I fondly remember the first time I got the wine bug. It was while sitting across from a client who insisted on pairing different wines with the food items we were having. He was adamant that the dining experience be “just so”. At the time, I thought the whole idea seemed exorbitant until I tried it his way. WHOA! From this experience, I fell in love with wine and the act of pairing wine with food.
One would think I would run home and choose to share this newfound love of food and wine pairing with my family. Coming from a large Caribbean family that celebrated every imaginable occasion with a gathering that consisted of tables of food, this setting would be ripe for pairing wine. At these events, there would be every protein imaginable, every form of rice imaginable, at least three types of salads and sweet and savoury pastries… just cause. For anyone looking to explore wine with food flavours, this was the spot. But you know what? I never did take my newfound love (wine or a boy for that matter to avoid the inquisition that would undoubtedly happen) home to these feasts. It’s not that a bottle of wine sitting on the bar would not have been well received. My family is pretty open to trying anything once. The problem was me. I never felt the two went together; wine that I fell in love with at a fancy client dinner and my Caribbean family’s fete!
It took me years to realise that my former self was wrong. However, I also realised the complexity of conscious and unconscious bias at play. The biggest was bias seen through wine marketing. I honestly do not recall ever seeing wine positioned in media as something for a Caribbean feast or for people of colour. Then, of course, my own bias and conditioning which made it easy for me to buy into what was being shown to me in the media.
After I started my formal study of wine and felt more comfortable with it, it became clear that there was more to wine pairing than Chablis and Oysters, or Vin Jaune and Comté. Learning about wine also gave me the confidence to talk more about it. The more I talked about it, I found people of my similar background thinking about wine in the same way my younger self did while sitting across from that client. I was hearing things like “I only drink wine when out for dinner” or “Our food is not meant to be paired with wine”. If you know me, you know that these statements are received as challenges (You have years of competitive sports to thank for that) . And this is the story, albeit a greatly summarised one, behind the ethnic food and wine pairing events I do.
One upcoming event I am happy to share with you will allow us to change the narrative around food, ethnicity, and wine for a large number of people across Ontario.
On May 28th, we’re taking our private dinner pairing events to another level with an outdoor food and wine festival at Stackt Market, downtown Toronto. This food and wine festival has a unique twist, as it focuses on ethnic foods!
We’ve all seen the statistics on how Ontario’s demographic profile has changed (is changing). I think events like this one (Spring Into Spice, The Social) are important to build new narratives around wine, and get more of our denizens thinking about pairing wine with their Doro Wot, Curry, Masala, Dahl, Som Tam… you get the picture.
What to Expect at Spring Into Spice, The Social
Festival-goers will get a chance to browse the Spring Into Spice Pavilion and taste traditional small bites from around the world. While on their pavilion journey, they’ll taste wines, many of which are local Ontario wines, with their incredible eats and see what pairings turn them on the most. We are especially happy that our partners at Stackt Market have opened up their bottle shop to have Ontario wineries sell bottles of their wines on site. And there’s more. We’ve lined up three local wine fellows to lead seminars that take a deeper look at wine and food pairings, wine and ethnicity, and tips on building your own wine must-haves for all occasions.
The response from the public has been greater than I could have imagined, and further currency in confirming that a ‘Spring Into Spice’ is exactly what we needed!
Until then, I will go on Pairing The Wines I Love With The Spices I Love!