From Portugal to the Okanagan, wines with love

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Some of the best-buy food wines are Portuguese, and here’s one that’s new to me—Cavalo Bravo Vinho Tinto 2010 ($12.98, specialty listing). Tinto means red, and this is an upscale pizza or sardines wine—especially if the pizza is Panago’s Garden Veggie or even that Dr. Oetker model you cook yourself from frozen. The wine might well turn out to be cheaper than the pizza.

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As for the sardines: fresh if you’ve got ’em, on the barbecue, on the deck, or on the beach at Albufeira. The wine has the right bite of acidity for the oily little fishes. It also loves my Italian tuna with whole black peppercorns and fresh rosemary.

A lot of people are unfamiliar with Portuguese table wines besides port and Mateus. I like to order Mateus with Chinese food at a neighbourhood restaurant. This Cavalo goes great with miso soup too. Look for it at the LDB, and put a bit of a chill on it before serving.

If I say Graceland to you, you’re thinking what? Elvis’s home in Tennessee, right? If you’re a wine lover, you might say Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa. We had this wine in town briefly during one of those “thematics” some months ago. I bought one and liked it so much I went back to the store and bought a few more.

Glad I did—the 2010 cost $22 and I keep opening them. Never more than one at a time; don’t want to overdo things. It’s heady and rich, chewy and very full, with ripe fruit flavours and a super-long finish. Lots of earthiness. This lovely South African red is still available in a number of B.C. LDB stores. One of the best South African reds of my limited acquaintance.

The best gift you can hand a wine lover—and don’t forget yourself—is a portfolio box of the current vintages from Black Hills Estate Winery. That’s all the reds and whites, three each. Mind you, that’s a total bill of nearly $180 for the lot.

Here’s the lineup, from costliest to cheapest: Nota Bene 2011 ($52.90), Syrah 2011 ($34.90), Chardonnay 2012 ($29.90), Alibi 2012 ($24.90), Cellar Hand Punch Down Red 2011 ($19.90), Cellar Hand Free Run White 2012 ($15.90).

You’re bound to have six special dinner occasions this year. All the wines will keep for 12 months easy, but I’d do the whites first and save the reds for later in the year. It’s a great way to learn what Black Hills has been up to lately. They did create the truly costly B.C. wines. Order from the winery at blackhillswinery.com/.

Nk’Mip Cellars in the southern Okanagan has jumped on the Meritage bandwagon and created a high-end red wine with a high-end name and a correspondingly high-end price tag. The 2010 Mer’r’iym (pronounced “mur-eem”) is a stunning, Meritage-style blend of 47.8 percent Cab Sauv, 35.2 percent Merlot, 6.5 percent Cab Franc, 5.6 percent Malbec, and 4.9 percent Petit Verdot. The winemakers “combined only the best blocks of grapes…[aged them in] French and American oak barrels.…Aromas are of blueberries, black currant, smoke and tobacco with flavours of dark fruit and cherry.” Here’s the kicker—$50 for the bottle.

Along with the wine, this aboriginal-owned winery invites you to enjoy a box of medallion chocolates designed by aboriginal Canadian artist Robert Davidson.

Share your taste experience on Twitter and Instagram, and on the Nk’Mip Cellars Facebook page. If you’ve got a spare 50 crumpling in your jeans, treat yourself.

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