It's early on a Thursday evening at Sip Wines in Ironwood Plaza, but it feels like a Friday night at a friend's home. Smiling wine enthusiasts are standing at the bar enjoying eight wines that owner Simon Wosk and Eric Urquhart are pouring.
This complementary wine tasting is a popular feature at Sip Wines. Wosk confides, "People can lose their inhibitions by coming here and asking questions and tasting in a relaxed atmosphere. Taste before you buy." The popular tastings are held Thursdays from 4-7 p.m. and Saturdays from 3-6 p.m. Richmond's Doug McLeod is one of the tasters. "The staff at Sip are friendly and knowledgeable, they have a great selection, and the wines are all VQA so I know the quality. And it's close to the house."
So it's a win-win! Unlike most private wine stores, there is no additional mark up; you pay winery prices.
McLeod's favourite white is a Baillie-Grohman 2012 Gewurztraminer for $18. Unlike most B.C. wines, which are produced in the Okanagan, this Gewurztraminer is made in Creston. As sommelier Urquhart explains, "Creston has a different climate so it's not your standard Gewurz, but it is a Gewurz."
And a delicious one at that with its rose-petal aroma and grapefruit flavour. Because of our cool climate, most B.C. whites have a refreshing level of acidity, which balances the juicy fruitiness. Gewurztraminers are a perfect match for curries and Chinese food.
As for his favourite red, McLeod picked the Cassini 2010 Quattro at $25. It's produced in the Okanagan near Oliver, known for making premium reds.
Quattro literally means four and this wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.
Expect a full-bodied, smooth, rich taste with plenty of fresh blackberries and plum flavours. Grilled lamb chops with garlic and rosemary would partner well with a glass of Quattro.
Sip owner, Simon Wosk points out there's more to Sip than sipping and purchasing wine. Custom wine baskets for special occasions make gift giving easy. "We feel they're the best wine baskets in the city."
The store is decorated with fine wine crystal to make your wine look and taste better. Wosk recommends Schott Zwiesel, break-resistant titanium crystal at half the price of other glassware.
And Sip Wines holds special wine events such as the Nov.14 Iconic Red Wine Tasting and Winemaker Dinners to really educate your palate. Sip Wines is located at 1030-11660 Steveston Hwy (www.sipwines.ca).
Eric Hanson is a life-long Richmond resident and a retired teacher and wine educator.
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