A couple of tips: Cheese and olives are equalizers for really bad, old-style Italian reds. The fat binds up tannins that might otherwise concave your palate. Eggs work well with riesling. There's nothing better than dunking biscotti in a nice ice wine. Cheap reds and doughnuts work surprisingly well.
And the absolute no-nos? Too much garlic with any wine. Pasta and sweet whites. Big reds and sushi.
Between all this, we managed to also taste the mountain.
Sun Peaks, sitting in its own little valley 30 miles from Kamloops in British Columbia's interior, catches the same light snow that makes nearby heli-ski terrain famous.
What was once a single chair serving seriously scary expert terrain has expanded to 3,700 skiable acres across three mountains with 122 runs and 11 lifts.
As for the village, it's small and easily walked, with that upscale-rustic mix of peeled logs, rough stone and muted colors that has become an almost standard North American ski resort style. It's comfy and low key, and at night, twinkling lights turn it into a fairyland.
Then in mid-January, all this turns into wine central, with competitions, seminars, a blow-out wine master's dinner, plus the signature event, a progressive tasting. What started nine years back with a single night of festivities and 109 guests is now nine days and 1,000 people.
Our last night, we walked the village. Street lights twinkled against thick layers of snow.
Yes, we probably slurped one or three too many. But the cold air soothed us, and the walk through the snow-covered trees under a spectacular starry sky refreshed us.
And the next morning, 6 inches of untouched snow sat atop the groomed runs. Just waiting.
If you go
Wine has boomed in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, which is about four hours east of Vancouver by car and five hours northeast of Seattle. From maybe a dozen wineries in 1991, there are now more than 100. The Sun Peaks Winter Okanagan Wine Festival runs Jan. 12-20. Events include seminars on how to pair food or chocolate with wine, an introduction to ice wine and various tasting events, competitions and dinners. thewinefestivals.com
British Columbia ski info: hellobc.com
Another major ice wine festival is the Niagara Icewine Festival, held three weekends each year from mid- to late January in the Niagara region of Ontario. This is Canada's oldest and largest festival, with outdoor ice wine cafes, trips out to the fields to pick frozen grapes, ice-carving contests, a gala formal dinner and more. niagarawinefestival.com