Types of Wine: <span class="caps">BC</span>

With more than 210 wineries in operation throughout the province and 864 vineyards that grapes are sources from, British Columbia produces on average about thirteen million liters of wine a year. BC produces more than sixty different grape varietals with a large emphasis on red wine. Below you’ll find information on the white and red varietals from BC.

White Wine Varietals

Pinot Gris: Medium to full bodied wine with typical flavours of peach, pear, vanilla, spice and sometimes honey. It is best paired with some Asian cuisine, fish, light meats, or a light creamy sauce.

Chardonnay: Full bodied wine with flavours of apples, pears, and some citrus. This wine can have some tropical notes if it is grown in a warmer climate. Winemakers do make both an Oaked Chardonnay and Non-Oaked Chardonnay. The difference will be in the price and the flavours. Wines will usually have a toasty flavour when oaked. It is best paired with lobster, crab, prawns, salmon, turkey, or pork veal.

Gewurztraminer: Medium-light to full bodied wine with flavours of peach, grapefruit, earthy mineral with some citrus. Gewurztraminer can come in dry to semi-sweet. It is best paired with spicy cuisine from China, Thailand, and India or is also good with German schnitzel.

Riesling: Light to medium bodied wine with flavours of apricots, peaches, pears, apples, and some mineral flavours. Riesling table wine is best paired with Barbeque or smoked foods or some types of spicy dishes. Riesling Ice Wine is usually served as a dessert wine, but it can also be served as aperitif wine with spicy dishes, pate, or foie gras. This is one of the more popular varietals in BC.

Sauvignon Blanc: Light to medium bodied wine with flavours of green apple, green pepper, gooseberry, and herbal mineral flavours. This is a very refreshing wine that is usually paired best with shellfish, light dishes like antipasto, quiche, or my favourite, goat cheese.

Pinot Blanc: Medium to full bodied wine with flavours of apples, pears, lemon, fig, and a straw like or mineral flavour. Pinot Blanc grows really well in BC and some even say that it is one of the grapes that set BC apart from other wine producing regions. Sometimes it is considered to be the poor man’s Chardonnay; but if produced right, can out shine a lot of wines including Chardonnay. It is best paired with halibut, clams, oysters, and or turkey dinner.

Viognier: The demand for Viognier is on the rise in BC, with the grape typically being used in blending. Viognier is usually added to Syrah or Shiraz to add more spice and complexity to the wine. The most common flavours found in Viognier wine are apricot, mango, pineapple, baked apples, kiwi, and some spice if the wine is aged in oak. Viognier is best served with Indian or Moroccan cuisines or braised chicken.

Red Wine Varietals

Merlot: Medium to full bodied wine with flavours of plum, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. Merlot grows very well in a lot of BC wine regions and, just like Chardonnay, is very adaptable to many different growing regions. This wine is very approachable and is a good wine for novice wine drinkers who are starting to explore red wines. Merlot pairs best with all types of red meat, duck, and any game style bird.

Pinot Noir: Usually a light to medium bodied wine with flavours of strawberry, cherry, plum, and light spices. Pinot Noir is a very difficult grape to grow, so finding the right region and growing temperature can lead to a great wine. There are some spectacular Pinot Noirs that come from the BC wine region. Pinot Noir is very adaptable to many different styles of foods but is best with salmon, halibut, tuna, duck, and veal.

Cabernet Sauvignon: This wine is usually available in a medium to full bodied, with flavours of black cherry, black currant, green pepper, green olive and sometimes it can have a mocha flavour. Cabernet Sauvignon is notoriously a hard style of grape to ripen and requires a particular growing region in order to achieve this. BC does have warmer regions in the South Okanagan where this grape grows well, but they are limited. Cabernet Sauvignon is best paired with filet mignon, roast beef, and rack of lamb.

Syrah (Shiraz): The wine is full bodied with flavours of spice, blackcurrant, blackberry, cherry, pepper, and can have some earthy tones. This is one of BC’s most promising red grapes. The styles and flavours that are been produce in BC are unbelievable. These wines are so good that it is difficult to keep them in stock. Best served with BBQ meats, peppercorn steak and braised lamb.

Cabernet Franc: Typically a medium bodied wine with flavours of currant, raspberry, blackberry, plum, and sometimes bell pepper or green olive. This is another promising red grape in BC that winemakers are finding, that when ripened properly, can stand on its own without blending. BC Cabernet Franc is very adaptable to many different styles of food including sausages, beef steaks, roasts, hamburgers, and cold meats.

There are many other varietals of grapes that are grown in BC and I encourage you try as many as you can. In my opinion, the grapes to watch in BC are Pinot Blanc, Viognier, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc.

About Dave Keighron

Dave Keighron has written 63 posts in this blog.

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