Views from the Ontario Vines
with Fred Couch

“Taste the Season”

The best feature of “Taste the Season” in Niagara-on-the-Lake is that you can use your one-price pass for all weekends in November as well as Fridays. This gives you plenty of time to explore Niagara’s wine country, stop by the participating wineries, and try their holiday-inspired food and wine pairings.

You can plan your visits by going to the map on the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake website: Some of the highlights of this year’s event (although there were many) include the following wine and food pairings:


Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery – The beef stew with a parmesan pastry was served with the 2014 Sand & Gravel Redcoat wine. Redcoat is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc and 15% Merlot. This was a hearty beef stew so it needed a full-bodied wine to go with it and the wine chosen was perfect. After the pairing, we were given a coupon to try more wines in the retail shop on that day or we could return later and try other wines. This was a nice bonus.

The Lakeview Wine Company – Although the tasting bar and retail shop was very crowded, the lineup for the food and wine moved quickly. While Chef James Cutris was busy preparing butternut squash gnocchi, we got to try the 2016 Fresh Riesling Gewürztraminer. This off-dry wine was good on its own but even better with the delicious gnocchi.

Marynissen Estate Winery – This winery has not participated in a passport event for a couple of years but we were glad to see them back on the list. The spiciness of the 2015 Gewürztraminer was a good complement to the spice in the warm corn and red pepper bisque with a crispy cheddar crostini. Since the tasting room was not very crowded it gave us a good opportunity to speak with the staff and learn more about the food and wine. Gewürztraminer has always been a hard sell for wineries because many people can’t pronounce the name! Just ask for the “G” wine and they’ll know what you’re talking about. The variety comes from “Gewürz” meaning spice in German and “traminer” - a variety of grape first grown in the Tramin area of the South Tyrol.

Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery – The dish fit well with the theme of “Taste the Season”. Nothing is better on a cold fall day than a hearty beef stew. This version was with barley and Niagara root vegetables. The wine served was the 2015 Grand Reserve Merlot. This pairing would be great on a cold winter’s night in front of a roaring fire.

Strewn Winery This was one of best presentations – a seasonal sampler trio consisting of smoked trout on rye crisp, Thai pork ball and fig & onion spread on mozzarella. The challenge was to decide which went best with the 2015 Riesling. While it matched with all the food, we both agreed that the wine went best with the fig & onion spread.

Pillitteri Estates Winery – This was the only sweet served at this event. The food was a cinnamon candied pecan crusted pumpkin cookie and it was as good as it sounded. The matching wine was the delicious 2015 Canada 150 Select Late Harvest Vidal. This is a medium sweet wine but not cloying and was a perfect complement to the cookie with a touch of spice. More please!

With only a couple of exceptions, the wineries did a great job of the wine and food presentations this year. 

For information about next year's Taste the Season and other events put on by the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake, check out the website at The next passport event will be the “Days of Wine & Chocolate” in February. You won’t want to miss this highlight event of the new year.


Photos by © F.G. Couch            


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