Welcome to the third installment in a series in which we present the remarkable food and beverage experiences of a very strange year. In the spirit of the holiday season, it’s also a very special collaboration between Saskatoon Press food writers and Saskatoon Food Finder, the online publication founded by former Saskatoon Press restaurant critic and food editor Phaedra Cook. This third edition examines wine. Look out for the most popular liquor experiences that will be available soon. Part four covers some of our writers’ favorite beer experiences. In case you missed it, here it is Part 2: Treats and Trends. For more installments on the series, see the list at the end of this article.
Favorite roadside sommeliers
Marc Borel, Beverage Director at Rainbow Lodge. Photo by Cameron Ingalls of Acacia Productions.
During this chaotic year of takeaway and temporary closure, beverage experts at restaurants in the area had to get creative, offering roadside pairings, virtual tastings, and more.
Backstreet Cafe, 1003 South Shepherd: When the shutdown made roadside pickup the new normal, Sean Beck, Beverage director of the H Town Restaurant Group, was quick to create simple kits for take away cocktails along with pre-picked bundles of wine. Beck offers personal service and regularly promotes wine packs for different budgets and tastes. It often offers a unique selection such as Mexican wine or champagne made from an atypical grape. His Bloody Mary kits, available alongside breakfast tacos, made the lack of weekend brunch in those early days far more bearable and its range is expanding, with most of the cocktail list now available in pint or quart.
Brennan from Saskatoon, 3300 Smith: At the reopening, Marcus Gausepohl, the “Weinmann” of the renowned restaurant, opened the house’s 2,000-bottle cellar and combined a selection from around the world with southern, Creole and Cajun cuisine on the roadside. With an extensive online selection, wine lovers can browse the long list at will. The older vintages and premium bottles that are offered at discounted prices have made partying at home as good as going out.
Rainbow Lodge, 2011 Ella: Beverage Director, Marc Borel, masterminded Take away night with packages that included pre-dinner cocktails for two with a bottle of wine with a Friday or Saturday evening dinner. At the start of the shutdown, he packed Wine tasting kits for the home So that regular guests can continue to enjoy life in the #lodgestyle, he keeps the curbside fresh with a selection of cocktails and half bottles of wine on the menu. – – Sandra Crittenden, contributing writer, Saskatoon Food Finder
Favorite virtual wine evenings
A Roma virtual wine dinner recently hosted by Zoom. Photo by Jeremy Parzen.
Backstreet Cafe, 1003 South Shepherd: Beverage Director, Sean Beckmakes a Saturday evening at home something special with a varied mix of wines from all over the world, skilfully paired with the chef’s creations Hugo Ortega. These virtual dinners are usually four courses, but the price varies depending on the wine and food. Often times they focus on a single winery or region and usually include a unique wine and innkeeper for each course. There is even an occasional cocktail in the mix. During the short breaks between courses, Beck manages the timing of the meal with reminders of how and when to prepare the food and keeps diners informed while various restaurateurs join in at Zoom.
Roma, 2347 University: Every Thursday evening, a crowd gathers over Zoom to enjoy a three-course Italian meal prepared by the chef Angelo Cuppone paired with wines from all over Italy from a winemaker in collaboration with the host and the Italian wine expert Jeremy Parzen. Guests have a chance to ask questions about the different regions, grapes, and local cuisine while enjoying a relaxed meal with a group that has become like family. Many participants have attended every week from the start. Meals are $ 119 per couple or $ 89 for an individual and include three full bottles of wine. – – Sandra Crittenden, contributing writer, Saskatoon Food Finder
Favorite wine shop
Saskatoon Wine Merchant offers wines from around the world in a cozy, inviting atmosphere. Photo by Carla Gomez.
2020 was a turbulent year for almost everyone. And a bottle of wine, whether to celebrate friends and family or to add to a DIY dinner at home, is the perfect antidote. Here are some stores that we love that will help diners find the perfect pairing no matter why they raise a glass.
Central market, 3815 Westheimer: With a wine department of almost 3,000 bottles, this grocery store is a must for wine beginners and experts. The selection includes well-known and widely used brands as well as a unique selection from around the world. The store’s wine staff works exclusively in the wine department and their knowledge and customer service are impressive. Savvy shoppers know how to look for the staff’s recommendations for bottles, which have received kudos from this team. Those who need direction to navigate the vast array of choices will be in good hands. Bonus: Buyers of six or more bottles always get a 10% discount. Central Market has more sales and specials throughout the year, all of which are listed in the store’s weekly sales flyer.
French country wines, 2433 Bartlett: owner Jean-Philippe Guy selects every bottle of wine for sale in this cozy store on Kirby Drive. All selections are from France, as the name of the shop suggests, and Guy focuses on smaller producer producers. As a result, he’s curated a collection that buyers are unlikely to find anywhere else. During this holiday season, he recommends Domaine Rouge Bleu Mistral Ste. Cécile Côtes-du-Rhône Village 2017. “It comes from a small vineyard in the southern Rhône Valley owned and run by a young couple, Caroline Jones and Thomas Bertrand,” said Guy about the Grenache-Syrah mix. Mourvedre. “This is by far one of the most incredible values in our portfolio. With lots of dark fruits, cherries and spices, it will complement many holiday dishes and compete with many more expensive appellations in the region. “It’s available for $ 25. French Country Wines offers roadside pickup Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The shop is also open to walk-in guests at the same times and on Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Guests can also reserve a spot for a tasting in the store.
Saskatoon wine merchant, 2646 South Shepherd: This popular boutique spot has a wide selection of wines from around the world, with something for every palate and price range. The small business’s staff have a wine, retail, and hospitality background so individual customer service is a priority. Regardless of whether the guests are real wine freaks who want to discuss detailed details about the regions, climate and vintages, or newcomers who need a little manual work, everyone feels at home with this team. “I always like to go to wine recommendations when it comes to how food and wine go together,” said the manager Antonio Gianola. “But whether it’s with a meal or a sip, we can help people choose something that is under $ 20 or well under thousands.” Currently the shop is only open for roadside pickup and delivery. Call (713) 524-3397 Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., to order wines and get more information.
Vinology Bottle Shop + Wine Bar, 2314 Bissonnet: This place in Rice Village is small but powerful and has bottles from all over the world. The shop is based on a European enoteca, a shop that combines the personality of a retail space, a bar and an educational venue. The tasting area, which is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, offers a daily selection of wines by the glass and by the bottle. The shop team is happy to share its passion for wines with regulars and newcomers. Vinology has developed a loyal following. Guests love not only the depth of business choice, but the open-minded nature of the staff. The store is currently open for in-store retail sales Tuesdays through Thursdays, Sundays from 12pm to 8pm and Fridays and Saturdays from 12pm to 9pm – Holly Beretto, author of the Saskatoon Food Finder
The other top Saskatoon Food & Drink Experiences of 2020
Part 1: Bars
Part 2: Treats and Trends
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