A girlfriend and I are headed down Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOL) this weekend for Sip & Sizzle and I can’t wait! It’s a new event with 26 participating wineries serving passport holders one of their VQA wines paired with sampling fresh off the grill (hence the sizzle).
We’re only going down for the day, so we’ll only have time to stop at five or six wineries. Fortunately, the event takes place every weekend in May so I’ll probably pop back down there later in the month to take in some others. This particular friend isn’t that familiar with the wineries down there and so I’m in charge of planning the day.
I’ve come up with a few different strategies and I’ll let her choose. Here are the ideas I’ve come up with for organizing the day:
- By colour: I was looking at the list of what wine each winery is serving and I was pleasantly surprised by the split – looks to me like 12 are serving whites, 9 are serving reds, and 5 are serving rosés. Since rosés are such a terrific summer sipper, it’s tempting to focus on rosés, with a view toward picking up some bottles for sharing with friends over the summer. On the other hand, the list of whites being poured include some wines my friend might not be familiar with, or maybe is especially fond of – so that’s another option. Of course, if she’s looking forward to firing up the BBQ for some burgers, brats, chops, or steaks, maybe she’ll want to find a few reds to take home for enjoying with her dinner guests.
- By Location: Planning the day based on a particular route may sound odd, but it is really fun. You’ll put your day in fates hands in terms of the wines and food you’ll sample, but in doing so, I’m sure you’ll discover lots of new favourites. The wineries in NOL tend to be clustered and so it’s really easy to hit five or six that are all near each other. For example, you might try wineries along the Niagara Parkway, or on Niagara Stone Road (aka Highway 55), or along the Lake.
- By what they’re grilling: If you’re into grilling, or if you’re looking for new ways of serving some of your favourite BBQ foods, why not pick the wineries based on what they’re grilling up? You might be inspired to try different recipes this summer and you’ll find some great wines to serve with your summer BBQ creations.
- By wineries you’ve never been to: Unless you’re a regular (or you’ve written a winery guide), chances are there are at least a handful of wineries in NOL that you’ve not stopped at. Well, why not use Sip & Sizzle as your reason to try those wineries you’ve never been to before.
- By favourite: If you’ve got some favourites – and most of us do – Sip & Sizzle is a great way to reconnect – see how they fared during the winter, raise a toast to their wines, and see what they suggest goes well with something on the grill.
Sip & Sizzle is happening every weekend in May (Fridays-Sundays 11-5 p.m.). Passports are $43+HST ($35+HST for designated driver passports). You can order them on-line and pick them up at the Chamber of Commerce in downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake, 26 Queen St.