Saturday, 24 June 2017

First 1,000 Visitors, Thank You!

Hi Wine Lovers

I'm very grateful for the first 1,000 views on my blog. My goal is to recommend, educate and have a little fun along the way. If you want to stay up to date please subscribe.

Some people have told me "Ryan, I can't find some of your wine recommendations at my local LCBO." I highly suggest you download the LCBO app so that you can punch in my recommends and find the closest LCBO that carries it. Not all LCBO's will carry my recommendations but as long as it's somewhere in Toronto i'll showcase it! You can also use the LCBO website Sometimes i'll recommend a good wine at a great price but trust me, others are onto it as well and it can sell out fast!

What do you want to see more of on this blog? Have any wine questions? Ask below in the comment section or send me an email

Happy Sipping,


Friday, 23 June 2017

Happy Pride Toronto

Hey Wine Lovers

It's Pride weekend in Toronto, so let cheers to being fabulous and celebrate our diversity!

If you are gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender or anything and everything under the sun it's time to be proud of who you are. Ditch the oak, keep it fresh, simple and individually you.

Did you know Pride is Toronto's largest event drawing anywhere from 500,000 to over 1,000,000 people each year? People come from all over the globe to celebrate our Pride because it's quite well known as the place to be!

Pride is time for celebration and I think nothing says celebration like some sparkling wine! Ditch the $75 bottle of champagne that is full of complexity and full bodied notes reserved for birthday dinners or nights by the fire with your loved one. It's time to party so think refreshing, crisp, moderate alcohol (trust me, it's a marathon weekend not a sprint) and no heavy full bodied notes.

I want a wine at pride parties to surprise me with zippy fresh notes....much like when my heart get's beating seeing the "TD Boys" #OhhMy

This is a little bit on the heavier side, but look how fabulous this bottle would be sitting on ice at a pride party. "Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catherine Rose Brut". Think brioche, wild strawberry, lemon, fresh apples and a creamy mousse finish. It's $29.95 and proudly Canadian from the Niagara Peninsula!

Here is a unique and different one for you. Hinterland Ancestral Sparkling made from the Gamay grape. It's only 8% alcohol so you can sip this all day with no fear of getting to full of Pride, if thats even possible. Think fruity, off dry (little bit of sweet) and a sweet sour tang note of strawberry, cranberry and cherry. It's $25 from Hinterland winery in Prince Edward County.

I'm sticking with Hinterland and going with "Hinterland Whitecap" sparkling. Think honey, field flowers, apple and peach. It's bright and frothy on the palate, nice fruit and crisp finish that will pair well with a speedo, pride beads and the constant yelling of "Happy Pride". It's $22 and proudly local from Prince Edward County. 

I'm moving south now, but still in Ontario to "Peele Island Secco VQA" sparkling. Think smaller bubbles, apple, pear, peach with fresh fruit, balanced acidity and clean citrus finish. Toss this on ice, sip and be proud to drink such a pleasant Ontario sparkling wine for only $14.95. 

"G. Marquis Silver Line Blanc de Noir's Ice Rose Sparkling". This fine sparkling wine comes from the Niagara Peninsula and is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, then given a splash of Cabernet Franc (grape) Ice Wine to add a touch of sweetness. Lively red cherry, strawberry, apricot, marmalade floral and fresh baked pastry notes with a touch of orange pekoe tea. This may be more of an appetizer sparkling but again, just fabulous at $29.95. 

"Megalomaniac Bubblehead Sparkling Rose". This sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir grapes made in the traditional champagne method provides notes of fresh brioche, berries and a dry elegant mouthfeel. This may be one you can have with a snack between floats but still a solid option for celebrating at $29.95. 

Show that East Coast pride with a bottle of "Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 Sparkling". This fabulous sparkling wine is from Nova Scotia and will certainly surprise you with how delightful this little guy is. Think faint rose gold colour, sweet honey suckle, marigold blossoms, asian pair and fresh stone fruit. This is a refreshing sipper backed with crisp refreshing acidity and a long finish.  At $24.95 I would say this is a must have! 

Ive written about this one before but here it is again, "Peele Island Lola Blush Sparkling VQA". This would be my No. 1 rated wine for pride because the bottle is fabulous, the bubbles are fabulous and it's the perfect balance of everything.  Think strawberry and blood orange flavours, small simple bubbles and a refreshing zest at 12% alcohol it's right in the sweet spot. At only $14.95 and one of the most beautiful bottles I have seen, this is quintessential pride in a bottle! 

#NerdAlert - This bottle is made in the Charmat Method - a name for a sparkling wine making process. Unlike the traditional method *how champagne is made* where the second fermentation happens in bottle,  in the charmat method *AKA Tank Method* the second fermentation takes place in a large closed pressure tank like Prosecco.  

Check out for all of the weekend event details and enjoy the main parade this Sunday! 

Happy Sipping and Happy Pride Toronto


P.S. Cracking a bottle of Ontario ChardonnGAY is also acceptable :P

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

A Hopeful Sommeliers Journey

Hey Wine Lovers

I have some exciting news to share, yesterday I was accepted into the Certified Sommelier program at George Brown in conjunction with the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers CAPS!

So what is a Sommelier anyways?

A Sommelier in it's simplest form is a wine specialist who usually works at a higher end restaurant and helps guide the customer through the extensive wine list to find the perfect wine for the customer and for the meal. A Sommeliers job is usually much more than that though, from designing the wine list, pairing wine with the ever changing menu, inventory, training other servers on wine to managing the restaurant. Sommeliers may also get into wine importing, wine sales, wine consulting, event planning...the options can be endless with a "sommelier certification". Some people may argue that unless you are working as a Sommelier in a restaurant you aren't a Sommelier but I am smart enough to not get dragged into that debate :P

So why do I want to be a "Sommelier"?

That is a great question. I'm an Airline Pilot first and foremost but many pilots have small side businesses and for a few years I have wondered what I could do. Realestate, personal finance and a few other ideas popped into my head but my heart usually didn't follow. I kept asking myself "what do I love more than anything" usually while sipping a glass of wine. I then thought, why not wine? Eureka! I love wine and would pursue it even if there was no money...thats how I knew it was love. My dream is to start a wine business afterwards but for now my path is undetermined. I'll have a lot of studying ahead so just passing is my top priority! They say instead of chasing money, chase what you love and find a way to bring money to that. I plan too!

Somm Documentary  For the record, I have zero intention of ever even attempting "Master Sommelier"....these guys are rockstars!

The Certified Sommelier program is one year in length, runs one full day per week, starts this September and has a group of usually 20-30 people. The different courses that are covered during the year are

1. Methods of Wine Production
2. Sensory Development and Wine Styles
3. Wine Regions of the World - Old World
4. Wine Regions of the World - New World
5. Spirits and Other Beverages
6. Sommelier Management

I'll have the privilege of tasting over 1,000 wines from every nook and cranny of the globe. I will have to not only be able to taste the difference between say a Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia VS California but distinguishe the difference between Margaret River (Western Australia) VS Barossa Valley (South Australia - Adelaide). This is not your "Sure I like wine, I'll do the course too" type of wine course. Check it out if you want more information Certified Sommelier Certificate

I want to learn about wine but I have a life believe it or not, any options for me?

Yes, tons in Toronto! If you are new to wine but want a structured learning environment check out "Wine for Beginners" at George Brown. You'll learn about wine making, tasting techniques and grape varietals as you taste an assortment of different wine. Wine for beginners

If you feel you already know the difference between a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Noir and a Syrah then consider "Wines 1" followed by "Wines 2" at George Brown. I took both Wines 1 and 2 and loved it. I tasted several hundred dollars worth of wine each class, tasted around the world and can confidently tell you the difference between a California Pinot Noir and a Oregon one...seriously. These courses are usually 1 hour presentation/discussion followed by 2 hours tasting each evening they run. You will learn a lot and be quite the aficionado after these classes. Check it out Wines 1

If you like wine but less power pointy and more friends for a one night out, check out the iYellow Wine Club. This is as social and least "Wine Nerd" you'll fine. Learn a little, sip a little, laugh and enjoy a lot!

Have a laugh below!
Watch a Sommelier grade Boxed Wine

Follow my journey and subscribe to my blog because I promise to pass on my knowledge as best I can as well as affordable wine recommendations as they are found.

Happy Sipping


Friday, 16 June 2017


Hey Wine Lovers

Thank Goodness It's Friday. So it's the weekend, the weather is nice and its time to relax and have some fun. Maybe you are heading to a friends place for a BBQ, hitting up the beach or if you are lucky enough you know someone who owns a boat or a cottage you can snag a visit too. Grab a bottle of Ontario wine and head out into the wild!

If you are having a BBQ this weekend with homeade burgers why not try a bottle of Flatrock Pinot Noir from Ontario for $18.95. Think raspberry, beetroot, smoked meat and spice to pair well with a delicious thick burger. Want something with a little more "Pow", try North 43 Merlot for only $14.95.  Think blueberry, plum, herbs, spices and vanilla to give it that little heavier kick than a lighter cooler climate Pinot Noir.

Ok so maybe your budget is a little more Saturday night "extravaganza" and you are having some AAA Canadian steaks. If you have some nice big steaks why not treat them with respect and use just a little salt n pepper done medium rare paired with a bottle of "Stratus red" 2012 at $44.20. Expensive you bet, but think black currents, blackberries, plums, cassis, cloves, cinnamon with a finish that will have you drooling. "It may be Saturday but I'm not a baystreet banker!" Ok try Viewpoint Cabernet/Merlot from Lake Erie North Shore at $24.95. Think ripe and rich red fruit and a nice finish perfect with a heavier meatier steak. Still like to keep it under $20...I hear you, Toronto is hella expensive. Try Featherstone Cabernet Franc at $19.95. Think smokey grilled red pepper, raspberry, cherry and spice with a long finish to help you savour your steak.

I'm a veggie, where's my love? Don't worry you vegan organic hipster, there is a wine for every occasion!  Doing a vegetable medley on the BBQ think Whites and Roses. If you are doing more of a white vegetable (asparagus, broccoli) think "Unoaked Chardonnay" or Sauvignon Blanc. If you are doing more of a red pepper, tomato type heavier vegetable medley think some Rose either sparkling or non sparkling. I love the ever sparkling "Lola" from Peele Island at only $14.95 it's a steal and could stand up to the darker heavier vegetable medley. If you want a meaty rose for your vegetables try "The Foreign Affair Amarose" 2016 at $18.95. This appassimento method (pick the grapes, let them dry and shrink a little to concentrate the juice inside the grapes) rose delivers rich red fruit and a strong finish.

What about chicken on the BBQ? Honestly, it depends on the sauce/spice but a nice Cave Spring Chardonnay at $15.95 can't steer you too wrong. Heck, try any Ontario chardonnay that has been Oaked to provide that fuller body character and buttery texture you would want for a chicken dish. If you aren't sure if the wine has been oaked or not, ask a friendly LCBO staff member.

Stop reading, go shopping and sip what our delicious province has to offer. I know what i'll be doing this weekend at my friends cottage!

Happy Sipping,

Ryan Sullivan

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Nova Scotia're kidding b'y?

Hey Wine Lovers

As you know this year Canada turns 150 years old and our country has never looked better. We have grown in so many ways including in our wine scene. My partner and I went to Nova Scotia for a week (Cape Breton to be specific) to visit family and enjoy all of the sights and sips offered. When I think of Nova Scotia I think of lobster, seafood, acadian music and beer. That was until 2017!  I'll now always think of the young but brilliant and upcoming wine scene.

Ok, if you only like big Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia or California this isn't for you. However if you like anything lighter than that, this place can really be your safe harbour of delights. Fun Fact: Nova Scotia has been making wine since the 1600's and was one of the first area's in North America to do so. The Terroir (climate, soil, weather) of Nova Scotia favour unique and distinctive grape varietals such as L'Acadie Blanc, Seyval Blanc and Baco Noir (the red stuff). It's straight up too short and too cool of a growing season in Nova Scotia to grow big whites or big red's like heavy buttery Chardonnay or rich and complex Cabernet Sauvignon. However, like the Champagne region in France where the growing season is cool and short, Nova Scotia's treasure is it's sparkling wine.

When you think of dining and drinking in Nova Scotia I want you to think lobster and sparkling wine. Think crab and sparkling wine. Think muscles and sparkling wine. Think oysters and sparkling wine...starting to get the picture? They often say things that grow together, go together. I personally can't think of anything more beautiful than sipping a fresh, crisp and yet delightfuly complex "Champagne" made a few minutes drive from the ocean where the seafood was caught. Talk about eating and drinking local!

We shared a L'Acadie 2014 Vintage Cuvee (sparkling wine - made in the traditional champagne method) from local grapes, L'Acadie, Seyval and Chardonnay. I was sipping it looking over Ingonish Beach from the Keltic Lodge and it was a special moment in my life. The weather, the sights, the company and the sparkling wine all came together to help me finally understand why people love this stuff. This was the first "champagne" I actually fell in love with. The refreshing zest of fruit followed by the complexity of a brioche character made this soul food in a bottle. If you like life a little sweeter and less brut, try Nova 7 by Benjamin Bridge, the Prosecco of Nova Scotia. There is a selection of local sparkling Rose and sparkling White (both Blanc de Blanc and Blanc de Noir) which can really add some fun to your seafood adventures.

You can buy "Nova 7" by Benjamin Bridge at the LCBO!

Blanc du Blanc = White sparkling wine (champagne) made only from white grapes.
Blanc du Noir = White, yes white sparkling wine (champagne) made only from red grapes.
If you are confused, don't worry i'll cover champagne in another post in the future!

We had our fair share of white wine that wasn't sparkling from a L'Acadie to a Pinot Grigio to Tidal Bay. I didn't care much for the traditional grape L'Acadie by itself as a non sparkling because it had what I can only describe as a "children's flinstone vitamin bitter oddness" to it. Sorry but it wasn't for me, however make me a L'Acadie sparkling and I'm yours for life. The Pinot Grigio was not from Italy but honestly, I would sip it again. The only white wine I would really say you have to try is Tidal Bay. The Tidal Bay appellation is more of a quality standard rather than a specific area unlike most appellations. Tidal Bay produces wine with a distinct character, it brilliantly reflects it's birthplace :the terroir, costal breezes and cooler climate. Think key lime, honeydew melon, white cranberry, granny smith and sea minerals. Tidal Bay is Nova Scotia's first and only designated appellation (I.E. quality standard) far.

L'Acadie = Grape
Pinot Grigio = Grape
Tidal Bay = Appellation covers all of NS, must be locally grown grapes and reach a high standard
Example of some Tidal Bay Grapes = L'Acadie, Oretega, Geisenheim ( ....geiser-what now )

We had the chance to a have a bottle of "Great Big Friggin Red" a BBQ friendly red. This wine was not that good by itself, but actually paired decently with believe it or not, BBQ. We also picked up a bottle of Baco Noir from Blomidon Estate Winery to have with homemade burgers or something similar that we will crack soon at home in Toronto.

Focus on:

1. Sparkling (White from Brut to Sweet, or Rose)
2. Tidal Bay (High Quality Standard)
3. Anything Red like Baco Noir.

When you are flying out of the Halifax airport you can purchase a collection of Nova Scotian wine after security and bring it on as carryon from Liquid Assets. I popped in and picked up a bottle of Benjamin Bridge NV Method Traditional. The NV stands for Non Vintage which means they use wine from various years and not one specific vintage to mix and match ensuring year after year in production this bottle will taste the same. Benjamin Bridge makes some serious sparkling wine from NV, Brut, Brut Reserve, Rose, Blanc du Blanc, Blanc du get the point! If you are flying out of Halifax talk with the friendly staff, ask any questions you have then "Buy and Fly" with Liquid Assets. Best part, they will ship anything you order to your front door even if you live in Toronto!

On a side note, if you are staying in Halifax check out Obladee wine bar and taste all of the different wines this beautiful province has to offer.

Nova Scotia Wine, who would have thought it was a real thing?

Happy Sipping,


Vintages, Saturday May 25th, 2019

Hey Fellow Wino's I've got some new picks for you to try out from today's vintages release. 1.  Blue Mountain Gold Label Bru...