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Battle of the Wines Riesling and Poutine Showdown


During the summer of 2021, I received some exciting news which happened to be on my wine bucket list. A local group of Okanagan wine enthusiasts started an annual wine competition called “Battle of the Wines”. Each event has a pairing theme to determine which wine goes best with a certain food. BOTW reaches out to wineries from across the Okanagan to consider if they would like to enter a bottle for a themed event. With seven themes in 2021, some of the events included: best wine with a bacon cheeseburger, Syrah and charcuterie, finally, traditional sparkling wine with oysters. It was my pleasure to join them as a guest judge for the Riesling and Poutine showdown.



Each pairing showdown has a combination of wine pros and average Joes. With this approach there is a fun mix of conversation as everyone discusses the pairings. “We want wineries to look at BOTW as a friendly competition between friends and family, where there’s no real loser, because our event is primarily about supporting the BC wine and food industry”, states the Battle of the Wines website.



On the day of the event, it was a beautiful, blue-sky day in the Okanagan. The host location was in in Summerland, at a small family run winery named “Summergate Winery”. Opened in 2011, this hidden gem is owned and operated by Gillian and her husband Mike Stohler. I was fascinated to learn that when they purchased their property, it had already been planted with Riesling, Muscat Ottonel, and Kerner. This is the only winery located in the little Prairie Valley of Summerland. (Okanagan Wine Tour Guide p. 444)



The Stohler’s provide outdoor tasting experiences that I’d highly recommend. It’s a great place to sit in the shade with a glass of Riesling and take in the view of the vines and mountain ranges. Last year, every Friday the winery hosted “Friday Fries” poutine nights, where you can purchase a flight, or a bottle of wine, and enjoy a poutine at no charge (although they encourage tips towards their kids’ post-secondary education fund).


These were the contenders for the Riesling and poutine battle:


2020 Upper Bench Riesling

2020 Tantalus Riesling

2019 Dirty Laundry Riesling

2020 The View Riesling

2020 Lunessence Riesling

2020 Peak Cellars Riesling

2019 Lang Vineyards Farm Reserve Riesling

2017 Grizzli Riesling

2019 Frind Riesling

2020 Mayhem Riesling



For those who aren’t familiar with poutine, this Canadian classic originated in Quebec. The ingredients are fries, gravy, and cheese curds in a bowl. To my surprise the pairing worked better than expected. The high acidity of the Riesling cut through the fat, and made the wine seem less acidic. The salt from the fries and cheese enhanced the subtle minerality note, and made the wine seem rounder. This pairing works!



The wines were scored by aroma, taste, finish, and how well the wine paired with the poutine. It was very enjoyable judging wines that had such a wine variety of flavours, acidity, and sweetness levels.



Are you ready to find out who the winner was?



Lang Vineyards Farm Reserve Riesling! This winery is very underrated in my opinion. Fun fact, they were one of the first wineries to open on the Naramata Bench. At $21 this is a steal of a deal. Some of their Riesling vines are over 60 years old, which makes them some of the oldest in the valley (Okanagan Wine Tour Guide p. 444).



Sources:


A Riesling for Poutine, Battle of the Wines, 2021, battleofthewines.ca/battles/a-riesling-for-poutine.


Schreiner, John, and Luke Whittall. The Okanagan Wine Tour Guide. 6th ed., TouchWood Editions, 2020, pp. 444-45.

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Javen - Poured By Jay

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