In the middle of an alleyway between Queen and Richmond, you’ll find a brightly graffited door adorned with full wine glasses and a keypad that almost makes you feel like you need to know a password to be let in. It’s the entrance of what’s lovingly called the ‘Wine Cave’ owned by the iYellow Wine Club.
My friend Magda and I ascended down the stairs to see a loft like space with wine barrels for tables, lit up signs welcoming you to the Wine Cave and a make shift buffet table in a beautifully decorated corner, with a selection of meat, bread and cheese tempting you to have a bite. We were almost immediately handed a glass of Prosecco. (“You can’t say Prosec-NO to Prosecco!” one of the servers joked)
It’s just another #WineWednesday in the cave, and it was quickly filling up with students eager to start their Wine 101 class. It was their first class of the summer semester, every Wednesday and Thursday wine school programs take place down in the cave.
The host for the evening was Tasha, a wine lover and sommelier. She was fun and enthusiastic and immediately made you feel at home. She also has a wine glass tattooed on her foot, she isn’t fooling around. (Girl even sabered a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the first class of the season) We were told to pick a ‘wine’ name, something wine themed that shared the same letter as your first name. (We went with Magda Merlot and Sarah Sauvignon, if you must know).
The fun and games like this don’t stop there; the group was made to create a story with words or tastes they believed described the first wine we tasted that night. It was a fun way to break the ice and have people (like me) drop their guard a little. I wish I knew more about wine and it’s a little intimidating when you’re asked to describe what you’re tasting or smelling, or whether your wine is dry or not and you really don’t know.
“Here at iYellow we really like to break down the idea that wine is not approachable, because wine is fun! Why do we drink wine? We share wine with friends, we drink it to feel a little good, you know, 3 glasses of wine, you’re loving life, you’re friends with everyone.’ Tasha voiced to the room, a lot of us nodding our heads in agreement. “We’re just going to break it down Wine 101 style, really kind of making and ensuring everyone is able speak appropriately about wine and go through our 5 easy steps to tasting wine, and its really those steps that make you your own personal wine expert, so you can feel confident walking into the LCBO, so you can feel confident talking to friends. Wine is very much a social thing, it very much connects people’. I really liked this relaxed take on the class, I was sort of expecting a more snooty approach and felt a little out of place with my lack of wine knowledge until Tasha made everyone feel like a bestie.
‘No answer is wrong, everyone’s palettes are different’ Tasha told me after I asked her if it was weird to say my wine tasted sour when a table across from us described it as sweet. We were lead through the proper way to identify tastes and scents, deeply inhaling over the glass we swirled around, or slurping/gargling our wine, concentrating on subtle tastes and hints we recognize.
I found as the night went on and I was a little more deliberate in paying attention to scents and tastes, I was able to correctly differentiate the wines and pick up on a few of their subtle notes. I was even sort of proud of myself, speaking out and participating in class when I would usually just quietly observe.
Would I recommend this class? 100% - it was probably one of the most entertaining drinking events I’ve been to and I really did feel like I walked away with a little more knowledge (I learned I’m more of a white wine girl and don’t go for ‘dry’ wines, which wines to pair with which foods, etc.) and it’s a really great way to dip your feet in learning a little more about wine tasting. Baby steps!
If you want to attend a class of your own, check out the website www.iyellowwineclub.com . Tickets to these sort of events are between $59-$79, if you want to attend themed nights Salute to Italy is taking place on May 30, Best of Ontario on May 31 and California Love is on June 5th. ALSO! We were told they were having a Niagara winery tailgating tour, where a bus full of wino’s leaves downtown around 2pm on June 23rd and comes back around midnight after a day of winery hopping with the ‘Wine Angels’, tickets are $175 but if you buy in bulk (2 or more) the price goes down to $149.50.
Thanks for the fun night iYellow! Hope to raise a few glasses with you again soon!
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.