Jenny and I both love wine, and like we do with food, we enjoy exploring different grapes and regions. Neither of us have any formal training in cooking, but I think we know enough about food and combining flavours that we’re comfortable experimenting, rather than being guided by a recipe. We know substantially less about wine than we do about food and cooking, but we generally prefer reds and like certain characteristics (full-bodied, and earthy or spicy rather than full-on fruity taste), and we experiment with different wines that fit these guidelines – experimenting, in this case, means hitting the LCBO and picking something that’s gotten good reviews and has interesting-sounding tasting notes.
While we’re usually able to find some great wines using this method, it’s nice to occasionally have the opportunity to learn about different wines in a more formal setting. Earlier this month, I checked out a wine tasting event put on by Toronto’s iYellow Wine Club. The event was called I Heart Beringer, and provided the opportunity to taste seven different wines produced by this California company.
I’ve been to a couple of larger wine shows over the past few years, which allow visitors to taste a huge variety of different wines from all over the world. These kinds of events are great for discovering several new grapes in one place and learning about wine-producing regions (who knew the former USSR member country, Georgia, is actually the world’s oldest wine-producing country – a fact I learned at a recent wine show). But it can be difficult to mentally process the good from the not-so-good after an hour or two of running around tasting wines.
iYellow’s Beringer event brought together around 200 people in a casual, fun setting at a downtown art gallery, and allowed us to focus our taste buds on a series of wines produced by one company, all from grapes grown in California’s Napa Valley. The Beringer wines being poured were 2009 California Collection White Zinfandel, 2009 Founders’ Estate Pinot Grigio, 2009 Founders’ Estate Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 Founders’ Estate Chardonnay, 2008 Founders’ Estate Merlot, 2008 Founders’ Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and 2008 Founders’ Estate Syrah. I tend prefer cabernet sauvignon, and this was the one that stood out for me the most. But I really enjoyed the opportunity to taste these all at once and to be able to compare Beringer whites and reds from the same vintages.
Ange Aiello (get it… iYellow) started iYellow Wine Club in 2006 after moving to Toronto from the Niagara region to provide people with the opportunity to learn about wine in an approachable, fun and casual environment. I talked to a couple people at the Beringer tasting who said that they generally avoid the bigger wine shows and educational events because they feel intimidating, but that they enjoyed the laid-back vibe of the gallery, with tasting stations set up around the venue and a DJ spinning tunes.
iYellow runs several events over the year, including tastings, wine education events and tours of Ontario’s wine regions, with prices starting around $35 a head, which seems like a pretty reasonable deal to me for wines, food and some valuable education.
For more info on upcoming iYellow Wine Club events, check out www.iyellowwineclub.com
(Special thanks to iYellow Wine Club and photographer Patrick Sijis for use of the images.)