About the Author

Rod Phillips

Rod Phillips is an Ottawa-based wine writer and wine historian, and a professor of history at Carleton University. His books include A Short History of Wine (2000), Ontario Wine Country (2006), Alcohol: A History (2014), and French Wine: A History (2016). He writes wine features for NUVO Magazine and Vines Magazine, has contributed to The World of Fine Wine and GuildSomm.com, and publishes articles and wine reviews on rodphillipsonwine.com. He travels extensively to wine regions around the world and has judged in wine competitions in Canada, the US, France, Italy, New Zealand, and Chile.

Books by this Author
9000 Years of Wine

9000 Years of Wine

A World History
also available: Paperback
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Wines You Should Try

Wines You Should Try

A Guide for Canadians
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For ten years I wrote the annual 500 Best-Value Wines in the LCBO, which was a guide to the best-value wines in Ontario's provincial liquor system. Each spring I asked wine agencies and wineries to send me samples of the wines they wanted considered for inclusion in the guide. I did the same for the present guide, the one you have in your hands, and I received more than a thousand wines to consider.
     I tasted all the wines systematically, all at the proper temperature: the reds cool, the whites and sparkling wines chilled. As I tasted, I made notes and triaged the wines: wines that would definitely make the cut, wines that might be in the guide, and wines that would definitely not make it. Unlike my guide to wines in the LCBO, which included 500 wines each year, I aimed for no particular number for this guide. If there were 200, fine. If there were 800, fine. As it turned out, there are 500.
     I made no distinction in terms of style, and this guide is certainly not simply a list of the wines I like to drink. It's true that I like most of them, but there are some styles I'm not so keen on, such as very sweet wines and the sweeter red wines that have become quite popular. But a wine guide is not about personal preference, and I applied the same criteria to all the wines that I tasted: balance and quality.
     Most wine professionals agree that balance is essential in wine, meaning that there should be a balance among all the components: fruit, acid, and alcohol, and (where appropriate) sugar and tannins. That means that when I taste sweet wines, such as icewines, I look not only for sweetness, but for the appropriate level of acidity and fruit flavour. Sweetness alone is not enough. When I taste dry wines, I look not only for good acidity, but evident fruit flavours. When I tasted big, robust, red wines, I look not only at their concentrated fruit flavours but also for the right level of acidity and structure that is needed to make them drinkable and go well with food.
     The wines in this guide are balanced for the styles of wine they represent. Very sweet wines in this guide have good fruit and acidity. High-acid wines (such as some rieslings) have enough fruit to balance the acidity. The wines here do not smell or taste of alcohol, even if they have a high alcohol level. Fruit-driven wines have enough acidity to keep them fresh.

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