A Tale of Two Wine Events.
This weekend in the spirit of #doingeverything and #westcoastadventure I went to San Francisco with a new friend. This is where I'd insert a "no new friends" Drake joke, but I'm going to refrain because I love you and I'm sorry I brought it up. I'll write about the trip later because it is too wicked/ pretty to not share.
I got back Sunday late late to pizza and beer and my new plants already dying. How are they already dying? How will I ever care for a dog? How do I even care for myself?
Anyways, today brought all of the events: one full of sadness, the second full of light.
I started my day with a hospitality trends breakfast. I wish I took a photo of the aforementioned breakfast offerings, though I believe the identical menu was served at the hospitality trends breakfast in 1982 so a stock photo should do the trick.
The room was full of people in suits I did not know using buzzy hospitality short forms I didn't care to know. All power point decks and stock photos of boxy jackets pulling ropes to teach me how to pull my metaphorical rope of market share. Yeah.
I did learn some disturbing trends about the Canadian food market. In fast food, Tim Hortons accounts for 27% of market share. TWENTY SEVEN PERCENT. No other developed country has such a huge market leader. The next time someone tells me Canada has no food identity I am buying them a cruller. Next come other things you would expect like McDonalds at 10.5% and Subway at 3.5% (anyone who has driven across Canada will know that we have all the Suways. The smell. Can we talk about that smell?).
Stats for sit-down restaurants were equally heartening. Boston Pizza was number one. I have never been, but 3.8% of Canadians who ate out last year enjoyed what I can only imagine are bottomless salads and many stuffed crusts. Really though, I do love pizza, so you go Canadians. I support you. Swiss Chalet is pumping out the festive chicken for 2.4% of the rest of us and something named Smitty's accounts for 0.9%. Smitty's guys. Smitty's.
I also learned growth stats for meals! All meals are not created equal! In a surprise to no one breakfast and brunch are totally killing it. Lunch though. She's flat. Dinner? On the decline. Apparently a thing called "eatertainment" will help buck the dinner downer trend.
However the most disturbing trend of all is the year's biggest food trend, eating in the car (EATING IN THE CAR), which is up thirty one percent. We must pull these vehicular eaters to our in-car options! The market share potential! What are we doing for the car eaters!
Like I said, I left feeling sad and gross, needing both shower and breakfast caesar. I hope they serve that at my local Smitty's.
Thankfully, the afternoon brought the exact opposite event: BC's Best Sommelier competition. In the past, Vancouver's Best Sommelier has been chosen by a vote of sommeliers and announced at the Vancouver International Wine Festival in February. This is cool and lots of great people have won, but from an outsider's perspective (I'm the one!) it seems a bit popularity-contesty.
This year they decided to crown the city's best sommelier by a competition thrown by CAPS (Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers). About 15 of the city's best wine people gathered in the morning for a written test and tasting.
The top three from the morning's results competed live in the afternoon.
The competition was super intenese and fun to watch. The top three were chosen and within a couple of minutes had to compete in front of a room full of onlookers, a pannel or judges and a video crew. The nerves!
For those who have not been to this sort of competition (i.e., everyone) they are uniquely weird and super cool.
Today's competition was 5 parts. In the first three, the contestants pretended they were in a fake restaurant and had to call on three tables - manned by industry actors - as the audience looked on.
1. Table one: open a bottle of sparkling wine properly (quietly), pour 6 identical glasses out in one try (hard).
2. Table two: decant a magnum of wine (tricky! two decanters! awkward!), answer questions about the wine style and why you should decant (remove sediment, mimic the effects of time/ soften young tannins, because it looks badass).
3. Table three: pair wines with a tasting menu. Explain your choices (all from different countries). List producers, regions and preferred vintage.
4. In step four, the contestants looked at a mock wine list for the first time. They were then told to identify as many errors as possible in 4 minutes. (very finnicky! things like wrong dashes, incorrect accents, producers under the wrong region etc.).
5. The last task was a blind tasting of 5 glasses. Blind tasting is already super tough, but doing it in front of a full silent room and a camera in your face is oh fuck I'm going to need a box of timbits in the car ride home bad. The guys - next year, let's do this ladies - had to give full tasting notes for the first two wines -including the grape type, country of origin, region and price - name the next two spirits and identify the final cocktail by name and ingredients.
All three contestants were talented, smart and funny and watching them in a room full of supportive, interested peers made my heart grow and my plants photosythesize if only for an instant (definitely only for an instant).
Afterwards we ate (a pig) and drank (champagne) and I met all the people.
Jason won and the room erupted. Everyone hugged. Everyone thanked each other and meant it.
Then we danced because no one had had the stuffed crust and we felt healthy and happy and alive.
This is the real hospitaltiy and thank fucking god the place where our next food and wine trends will come from. People who give the most shits doing their best to learn all the things and get better. Thanks for restoring my faith, guys. Now who wants brunch?