A Vine Celebration: The 120th Anniversary of Nino Negri Wines

In October, I traveled to Italy with great excitement to participate in Nino Negri’s 120th Anniversary celebration.  As I drove through the historic wine region of Valtellina, I was captivated by its breathtaking beauty and eager to participate in this year’s wine harvest. Valtellina is a serene valley at the foot of the Lombardy Alps, on the Italian-Swiss border. The “vine”, the heart of this difficult mountainous terrain, has found perfect growing conditions here. The vineyards are protected by two high mountain chains, the Retiche Alps and the Orobie Pre-Alps. Exposure to the sun at high altitude, as well as a significant […]

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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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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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Weddings: Champagne & Wine for the Happy Couple

This interview with James Tidwell, Master Sommelier was published as one of my columns in Four Seasons Resorts Magazine. James has lots of terrific tips … Champagne is the ultimate drink of celebration, especially at weddings, according to James Tidwell, Master Sommelier at Four Seasons’ Cafe on the Green in Las Colinas, Texas. “Champagne toasts many milestones in life,” Tidwell says, “but one of the most important is the dedication of two people to spend a life together.” We asked Tidwell for his insights on how champagne makes a wedding more memorable at the resort. James Tidwell, Master Sommelier How […]

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How to Read a Wine List, Vertical Tastings and Sommelier Sips

Ryan Campbell, formerly sommelier at Toronto’s Crush Wine Bar, now works with the wine lists at the parent company, Vintage Hotels in Niagara. Wine is such a big part of your restaurant, how do you ensure that your staff, who aren’t sommeliers, are still knowledgeable? We hold an informal “wine school” once a month for about 15 staff members.  For the last class, we focused on chardonnay with a vertical tasting. Vertical tastings mean one type of wine, like chardonnay, from different producers, but all from the same vintage. A horizontal tasting would be, say chardonnays, all from one producer, […]

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Wine and Truffle Pairing: Wild Mushroom Matches for Wine

By Priya and Alex What could be better than truffles? Not the chocolate kind (although those are pretty fantastic too!) but the really decadent kind that are hunted in forests by dogs! Most of us have probably owned truffle oil or truffled salt but how many of us have experienced authentic truffle products direct from a family who hunts them? We’d guess not many! It’s no surprise then, that we were so excited to meet the Truffle Lady aka Wanda Srdoc of www.whitetruffles.ca.  Truffles are her specialty and have been central to her family in Istria, Croatia since the early […]

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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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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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