As the cool, crisp late summer air began to give way to the familiar scent of firewood, punctuating the evenings with its warm reminders of Autumn, we knew that Labor Day was upon us. Pumpkin spice lattes had already begun to spring up in café windows, and hues of pink and gold were dappling the leaves, but our sights were set on celebrating that day with one final summer evening on the patio.
A family day, though not quite like one we had ever experienced before with 2020’s challenges at the forefront of our plans, we vowed to focus on the simple things – loved ones, good drink, food, and comfort. With Kosta’s parents owning a beautiful lush garden, we planned to set up the projector screen from his brother outside to create an outdoor cinema and set up a tapas spread of tasty treats and snacks, along with some classic BBQ dishes, a fire-pit, and, of course, lots of good wine and cocktails.
The Saturday of that long weekend, we visited a local wine and spirits shop to pick a few good beverages to share with the family. We asked the knowledgeable shop manager to recommend three approachable sparkling wine between $15 – $40 dollars that will be crowd pleasers and also pair well with food. He brought us a sparkling from Liquidity Wines, made by Alison Moyes, one of the Okanagan’s rising female winemakers; a bottle of 2016 Sparkling Chenin Blanc from Road 13, and Mionetto Prestige Prosecco Brut DOC Treviso. He also recommended a new local gin – Ampersand Gin – which is featured in a lot of their cocktails in their bar/bistro in Gastown Vancouver.
We picked up some tapas snacks too to go with the wines: raclette cheese, olives, parmesan crostini’s, strawberries, and a few rolls of BC roll sushi. Aiming always for an ever-more vegetarian diet with the planet’s health in mind, we opted to skip the classic BBQ menu and bought instead some vegetables, scallops and prawns for grilling – seafood being a classic sparkling wine accompaniment.
As Labor Day arrived, Kosta set up the outdoor cinema screen in the garden and lined up a few film options for us to watch together. I plated up the tapas spread, whilst his brother manned the BBQ. Being the wine aficionados that we are, we read up on the tasting notes and decided to pour the wines with the foods that would amplify them. Liquidity Wines would go with sushi, quiche, and mild cheeses. Our raclette cheese, which is like a mild cheddar, was the perfect choice.
By 4pm, we were all ready to relax in the garden and enjoy the food and wine. We started by pouring the Liquidity NV sparkling. On the nose, this fresh sparkling brought on aromas of citrus, pear and orange with a hint of nuttiness. On the palate the Chardonnay and Pinot blend comes through with exciting granny smith apple, pink grapefruit, melon and a dust of white pepper. After a bite of cheese the refreshing citrus aromas and crisp taste repeated. This was the perfect bottle to start the late afternoon as the sun was still out. Between the five of us the biggest worry was who was going to get the last few drops while being mindful not to get too full off of the BC sushi rolls which paired elegantly with this sparkling.
Our second recommended bottle the 2016 Road 13 Chenin Blanc a lot toastier, with aromas of red apple and citrus. On the palate there is a lingering white peach and sort of key lime pie taste. The ripe fruits cleansed out palates as we enjoyed the lightly grilled tapas. The Mionetto Prestige Prosecco Brut DOC Treviso offered a similar yet different fruit character. Being an Italian prosecco, it had a vivid fruit character followed by a pleasant stone fruit and mineral character. The bubbles were not overpowering and didn’t overshadow the scallop and prawn textures.
With plates scraped clean and the wine drank, we lazed around the fire-pit and soaked up the final rays of the day, the cooler Autumnal air hitting us. Curled up on our comfy chairs with darkness beginning to descend upon us, the moment for movies made itself clear. We opted to watch Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. After setting up the movie, Kosta took care of us by making us Gin and Tonics with Ampersand Gin whilst I prepared popcorn. The Gin and Tonics popped with juniper, floral and spiced botanicals. A gin this good needs to be respected with a quality tonic while the hint of white pepper spice after every sip was perfect. So, we skipped the need for any garnishes.
As the stars came out and the fire blazed next to us, we watched Captain Corelli’s Mandolin together into the night. Sipping my Gin and Tonic, feeling full and cozy curled up with Kosta, I thought to myself, despite 2020’s twists and turns, all it takes is some delicious drinks, food, and family to make Labor Day a wonderful day.