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Views from the Ontario Vines

with Fred Couch

“Sip and Sizzle - 2017”

Sip and Sizzle is an annual event put on by 24 wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  For a $45 touring pass you could visit all the wineries over four weekends in May (including Fridays) for a food and wine pairing.  This way you were able to spread your visits over one or all weekends although we have run into people who did it all in one day!  This is not recommended unless you have a designated driver and even then it doesn’t give you time to enjoy your tour and be able to speak with some of the knowledgeable winery people.

I have to admit I found it hard to find the “sizzle” at some of the wineries but I guess I expected more barbequed or grilled offerings.  In any case, it was a very enjoyable event.  

Best food presentation:

Although I don’t eat seafood, from a photography point of view, this food pairing at Two Sisters Vineyards was by far the best presentation.  The 2016 Sauvignon Blanc was matched with a cod potato fritter with a grilled zucchini, tomato and basil salad.  Instead of just serving the food on a paper plate or napkin, this was served on a bamboo tray - 100% biodegradable and friendly to the environment.  I just had the salad and it went very well with the Sauvignon Blanc and my wife enjoyed having two cod potato fritters!

Runners up: Strewn Winery always has a great presentation and this year was no exception.  Three food samples were served on a porcelain tray and included grilled zucchini brushed with dill infused olive oil, pork scaloppini and Applewood smoked cheddar on a cheese cracker.  This trio was matched with a 2015 Pinot Blanc.  All the food samples went with the wine but the smoked cheddar was definitely the best match.


Pondview Estate Winery had the most colourful food.  The 2016 Cabernet Franc Rosé (extra dry) was paired with an “Asian slaw dog” with a tangy slaw with hoisin, lime, cilantro topped with “Sriracha” mayo.

Best food and wine match:


Hinterbrook Estate Winery served a very tasty grilled pork and a spring mixed salad with a raspberry dressing.  Two wines were offered to go with the food – a 2015 “Venus” Rosé (Cabernet Sauvignon) and a “Mars” Rosé (Cabernet Sauvignon).  Both wines went well with the salad but our favourite was the “Mars” with a more bold and fruity flavour.

Runners up:  The Hare Wine Co. matched their 2016 Jack Rabbit White with grilled Halloumi cheese marinated in a mild & creamy curry sauce on a Naan wedge topped with Niagara peach.  My only complaint was that the piece of cheese was too small to get a really good taste.

Pillitteri Estates Winery served their “Debbie Tavis” Pinot Grigio with a caramelized grilled peach, burrata (mozzarella & cream) and candied prosciutto on a basil walnut crostini.  This was very tasty.

Best sizzle:

This is a tie between sister wineries Peller Estates Winery and Trius Winery.  This was the type of “sizzle” I was expecting at more wineries this year.  Both served grilled sausages.  At Peller we had a cabernet wild boar sausage with Quebec maple mustard, fried chili shallots and mustard seedlings.  The wine was their 2015 Private Reserve Gamay Noir.  At Trius we had spiced lamb Merguez sausage, spring slaw, honey and a mint yogurt dressing.  This paired well with the 2015 Trius Merlot.  Our only complaint was that either the bun should have been bigger or the sausage slightly smaller but this is a minor detail because they both were very good.

Best sweet offering:

This was an easy choice because there was only one sweet offered and that was at Lailey Vineyard Winery. The cherry cheesecake flambé was really good.  I think I had the bigger half!  However, the 2012 Pinot Noir was not a good match for the cheesecake.  It was just too dry for a sweet dessert.  A better match would have been an off-dry Riesling or even a late harvest Riesling.

All in all, this was a very good event.  I just wish there was a bit more “sizzle”.  

For information about next year's Sip & Sizzle and other events put on by the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake,


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- photos by Fred Couch additional photos

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