Happy Birthday, Canada!
For the rest of the year, I get to be my critical self and decry all of the reasons why Canada is not living up to the highest standard of what I wish her to be. But today, on Canada Day, all of that washes away. Today, is YOUR day, dear Canada (and to all my fellow Canadians), this is our day to celebrate everything that makes us truly wonderful! Certainly, this is also an occasion worthy of opening some really good wine.
Reasons to celebrate? Many!
1) The great outdoors.
Yes, Canada indeed has many wide open spaces of quiet. Juxtaposed against our busy iphone social media lives, these quiet spaces give us a more complete feeling of our interconnectedness in life. If you want to care about other human beings more, leave civilization and wifi range behind for a few days and venture further into Canada’s wilderness. Empty your wine into a Platypus Preserve pouch you can buy at any MEC – Mountain Equipment Co-op – a Canadian icon outdoor store. It keeps the wine fresh and keeps the pounds that you have to carry low (without the heavy glass bottle).
Yes, even in Canadian cities, you are surrounded by images of this. I’m not a city person myself, but after spending a week in New York, I realized that the beauty of Canadian cities lies in the fact that we preserve so much space for greenery within its confines. This is the view of English Bay from Stanley Park in Vancouver.
We have deserts too! These pictures are taken from Kumsheen Resorts in Lytton, BC on the Thompson River.
Choosing good friends to spend time with is just as important as choosing your wines. To the left is David Alexander – outdoor extraordinaire, happy, humble and outgoing. If you ever see this man in person, he will talk to you FIRST and probably invite you to go rafting with us.
When you select wines for the outdoors, don’t pick the wine you’ve been cellaring for a long time as the relaxed situation will not do justice to light complex notes. Think fresh, vibrant and simple because you may be drinking from your metal coffee mug or your rubber camping bowls. If you have a choice of container, pick the metal as it won’t carry the curry spice flavours from your last meal in them – however, this can work beautifully as well.
Inexpensive Bordeaux fits the bill nicely. Tart red fruits and a touch of oak make it a quenchable choice after a hot day on the river.
Or bright bing cherry Beaujolais made from Gamay such as Georges duBoeuf for $16.99.
2) We are trying to respect the indigenous cultures of Canada.
When you visit Canada you may notice that many presentations now begin with the words, ” We would like to begin by acknowledging that we are fortunate to be able to gather on the unceded territory of the _____________ Peoples.” Here you fill in the blank with the name of the tribe in your area. Not only does it give me a sense of belonging with the First Nations of this country, it’s also amazing that us whiteys are attempting to pronounce indigenous words and hopefully, thereby, bringing them into the mainstream.
While discussing our beloved indigenous cultures, allow me to recommend a wine from British Columbia’s only first nation’s winery, Nk’Mip (pronounced ink-a-meep). $17.99 a bottle, this is dry but quite fruity and forward with fragrant wild strawberry fields that follows through on the palate. Rosé all Canada Day, I say!
3) Canada Day celebrations in Kamloops, British Columbia.
Kamloops, is my home town. Since growing up there, I have been to Canada Day celebrations in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Penticton, and Whistler and no one does Canada Day like at Riverside Park in Kamloops. Most places sell hot-dogs. Kamloops has every ethnic community you can think of representing cultures with food, dance, sword-fighting, you name it. The food vendors are not the local businesses either. They are non-profit community groups who come out once a year to represent their cultures to feed local Kamloopsians. Welcome to the Kamloops Indo-Canadian Community whose booth sells butter chicken, samosas and vegetarian dishes. You want Thai? Head over to the Thai Cultural Community booth. You want bannock? The deep-fried gooey goodness bread and staple of the First Nations cultures of BC, go over to the Kec Kec (Sister’s) Group of the Lillooet First Nations booth. You want Chinese? German? African? This is not a commercialized event. The people working behind the counters are the mothers of our communities, the backbone of our society and it is fabulous!
There’s a stage packed with entertainment. Watch the Ukrainian dancers, the Irish Step dancers from the Kamloops Irish-Cultural Community Center, drumming from the Kamloops Highland Games Society, and sword fighting from the Shire of Ramsgaard using pre-17th century techniques. I remember finding the tartan colours of my mother’s maiden name in a catelogue at one booth and next going to the Japanese booth to have my name translated into Japanese characters and written on a scroll for me to take home.
Yes, Kamloops has fireworks over the Thompson River at night and ‘Art in the Park’ too. A message to every other town in Canada-land. Step up your game, Kamloops is the benchmark.
Since open alcohol isn’t allowed in municipal parks, we won’t talk about wine here. Except to say that discretion, and containers that aren’t see through (think about a coffee mug with a lid that has never been used for coffee before) and making sure you have a ride home is the plan. Muah-ha-ha-haa!
4) Canadian food!
Bannock – the deep-fried goodness that is amazing when fresh. Lightfoot Gas, now owned by Chevron, still sells bannock. My favourite is either plain or just dusted with sugar.
To drink with this, try Lambrusco! – the bubbly wine from Reggio-Emilia in Italy. Lambrusco is not just one type of wine. There are many different colours made from the different bio-types of grapes – from light-salmon hued to opaque purple and from light bodied to medium, and dry to off-dry. The are great for hot days because they are much lower in alcohol than other wines – usually between 10-11.5% abv.
For wine trained palates, you should try the Vecchia Modena Lambrusco di Sorbara Premium from Cleto Chiarli e Figli for $25, it is paler in colour, light salmon and is really tart due to its high mouthwatering acidity. Think red-currants and tart cranberries and rhubarb. This Lambrusco would go best with the plain bannock.
Poutine! – The richer ingredients of gravy and cheese curd on french fries require a more meaty Lambrusco. Try the more serious Medici Ermete ‘Concerto’ Lambrusco 2016, Reggiano DOC made with Lambrusco Salomino. Bright purple fruits on the nose with violets, a touch of stewed plum and lots of cherries and finishes with a slight apricot pit bitterness. Scardova (pictured on the right) is a frequent visitor to Canada and the wine is as welcoming as Scardova’s smile. The ‘Concerto’ wine won the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri 3 wine glasses award for the 10th year in a row!
Happy 151st Birthday, Canada. You don’t look a day over 100!
Please share! What wine did you treat yourself to on this Canada Day?