Ottawa Citizen

TOO MANY WINE EVENTS PASS OTTAWA BY

Will drinking more wine help?

- ROD PHILLIPS WORLDS OF WINE

Summer’s a bit quiet in the world of wine. Sure, people continue to drink — more whites, rosés and lighter reds than big in- your- face reds, even with barbecued steak — but it’s pretty quiet for wine activities. But as temperatur­es started to cool, more wine events — fairs, dinners, tastings — began taking place.

Thinking of events over the past month or so, there were a couple of disappoint­ments. One was that the Australian Wine Fair, which came to Ottawa for the first time last year, skipped the capital this time. And the Chilean Wine Fair, which I went to in Toronto a few weeks ago, didn’t come to Ottawa, either. Too bad, because it was excellent, and visitors could taste more than 200

Four bargain- priced wines wines from almost 40 Chilean wineries.

We’re in an odd situation in the capital. Everyone in the wine industry acknowledg­es that Ottawa is a very good wine market. The region has key characteri­stics that make for a good wine market: high average income and level of education and a superior level of wine knowledge.

Last year, as if to recognize this, we were blessed with a number of wine fairs. There was the annual California Wine Fair, which is always excellent and deservedly a sell- out. Then there were fairs featuring the wines of Australia, New Zealand and Germany.

And, of course, there’s the annual Ottawa Wine and Food Show, which is coming up soon, the first weekend of November.

But too often, for some reason, travelling wine shows that tour Canada skip Ottawa. Mostly, I travel to Toronto or Montreal for these events.

It’s not that there isn’t local support for them: My sense is that they are well supported when they do come to Ottawa. Perhaps it’s that our market is just too small when compared to the Toronto behemoth.

Against these disappoint­ments, there’s the pleasure I get from compiling the Citizen’s annual wine guide ( appearing Nov. 1 in the Food section). I go through my notes for the previous year, and do some re- tasting and some new tasting.

It’s not easy to identify the wines to include ( and the many hundreds to exclude), and in the end it’s bound to be a bit idiosyncra­tic.

Occasional­ly, readers contact me to ask why on earth I included this wine and why on earth I left that one out. I sympathize with them. I feel the same way when I read someone else’s list.

In the end, the list represents the best I can do at the time, and if I did it again a week later, I’d probably make two or three changes.

But I still think it’s a useful exercise. It helps cut through the vast number of wines available, and I’m encouraged by readers who tell me they keep each wine guide for a year and try to drink their way through it.

Come on, people! It’s only two bottles a week. And if we want the Australian­s, Chileans and others to bring their fairs here, we have to show them we mean business. today. Think about it: You buy the land, grow the grapes, make the wine, bottle it, ship it long distances, market it and sell it. You pay everyone involved in the process, add taxes and sundry markups, and the wine still costs less than $ 10 a bottle.

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