They call Winnipeg home: Musicians Neil Young, Randy Bachman, Lenny Breau, Burton Cummings; artists; Hollywood screen-writers; and me.
There must be something in the water. At The Forks in the heart of Winnipeg, the Red River and the Assiniboine River meet. For more than 6,000 years The Forks has been a historic meeting place for Indigenous groups to trade resources and gather. Today, The Forks still holds rich cultural history as well as beautiful green space and The Forks Market. With more than four million visitors annually, The Forks is Winnipeg’s number one tourist destination and it thrives on culinary diversity. Now, The Forks has launched its new autumn-inspired wine list, expertly curated by world-renowned Sommelier, Veronique Rivest.
With over 30 years of experience, Rivest has won multiple international awards. She won Canada’s Best Sommelier competition in 2006 and again in 2012; the Wine Woman Award 2007 in Paris; and Best Sommelier of the Americas in 2012. After taking second place at the World’s Best Sommelier competition in March 2013, she became the first woman to ever make the podium in this competition. She placed in the Top Twelve in the same competition in 2007 and in 2010.
As part of the year-long partnership between The Forks and Rivest, each quarterly list is designed to reflect the changing seasons and offer guests an elevated tasting experience. Each list includes a curated selection of twenty global wines that complement the area’s local flavours and culinary culture. The selected wines are now available at The Common craft beer and wine kiosk in the heart of The Forks Market.
The Forks’ autumn wine list features a robust selection of global vintages and varietals from both the Southern and Northern Hemispheres. Rivest has also included a few Canadian wines including Tawse Sparkling Riesling (Ontario), Orofino Home Vineyard Pinot Noir (British Columbia), and Pinot Noir from Pearl Morissette (Ontario).
Rivest’s choices are seasonally inspired and pair with the culinary selections found at The Forks. For example, the 2017 Elsa Bianchi Malbec from Mendoza is an expression of ripe black fruit and soft vanilla oak. Malbec varietals pair perfectly with the Argentinian flavours of Empanadas and Company at Simon’s Cuisine. For patrons that will be turning to richer foods on cold autumn days, the 2016 Waterkloof Seriously Cool Chenin Blanc comes highly recommended. The juiciness and freshness of the wine pairs well with creamy dishes, and classic comfort food like Ricotta Gnocchi with Black Boar Bacon and Parmesan from Passero.
Rivest also helps to curate the craft beer list at The Forks, which is constantly changing. Five taps are dedicated to local breweries in Manitoba. Current offerings include: Churchill Brewing Company Blonde Lager (Saskatchewan), Stone Angel Brewing Co. Kaiser Bill IPA (Winnipeg) and Lonetree Cranberry Apple Cider (B.C.).
Rivest’s next wine list will be announced in January 2019. To celebrate the new list release, she will visit The Forks on January 9th and 10th to host a food and wine-pairing event. January is an exciting time to be in Winnipeg. There are new sensations to be discovered. You might be lucky enough to experience 40 degrees below zero.
Sara Waxman, OOnt, is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.