“Wine is something that should be enjoyed by everyone. A bottle of wine can be the centerpiece of a great evening for any group of people.”
Accredited sommelier, Algonquin College – Ottawa Wine and Spirit Education Trust certificate – Ottawa Smart Serve certified Bachelor of Commerce, Carleton University – Ottawa Certified Chartered Accountant
Q. What does being a Savvy Sommelier mean to you?
Derek Vollrath: I’m an accountant by day, engulfed in numbers; by night I guide people through new experiences and help them explore the world of wines. It’s a nice contrast. For me it’s as much about the people as it is the wine. Wine is what brings us all together but it’s the conversation and the fun that follows that really make the experience memorable.
Q. For you, what’s the most important quality in a wine?
DV: It’s that quality you can’t quite put into words. I like to call it the ‘wow’ factor. It’s a really rare thing; every so often a drop of wine will hit your tongue that just blows you away. The combination of the smell and flavour make for an experience you’ll remember. And the thing I’ve learned is that it’s not always the expensive wines that produce this wow experience.
Q. If you could invite anyone in the world to dinner, who would it be and what would you serve?
DV: You know what, I think I’d bring two polar opposites together at my table: Tiger Woods and former Prime Minister Paul Martin. I’d serve them both a great piece of Alberta beef and a glass of Italian Barolo to open up the conversation. First, I’d turn to Tiger and ask him what he was thinking! Then I’d turn my attention to Paul and talk numbers.
Derek’s Wine Tips
When you’re wine shopping, look down—there are many hidden gems on the bottom shelves. The most important quality in a wine is the ‘wow’ factor. Explore. At worst you’ll find something you don’t like. At best you’ll discover something amazing. The way to become a wine connoisseur: practice, practice, practice. Wine is something that should be enjoyed by everyone. A bottle of wine can be the centerpiece of a great evening for any group of people.