Food and wine: A last-minute summer vacation 

Don’t leave home without the wine

There are holidays and then there is summer vacation. If you haven’t noticed summer is moving along at breakneck speed and before you know it the rain and cold weather will be upon us. So, if you haven’t yet managed to slip away for a bit of a summer vacation now is the time. Whether that means the cabin or the cottage, in the mountains or at the lake, for a week or even just a weekend, and it doesn’t much matter, as long as it involves a bit of downtime.

What you do on vacation is another question. I know some of you no longer take a vacation without your laptop or Blackberry. Others take all those books they never found time to read during the year. Still others pack up the golf clubs, fishing rods, bicycles and just about anything else they can tie-down to the roof rack before they head out.

Then there are wine people.

Don’t get me wrong. We do most of the same stuff our neighbours do but for one very crucial difference. We take our own wine. Not the homemade plonk the neighbourhood gets together to make in somebody’s basement but rather bottles we know and like and that might be hard to locate in vacation country.

There are always exceptions but after years of prowling the aisles of B.C.’s rural liquor stores experience has taught me to be prepared. It is true there’s a certain charm to vacation country liquor stores but unfortunately it doesn’t extend to the wines they stock. So, if the tired labels of Soave, Valpolicella, Beaujolais and just about any critter label you can think of get you down, or those 1.5 litre bottles of tasteless juice aren’t your idea of a summer vacation, read on.

This week we present a perfect case for the end of summer. Each selection is a fine example of its origin and grape variety, and since it’s summer we thought offering terrific value might be an incentive as well. And even if a summer holiday isn’t in the cards this year, you’ll be pleased to know all our picks will look just as good at a back yard barbecue as they do at the lake.

Now that you are ready to start sipping, the question is, what should we be drinking? Well, how about some delicious, uncomplicated wines full of flavour.

A sure-fire winner and a wine that suggests you are not only organized for summer but that you may be prepared for anything is the Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d'Asti, Piedmont, Italy ($17) Call it summer in a half-bottle and you can sip it before, during and after dinner. Fresh and delicate, it’s packed with peachy, red apple, floral, ginger, melon, honey flavours. A delicious, off-dry patio ice-breaker, or serve it after dinner with fresh fruit.


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