Exec Lifestyles: Be part of Ottawa’s social and networking scene

Ottawa Business Journal – Executive Dining Guide

April 9, 2008

There is a buzz around Ottawa and it doesn’t involve politics. It is all about wine. A city once known to roll up its sidewalks by 6 p.m. now has a vibrant wine and food scene. Restaurants, wine clubs, small and large companies are hosting special events featuring gourmet menus paired with great wines to tempt palettes.

“In Ottawa, it’s easy to fill your calendar with wine and food events every week,” says David Gourlay, executive director of business development at Oracle.

Wine events can be a fun and interactive exploration into the world of wine. Here is a step-by-step guide to hosting a wine tasting for clients, employees or friends.



Depending on how formal and structured you would like the experience, a wine tasting can be conducted in a classroom-style format with rows of wine glasses waiting to be sampled, or as simple as a cocktail-style event where your guests sip wines and nibble hors d’oeuvres at food and wine stations. For a unique and memorable evening, host a sommelier-led dinner where each course is paired with wines that enhance the flavours of each dish.

Professional sommeliers can arrange all the details and lead your wine tasting. This takes the pressure off you as the event organizer, as the sommelier is well versed in themes, wines, food pairing and sourcing the equipment to make your wine tasting event the recipient of rave reviews.


Your wine tasting event can focus on exploring wines of a certain country or region, or examine one type of wine, such as pinot noirs, sauvignon blanc or chardonnays from various wine regions around the world.

Wine Selection

Greet your guests with a glass of sparkling wine as it kicks off your event with a party feeling. The bubbly cleanses and refreshes your palette, preparing it for more delicious wines and food to come.

Feature six to eight wines, as too many will numb your palette. Each sampling of wine should be approximately two ounces (about one inch in an ISO wine tasting glass … more about glasses below). This equates to serving 10 people per bottle of wine.


Wine was meant to be enjoyed with food. At a minimum, offer your guests sliced baguettes and saltine crackers to cleanse their palettes between wines. By offering an assortment of hard, soft and blue veined cheeses, your guests can experience how food can change the taste of wine. For an enhanced wine and food experience, pair each wine with hors d’oeuvres. If you are hosting a wine tasting during a meal, restaurant and hotel chefs will create a special table d’hote menu showcasing their culinary talents.

Step 2 – LET’S TASTE

Wine tasting engages all of your senses. It is as easy as eyes, nose and mouth, taking note of the aromas, the flavours and the mouth feel of the wine. There are no rules to wine tasting as everyone’s impression is personal and this makes for interesting conversation. Use the following as your wine tasting sheet.

Let’s taste a wine together … Pour approximately two ounces into your wine glass.


Tilt the glass 45 degrees away from you. Using the white tablecloth as a backdrop, note:

the colour and clarity;

What colour does it remind you of?

– White wine descriptors – pale, straw, or golden

– Roses – cotton candy pink, salmon, terracotta

– Reds – garnet, fire engine red, cherry, purple, ink or opaque


Let the fun begin. Hold the glass by the stem, swirl the wine in a steady circular motion to introduce air into the wine to release the aromas.

What does the wine smell like?

– White wines – dry, floral, citrus, tropical fruit, pineapple, pears, apples

– Roses – floral, cherry, delicate, pink grapefruit

– Reds – cherry, strawberry, blackberry, earthy, vanilla, leather, dried fruit


Take a sip, chew the wine (as if it were mouthwash) to coat your entire mouth. Take note:

n Is the wine light, medium or full bodied?

n Does the wine taste the same as it smells?

n Do the flavours linger or disappear?

Try each wine with food and note how the food changes your enjoyment of the wine.


After an evening of swirling, sipping and perhaps spitting, it is no wonder that a wine tasting is a fun way to explore the world of wines as well as socializing with friends and networking with clients. After all, there is this new buzz in Ottawa and you can be a part of the wine scene.

Tools of the trade

ISO wine tasting glasses: These tulip shaped glasses allow you to easily swirl two ounces of wine and the narrow rim captures the aromas. For a formal tasting, three glasses are needed per person, or a casual cocktail style event requires one glass per person. A wine tasting dinner should have a glass for each wine served.

White tablecloth: used as a white background to judge the colour of the wines

Water: for rinsing the glasses and refreshing your palette in between wines

Spitoon or bucket: used to empty unwanted wine and rinsing water.

Don’t forget the corkscrew!


Shopping Cart