For some people, wine is flat out intimidating. It can be hard to know where to start and how to go about getting into wine, from the finely aged to the cheaply boxed, but thankfully there are great people out there who can help.
The Grape Witches are those people. Their lighthearted and un-pretentious approach to wine is contagious, so we just had to have them do a Q & A with our Marketing Intern, a self-proclaimed Wine Novice who’s looking to finally take the plunge into the sea of wine-knowledge.
The Grape Witches will be joining us on May 23rd to share more secrets from the LCBO at our Harvest Wednesdays local food series. Tickets include a farm-to-table dinner, passed appetizers, live music, and of course, wine pairings by the Grape Witches.
Wine Novice Asks: Aside from buying local and organic wines, is there anything else consumers should know when trying to make environmentally conscious wine choices? Are there any particular ingredients or processes in the wine-making industry that are more environmentally friendly than others? Are there any specific ingredients that should be avoided at all costs?
Grape Witches Answer: We love championing wine made by farmers from a specific place! These tend to be made with lots of love and care and are often passed down from generation to generation. Unfortunately it is super hard to tell the wines made on a farm from the wines made in a big tank factory with lots of additives! It is not that those larger producers are bad and can’t represent great value sometimes! It is just the same thing as buying orange juice from a big company at a box store vs. buying hand squeezed orange juice from the farmer’s market. It’s a completely different thing! Orange juice is always nice, but freshly squeezed can change your life. 🙂 Some clues to smaller producers or better farming practices are ‘estate bottled’, an organic seal (the European market is a green leaf!) or anything that is Demeter certified. Clues to a big producer are very large appellation like South Australia or California – these are huge huge areas and these blends are made with grapes from all over. Avoid! Also anything that is a sweet red blend will give you a very bad headache. 🙂
WN: The Harvest Wednesdays series is all about community & knowledge sharing. What do you hope is the biggest thing guests will be able to take away from the dinner on May 23rd: More awareness of Ontario’s growing season? Feeling less intimidated by local and organic food & drink? Something else?
GW: We hope guests will leave empowered to choose better wine! As consumers, it is so exciting to decide where our money goes and support farmers and brands that represent our values. We want to help guests connect with like minded wine producers and find the most thrilling things to drink! No prior knowledge necessary! Wine is ultimately a food and pairing it with seasonal produce is a total dream. We can’t wait!
WN: What’s your favourite spring wine so far in 2018?
GW: Magnums of vinho verde in Trinity Bellwoods park! Or we are forever suckers for lambrusco – Italian red sparkling wine with take out Thai or literally any moment of joy.
WN: What do you think are the biggest barriers people face to getting into wine and really enjoying/understanding it? Cost? Too many kinds to choose from? & what do you think it’s the first step to really getting into wine?
GW: Wine is so complicated! It is part of what makes it so special – there is so much to discover – but it also makes it intimidating. Traditionally wine spaces are either sponsored by big marketing companies and serving very large production boring wine or are super expensive and stuffy and places we do not want to hang out unless we are paid (a lot!). Happily, there is a revolution of more naturally made wines sweeping the best wine bars around the world. Natural wine is all about trying new things, dropping the pretence and sharing flavours and stories. It is super easy to get into and discover how delicious and evocative great wine can be. Our mission is sharing wines just like this and the magic of the sommelier community aka what we are drinking after work 🙂
WN: Your use of emojis in your wine reviews is extensive! Is there any emoji that’s missing? If you could add any emoji to the emojicological lexicon, what would it be?
GW: haha wow!!!! this is the best question ever. we often talk about wine tasting like garbage to raccoons. a raccoon emoji in a trash can looking super delighted would really help some witches out!
WN What’s your favourite LCBO location in Toronto? Which one has the best balance of ambiance, short lineups, and wine selection?
GW: We are obsessed with the country specific LCBOs! find a list of them here! at these stores they stock wines that are normally only by the case for restaurants. they are all in moderately annoying locations, but pack snacks and go on a road trip!!! our faves are the greek store at Broadview and Danforth and the Italian store in Woodbridge. So many small producers and even some hard to find things like orange wines are available by the bottle!
Want to know more about about the Grape Witches and read some exciting wine review? Check out their Instagram for all the wines!
Want to know more about The Gladstone Hotel’s local food series, including our amazing partners for the 2018 season? The Harvest Wednesdays Website has all the details!