In trying times we find ourselves in unpleasant scenarios.
A fitful cycle that feels as though it's happening against my will has become an ongoing reality, and it goes a little something like this:
Scenario 1: lasting in duration 2-4 days:
"I'm an empowered human who decides my own fate!". An impressive onslaught of productivity ensues, leaving me feeling confident and in control. A sense of optimism overtakes, and I reward myself with too much wine and edibles.
Scenario 2: 1-3 days
"Ugh, I can't get out of bed, and I want to bake cake and eat chips." Tedious, and overly philosophical conversations rule my text threads, fueled by self doubt and anxiety. A shred of hope moves me forward, with the knowledge that this too shall pass. Exorbitant amounts of fried food are consumed during this period.
Amidst quarantine, I've been (mostly) eating and drinking extremely well. For that I am incredibly fortunate. It's no secret I'm a ruthless ambassador for Canadian wine, and it's been fun to try new releases and revisit old favourites.
This got me thinking - could it be possible that others are feeling the same way I have been? How are they managing? What are they eating and drinking to cope?
To find out, I reached out to a handful of my industry peers and asked them to share their best quarantine food and wine pairings, memorable bottles they've enjoyed, and things they wouldn't normally share on social media - guilty pleasures or "embarrassing" snacks.
Emily Walker, Tap and Barrel/Naramata Inn
"The overall takeaway after drinking nearly nothing but BC for the month is that - wow, I’ve got more pride in our local wines than ever having enjoyed some of these producers as of late: Else/Echo Bay, Anthony Buchanan, Rigour & Whimsy, Meyer, Syncromesh, Nichol, Bella, Bartier Bros, Scout.
Backyard bonfires have been a fairly regular quarantine activity, so naturally s’mores have been on the menu. Gotta be Cadbury’s milk chocolate. None of that 70% cocoa BS.
Also, carrot cake. I’m a carrot cake enthusiast and have made a couple this past month. Favourite time to eat it is at breakfast with my coffee!
One of my all time favourite pairings is an authentic spaghetti carbonara paired with a dry, citrus driven, yet savoury white. We made carbonara and paired it with the Terravista Albarino and it was a knock out."
Caroline Tucker, Quail's Gate
"These have been the most stand out bottles I've enjoyed lately: 2016 Mount Edward Muirkirk Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2019 O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars Unoaked Chardonnay, 2018 Felton Road Block 2 Chardonnay, and 2017 Bric Cenciurio Roero Arneis.
As far as guilty pleasures go - there’s a 6 pack of Grapefruit Nude in my fridge. Ughh, even admitting this is making me sad as I type - but my generous sized rump isn’t getting any smaller with all this quarantining, so I figured if I just have it in there, psychologically I’m bound to lose weight. So far the results are inconclusive.
I’m appalled to admit that in a moment of self-isolation insanity, I opened a bottle of 2016 Cote Du Rhone from Ortas – Cave de Rasteau that was badly corked. Determined that I was just hallucinating and that the wine was totally fine “it’s fine, it’s not that bad, its French, it’s supposed to be funky and smell like a Parisians armpit" With sheer willpower, I managed to choke down a glass before I had to concede defeat. I gave it my best college try, but it was not to be. Nice to know that I haven’t totally hit rock bottom yet.
Restraint in wines is highly underrated. I’ve found myself being increasingly drawn to wines that make me stop my blithering drivel on whatever drunken zoom call I’m on and take notice. Gone are the days where “slutty” is good. Wine deserves some appreciation, some love, a romantic date and thoughtful contemplation before you chug it like a possessed frat boy at a keg party."
Rachel Kagan, Naturally Wine Newsletter
"Lately I’ve been starting my day with this banana bread, some cold brew, and listening to Fleetwood Mac. Sometimes I meditate, though lately I’ve been wondering if it’s essential to continue paying for Headspace to be reminded to breathe.
Anyway. I can’t say I’ve had any majorly memorable meals, to be honest every meal is a small victory as the days blend into each other. Though I have made the cult stew from Alison Roman and really enjoyed that, paired with Stanners Pinot Gris. I've also enjoyed Traynor’s Piquette for a lower alcohol option, and I was most excited to try Paradise Grapevine’s Gamay which was fun and light, perfect for a weird pandemic!
Guilty pleasures have included ricotta and jam on toast, Sugo eggplant parm, and Annie’s Mac & Cheese. I particularly liked dinner of potato kugel topped with fried egg and side of smoked salmon, and like everyone else I made the Alison Roman shallot pasta and had it with Guinguette, a biodynamic blend of Pineau d’Aunis and Gamay."
Sean Sydney, Midfield Wine Bar
"This certainly isn't mind-blowing as far as something most people don't know, but I've had Rieslings with three or four different dinners during quarantine and it's incredible how versatile a high-acid, occasionally off-dry wine can be. Whether it's a spicy curry that can be difficult to find a match with, fatty sausages that need to be cut through or a fish plate with lots of citrus that needs an acidic wine to stand up to it, I've really appreciating drinking Riesling with each.
I really enjoyed a 2017 Tollot-Beaut Chorey-les-Beaune which proves there's still tons of pleasure to be had in unflashy Burgundy by good producers. Also, a 2013 Radio-Coteau "Las Colinas" Syrah - I'm getting more and more into American Rhône wines and this was a standout.
And, I'm happy to tell anyone who asks about my love of Mr. Big chocolate bars, sour patch kids, Wendy's burgs or any number of high-calorie, low-nutrition comfort foods."
Gael Mackie, Boom Boom Beverages
"I love supporting local BC wineries, especially smaller producers! Some standouts: Sebastien Laurent 'Aubergiste, a boire!' carbonic merlot, Tall Tale Gruner Veltliner, and Whispering Horse Sparkling Pinot Gris Rose.
Chilling the Scout Vineyards Skin Contact Riesling in a glacial river, and cracking it open with my wine club friends after an epic mountain bike ride has been one of my best moments in quarantine.
I know I'm late to the trend, but homemade pasta has blown my mind! Along with homemade sushi: yellowfin, avocado, tofu and yam with fun sauces. We also made a slushy with blended sake and strawberries (and a bit of sugar), inspired by a restaurant in Whistler called Sushi Village - maybe this counts as my guilty pleasure? Be warned - they are dangerous and go down way too easily!
Tess Krossing, Gibson Family Group / Blueblood Steakhouse
"I just bought a mixed case from Mark Jacoby - Karim Vionnet Beaujolais and Les Athletes du Vin Chenin Blanc. Delicious! The Chenin is my current favourite for day drinking/backyard picnicking, and work-zoom calling. The Karim Beaujolais is my companion for watching trashy Netflix, and pyjama parties. That is, If I get any at all, the bottles seem to collect on my boyfriend's beside table, mysteriously!
We’ve also been dipping into the local scene a bit. In the first weeks of quarantine we managed to polish off our Big Third Chardonnay, Grange Winery Pinot Noir Mag, Grange Isabelle Block Pinot Gris, Trail Estate Foxcroft Vineyard Cab Franc, and countless bottles of the not so local Emilio Lustau Amontillado.
My newest guilty pleasure looks really bad but is delicious! I get a can of black beans, rinse them and then cook them in bbq sauce for 20 mins. Delicious smokey bbq’d beans! Add cheese, or corn, or pickled jalapeños and eat with scoops. So tasty, but it looks a bit like dog food.
Food pairing wise, I gotta say Rosewood’s Flora with our last picnic! Saint Agur, GF crackers and cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto. It’s not really a shocking pairing, I just wasn’t expecting the wine to pair so well with the penicillin stink of the cheese.
I’m just loving how everyone is coming together in the weirdest ways. There is so much tolerance right now, it's incredible. It's okay to day drink, drink alone, sit in your backyard all day with wine and a podcast and do nothing productive at all."
What are your guilty pleasures? Send me a message - there's no judgement here!