EXPÉRIENCE - January 2018
from the WINE LOVERS.
“A DAY WITHOUT WINE IS LIKE A DAY WITHOUT SUNSHINE.” I saw this quote in a popular café-restaurant near the Concert Hall in Amsterdam, Holland, where I grew up. When working my first job after school in Southern France, it became clearer what it meant…in the small villages, one could see everyone stop working around noon and go for lunch in the local restaurants. After the fresh baguettes were put on the tables, a bottle or bottles of local wine found their way to the table and were part of every lunch and dinner, just as socializing was a big part of it too. My real passion for wine had begun and learning about wine and wine service further developed when I continued my career in the hospitality industry with the Hilton International Hotel Company which took me to many parts of the world – ending at the wonderful Drake Hotel in Chicago as Director of Food and Beverage. Understanding wine making and terroir became part of appreciating and learning more about wine, as did my next career step as a teacher of hospitality and tourism at the NBCC in St. Andrews, NB. This is where I taught students about the hotel business, restaurants and, of course, wine! In 2005, we opened our little happinez wine bar in Uptown Saint John, the first Atlantic Canadian wine bar. It has been an amazing journey. A small venue with beautiful architectural features, a cozy ambiance and a constantly changing listing of 25 wines by the glass as well as a nice cellar selection, complimented by some local charcuterie and cheeses. The food and beverage industry translates into a lot of work, but if you like what you do, it is a wonderful business. Of course, you have to pick new wines on a regular basis, check out the ANBL’s new offerings, communicate with their great team and check the products out by researching them on various wine magazines and websites. Then, of course, we must buy a bottle and sample it to make sure it meets our standard. Besides all of this, it is a real treat to work with a great team in our little space and have a wonderful regular clientele who come to, yes – drink a glass of wine or two, but more importantly, are there to socialize and enjoy the evening. Canadian wines have always been featured at happinez wine bar. We have offered many wines from BC and Ontario, and over the years have started to introduce more wines from New Brunswick. New Brunswick is still a baby when it comes to wine making, but the wines are getting better and better every year and we are very proud to offer them in our wine bar. The wines offered in the EXPÉRIENCE program are also very interesting and we love wines from Portugal (one of this month’s features). We were in Portugal a few years ago and were blown away by the great selections and quality of these wines at a very reasonable price. There are so many great little wine bars in that area. Other gems this month are made by Gérard Bertrand, a wine icon from the Languedoc Roussillon region of France. All of his wines are highly rated and delicious. In 2013, he was awarded the title of Red Winemaker of the year for 2012 in the International Wine Challenge…as we have several of his wines featured here at happinez. As you can see…the sun keeps shining! peter smit is the owner/operator of happinez wine bar in saint john.
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