I enjoy wine. I think most people do. I often wish that I had the time and/or motivation to go on a wine tasting course so that I may better educate myself to the many nuances of this complicated sipper. However, on further investigation into the world of the sommelier it is evident that the realm of wine is vast and I could go on a hundred different courses and still only have a crumb of the knowledge that a good sommelier has. If I tell you that there are only 188 Master Sommeliers (the ultimate in wine tasting titles) in the entire world, that should give you an idea of the intense training that a sommelier dedicates him or herself to so that we can enjoy having the perfect meal paired with just the right wine. So let’s take a moment to appreciate these talented people who take all the work out of selecting that wine but still allow you to take all the credit. Here is a rundown of just a few of the best sommeliers working in and around Toronto right now…
Achievements: In 2004 John became the very first Canadian to earn the revered title of Master Sommelier. He is currently also one of the primary reviewers in the Wine Align team who review and rate wine featured in the LCBO’s Vintages magazine.
Let’s name drop: John is responsible for the wine programs of many Toronto hotspots. Clients include The Trump International Hotel and Tower, Joey, and Terroni.
Juicy tidbit: John holds a 3rd degree black belt in Goju-Karate-do, so tread lightly around his grapes.
Achievements: One of the three Canadians who have Master Sommelier status. Bruce recently opened a wine school in Toronto called The Somm Factory aimed to provide training for sommeliers and wine industry insiders.
Let’s name drop: Bruce spent five years serving as Chef Sommelier for the legendary Hotel du Vin in the United Kingdom, becoming the first sommelier from outside of France to do so.
Juicy tidbit: Bruce prefers a Caesar as his hangover cure, proving that not everything has the perfect wine pairing.
Achievements: Jennifer joins the boys above as the only other Canadian to have earned her Master Sommelier status. This would of course make her the first and only female Master Sommelier in Canada.
Let’s name drop: Jennifer has worked for well-respected restaurants such as Oliver & Bonacini and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. She has been the Head Sommelier for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment for the past six years, making their wine program one of the largest and most extensive in North America.
Juicy tidbit: She took the Master Sommelier test six times (it’s really bloody hard) and studied for it whilst working full time at MLSE and raising two children, proving that being a wino most certainly has its place in a busy lifestyle… Yay!
Achievements: Will currently holds the Advanced Sommelier certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers and is scheduled to sit the Master Sommelier examination in October of this year.
Let’s name drop: Will has been the Senior Sommelier for Oliver & Bonacini’s flagship restaurant Canoe since 2008. He began his wine career at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta in 2002 and became Ontario’s youngest LCBO Product Consultant in 2005.
Juicy tidbit: Will hails from Windsor, Ontario and he accredits the town for his success and rapid growth.
Achievements: Although Potvin may not be as well decorated as our previous winos, he has built himself a solid reputation and a successful career as a well-respected sommelier in Canada. He gained local celeb sommelier status as the owner of Niagara Street Café which became a well-known place to find tasty and interesting wines.
Let’s name drop: After selling Niagara Street Café, Potvin was a Consulting Sommelier for The Harbord Room and worked as a sommelier for The Air Canada Centre before moving on to his new project The Chase where he is the General Manager and sommelier.
Juicy tidbits: He likes to fish. And apparently he oozes charm and charisma and is rather handsome to boot… all the makings of a perfect wine pairing I’d say!