Wine-ing Through My Ages

By André Morriseau
One of my guilty pleasures is my love for wine as both a sedative and calming elixir for my aging gay nerves.
A wine list tells an intriguing story as it can push the limits of belief from price points. Is it only me, but has the price of recreational sensible drinking become a shocking experience? Do I have to sell the farm to get a decent glass of wine, not to mention (heaven forbid) nine ounces?
But I digress and whine on. Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to travel to Bordeaux with a number of colleagues from 360 The Restaurant at the CN Tower, where I was honoured to be a part of the management team. We were guests of Barton & Guestier at the Château Magnol Food & Wine Academy where we participated in a four-day wine course. Wow – for a gay kid from Kenora, this was an out-of-body experience.
Each day, the chef would pair our lunches and dinners with wines that complemented each locally sourced meal. It was here that the concept of terre noire opened my mind to how the art of growing grapes and producing wine was as old as humanity itself. Hey, it’s right there in the Bible: turning water into wine.
This past Easter Sunday in New York, my friend and I were at the mercy of the brunch gods. My friend had been to 44 & X Hell’s Kitchen at the northeast corner of 44th Street and 10th Avenue in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. It could have been hell, but it ended up being heaven. We started with two Ethel Mermosas (go figure) with Lamberti Prosecco and followed that with a glass of Terrazas de los Andes Malbec Reserve, Mendoza, Argentina, 2019 – asmooth wine with a tannin plunk. 44 & Xwas an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone in search of delicious food, refined elegance, outstanding service and an adult wine list.
Forgive me if this sounds like a travelogue, but my appreciation of wine has been a long and storied journey that’s taken me all over the world. I have the headache to prove it.
Recently I had a great chat with my new best friend Taylor Russett, a young, gay Indigenous entrepreneur who owns the Grind and Vine in Trenton, Ont. on the way to Prince Edward County. His successful coffee wine bar has partnered with Huff Estates Winery and Traynor Family Vineyard to bring quality and choice to his wine list. Taylor has received a ton of recognition during the past few years. He also faced gay bashing when he opened his store, but that hasn’t stopped him. A recent recipient of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s 30 Under 30 Achiever Award, Taylor is fearless and on his way to even greater success.
Here in Toronto, a dear friend recently hosted me at their company wine club, The Wine Academy – an exciting private social club built around a masterpiece wine cellar in downtown Toronto. He found the private wine club through a good friend, Vincenzo, who runs Alta Wines, a distributor for some of the best restaurants in Toronto.
The Wine Academy is an amazing space where you can entertain business clients or just hang out with friends. It’s a totally cool subterranean vibe open 24 hours, so it even works for those of us who have to be home by 8:30 pm and in bed by 9:00 pm. (I know there’s a joke in there somewhere.) A couple of favourite wines that evening included Nebbiolo d’Alba and Abrigo Fratelli. Thanks Vincenzo!
As decades clip by, I see wine as fashion, from St. Jovian House White Catering at the Hotel Georgia in Vancouver in the early 80s, to Jaffelin Bourgogne Aligote at Dunkelman’s Restaurant at Yonge and St. Clair in Toronto. Don’t get me started on sparkling. With my birthday coming up, even at 65 I’m still on fire, in search of laughter, tears and back to laughter. May I see the wine list and propose a toast…cheers!