We have wine writers here at TasteTO for a very good reason – because neither Greg nor I know squat about wine. Oh, we like wine well enough, but we tend to stick to a few things that we know, and more often than not, we prefer beer, which we’re both much more comfortable with. Because while beer is made by huge numbers of craft brewers around the world, most offerings are a variation on a dozen or so styles. Wine, however, varies not just from winery and grape variety, but by region, and don’t even let’s get into the difference in harvests from year to year.
Particularly intimidating are the wines of Italy. A country famous for its wine, and various wine regions, wine from Italy can be intimidating, especially to someone who doesn’t speak the language. What I needed was a simple, basic, get you started kind of course that would let me compare a few wines without overwhelming me.
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!
I first tried the Lailey Vineyard Syrah on a visit to the vineyard back in January. We had gone to the Niagara icewine festival with the folks from iYellow Wine Club (who, by the way, got some great coverage in last week’s Wine Confidential documentary on the CBC. Congrats Ange and Pax!)
Lailey is one of Niagara’s smaller vineyards with only 23 acres of grapes. Their crop is hand-harvested and herbicide-free, making their product fairly labour-intensive. We tried a selection of their offerings when visiting the winery and while many in our tour walked away with bottles of their Merlot, I have a soft spot for Syrahs.
It’s so very easy to become a snob in this industry. Whether it’s food, wine or beer, a little bit of experience can evolve into an awful lot of ego, and makes the atmosphere at any event having to do with food, and especially wine, more than a little intimidating for newcomers. Which is no doubt why the words “wine tour” conjure up images of high-society folks with haughty expressions and snooty attitudes sipping and slurping and generally thinking very well of themselves.