Angela Aiello is a dynamo wine ambassador with 10 year of experience in the local wine industry. She runs iYellow Wine School, an organization that offers events and courses that help teach people about wine in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. Ange is the regular wine host for the CBC’s Steven & Chris Show and for Le Gourmet TV.
How did you become interested in wine? What steps did you take to learn more about it?
The simple and short answer to both questions is “I drank a lot of it”. I started in the wine industry young, but truly developed a passion for wine as I grew older. I believe that you can really only learn about wine if you’re tasting it, so when I stopped working in wine country and in the industry, I started a wine club and starting drinking with friends and colleagues and we all explored, discovered and shared as we went along. And now after close to 12 years in the wine industry I am proud to say I’m still learning! And that is one of the greatest things about wine – every year, every vintage and every wine is constantly changing, so as it turns out you’re constantly learning, and that means you’re constantly drinking, tasting and reflecting on the wines you like. So in reality I am constantly taking steps to learn more about wine including traveling, attending wine schools and tastings at events. I think building your own confidence with your own palate preferences is a very important step to being interested in wine. For me I love Rieslings, Pinot Noir, sparkling wines, Syrah and dessert wines. Knowing what you like is half the battle, anyway!
Tell us a bit about iYellow wine club and what you do.
iYellow Wine Club began as a way to communicate with friends and colleagues about wine through a blog. It now is a community of over 5000 members, is based in Toronto and hosts regular social wine events, local wine tours, and an affordable wine school. We are a community of members who want to learn, experience, enjoy and share in the world of wine.
Personally, I consider myself to be a “Wine Ambassador” because I enjoy teaching people how to figure out what types of wine they enjoy. I try to help accomplish that through the wine club’s many activities, my on air appearances, writing, blogging, and simple “How To” videos. I love knowing what wine I absolutely love to drink, and I love teaching people that part the most. That is the whole reason behind the wine club – “building wine confidence” in each and every member however they want to build it. Most people are intimidated because they feel they have to know everything, but they don’t. A great place to start is simply understanding your own preferences.
Why do you think it’s important for people to know about wine?
Why do you think it’s important for people to know about what they eat? I think the same rules apply to what you drink as it does to what you eat. Developing a taste for what you enjoy and becoming aware of what you put into your body is really what the food movement is all about. And where there is food, there is sure to be wine!
Right now, I believe we are in a “Wine Revolution”. What I mean is that many people, including many young people, are turning to wine as their drink of choice with food and as their stand alone alcoholic beverage when socializing with friends and family. Therefore, figuring out what type of wine you like is crucial to the enjoyment process of wine. Are you in the mood for a Chardonnay or a Riesling? There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of different varietals and taste profiles of wine – odds are there are a few you’re going to like.
Learning about wine is not only an amazing business and social skill to have, the personal benefits of understanding what you like and being able to match which wine with what food is not only a confidence booster, but it’s also part of the whole movement towards understanding and enjoying what we place into our bodies.
Why do you think so many people are intimidated by wine? What do you do through iYellow to help people overcome these fears?
I believe that intimidation comes from a lack of understanding and a feeling of being wrong. Making learning about wine “easy” and “approachable” is something I strongly believe in. iYellow is built on approachability. I believe that everyone should know what they personally like and dislike and building that confidence needs to happen in environments that are open, friendly, and fun – that’s what helps people learn easily. People also learn in different ways, so iYellow has created a club where no matter how you want to learn about wine, whether it’s socially, experientially, formally or by yourself at home, you can do it with us.
You do a lot to promote Ontario wines – why is this important to you?
I grew up drinking local wine, so I enjoy it and am proud of the region, the wines and the people. I do drink wines from all over the world, but Ontario has a special place in my heart and on my palate. I personally believe it is essential for people no matter where they live to develop an appreciation and knowledge of the wine they can call “local”. Almost every region in the world makes wine, so wherever you live odds are there is local wine being made close by. People from BC drink and appreciate BC wines, wine lovers from California enjoy wines from Napa and Sonoma, and the same goes for South America’s Chilean wine region. So the same should apply here at home in Ontario. Appreciating and understanding true VQA wines is something everyone should understand, but the problem is there is still ambiguity and confusion about exactly what Ontario wine is. I believe helping people understand the region is a very important part of increasing wide spread local appreciation amongst all wine drinkers, especially here in Toronto. iYellow tours, events, videos and articles all help teach our members about what VQA is, and the great wines we produce here. Building confidence through the ambiguity is what I feel is important and that is why iYellow is what it is – it is there to teach as many people as possible about wine in a simple, easy and approachable way. Just look at our steadily growing membership if there wasn’t a high demand for wine education iYellow wouldn’t be where it is today. So it seems I have been called to educate, inform and promote wine confidence from local to global wines! And it’s been quite the ride!
How can people get involved with iYellow?
Join the wine club! Membership is currently free and we offer wine tours, wine socials and events, a fun, approachable and affordable wine school and even an online local wine store. Plus we also are in development for a brand new website set to launch for March 2010. You are able to pick and choose which events you’re able to come to and our wine programs are built in an “a la carte” or “pay as you learn” style. So you can pick and choose which iYellow events you are able to come to depending on your schedule.