3 noteworthy wine events coming to B.C. this winter

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      This time of year, things can get hectic and our social calendars can fill up fast. This week, a heads-up on a trio of events that should be on every Vancouver wine enthusiast’s radar.

      Vancouver International Wine Festival

      Vancouver International Wine Festival

      Advance discount tickets for the 2017 edition of the Vancouver International Wine Festival have gone on sale.

      The annual event, running from February 11 to 19 and one of the biggest wine festivals on the planet, always features a theme country. This time, the big focus is on Canada. To celebrate our country’s 150th birthday, the festival will feature 76 Canadian wineries, hailing from coast to coast.

      Although many British Columbia favourites—from Burrowing Owl Estate Winery to Tinhorn Creek Vineyards—will be on hand, I’m particularly looking forward to the good handful of Ontario and Nova Scotia wineries that will be in attendance, many of them for the very first time.

      One such winery is Domaine Queylus from Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula, and I am eagerly anticipating sampling their elegant Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, and more, crafted by legendary Burgundy, Oregon, and Ontario winemaker Thomas Bachelder.

      Also, we’ll be seeing a half-dozen Nova Scotia wineries pouring a host of unique varieties and blends. It’ll be fun to pair our West Coast seafood with some killer East Coast wine.

      Head to the Vancouver International Wine Fest website to get your tickets (available until December 15 unless they sell out first) and a jump-start on what is certainly shaping up to be a delicious, celebratory event.


      International Sherry Week

      A little closer to the present is International Sherry Week, happening November 7 to 13.

      There’ll be all sorts of goings-on around the world, and they’ll be easy to follow by keeping an eye on the #SherryWeek hashtag and keeping tabs on the event listings online, where you can learn all about these underappreciated wines from southern Spain. There’s no better time to hop on the bandwagon.

      Of course, you’ll want a little drink and a snack to go along with your reading material, right? Here’s what you do.

      Go out and get yourself a bottle of González Byass Tio Pepe Fino ($21.99 at B.C. Liquor Stores) and ensure it’s nice and chilled. Then roast some almonds and put them out alongside some marinated olives and a good hunk of manchego cheese.

      Pour a couple ounces of the Tio Pepe and enjoy the aromatics of salty sea air and that lively, crisp (and dry) palate awash with nutty citrus characteristics. Marvel at how well it washes down that salty fare.

      Or do you have more of a sweet tooth? Find yourself a richer, heavier sherry, like Lustau’s East India Solera ($31.49 for a 500-millilitre bottle at B.C. Liquor Stores). Serve it with a hint of a chill and enjoy notes of toffee-coated hazelnuts and stewed figs and dates, all lifted by a little zing of caramelized orange rind.

      Plate up a little blue cheese—the stinkier the better—or a wedge of dark chocolate and you’ll quickly be filled with delight.

      If you’re intimidated by sherry and feel it’s time to do something about that, then I’d suggest you sign yourself up for Legacy Liquor Store’s International Sherry Week Masterclass, happening Monday (November 7) at 7 p.m.

      For $25, you’ll have certified sherry educator and all-around good guy Paul Watki take you through the history, traditions, and various styles of sherry, along with a tutored tasting paired with charcuterie and cheese.

      Head to the Legacy Liquor Store website for more information and to book your spot.

      Whistler Cornucopia

      Whistler Cornucopia

      Of course, no wine lover’s November on the West Coast is complete without heading up the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Whistler Cornucopia, the resort’s annual celebration of wine and food, this year starting on November 10 and running through the 20th.

      This is an auspicious year, the fest’s 20th anniversary, and from my perspective, they’ve raised the bar in their offerings, big-time. The biggest evidence of that is the introduction of the Cornucopia Wine Summit—launched with a keynote address by U.K.–based wine writer Jamie Goode—which includes a series of seminars, tastings, and a debate on the future of B.C. wine, all led by local industry leaders.

      If there’s one event that’s an absolute must, it is the Crush Grand Tasting on November 12 at 8:30 p.m. This is the big shebang, a walk-around event where more than five dozen wineries from British Columbia, California, Italy, New Zealand, and elsewhere bring their very best so your palate can trip the light fantastic.

      There are dozens upon dozens of events that look to be a blast, but many are selling out with each passing day. Don’t be full of regret.

      Hop to the Whistler Cornucopia website and start planning your mountain adventure.