Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Urban Eats @ Mavrik Wine Bar

School might be out for summer, but we can think of one class well worth the exception. Armed with a notebook, empty stomachs and curious palates, we checked out Mavrik Wine Bar’s fourth wine tasting event.

Located on Queen West, Mavrik is a cozy, intimate wine bar that isn’t the slightest bit pretentious. The staff feels like family from the moment you meet them, working in perfect harmony to ensure your experience is flawless.

About once a month, the wine bar holds a wine tasting event where $20 gets you a flight of three wines (2oz each) and three pre-selected bites off the Korean-inspired, tapas-style menu. Sommelier Alex Hamilton guided us through his summer picks; artisanal wines that would pair perfectly with an afternoon on the patio or an evening with friends.

The Wine:

Our first wine was a Friulano from Villa Rubini with notes of stone fruit and citrus. According to Alex, its dry minerality makes it perfect for hot weather.

Our second wine was a Rose from Domaines Preignes Le Vieux in France. Made with two kinds of grapes (Grenache & Cinsault), the wine had notes of strawberry and raspberry. Fun fact: to give the rose its pinky amber hue, the vintner allows the juice from the grapes come into contact with the red skins.

Last but not least was a Pinot Noir from Allen Scott winery in New Zealand. Although Pinot Noirs can be heavy, this one was summery and light, with a dry sweet & sour flavour. With Alex’s guidance, we could taste the smokey tobacco and sour cherry notes.

The Food:

Every bite we tried off the tapas menu was perfect. The goat cheese and kimchi puff with a honey drizzle was creamy and crunchy at the same time, with a touch of sweetness. The bulgogi poutine was unique yet comfortingly familiar, featuring perfectly cooked beef and stellar fries. The homemade chocolates were the perfect way to cap off the tasting, melting in your mouth and pairing perfectly with the pinot noir. 

The Lesson:

Under the tutelage of award-winning sommelier Alex Hamilton, we learned how to properly taste wine.

1)   Look at the wine. What colour is it? Does it have bubbles?

2)   Smell the wine to see if it’s fresh. This is what you should be doing at a restaurant. Does it smell like wet cardboard? It’s probably gone bad.

3)   Swirl & sniff. This will open up the aromas and give you a real sense of the notes in the wine.

4)   Taste! For extra credit, ‘slurp’ the wine, bringing air into your mouth over the wine to oxygenate it and change the flavour.

The Story:

Elizabeth Choi and Joanne Park are wine-loving entrepreneurs with corporate pasts. Liz left her Wall Street trading gig and Joanne her job as a criminal lawyer to open Mavrik Wine Bar a year ago. Why wine? Liz found herself frequenting the saturated NYC wine bar market with clients when she worked on Wall Street, but found it intimidating and hard to ask questions. Even so, it piqued her interest and she took it upon herself to learn more about wine. When she and Joanne opened up Mavrik Wine Bar, they vowed to make the atmosphere different. They have more than succeeded.

Have you been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug? Liz explains that a lot of people envision their life a certain way and don't act on their dreams. "You'll encounter a lot of fears and people who will scare you off," said Liz, "The important thing is to just do it. It's a short life - just try it."

The next time you’re looking for a fun night out with your hip, urban girlfriends or are on the hunt for a perfect date idea, head to Mavrik Wine Bar.

Find Mavrik Wine Bar on Facebook and follow them on Twitter for the latest on menu additions and special events.

Stephanie Fusco is a Toronto PR professional and blogger. Follow her on Twitter @stephaniefusco and check out her blog at 

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