Jason  Balewski

Jason Balewski

Real Estate Broker

RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc., Brokerage *

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Connoisseurs Corner

For those that don't know me, I used to be employed by the LCBO and part of the Beverage Alcohol Industry for 16 years.  So I know my way around a bottle or 2... or 3 ;) 

As a Co-Founder of IVIVI Wines and Spirits Group I like to update my followers with my monthly beverage picks.  Read below to see what's on my mind...


Enjoy a taste of the Irish this upcoming St. Pattys Day with some new flavors

Baileys Strawberries & Cream

(LCBO  # 551598, $31.95, Ireland)

This flavourful addition to the classic Bailey's lineup is like a strawberry milkshake for adults. Smooth and creamy with appealing strawberry flavour,
Serving Suggestions: Delicious poured over chocolate ice cream or served neat.

Guinness Hop House 13

(LCBO # 536227, $2.85, Ireland)

Hop House is brewed at Guinness' renowned St James's Gate Brewery in Ireland using Guinness yeast and Irish-grown barley. The lager has aromas of citrus and malt, with flavours of grapefruit, apricot, cereal and a hint of caramel. The finish is flavourful and balanced.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with medium cheeses or spicy chicken wings.



Get cozy and romantic with your Valentine with help from this pair.


(LCBO  Vintages # 158550, $99.95, Champagne, France)

Precise and very crisp. Wide range of small red fruits: strawberries, red currants, raspberries and black cherries. Amazing freshness.  Intensely fruity flavors, clean, well-defined and slightly sharp, the wine then opens up to provide an impression of plunging into a basket of freshly picked red berries: strawberries, Morello cherries, black currants and raspberries. The wine is supple and rounded on the finish.

Serving Suggestions: Fruit desserts, Fine Cheeses, Sushi or try it with a spicy dish.


(LCBO # 428599, $16.95, California)

Apothic has developed a reputation for producing bold wines, loaded with fruit and big appeal. Crush is the latest addition to this popular portfolio and only available for a limited time. It offers both fruity and savoury notes in a full-bodied and smooth package.

Serving Suggestions: Enjoy with your Valentines Date!


With the weather turning drab stay warm and lively with some spicy spirits.


(LCBO #258954, $26.80, Quebec, Canada)

Brilliant amber with gold highlights; very pronounced vanilla bean underscored by apple pie spices and toasty grain whisky aromas; medium sweet and round on the palate with flavours of vanilla and spice in a medium length finish.

Serving Suggestions: Mix with cola and lime or use in baking a coffee cake.



(LCBO #225698, $29.95, USA)

Deep amber brown; molasses, orange peel vanilla and spice aromas; sweet vanilla, orange peel and spice flavours with warm spice finish.

Serving Suggestions:  Mix in a Zombie or rum punch and serve with spiced nuts.


Wines to match with your Thanksgiving meals

Angels Gate Sussreserve Riesling VQA

(LCBO # 620104, $12.95, Niagara, Ontario)

Clear, pale straw colour; lovely floral, spice and peach aromas; off dry, medium bodied, fresh ripe peach, lime and pear flavours; good length

Serving Suggestions: Rielsing's clarifying acidity give it a significant pairing edge with the likes of sweet potatoes, turkey meat and spice-laden or herb-filled stuffing.


Mirassou Pinot Noir

(LCBO # 185249, $13.95, California, USA)

Pale ruby colour; raspberry, sour cherry and touch of vanilla in the nose; dry light to medium body; soft cherry and cranberry flavours, soft, smooth finish.

Serving Suggestions: Pinot Noir’s subtle earthy undertones and often mushroom inspired flavors surround the fruit features of the wine and tend to show well with the traditional flavors of turkey and stuffing.



Hold on to summer weather as it comes to an end with a pair of warm weather favorites!


(LCBO # 611475, $16.00, Australia)

Medium straw colour; aromas of pear, melon and hay aromas; dry, light to medium bodied, well balanced, with fresh cut grass, lime and herb flavours.

Serving Suggestions:  Jambalaya, steamed asparagus, grilled veggies or fish dishes.



(LCBO # 614651, $12.95, Argentina)

Ruby red colour; fruit forward raspberry and cherry aromas with herbal notes; dry, medium bodied; ripe berry flavours with soft tannins

Serving Suggestions:  This food friendly wine would match well with grilled meats.

Beat the heat with wines for the BBQ and patio

Peninsula Ridge Inox Chardonnay VQA

(LCBO # 594200, $13.95, Niagara, Ontario)

Pale to medium yellow straw colour; delicate apple, ripe asian pear and lemon aromas and flavours with hints of butterscotch; extra-dry, with well balanced acid structure, refreshing, citrus flavours.

Serving Suggestions: Pork Chops with apple sauce, BBQ Chicken with mango salsa


Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon

(LCBO Vintages # 337238, $19.90, Maipo Valley, Chile)

This robust Cab exhibits cassis, blackberry, chocolate and cedar notes.

Serving Suggestions: Savour with roast leg of lamb with garlic potatoes, or a meaty lasagna.


Spring is here, Summer is coming, enjoy these Patio and BBQ wines!


(LCBO Vintages # 90241, $19.95, South Australia, Australia)

Some of the grapes used come from some of Barossa's oldest vines, and the wine never fails to deliver layered and complex fruit aromas and flavours along with impressive structure & balance

Serving Suggestions:  This is a wine that will reward 3-5+ years in the cellar. Enjoy with grilled red meats.



(LCBO # 45641, $16.95, California)

Pale lemon yellow colour with green tints; aromas of apricot, apple sauce, and citrus; dry, light-bodied and fresh, with flavours of lemon zest, pear, and a slight nuttiness on the finish.

Serving Suggestions:  Serve with scallops and pesto on linguine.

May means BBQ season starts and patios open for good times!


(LCBO # 665471, $14.95, Barossa, Australia)

Opaque dark red; aromas of cedar, anice, black fruit; black fruit flavours with a toasty medium-long finish.  Great mouth-feel, rich solid structure.  Amazing value!

Serving Suggestions: BBQ meats or vegetables.



(LCBO Vintages # 35386, $17.95, Marlborough, New Zealand)

Not to be missed! The 2006 through 2010 vintages of this wine received an average score over 90 from Wine Spectator!  Full flavored w/ Lots of gooseberry, cut grass, pea pods and passion fruit aromas & flavours.

Serving Suggestions: Everyday: grilled chicken with a side salad. Takeout: pork gyros.  Fine Dining: steamed clams or mussels with wild mushroom risotto.

Game of Thrones libations to sip with the release of the last season of the show

Game of Thrones Chardonnay (LCBO # 515676, $29.95, California)

Winter looms, but fair weather and a long summer have yielded a fine and elegant chardonnay. Aromas of tree fruit and fragrant blossom lead to a rich palate, with notes of lemon and honey and racy acidity that would complement the finest cuisine of the realm.

Serving Suggestions: Brilliant with poultry, chestnut soup or almond-crusted trout.

Mother of Dragons Beer (Game of Thrones Royal Reserve)
(LCBO # 639013, $14.00, New York)

The 3rd of a series from the Game of Thrones Collection; inspired by Daenerys. A unique blend of smoked porter and kriek beer. Deep ruby in colour. Shows aromas and flavours of dark chocolate covered cherries, smoke and roasted malt. The palate is rich with a refreshingly tart finish. 
Serving Suggestions: Try with smoked cheese or charcuterie.

You don’t have to be Irish to indulge in St. Patty’s Day libations, try these new picks

Guinness Hop House 13

(LCBO # 536227, $2.85, Ireland)

Hop House is brewed at Guinness' renowned St James's Gate Brewery in Ireland using Guinness yeast and Irish-grown barley. The lager has aromas of citrus and malt, with flavours of grapefruit, apricot, cereal and a hint of caramel. The finish is flavourful and balanced.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with medium cheeses or spicy chicken wings.


The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey

(LCBO # 631887, $49.95, Ireland)

This dram pours brilliant gold out of the bottle; unassuming on the nose, with notes of toffee, melon, apricot, malty grains and spice. A sip reveals flavours of salted toffee, mixed nuts and dried apricot; the whisky is light to medium-bodied with a touch of sweetness and a warm, balanced and elegant finish.

Serving Suggestions: A splash of soda, neat, or cut it with a cube of ice.


Wines to Celebrate with your Valentine!

Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvée Rosé

(LCBO Vintages# 280172, $21.95, New Zealand)

Raspberry with a touch of lemon on the nose; while the palate reveals a touch of grapefruit amongst the red berries. Fresh red fruit with a citrus finish.

Serving Suggestions: Chilled with strawberries and chocolate


Cupcake Red Velvet

(LCBO # 260851, $13.95, California, USA)

Deep ruby colour with aromas of dark berry fruit, cassis and hints of vanilla; picks up some chocolate and spice on the palate.

Serving Suggestions: Hoisin-Glazed Steak with Sesame Vegetables, Whipped Coconut Chocolate Mousse, Blackberry Chocolate Cupcakes.


With the Holidays over, here are some wines that are easy on the budget (January 2019)


Trapiche Astica Sauvignon Semillon

(LCBO #359083, $8.45, Argentina)

Pale straw yellow colour; intense peachy/grassy, slightly tropical nose; dry on the palate, with citrusy/peach fruit flavours, herbal notes, moderate acidity and finish.

Serving Suggestions: Lemon herb baked white fish with pecan pie for dessert.


JJ McWilliam Shiraz Cabernet

(LCBO #16741, $10.35, Australia)

Medium ruby red colour; big nose of eucalyptus, black currant and vanilla; dry, medium to full bodied, with lots of juicy fruit flavours; spicy notes on the long finish..

Serving Suggestions:  Keep it simple and pair with Burgers with your favorite toppings.