Ontario’s Best Sommelier to Compete for National Title


Last night, we were joined by special guest Emily Pearce-Bibona who has just been named Ontario’s Best Sommelier in a gruelling day-long competition.

Click on the arrow above to watch the video.

We went behind the scenes with Emily to chat about what it was like to compete (and win) in this competition hosted by the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers.

Plus, she shared her expert tips on tasting and enjoying wine, including how to choose a great bottle from a restaurant list, with the help of your sommelier, of course ;)

You can read 69 comments here and make your own comment or ask her question, even after the video chat has ended.





Watch previous episodes of the Wednesday Wining Show (WWS)  and find out who’s coming up next.



Here’s a sampling of lively discussion from our tasting …

 Sharon Prionas · 23:03 I’m an ‘amateur’ taster (have a government day job). What advice would you have to help amateur tasters to expand our palette to help be better tasters and provider better descriptions in reviews.
 Lise Charest Gagne · 49:22 Dave my faves are Grange, Long Dog, Hinterland and so many more must eat the Pizza at Normand Hardy with his chardonay and the white cream pizza
 Natalie MacLean · Love Norm Hardie wines and pizza Lise!
Rachelle O’Connor · 33:05 Love how down to earth you are Emily! Great tips and advice!! Congratulations on your achievement! 🍾🎖….is there a special moment in your career to this point that you’d like to share?
Sabina Posadziejewski · 3:25 Congrats too from Edmonton
Lise Charest Gagne · 22:05Emily whats your advice on house wines – do these restaurants get better deals that translate to customers – I have had some great house wines
Elaine Bruce · 27:42 What else is there other than wine that can smell and taste like other foods and items ? wine is SOOO interesting !
Donnah Whitaker · 26:04 I’m making mushroom and pea risotto tonight- which Ontario wines would you pair with this? (We keep a lot of Ontario wines here- both red and white.)


 Donnah Whitaker · 8:17 Hi Natalie, and big congrats to Emily! Shout-out from Ohio.
Lori Kilmartin · 45:19 Ahhhh we just tasted that with their Wine Ambassador and I loved it!!!
Lori Kilmartin · 26:20 Smelling food might be a good way to get turfed from the store!! I have bought items just to smell them! 😀
 Lori Kilmartin · 9:08 Did you struggle with any of the wines or did they come to you right away?
Stephen Andrews · 52:33 What food do you pair with my Symmetry Rodney strong.?
Oenologize · 52:17 Emily, any favourite wines (other than Champagne/sparkling and cool climate Pinots (my favs too!) ?


Dave Head · 48:07 Heading to PEC in a couple of weeks what are the must go to wineries?
Matt Steeves · 54:11 Joined late…but caught the end and what a great opportunity to hear from Ontario’s best Sommelier, with Natalie MacLean at the same time.
 Susan Willemsen · 47:59 Or go for a “green” wine for St Paddy’s Day: organic, biodynamic, natural. Perfect for leading up to Earth Day also.
 Lori Kilmartin · 53:46 Thank you Natalie and Emily – really enjoyed this!!
Elaine Bruce · 37:04 What other advice to be able to identify varietals ?


Donnah Whitaker · 30:31 Emily, thanks for the Professional Enabling! 😉
Lise Charest Gagne · 32:19 a systematic approach works for me like the buckets
Lise Charest Gagne · 36:02 What else does Emily have to taste
Stephen Andrews · 25:20 Ok I drinking Symmetry by Rodney Strong food match?
Lori Kilmartin · 2:07 Congratulations Emily!!!
Paul E Hollander · 1:47 Welcome and congratulations Emily
Rachelle O’Connor · 53:33 Rooting for you in the Nationals!!!!!
Rick Dalderis · 45:07 What wine would you recommend for St Patrick’s Day celebration?
Lise Charest Gagne · 31:13 Otago i just bought one
Lise Charest Gagne · 49:45 Clossom Chase
Lise Charest Gagne · 7:13 you looked cool as a cucumber :)
Lori Kilmartin · 21:50 I love Pinot Noir – what is your favourite?
Oenologize · 54:00 Thanks Emily congrats!! Thanks Natalie!
Lori Kilmartin · 50:41 Nationals – Good Luck!!
Lori Kilmartin · 50:12 Also Casa Dea
Stephen Andrews · 51:07 Rosetta Stone!
Dave Head · 24:21 How often do people send back bottles and how do you deal with that?
Lori Kilmartin · 52:23 Have you had a wine you didn’t like? I am still loooking!
Lori Kilmartin · 29:40 What is your favourite Linot
Lori Kilmartin · 30:12 What is your favourite Pinot Noir?



Ca’ Del Bosco Cuvée Anna Maria Clementi Franciacorta
Lombardia, Italy









Delouvin-Bagnost Brut Champagne
Vandières, Champagne A.C., France









Flat Rock Cellars Riddled Sparkling 2009
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario V.Q.A., Canada












Emily Pearce-Bibona 

Emily is the sommelier at Barberian’s Steak House in Toronto and part of the group Femmes du Vins.  After a day-long series of competitive challenges in front of a panel of expert judges, peers and the public, Emily triumphed to win the competition at the Centre for Hospitality & Culinary Arts at George Brown College on March 5, 2017.

The two runners-up in a tight race of 24 participants were José Luis Fernandez, sommelier at Quatrefoil restaurant in Dundas, followed by Nathan Morrell, sommelier at Bar Isabel in Toronto.

The top three participants qualified for the final competition after earning highest marks in a preliminary written exam and grueling competitive tasting. Each finalist then took their turn in the spotlight to face a further round of challenges in sommelier knowledge, tasting and theory, culminating in a live service demonstration before an audience of their peers and the public.

Emily began her wine journey in Toronto and is now a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. She has worked in top hospitality positions throughout the city.

Her passion for learning continues as she pursues the Master of Wine program, offered in the UK. As a contributing writer for Decanter Magazine, Emily writes about the Canadian wine scene.

Emily has had the opportunity to participate in the exciting Toronto sommelier community and feels grateful to share her knowledge and passion with others.

As more background, here is a previous article on Bruce Wallner (one of the 2017 judges) when he successully won the competition back in 2012.

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 part one of our video wine chat.

You may also enjoy these video interviews:

Master Sommelier: What does it take to become one with Scott Carney, MS

Icewine and Chocolate Pairing Video

Blue Cheese and White Wine Pairing: Video Part 3

Restaurant Wine Service: The good, the bad and the ugly with Scott Carney, MS

See all wine video chats here



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