Vertigo Flights of Wine: CN Tower Restaurant Wine List Dazzling (and Dizzying)

James Muir, is the sommelier and maitre d’ at the 360 The Restaurant at the top of the CN Tower in Toronto. James manages the world’s highest wine cellar and has served many celebrities from Michelle Obama to John Travolta. What was your first wine experience? It was likely some low-end import wine from the depanneur, the corner convenience store where I lived in Montreal. I also tried Baby Duck at some point back then. However, more interesting wines were those from British Columbia in the 1980s. At that time, I experimented with pricier, imported bottles when I went out […]

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Sommelier Secrets on Weird Wine and Food Pairings, and Dream Cellar

In our latest sommelier profile, Jay Whiteley, who has been the sommelier and wine director at several of Canada’s best restaurants, most recently, The Chase in Toronto, shares his favourite and weirdest food and wine pairings, as well as tips on choosing from a restaurant wine list. What was your first wine experience? Learning how to say the word Gewürztraminer. Why did you move from BC, where you were working at one of the top restaurants in Vancouver, to join The Chase in Toronto? I moved for some personal reasons, but also to learn about the LCBO distribution system. Toronto […]

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Best Wine Class in Toronto? IWEG WSET Wine Courses

By Marnie Williamson, IWEG Looking to take a wine class in Toronto, but perhaps having difficulty deciding where to study? Here are the top 10 reasons to choose the Independent Wine Education Guild (IWEG): 1) Leader in Education – IWEG has been leading wine and spirits education in Canada for almost 40 years. In 1977, the IWEG became the first Approved Program Provider (APP) for the Wine Spirits and Education Trust (WSET) outside of London, U.K. 2) Depth and Breadth of Instructors – 25 certified instructors, subject-matter experts, with extensive experience in the wine and spirits industry, dedicated and passionate […]

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Top Sommeliers Compete for National Title: Video Part 2

I’ve updated this blog post that was published previously with the details of this year’s sommelier competition. The discussion in the video remains relevant. You can get more details and to get tickets to this year’s competition for Canada’s Best Sommelier here. You can also read other sommelier profiles here. We continue our video chat below with Master Sommelier Bruce Wallner about Canada’s Best Sommelier Competition in Halifax this month. We find out why the Quebec sommeliers are such fierce competitors (think Cobra Kai in the Karate Kid) and the next competitions for the successful candidate. You can also watch […]

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How to Pick a Wine Class? Learn About Wine to Satisfy Your Thirst

You’ve started to learn about wine and find yourself thirsting for more knowledge. Choosing a wine course can be challenging, especially with so many options these days. Selecting the right wine class depends on your goals: 1. Is it to become more knowledgeable as a wine drinker and to increase your personal enjoyment of wine? 2. To find a new hobby that you and a friend or partner can pursue together? 3. To learn more about various wine regions in order to plan gastro-vacations? 4. To make a career change or start one in the wine industry? I’ve always felt […]

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Canada’s Best Sommelier Competition: Bruce Wallner Video

In the video chat below Bruce Wallner, recently named Ontario’s Best Sommelier, talks about participating in the Best Canadian Sommelier Competition this month in Halifax. He’s already a certified Master Sommelier and has worked in restaurants around the world, including Australia, Spain and the UK. We also talked about what made him want to become a sommelier originally (some interesting comparisons with the world’s oldest profession), the role of a sommelier and what he enjoys most about the job. Tell us about the competition: who enters and what do you have to do to compete? This event is hosted by […]

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Which Food Films Co-Star with Wine? The Oscar for Best Bottle Goes to …

Wine is often a co-star with food in the movies, especially films about food: The Big Night (1996) Like Water for Chocolate (1992) Soul Food (1997) Chocolat (2000) The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) Eat, Drink, Man, Woman (1994) Tampopo (1985) Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978) Dinner Rush (2000) Rare Birds (2001). The three movies I most want to see right now in this genre are Chef, The Hundred Foot Journey and The Trip to Italy. The lush landscape of Italian wine country makes a bucolic backdrop for […]

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Sommelier Loves Pairing Wine with PEI Shellfish and Seafood

Lesley Quinn, Sommelier, Sim’s Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar in Charlottetown, PEI Was wine a part of your family’s meals when you were young? I grew up in a small farming community on Prince Edward Island, with two older brothers. Wine wasn’t a part of our meals at home. However, my mother worked in the tourism industry, and she was host to journalists from around the world. She’d take me with her to meals with them, and it was during one of those dinners, that I had my first sip of wine. Apparently, I described it as tasting like sour grape juice. What […]

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Toronto Sommelier at Four Seasons Pours a Glass for Chef Thomas Keller

Drew Walker, wine director at Café Boulud & D Bar in Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel. Where did you grow up? I grew up in Niagara, in Port Dalhousie, with my parents Bruce and Nancy, and my older sister Kate. Tell us about a time when your life was different? When I was 19 years old, I lived in the Caribbean and worked long hours as a bartender in a great little bistro in the Cayman Islands. It was my first experience in the food and beverage industry, and it shaped me quite a lot.  I learned so much from the […]

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Hot Child in the City: Beckta Restaurants Ignite Ottawa Dining

Note: I’m finally posting this story online: it was originally published in Ottawa Magazine, the sister publication of Toronto Life, back in 2003 when Steve Beckta opened his first restaurant on Nepean Street. Why now? Two reasons. First, the story still gives you an insider peak backstage at a top-notch restaurant and what’s like to be in a small, hot, high-performance kitchen. Second, Steve is about to move from his original location on Nepean to Grant House at 150 Elgin Street, which was built in 1875 and is undergoing a $3.5 million renovation (pictured above) for a November 19 opening. […]

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