02/27/2014 04:42 EST | Updated 04/29/2014 05:59 EDT

Beating the Winter Blues in Wine Country Niagara

For all my Sagittarian, Capricorn, fellow Aquarians and Pisces who dread the cold winter line ups, and are sick and tired of feeling old when bumping into friends' younger siblings at the local pub, I have an alternative option for you to consider from your friendly neighbors in Niagara: WINERIES!

As a fellow Aquarian and newly returned Niagara resident, I wasn't loving the options of clubbing, going to the casino, or making a trip over the border for two dollar drinks on my 26th birthday. As I get older (note: I know 26 is not old, but let me tell you, I can feel the difference between my 26-year-old body compared to my 19-year-old body). I've learned to appreciate a good meal between family and friends, a bottle of local wine and the comfort of my own home to host parties (where I won't freeze my butt off). This year, I decided to enjoy the winter wonderland setting of Niagara, and invite a few of my closest friends to do a little wine tasting. Surprisingly for a lot of us, this was our first time, even though we were all born and raised in the Niagara region.

Our group of six had a fabulous time wine tasting and eating delicious s'mores for the Days of Wine and Chocolate Weekends in February at Konzelmann Estate Winery. Konzelmann is the seventh official winery to open its doors in Ontario, and now is one of over 140 that the region has to offer. The tasting was a great start to our night as we learned the staff's favourite junk food pairings with wine. You might be surprised to know that you can pair a Canada Red with All Dressed chips, Nibs and ribs, Sauvignon Blanc with Cool Ranch Doritos, Pinot Noir with Reeces Peanut Butter Cups (my personal favourite), Chardonnay BA with popcorn and Smart Food, Sparkling Rose with Milk Duds, Baco Noir with ketchup chips, Baca Noir (2) with meat pizza, Gewurztraminer with Wasabi peas, Vidal Golden Vintage with Cheetos, Chardonnay/Vidal with Dill Pepper Kettle Chips and a Merlot with dark chocolate! Take that fancy wine and cheese party.

Our entire group enjoyed having some laughs and learning interesting wine facts. But the biggest surprise to my night was from the skeptic of the group, who posted this the following Monday:

"If you're a male mid- to late- twenties and tired of running into friends' little sisters at the bar, I tell you I'm not leading you astray when I say you should definitely check out a wine tasting on a day they are serving chocolate as well as wine. I have never in my life felt so much like a piece of meat and loved every minute of it. For the first time in my life I've actually considered putting down the bottle of Jack for a bottle of Riesling."

For the last few weekends left of this freezing cold weather (at least we hope), beat the winter blues and check out Wine Country Ontario, for other events and alternative birthday ideas.

Happy wine tasting!