Sips Happen column: Seasonal treats for Richmond's wine sippers

With only ten shopping days before Christmas, here’s half a dozen juicy tips for the wine lover on your list:

1. The 40th annual Vancouver International Wine Festival gets uncorked from Feb. 24 to March 4 when Spain and Portugal take centre stage. Tickets go on sale Jan. 11. Check out their website for an event that might suit the lucky recipient, let them know in a Christmas card the event you will purchase for them in the New Year, and then don’t forget to order on the 11th. Go to

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2 .If you know someone who loves Shiraz or Australian wines in general, buy them a membership to the Australian Wine Appreciation Society (AWAS). Membership gives a reduced price on tasting and dinner events and other benefits. $40 for individuals, $70 for couples. Next event is the Gala Dinner at Black & Blue on Jan. 25 with fabulous Aussie wines from 2008. Go to

3. My favourite cheese merchant, Les Amis du Fromage, is offering monthly wine and cheese tastings. Join Allison Spurrell as she walks you through flights of delicious wines with gourmet cheeses from around the world.

On Jan. 29 Spurrell chooses special cheeses to match the outstanding Riesling and other B.C. wines from Synchromech of Okanagan Falls. In February, she guides you through her favourite blue cheeses with sweet wines. March has Allison guiding you through a tasting of classic old world cheeses paired with interesting new world wines. Go to

4. My favourite deli, D-Original Sausage Haus, is presenting a Charcuterie & Australian Wine Tasting Jan. 27 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Village Books in Steveston. $75. Hosted by Sommelier Ryan Lewis and Sausage Haus owner, Jens Hertha expect an intimate evening of tasty meat, cheese, and dessert pairings with wonderful wines from Down Under. Call 604-447-5545 to reserve.

5. Save-On Foods’ VQA Wine Store at Ironwood has regular wine tastings. It’s an opportunity to taste wines for yourself and for gifts during the Christmas season. Today, Nery Monson of Mark Anthony Wines will be pouring Steller’s Jay Pinnacle Sparkling Wine, a great BC bubbly ($28.48). And he will also be serving a Cranberry Sorbet Sparkling Wine Cocktail as well.

You can also sample the Sumac Ridge 2016 Gewurztraminer ($13.97) and taste crackers with the Gewurtraminer Cranberry Sauce. And there’s SunRock Vineyards 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon ($27.79), a delicious red to try.

6. Next Wednesday, Dec. 20, Christa-Lee McWatters-Bond, marketing director of Time Winery, will be pouring Time’s premium Okanagan wines. If you purchase six bottles at Save-On’s store, you get 10 per cent off. And if you buy a dozen bottles, you get the 10 per cent off and a further discount of $10. It’s a good time to taste and stock up for the holidays.

Eric Hanson is a retired Richmond teacher and wine educator.

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