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November 25, 2015 Comments (0) Views: 1561 Young Blood Sommeliers

Young Blood Sommelier : Gianna Sami

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In the fifth of an eleventh (and wildly popular) series, we interview some of the most talented up-and-coming Sommeliers in Ontario (and occasionally elsewhere). A few years back I was flicking through the pages of a locally published periodical and noticed that when it came to Sommeliers it was the same names that seemed to pop up over and over again. I was also becoming gradually cognisant of the fact that we more established wine folks were well and truly “losing our edge” to these young blood Sommeliers. Being well aware of the depth of new talent that was out there I finally decided to get together with a couple of fellow Toronto Sommelier “Old Guard” (Anton Potvin and Peter Boyd) to assemble a line of questioning that would give us an entertaining insight into the minds of these rising stars.

This month we put the myriad questions to Cavinona‘s Gianna Sami.


Good Food Revolution: So Gianna, what is it that you are doing these days? What is your role at Cavinona and Terroni?

Gianna Sami: I manage Cavinona wine agency. We supply wines exclusively to the Terroni family of restaurants as well as private customers. I manage and oversee all aspects of the business from ordering wine with the LCBO to customer orders to wine events. You could say I wear many hats in this job!

GFR: And what kind of experience and training did you have before doing what you do today?

GS: Before doing anything related to the wine industry, I started off in restaurants, as many do. When I was 19, I got a Summer job as a host for an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles where I’m from. My then boss was a big believer in personality rather than experience and promoted me to catering manager a few weeks after I was hired. It’s still baffling to me that he did that, but without that I don’t think I would have wound up in this industry at all. I continued to work at this restaurant in different management capacities every Summer while I was home from studies at McGill.

After I graduated with my double major in psychology and archaeology I moved back to LA from Montreal and my boss asked me to take over his wine bar. A few things: first I was 20, not even legal to drink in the US. Second, the wine bar was entirely made up of Enomatic wine machines with about 50 wine slots. Third, I knew NOTHING about wine. The age issue quickly resolved itself, since I turned 21 a few months after I became manager of the bar. The wine supply issue was momentarily under control since there was loads of inventory left from the previous wine director. However my education problem, or lack there of, was still looming over me.

I managed to convince my boss to send me to the ISG level 1 and 2 to help me get my bearings. I was very fortunate to have an amazing teacher for the course, DJ Kearney. She was a great inspiration for me and fuelled my budding passion for wine. I was also lucky enough to form a great tasting group with some of my classmates, which gave me immense support and created an environment where we were all able to ask dumb questions and learn from our wine mistakes.

After running the wine bar for and learning loads about wine and management, I decided to move to Toronto. One of the agents I bought wine with was friendly with Max Stefanelli of Terroni Los Angeles. I interviewed with Max and Vince Mammoliti, landed a position with them, and moved to Toronto in February of 2009. I initially worked as a floor supervisor for Osteria Ciceri e Tria (now called La Bettola di Terroni) and then later as a manager at Terroni Balmoral (this location closed and reopened on Price St). Terroni is amazing because they are so passionate about Italian food and wine. Not only do they have weekly wine tastings exclusively on Italian wine, but they really live the Italian culture. It’s impossible to work at Terroni without absorbing heaps of knowledge about Italian food and wine. Anyone that has worked at Terroni can tell you that and can probably also speak what I call ‘Menu Italian”, meaning if they were in Italy reading a menu the likelihood of them understanding most things on the menu is extremely high. 

Terroni Balmoral closed to relocate to Price St on January 1st, 2011 and I transitioned into the Terroni head office, helping with Cavinona and some human resources projects. Cavinona grew quickly and after a short time I moved over to Cavinona full time. I was lucky enough to accompany the wine buying team on their annual Vinitaly trip that April, which was a real dream come true for me. Learning wine is like learning a language and total immersion has always been the best method for me. So in terms of Italian wine, I’ve become quite knowledgeable. Annual wine buying trips to Italy and working with Italian wine day in and day out have given me a really solid understanding of Italian wine culture.

In October 2014 I also became a certified Italian Wine Specialist through a Terroni offered course in association with the North American Sommelier Association. This was a really educational and humbling experience for me. There is so much to know about Italian wine and I truly believe it’s the hardest country to master.

Currently I’m studying for my sommelier certificate with Bruce Wallner at the Sommelier Factory. Another humbling but educational experience! I know Italian wine really well after all these years, but French wine? NOPE. 

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GFR: How many producers do you deal with at Cavinona?

GS: Currently we work with 56 wine producers. We import exclusively Italian wine and focus on indigenous Italian wine varietals. When I started with Cavinona, we only worked with 16 wine producers, so we’ve grown a lot! There are so many great Italian wines that are hard to find in Ontario and these are the products we focus on. Our portfolio now covers all 20 Italian wine regions, which is a huge source of pride for me. I don’t think many other Canadian wine agents can say that.

GFR: And how many other agencies do Terroni deal with?

GS: Terroni receives about 80% of their inventory from Cavinona and exclusively uses Cavinona wines for their by the glass program. There are some great agents in the city though and Terroni has had long standing relationships with Stem, Appellation Wines, Le Sommelier, Lifford, Trialto, Grape Brands, Perugini Fine Wines, and Tre Amici, to name a few.

GFR: How involved are you in the selection of wines for the portfolio?

GS: The real driving force behind the Cavinona wine selection is Max Stefanelli. He manages the Terroni in Los Angeles and has access to a baffling selection of wine. Generally, Max will try out wines on his list at Terroni LA and if they do well and fill a void for Cavinona/Terroni, we import them. I’m always in touch with the Terroni locations to see what gaps need to be filled and this is also a driving force in what wines we select for import. I’m so thankful that we have Max to test wines out because Vinitaly is a beast of a fair. I can’t imagine going there without a plan of action. It would be way too overwhelming to go around randomly selecting things.

GFR: Do you get the opportunity to attend many tastings throughout the year? and have you had any particular favourites?

GS: I get invited to a lot of tastings, but I’m bad at attending. I really want to make more of an effort, but since I work during the day, getting out of the office can be a challenge. I did attend the ICE wine tasting, specifically the ‘Wine of the Vinceroys’ seminar lead by a Mr. Jamie Drummond (maybe you’ve heard of him) and Attilio Scienza. It was a well lead seminar and Dr. Scienza went over the history of the area, which I always find interesting.

GFR: What makes for a good agent/supplier in your mind?

GS: One of my biggest sources of pride in my job is offering incredible customer service. I’m very aware that customers could just as easily go to the LCBO for all their wine needs. I ask customers to trust me since I deal with wines that are often unfamiliar to them. I think this discovery aspect becomes part of the fun for them. A good wine agent is able to double as a sommelier, offering suggestions and recommendations to customers based on their personal taste. I really end up knowing my regulars’ taste and it’s fun to help them explore new wines. My goal is for customers to feel like they buying into a personalized and thoughtful wine service. Of course, an interesting wine selection is mandatory. We don’t import anything we don’t stand behind.

 

GFR: And what makes for a bad agent?

GS: Bad customer service, bad wine, and blanket wine recommendations. That sums up a bad wine agent for me.

GFR: How do you feel about Canadian wines? Any current favourites?

GS: I really enjoy Canadian wines and I like showing them off to our Italian wine producers when they come to town. We make a yearly trip to Niagara with our wine producers that attend our portfolio event. This year we went to Pearl Morisette with about 10 Italian wine producers and they appreciated it so much. Pearl Morisette is doing some really cool stuff and they certainly go against the grain of Niagara wine trends. It’s funny because I think they get marked as the black sheep of the Niagara area, but a lot of my Italian wine producers on this trip use very similar methods of production. I also enjoy the wines from Tawse, Rancourt, and Maleta.

GFR: How aware of wine were you whilst growing up? Were you around wine from an early age?

GS: I was born in Spain and have lots of family there, so growing up there was always a lot of emphasis put on Rioja and Sherry. My mom loves sherry and I am my mother’s daughter so the love got passed on. My father also collected lots of California wine growing up, which he took a lot of pride in.

GFR: Can you remember your first taste of wine?

GS: I can’t remember my first sip of wine, but I do remember my first sip of beer. I must have been 11 or 12? I asked what beer tasted like and my dad let me try a sip. I thought it was disgusting at the time. I really hated anything carbonated, so that didn’t help the situation.

GFR: When do you feel children should be introduced to the wonderful world of wine?

GS: I think it’s perfectly healthy for kids to be around wine. As I mentioned, I was born in Spain and grew up on Los Angeles. I always noticed the difference between the US and Spain in regards to bar culture. In Spain, the bar is a meeting place for friends and family. There’s kids of all ages running around, even infants. People don’t even think twice about bringing kids to the bar, it’s just part of their culture. North America is so different in that line of thinking. Blame it on prohibition I guess?

GFR: When did you first decide that you would like a career in wine?

GS: I didn’t pick wine so much as it picked me. Being offered that job as the wine bar manager changed my career path and landed me where I am today. With wine, you can bring the world to you. Not only can you drink something from another country, but there are producer visits, wine trips, wine seminars, and these all act like glimpses into another part of the world. That’s one of the aspects that really appealed to me.

GFR: So who or what gave you your first insight into the world of wine?

GS: As I mentioned, DJ Kearney was my first wine instructor and she opened my eyes to the world of wine.

GFR: The Sommelier world is notoriously full of pretentious arseholes, and after seeing that film Somm I worry about the emergence of a new Bro culture… I’d love to hear your thoughts?

GS: I always find it so baffling when people are pretentious about wine. It kills me. Humans have made wine for thousands of years and it’s main purpose has always been for pleasure and enjoyment. What’s pleasurable about making people feel stupid about their lack of knowledge on, to be honest, a subject that isn’t that useful in people’s daily lives? This is why we have specialists like sommeliers and master sommeliers. Their job is to help consumers, not shame them.  My friends always wrongly assume I’m sort of wine snob, constantly making self-conscious comments on bottles they bring over for any dinner party I host. I always tell them, all that matters is whether or not you like the wine and had a good time drinking it. Everything else is irrelevant. Of course if a consumer gets into wine as a hobby, power to them, but most of the general public will never delve that deeply into the world of wine.

GFR: Which wine regions have you had the opportunity to visit?

GS: Let’s see, in Italy I’ve visited Umbria, Lazio, Trentino, Friuli, Lombardy, Piedmont, Sicily, Emilia-Romagna, and Tuscany. We always pick a region to visit after Vinitaly since we’re already there. It gives us a chance to visit our wine producers and see their area and facilities. It really helps to make these visits because it puts the wine in context. We always hear great stories from the wine producers that really bring each bottle to life. Of course, dining on the local food also helps with context and always gives me new ideas for future pairings. I’ve also been to Prince Edward Country, Niagara, and Galicia (Spanish Albariño area)

GFR: Have you ever made your own wine?

GS: Technically, not from start to finish, but when we went to Tuscany, we visited Bernardetta Taconi from Amantis winery. Her husband Paolo Vagaggini is the enologist for Amantis and about a dozen other wineries in the Montalcino area. He’s a full blown Sangiovese master and even has his own laboratory to run all his analyses and perfect any blends he makes. When we got there, he had this whole set up for us of different single varietal wines and we got to blend our own wines! He gave us some insight into how he creates his blends and it was just fascinating. We got to go behind the scenes in the best possible way. We always get to tour the wineries and see how the wine is made, but this was such a different experience. It was very cool. I even got to wear a lab coat.

GFR: And where would you like to make wine (in a pipe dream)?

GS: That’s a great question. I think I would have to say Sicily. Mt. Etna specifically. I’ve always loved the Etna DOC reds and whites, but Sicily was never on my list of places to visit for some odd reason. Once I went though, I fell in love with it. The presence of an active volcano is hard to describe in words, but it affects everything around it and you can feel it’s power. Our first night at out agriturismo, we could hear the volcano booming and erupting in the night. It was INSANE. Some of my coworkers were unnerved by it, but I found it mesmerizing and oddly comforting that there was this natural force right next to us that was literally changing the surface of the planet as we slept. Does that make me weird? Probably…

GFR: So do you prefer to manage people or bottles and why?

GS: Hmm, I think as a wine agent you have to do both and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I manage our inventory of course and I also manage a small but wonderful team.

GFR: What have been your career highs and lows?

GS: My biggest high has probably been the success of our most recent portfolio tasting. It was a 6 month planning process and I acted as event director and planner. Man, there were some ridiculously stressful days leading up to the event, but in the end, seeing the finished product, I was extremely proud. The hard work certainly paid off. My career lows always involve inventory management. There are times when we have too much wine or too little. Working as an importer is really stressful because there are so many logistical steps that are out of my control. The lead time for getting wine from Italy is about 2 to 2.5 months and planning that far in advance can be a real challenge. I’ve devised my own methods though and now work with a forecasting software, so progress is being made!

GFR: Who is, in your mind, a real role model for Sommeliers?

GS: Christopher Sealy from Midfield Wine Bar. I got to work with him when he was working at Bar Centrale di Terroni and his passion for wine and depth of knowledge is really impressive.

GFR: And for Wine Agents?

GS: I love the portfolios from Paul Perugini from Perugini Fine Wines and Ken Hayden from Appellation wines. They both have great taste in Italian wine.

GFR: Do you still have nightmares about working with wines? I do… regularly… and it usually involves being unable to find bottles in a cellar… and the clock is ticking away… in fact I had one last night!!! And I haven’t been in the role for over five years!!!

GS: I have nightmares about running out of wine to sell. I guess this is the wine agent version of your dream. It’s the worst!

GFR: Sommeliers famously have their Sundays off… What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

GS: I run around all week so for me the perfect Sunday is one where I have no responsibilities! I would start with brunch with my husband followed by some city strolling and some window shopping. Next up would be a late afternoon snack and a drink. Then I would want to watch a movie and order take out for dinner. That would be my day.

GFR: Where are your favourite places to dine and drink.. perhaps tell us a hidden treasure of our city?

GS: I just tried Maha’s for the first time and I was blown away. Everything was so good! It’s a great brunch spot. I’ve always been a huge fan of 416 Snack Bar. I just love that place. I also really like Foxley. I’m a big fan of intense flavours and Foxley always blows me away with their flavour combinations. So not hidden gems, but delicious gems?

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GFR: Do you cook yourself? What’s your favourite dish to cook these days?

GS: I do cook and my husband is also an amazing cook (he works in catering). We generally take turns cooking, but lately we’ve been so lazy. I used to cook a lot more and host tons of dinner parties. Life has been so busy recently so that has sort of fallen by the wayside. Cooking is a great Winter activity though, so I’m sure I’ll get back into the groove. I love cooking anything for the Jerusalem cookbook. The recipes are flawless with great flavour sensibility.

GFR: And have you had any cooking disasters recently?

GS:  We made smashed sweet potatoes lately, which is a staple in our house. This time though, the sweet potato must have been off because it tasted metallic and it was disgusting! We promptly tossed it in the compost bin.

GFR: Do you feel that there is a good Sommelier community in Toronto?

GS: I’m probably the wrong person to ask because my wine world is pretty insular. I sell exclusively to the Terroni restaurants and to private customers, so I’m not going around to restaurants selling wine. I do know a lot of the other agents though and there’s always a nice camaraderie among us. We’re always willing to help each other out with LCBO tips or news, so that shows that we have a pretty nice little community among us.

GFR: Do you hang about with other Sommeliers or Wine Agents?

GS: I don’t have any close friends that are sommeliers or agents, but I’m friendly with a lot of the other agents and some sommeliers, especially the ones that work at Terroni.

GFR: How do you feel about Toronto as a wine and cocktail city? Where do you go if you need to get your wine or cocktail on?

GS: Toronto has grown so much in terms of restaurant culture since I moved here in 2009. It’s been great to watch. I live right near Northwood and they make great cocktails. I’m a big Old Fashioned fan, which I use as a skill test where ever I go. If the bartender screws up an Old Fashioned, we have a problem.

GFR: What would you be doing if you were not doing what you are doing today?

GS: Probably something in the psychology field. That’s what I went to school for and always found it really interesting. The human mind is a complicated thing.

GFR: What are your thoughts on music in restaurants?

GS: Music is a must! Whenever we go to Italy for our buying trips, I’m always shocked at the lack of ambience in restaurants. The lights are always blaring and there is absolutely no music. Music and lighting are key. Some restaurants have the music blasting, which can be fun if it’s a late night spot, but distracting if you’re trying to have conversation over dinner.

GFR: Do you have a favourite food/wine related scene in a film/movie or show?

GS: My favourite food movie would have to be Big Night. I love everything about it. That scene when everyone is eating dinner is such a roller coaster of emotion. Food can be creative, moving, emotional, and, I know it’s cheesy, but transcendent. That scene captures that experience perfectly.

GFR: I know that you have non-industry friends… how do they feel about what you do for a living?

GS: I’m pretty sure they think I sit around and drink wine all day. Not the case! Managing a wine importing business is hard work. It takes a lot of organization and planning. I definitely talk about wine way more than I drink it. Of course, when I do get to drink wine for work, that’s always a plus!

GFR: What are your thoughts on blind tasting wine?

GS: I find it really beneficial and simultaneously frustrating. It’s the best way to learn how to think deductively about wine. Logic and the 5 senses aren’t intrinsically linked for me, so I really have to practice thinking about what I’m tasting rather than just experiencing.

GFR: Are you a better blind taster with or without a bad hangover? I’m definitely the former…

GS: Who is better at blind tasting when they’re extremely hungover?! Can I meet this person and give them a prize? If I’m hungover – which rarely happens because I can’t stand the feeling – I hide from the world and pray that I’ll soon feel like a normal human being again.

GFR: What’s your current favourite wine region?

GS: I’m really into nebbiolo from Alto Piemonte right now as well at Etna (Sicily) reds and whites. They are very elegant and complex wines.

GFR: In your mind, what is “hot” in the world of wine right now?

GS: Orange wines and natural wines are probably the hottest topics these days. Orange wines may not be the most approachable category for the general public, but if you’re a wine lover, they sure are interesting.

GFR: And what’s not so hot? What has fallen out of favour?

GS: Oak bombs, aka wines that are so manipulated by oak that you can’t get a clear picture of the grape varietal. In regards to wine making, I’m a big fan of the idea that the real work with wine is done in the vineyards rather than the cellar. Oak can certainly be used to make a great wine, but when that’s all you taste, I question the methods of the wine producer.

GFR: When it comes to wine is there anything that you feel is overrated?

GS: Natural wines. There are a lot of great natural wines out there, but on the flip side, there’s also a lot of poorly made wine hiding in that category. I’ve been to some natural wine fairs and some of the stuff I’ve tasted is straight up flawed and, in my opinion, undrinkable. Slap ‘natural’ on it though and suddenly people are clambering to get their hands on just about anything.

GFR: What is your favourite wine pairing right now, something nice and seasonal?

GS: The other day I was having a great Barbera and Bonarda blend called Romeo from Castello di Luzzano. I did a simple pairing with Grey Owl cheese, some fancy crackers, and fig preserve. It was delicious. The tanginess and fat of the cheese paired with the figs was the perfect compliment to the wine. Let’s just say I ate a lot of cheese and crackers that day.

GFR: Okay… three pairings with me on the spot?… but this time with some of your very varied Terroni clientele

What would you suggest for them wine or beverage-wise… and why?

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1: A typical Summerhill lady who lunches (who usually likes a little Pinot Grigio)?

GS: I would suggest the ‘Aole Alto’ Nosiola 2014 from Marco Donati in Trentino. The wine is super approachable and can get away with pleasing most palates. When someone asks for Pinot Grigio, that’s usually what they asking for – something in the middle.

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2. A Queen West middle-aged Dad trying to take care of his energetic 18 month old (who despite working in the wine business usually drinks beer)?

GS: The Malandrino Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2013 from Cataldi Madonna in Abruzzo. This is a great casual wine and works with a huge range of the Terroni menu. It’s unoaked, which I really like because the final product is this vibrant perfumed red that’s pairs perfectly pizza and pasta.

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3. A Bay Street Lawyer who is pretty seriously into her wine, but usually drinks huge Californian Cabs and Australian Shiraz?

GS: The 2007 Merula from Carvinea in Puglia is a great option for new world red fans. It’s 100% Montepulciano, but has the added edge of the Pugliese sunshine, which gives it a more jammy profile than your average Montepulciano.

GFR: How open do you find the Terroni clientele to trying new things? as you have some pretty esoteric stuff on those lists of yours…

GS: I find customers are pretty open to trying new things. At Terroni, they spend a lot of time training staff to navigate the wine menu and offer up suggestions to customers who are unfamiliar with Italian wine. Italian wine is such a great region because of the variety of wine they produce. There really is something for everyone.

GFR: Do you often drink beers or spirits?

GS: I’m a big beer and spirits fan. I know people who only drink wine or only drink beer. I’ve never understood that line of thinking, especially when there’s so much on offer! For me, there’s a time and a place for everything. If I’m chowing down a burger, I want a beer. If I’m having a drink before dinner, I want a cocktail. Why limit yourself?

GFR: What is your least favourite part of your job as a Sommelier/Wine Agent?

GS: For me, wine is all about enjoyment and pleasure and because of that, I get to be involved in the ‘making of’ of a lot of my customers’ happy moments. For example, I recently had a couple come to me for wine for their wedding. I went through some wines with them and in the end they picked their favourites to use on their big day. It was a simple thing, but I became part of their wedding story. Those are the moments I love.

GFR: What is your weapon of choice when it comes to a corkscrew?

GS: Double hinged waiters key is the only thing I will use. Everything else is superfluous and/or ridiculous.

GFR: And your thoughts on the Coravin system… has it changed the playing field?

GS: I think it’s great, especially for agents. I’m able to open a bottle for sampling and it lasts so much longer. It’s the perfect tool for restaurants who want to experiment with opening higher end bottles.

GFR: Speaking of which, where do you stand on the screwcap vs. cork debate? And how do your customers feel about that?

GS: At Cavinona, we do not import any screwcap wines since our main customer is the Terroni restaurants. Screwcaps take away some of the ritual of ordering wine in a restaurant. It’s a bit unceremonious when opening a wine bottle becomes as simple as opening a bottle of water. If I’m shopping for home, I don’t mind screw caps though. There are so many wines that are meant to be consumed fresh and young, which screwcaps are perfect for.

GFR: Due to us always being around alcohol, many people in our industry often have quite the increased tolerance for wine/booze, or they develop issues. What is your limit and how do you keep yourself in check?

GS: My limit these days is pretty low. I just can’t drink as much as I used to. When you’re young, being hungover is an acceptable use of a Sunday, but now? Definitely not. I can’t imagine wasting a whole day and feeling terrible. There are too many things I want to do! I guess that’s what happens as you get older, your priorities change. BORING.

GFR: Have you ever been “cut off”? If so, where and when was the most recent time? Did you get cut off at that pool party during the summer?

GS: I can’t say I’ve ever been cut off, but I’ve definitely had some wild nights. I can’t imagine keeping up with my younger self now though. I would cry or die or both.

GFR: Do you have a good hangover cure?

GS: A beer. It’s the only way.

GFR: How many wines do you taste in a week?

GS:  Not as many as you would think. I probably taste around 5 a week. Since I sell mostly to the Terroni restaurants and don’t go out on many tasting appointments, I don’t open many bottles. I always taste the new vintages when they arrive and revisit any wines I’m feeling foggy on. I think I condense all my tasting for the year in our annual Vinitaly trip where we taste about 75-100 wines a day.

GFR: When tasting with clients do you choose to spit or swallow?

GS: I usually spit, but if the wine is really good or it’s towards the end of the day I’ll ease up on that rule. Life is too short to spit good wine.

GFR: What’s your “house” wine at home?

GS: I love trying new things so we don’t have a ‘house wine’ per say. I like to follow the seasons and drink according to the weather. Bone dry rosé is a must in my house over the Summer, for example. Lately, we’ve been drinking a lot of red of course. I generally gravitate towards medium bodied reds wines that can be had on their own or with food. I’m a practical gal that way.

GFR: Most remembered glass of wine ever?

GS:  Excellent question. I’ll be frank, I’ve tried some really expensive and famous wines over my career, but those have not necessarily been the most memorable moments for me. The glasses of wine I remember the most are the ones where something clicks for me in terms of my understanding of the wine. For example, we were recently in Friuli after our latest Vinitaly trip and had an amazing dinner with our producer Primosic. Here I was sitting at this table with my coworkers and the Primosic family, drinking an amazing vertical flight of their orange wines, eating mind blowingly good local food. That was a definitete ‘a ha’ moment for me.

GFR: What is your perfect glass (or bottle) of wine at the end of a crazy day at work?

GS: I nice glass of Franciacorta always does the trick for me. It’s refreshing and entirely satisfying.

GFR: And now the cheesy question Gianna… If you were a grape varietal which would you be? and why?

GS:  I would say Grenache because it’s adaptable to many situations and climates and it’s got some spicy black pepper notes. My sass level can get pretty high, so that’s fitting.

GFR: Thank you for taking the time Gianna… and thanks for doing this.


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Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution.

Peter Boyd has been a part of Toronto’s wine scene for over two decades. He has taught the Diploma level for the International Sommeliers Guild, and has been the sommelier at Scaramouche Restaurant since 1993. He also writes about wine, food and pop culture and raises show molerats for fun and profit. He’s also one of the most solid guys in the business.Trust this man. Seriously… he knows his shit and is slowly taking over this city. He just celebrated his 67th birthday!

A well-known and much respected figure on the Toronto food and wine scene for almost twenty years, Potvin has worked in many of the city’s very best establishments including Biffs, Canoe, and Eau. In 2004 Potvin opened his incarnation of the Niagara Street Café, a restaurant that has gone from strength to strength year after year, with universal critical acclaim. Anton spends much of his time traveling and tasting wine and has been ranked highly in consecutive years of the International Wine Challenge. Anton is now GM at DaiLo with Chef Nick Liu.

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