterie board are also a great option.
Release of the 2021 Vampata Rosé at Ex Nihilo
Ex Nihilo is excited to release its 2021 Vampata Rosé, a crisp pink delight, produced with the saignée process from pinot noir grapes. Enjoy summer in a glass, with aromas and flavours of strawberry, cranberry, grapefruit, rose hips and gooseberry. Order it from our online store, or venture down to the winery to grab a bottle, or two?
Simple Tips For Pairing Your Favourite Okanagan Valley Wine & Food
When it comes to wine pairing, the average person may feel a little bit lost and intimidated, deferring to the sophisticated wine connoisseur or sommelier. But that does not have to be the case as wine pairing really boils down to simple chemistry and the manipulation of flavours. There are a few basic rules that can help you get started within the fascinating and fun art of understanding how wine and food flavours interact on your palette.
Of primary consideration are the taste components or profiles in the food. Many guides narrow them down to 6-7 and these profiles influence what type of wine you might choose to accompany your meal.
Everything Wine lists 7 Taste Components in food that can be used to determine what type of wine to choose:
A general rule is that you do not want to pair a less sweet wine with a sweet food item. You may also want to avoid wines that have a high tannin content with sweet foods.
Exercise caution with wines that are high in tannins or contain oak with more savoury food.
Tannins become more enjoyable with salty cuisine.
Avoid pairing a wine with less acidity than the food.
Choose a wine that has a similar intensity of flavours to the meal.
A higher acid content wine is actually good in this case.
Hot and spicy foods do well with light, fruity wines with some sweetness.
Wine Folly’s Food Pairing Basics lists 9 Additional Tips to Reference when pairing. Some of these tips reinforce and expand somewhat on what we have learned above:
- Choose a wine that is more acidic than the food.
- Pairing wines sweeter than the food is ideal
- The wine and food should have the same or similar flavour intensity.
- Bold flavoured meals and red wines pair best.
- Light intensity meats (fish and chicken) and white wines pair well.
- Bitter wines (red) balance with fat.
- Match your wine with the sauce over the meat.
- Often white, sparkling & rose create contrasting pairings.
- Often red wines create congruent pairings.
Congruent & Contrasting (Complimentary) Pairings & Common Combinations:
Just like relationships, there are different types of pairings that are worthwhile. A congruent pairing amplifies shared compounds or similar flavours, while a complementary pairing deals with contrasting flavours and creating balance between them.
Tips for Wine Pairing with Vegetarian Meals:
When pairing a wine with a vegetarian meal, it is important to look at a few factors. If vegetables are a main focus, whites or lighter reds are the best. If the dish is particularly dairy centred, a richer wine may be in order.
In addition, are the vegetables involved root vegetables or mushrooms, or of the fresh or light variety? In the case of the former, a wine that pairs well with earthy flavours as in a Pinot Noir might be just right.
Learn More With a Culinary Experience at Ex Nihilo:
Want to delve further? Indulge and learn at the same time with a Culinary Dinner Series at Ex Nihilo’s CHAOS Bistro. Executive Chef, Danny Tipper will talk about the origin of the dishes and perfect wine pairings for each course. Visit our website for information on future dates and to book.
We would also like to share a great recipe to go with our newly released 2020 Privata Chardonnay, Garlic Prawns & Lemon Gremolata scrumptiously pictured below. Bon appétit!