Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment. Cheers! - Bethany

Thursday, June 19, 2014

In conversation: WineWire Pop-Up Wine Shop

WineWire Pop-Up Shop107 Murray Street (in the Byward Market), Ottawa. Friday, 12-8 p.m. 

The evening has been nothing less than perfect. Dinner at your favourite restaurant, where the chef creates impeccable constructs of culinary art, where the gracious staff are there to attend to your every need, where the wine pairs perfectly with each delicious morsel.

That wine. What was it again? Where did the sommelier say it was from? Oh right. But you can't get it at the LCBO ...

That wine. Must find that wine.

Enter WineWire.ca

Think of it as the Amazon.com of the wine world: an impressive selection of hard-to-find, limited release and often restaurant-only products sold through Ontario's private wine agencies. A place to look up that stellar vintage you had that one time at that place last summer. You know, that wine.

Some 50-plus agencies are currently listed with WineWire, benefiting from the e-commerce and marketing the site provides: a direct link to aficionados who are looking beyond Vintages for something special.

"There's a real thirst for quality products here in Ottawa, pardon the pun," says co-founder Adam Bekhor. "Both the website and the shop are all about the emotional connection people have with wine."

This week, Bekhor and his business partner Nelson Abreu have taken over the swanky event space at 107 Murray Street to create a "pop-up" wine. They chose 100 or so of the best-sellers and cool finds from their website, set out some glasses and invited the thirsty curious to come in for a sample. But it's only here for a limited time, wrapping up Friday at 8pm.

"We wanted to emphasize that this is a shop, not a bar," said Bekhor. "We've created the atmosphere of a retail location, with a focus on bringing down the anxiety people have about purchasing wine."

It's a great way to try what's available before sinking money into a case, which is the minimum order size for a WineWire purchase. (Don't worry, just get a bunch of your wineaux friends to pitch in on the cost and you're golden.)

Prices range from simple $12 bottles of pinot grigio to $100 grand cru Bordeaux. Delivery to your closest LCBO is free, if you don't mind waiting about three weeks or so. (Yes, the LCBO still maintains the stronghold on how and when you get your wine. That's government-run liquor monopolies for ya ...)

So why not just order from the agencies direct? "The site [and shop] offers similar products to the wine you've searched for, giving you a more complete store experience," says Bekhor.

Chatting aside, it was time to try out the goods:

Fondo Antico 2012 Grillo Parlante (Sicily, Italy; 12.5% abv; $20.54/btl) - Last time I had a GREE-low was in somm class, I think, and I fondly remembered its sweet, floral nose and slightly viscous mouthfeel. Undercurrents of grass, wet stone and honeydew melon accompany the heady top fragrances. This is well-balanced, with moderate weight and a long-lasting citrus zest finish.

Cape Dreams 2013 Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa; 13% abv; $15/btl) - Crystalline in the glass with a watery rim and silver highlights. This has a classic s.blanc profile, but a bit more robust and fruity than its New Zealand cousin. Loved the long zing on the finish.

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