6 Insider Tips on How to Moderate a Wine Seminar
Part I

Moderating your first wine seminar with a panel of experts is intimidating. Yet, it is also your best opportunity to shine among the very people you want to impress the most: famous wine producers, the MW who writes for your favourite magazine, or your peers in the industry. In the following paragraphs are 6 insider tips to prepare you and your panelists in the weeks leading up to the event. (more…)

One Last Push!

Two more weeks.Sleepless-eyes-

This year is a complete blur. It’s as if I’ve been downhill biking black diamond runs non-stop. Pace, faster, drop, to berm, to another drop, maintain the speed over the rocks, oh narrowing root system, slow down, breathe, breathe. Now go!


Indecent Proposal – Wine Sales Techniques

1367018992_0d58bce2ec_o“Buy 20 cases of this wine and I will send you to Napa on an all expenses paid trip!”

My first indecent proposal. He just went for it, and I flinched and pretended to take notes.

Behind every bottle there is a person. And I guess for every sales technique there is a person who responds well to it.

It was my first meeting with said wine rep. He didn’t have an appointment with me. My boss stood him up and the host called me to talk to him to save face. And he didn’t have any wines. Goodness, why did he drive all the way from Vancouver to sell us wine without any to try?

You’ve heard about those doctors who prescribe Tylenol instead of no-name cheaper brand, acetaminophen because they get all-inclusive trips to Club Med? I feel the same way with this proposition. Dirty.

The best way to sell your wine, is to let me taste it. Let the wines speak for themselves.

To all Sommeliers in British Columbia…

There is one immeasurable piece of advice that I learned from the Vancouver International Festival Wine List Awards. CedarCreek is one word. You heard me correctly, one word.

CedarCreek Estate Winery is one of the largest and oldest wineries in British Columbia. Until last year, it was still owned by the Fitzpatrick family. They make excellent wines, in particular the Platinum Reserve Series is the bomb. Bought last year by the other largest BC winery, Mission Hill, it will be interesting to see where the new ownership takes these wines.

But who knew that the word, with it’s two capital C’s, is in fact, one word? This was one of the points made by DJ Kearney, wine educator and writer, who MC’d the wine list awards this year. She warned all sommeliers to make sure that there were not spelling errors on their wine lists. In particular, she bemoaned the incorrect spelling of CedarCreek. Why is it one word? (more…)

How to Smuggle Wine into British Columbia

smuggler with wine barrel

Smuggler with wine barrels

Smugglers hold an imagery of dark times past when prohibition imprisoned people for making, buying and selling wine. They are pictured as dirty, grisly fellows walking through dark and damp underground tunnels. Yet, they are also often considered ‘the good guys’ in fables bringing necessary goods to the overworked commoner. If you remember Han Solo from Star Wars, he was also a good-guy smuggler who only refused to pay the proper taxes to the corrupt Imperial Senate. I guess you could consider the British Columbia Liquor Board as the Imperial Senate. You too, can be a Han Solo.


Cork & Pork – Pairing Ravenswood Zinfandel with BBQ Pulled Pork, Part II

A pig drinking a bottle of Zinfandel

Pairing Zinfandel with BBQ pulled pork

[At the Bulleit Bourbon Canadian National Championships, I sat as a judge for the Cork & Pork event. Here contestants must show the best pairing showcasing their BBQ Pulled Pork and Ravenswood Zinfandel Vintners Blend 2012]

In previous years, the winners of both the Pork Butt event and the Cork & Pork competition have been the same. This year, the winners are different. I meet the winner of the Pork Butt-only competition at work that evening, Larry. “I’m a cook. I don’t understand what it is you do! What are you looking for?” Larry wants advice on how to win the Cork & Pork event as well.

What do we look for when we pair BBQ with Zinfandel? (more…)

Cork & Pork – Pairing Zinfandel with BBQ Pulled Pork, Part I

Cdn BBQ Champs“Pulled pork for a dollar!” yells a 10 year old weaving through the crowds. His younger brother, wearing a matching bright green t-shirt that reads ‘Wolf Pack,’ trails behind carrying samples of the juicy flesh. You can literally smell the bacon and smoke in the air. All of this is at the base of Whistler mountain in Creekside where teams come together each year – families, coworkers, friends, and children with pigs and smokers in tow – for the Bulleit Bourbon Canadian National BBQ Championships.

The Cork & Pork is just one of the events at the BBQ where I am a judge. In this event, it is the food and wine pairing that matters; the pulled pork must compliment Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2012. Our collective gathers in the cafeteria at Dusty’s Backside. We are a hodge podge of sommeliers, GM’s, mixologists and chefs from Whistler’s top dining establishments. (more…)

The 5 Best Pieces of Advice for Sommeliers

For the first 20 years of my life, I had only been to my uncle’s luxury hair salon. Eventually, I moved away from home and had to seek out other hairstylists. I couldn’t find anyone as good as Uncle Vince and my cousin, Gia. Everytime I went home, I would sit back in Gia’s chair and live the glory of the best haircut experiences ever. The things that made those times still the best for me are the same for what makes great sommeliers. These are the lessons that I’ve learned… (more…)