Video Wine Chat with Christine Sismondo of the Globe and Mail

Our guest this evening is a professor of English literature at York University and she writes about wine and spirits for the Globe & Mail, Canada’s largest national newspaper. She’s also written regularly for the Toronto Star, the Report on Business Magazine and The Grid, and has won a National Magazine Award for her work.

She’s the author of “Mondo Cocktail: A Shaken and Stirred History” and wrote a six-part podcast series Wondery’s American History Tellers based on the book. Her most recent book is “America Walks Into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops” published by Oxford University Press.

And she joins me live now from her home in Toronto: Welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club Christine Sismondo!


Click on the “Follow” and “Like” buttons on this Facebook page to get notified when we go live.

Click on the arrow above to hear Christine’s story.

Want to know when we go live with our next guest?

Click on “Get Reminder” on the page below:

Click on “Get Notified” at the link above to know when we go live.

You can also click on “Follow” and “Like” buttons to know when we make updates.

Watch previous episodes of the Sunday Sipper Club (SSC) and to find out who’s coming up next.



What was it like around your family dinner table when you were growing up?

Let’s start with some of the stories you’ve recently written for the Globe & Mail. ‘Tis the season for sparkling wine, and we’re familiar with Prosecco, but you explored two lesser-known bubblies from Italy. What drew you to them, and to this story?

Tell us about Lambrusco – how is it different from Prosecco?

Before we get to the modern style of Lambrusco and why it’s so hot right now with sommeliers, let’s look at its roots.



Christine Sismondo is a writer, teacher and barfly.

When not teaching literature at York University, she is tracking down the city’s best drinks and the bars in which they’re served for her columns in ROB Magazine and The Grid. She also writes wine and cocktail articles for the Globe and Mail, Canada’s largest national newspaper.

Sismondo hails from the restaurant industry, where she tended bar for a decade or so.

In an attempt to escape the industry, she wrote “Mondo Cocktail: A Shaken and Stirred History” which, ironically, only got her more deeply entrenched.

Her new book, “America Walks Into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops” (Oxford University Press) is now available.

A National Magazine Award-winning writer, Christine Sismondo has been covering spirits and cocktails for the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, Quench and other publications for twenty years. She’s also the author of America Walks into a Bar: A History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops, Mondo Cocktail: A Shaken and Stirred History and Prohibition, a six-part podcast series Wondery’s American History Tellers. She lives in Toronto, Canada.


How was Lambrusco born?

What does Riunite mean?

How did it get so popular in North America?

How does the Charmat method differ from the Champagne method?


Alejandra Schmidt36:43 Pisco y original from Peru but here in Chile we make it our own, is the most popular liquor there is.. and you can drink it many ways, from straight up, on the rocks… mixed etc my favorite sour with mint 🍹
Andrea Shapiro26:47 Hi Natalie and Christine. Love learning about the different variety of Italian sparklers. 🙂 🥂
Top Fan

Lori Kilmartin26:34 Yes – Franciacorta is made like champagne and same grapes. They also do Blanc de Blanc and Blanc de Noir like champagne as well. A lot of the wineries I visited are now using machines to turn the bottles (they actually put the whole pallet in and rotate it!)


Is it a “spumante,” and “frizzante” – and what’s the difference between them?

What happened to sales in the 1960s and 1970s in North America? Why?

So how did it get such a nasty reputation?

Is the Giacobazzi family still in the Lambrusco business?


Neil Phillips39:04 A more approachable grappa: that’s an interesting way of putting it. :-). Love the sours…drank them often when in Chile or Peru. Not enough here.
Neil Phillips18:46 OMG I just pulled up the Riunite commercial from 1983 on YouTube. I don’t think I’ll get that tune out of my head for a while…
Neil Phillips31:33 Sherry remains one of the absolute best values when you consider retail price versus winemaking effort.


Has it changed the style of the bubblies it makes?

How diverse is Lambrusco in terms of styles, grapes, yeasts?

It sounds intimidating – is it?

Why is Lambrusco so hot right now with sommeliers?



Top Fan

Elaine Bruce44:44 Oh my gosh…so much info! Great interview ! NOT LONG ENOUGH TIME

Top Fan

Lori Kilmartin11:37 Also had a lot of Croatina (Bonarda) in Lombardy that they make in frizzante style!

Top Fan

Paul E Hollander19:52 I prefer to call those headaches a “sinus headache”.


What do the modern versions taste like?

The second bubbly is Franciacorta – how is that different from Lambrusco and Prosecco?

Why is it more expensive than Prosecco?

How much of it made a year?


Top Fan

Elaine Bruce46:55 Need some pisco cocktail recipes

Top Fan

Elaine Bruce50:08 I’m drinking a beautiful Cenin Colombard – Monte Xanic Yay Mexican wines !

Top Fan

Lori Kilmartin42:24 What grape is it that they use?


Now let’s turn to Sherry.

You note in your Globe story that global export sales were in free fall, with most markets buying half as much of the fortified wine in 2016 as they had in 2006. And then the downturn in 1980.

But in 2017, sherry sales suddenly perked up. Why was that?

Why is Sherry making a comeback?


Top Fan

Lori Kilmartin23:16 Christine – try Brut Prosecco – it’s the drier version!

Christine Sismondo0:00 I will, thank you! I had one prosecco I really liked a couple of years back. So I don’t meant to avoid a whole category – just that I’ve had quite a few that I won’t run back to!
Peter Neilson11:45 Lambrusco in university in the late 60s – right up there with sweet cherry whiskey. Never again!

What is raw sherry?

What does it sound like?

How is that sound made? What is flor?

Who was the first to release raw sherry?


Elizabeth MacSween2:59 Enjoyed some Pisco in Patagonia a couple of weeks back!
Top Fan

Paul E Hollander11:50 Ah, Riunite. Remember it well from the 70’s.

Top Fan

Paul E Hollander0:00 Christine Sismondo, I saw it here locally in the Norfolk, VA region recently. Wondered how it tasted after these 40 years of wine education. You’ve made my wife and I want to search out some of those Sherry’s from this evening. Thank you for a most interesting evening.


It sounds a bit like beaujolais nouveau with the annual release and buzz?

What is manzanilla style sherry and why is it so well suited to this raw style?

Who first released this in Canada and what was the reaction?

Why not make more of it?


Patti Wright Hollander47:40 Very enjoyable interview. Wish we had a list of spirits.
Natalie MacLean0:17 Christine Sismondo Thank you so much for responding so promptly and offering your contact info for further questions. Really appreciate it!


Does it age well?

So will raw sherry save the sherry category?

Finally, let’s talk about pisco.

What is pisco? How is it made? Which grapes?


Neil Phillips43:56 I believe mainly Muscat – but can be local varietals I believe.
Ann Bedard26:03 Wow impressive info than thank you


Where is it made? What’s the difference between Chilean and Peruvian styles?

How is it different or similar to tequila?

How is it changing? What are single varietal expressions?

What is Torontel?


Neil Phillips19:06 Franciacorta yes. Wish we saw more in our market.
Natalie MacLean0:17 I agree – I’m not sure why we don’t. Maybe because it’s price point is close to a lower end champagne and people just go for the champagne. That or they just don’t realize what exactly it is!


What does it taste like?

Which grapes are used?

Can you drink pisco neat?


Top Fan

Lori Sweet32:58 Can you say the name again please?



Top Fan

Paul E Hollander48:10 Please post a list of the sherry’s tasted this evening. Total Wine and More will probably be my best source herein VA.


Top Fan

Lori Kilmartin10:30 I had Sparkling wine from Verdicchio grape and just came back from Franciacorta region last week! I LOVE Franciacorta!

Ann Bedard30:50 Sebastiani used do a Solar back in the 70’s when I was introdused to sherry


Top Fan

Melanie Lloyd25:15 I love Franciacorta. Wish it would be easier to find and we’d have more selection in Ontario!

Top Fan

Lori Kilmartin48:19 Very interesting Christine. Thank you!




Leave a Reply