That looks pretty damn great, right? Let me tell you, dear reader, it was. Firm past tense. It was quaffed rather soon!
The Social Herbivore, Toronto wine and plant-based food pairings enthusiasts, have teamed up with Niagara winery, Two Sisters Vineyards and the Wandering Deli to bring local boutique packages to your door. Did somebody say garden picnic? You heard that too? Great!
Two Sisters is a fantastic, premium winery located in our beloved and world renowned Ontario winemaking region and winemaker Adam Pearce is known for his mastery of the craft. The vineyard have paired their vegan-friendly vintages with three plant-based "cheeses" and a "cheesecake" and I am here to tell you all about them...and gloriously bombard you with up-close wine and cheese shots that are so tantalizing they are nearly naughty!
Blush, blush baby! The 2017 Margo Rosé is a winner on its own, but paired with the almond-based Cranberry Harvati-homage, it is an extra special treat. The light saltiness and fat of the cheese coupled with the balanced sweet and acidic rosé makes for a tasty combination. The cranberries in the cheese are given a summery lift by the light strawberry notes in the wine. "Light bodied" and "delightful" are the words that spring to mind. I am not entirely plant-based, but I do dabble in vegan cheese, and this was a good take.
Texturally, the Smokey Maple Brie-homage was a real winner. Vegan cheese has a hard job replicating flavour and texture of its dairy muses, and the best plant-based alternatives I have tried tend to do their own thing. This was one such "cheese" that wasn't trying too hard to be what it isn't. The coconut oil and smokey flavours alongside the 2017 Sauvingnon Blanc were really lifted amid this palate cleansing wine! Fruity wine with smokey cheese. I dig it. I actually truly adored this cheese and found it one of the best substitutes I have ever tried.
Another excellent not-cheese was The Terra, which is a tomato intense, rich and creamy delight. I have always been wary of Riesling, worrying that it will be too sweet for my liking, but actually this vintage is acidic, fresh and characterized by citrus fruits like lemon, grapefruit and perhaps a little touch of orange. The crisp wine cut through the velvety texture and made for a applaudable pairing.
The 2016 Estate Red is a delightful vintage from Two Sisters. The 2013 vintage got a lot of great press, but 2016 was also a great year in Niagara, with a long hot summer producing some hearty grapes! I love wine, but I am not an EXPERT, which is why Social Herbivore Master Sommelier Jen Huether comes in handy. Her picks from Two Sisters were totally spot on and allowed me to sound smart and sophisticated to my friends who enjoyed the bounty with me (yes, they're in my "bubble", don't worry!). I have to admit I loved the dark, fruit and rich red more than I loved the Chocolate Cheesecake, which proved divisive! I found it a little too savoury for my personal taste, but it was certainly rich enough to look the red square in the eye.
I had legitimate genuine garden fun with my boutique hamper of cheese and wine. It was an absolute delight to sit and taste wine and eat "cheese" with my friends, but that sounds pretty obvious, right? Two Sisters Vineyards and the Wandering Deli are both the real deal; their products are undeniably high end and any impish imbiber like me would have a good day in their company. Thank you to the Social Herbivore for delivering them to my door.
Full disclosure, this hamper was gifted to me, but the EXCELLENT news is that it costs $175 including delivery, which is an absolute steal in my opinion. For the spread and quality, you really wont find better. AND $5 from every hamper goes to support the Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank!
With the August long weekend and Labour Day on the horizon, I would encourage you to get your orders in for this bumper babe of goods. YUM. I should not have written this blogpost hungry on a Monday morning. I am absolutely lusting for the carefree throws of weekend wine swilling. *Eyes wine rack*...