Wine tasting – Nk’ Mip Cellars
– text by Stephanie MacDonald/photos by Robyn Hanson
The weekend’s over. Perhaps you spent too much money at Ikea, maybe you were peer-pressured into faux-pleasant activities like the Grouse Grind or a Dweezil Zappa concert or an endless, sober little league tournament. Maybe you stayed up all night swilling Jager shots and snorting cocaine in the bathroom stalls of sleazy bars with a monkey in a baseball uniform – the point is, it’s Monday and you are in the mood for something enjoyable and mellow. What to do?
Setting a civilized tone for the oncoming week is what I had in mind when I accepted the invitation to check out the monthly wine tasting event at the Hamilton Street Grill in Yaletown. The opportunity to taste three wines along with three specially paired small plates was very compelling, and I was happy to find out the winery was Nk’ Mip Cellars from Osoyoos, a winery and an area I’m at least familiar with.
The 5:30 p.m. start time made getting there on time slightly tricky, and as a result I had to run and arrived all perspiring and slightly discombobulated after everyone had been seated. This ended up being fortuitous – I was seated with three people who turned out to be an epidemiologist (cool!), her charming mother and her aspiring rock-star husband (I checked out Bend Sinister on MySpace, they told me to, I am not a stalker), all of whom were fun, knowledgeable about wine and informative about diseases and other interesting things.
The first wine ended up being my favorite of the evening. A 2008 Riesling, it was bright, fruity and begged for a sunny patio and some juicy gossip with girlfriends. It was paired with a halibut ceviche which was nice, topped with a melon sorbet that was not. Rockstar astutely observed that it was a little like having fish for dessert, and we all agreed it would have been better if the sorbet was more acidic, but the overall result was… interesting.
Next up was a Chardonnay, very traditional in style, served with a delicate prawn ravioli, and we finished off with shortribs braised with root beer served with a delicious Meritage that tasted… expensive. The food is supposed to just be tasters, but the three served as my dinner just fine, though some people might need a Japadog or two to fill up after.
Throughout the tasting we got to hear all about the winery and the different wines from Randy Picton, who is the wine maker at Nk’ Mip, and so we actually learned a few things as well. For instance, I had no clue that Meritage was the same grape as Bordeaux, without the appellation, and that Nk’ Mip is the only aboriginally owned and operated winery in North America. Many of the other people there were clearly regulars and it’s easy to see why – it’s a well-run, casually elegant event where you can try some new wines with food picked specifically to match, and it’s only $25!
In fact it’s so lovely it almost makes me not want to tell everyone about it in case it becomes so popular I can’t get a seat and someone else gets to sit with my cool companions at the hip table. I would have loved to stick around for the Dames d’Escoffier event, because the program that supports and mentors women in the culinary arts is a cause I truly support, but I had to go to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (also very good!) at the Granville Island Stage.
If you’re looking for a relaxing and interesting Monday or Tuesday night out, be sure to catch one of these monthly events, featuring a different winery each time, at the Hamilton Street Grill.