Behind the Styles: Andrew Albert

Behind the Styles: Andrew Albert

Andrew, a stand-up comedian and sommelier spills on his time in the wine business, his favourite spots in Kensington and his honest advice for anyone wanting to get into the world of wine! Come in for a bottle and you’ll get a great dose of edu-tainment along with your perfect pairing for dinner!

VS: You’re a double certified sommelier – what first attracted you to wine?
AA: Probably food…I got into the restaurant game after university. Also became a craft guy (cook that feeds everyone) in the movie business. The more I fell in love with food the more I wanted to understand what to drink with it.

VS: Give us a brief rundown of your years in the wine business.
AA: I got my start in 2005 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After getting a job at a wine store I asked if they would be into having me start the CAPS program. I worked in two private stores in Halifax, first in store and then as a rep selling wine to restaurants. I moved to Calgary in 2011 and landed a job down at Willow Park but when Vine Styles was opening I was attracted to a more personal approach,  I’ve been here since the day the shop opened.

VS: You’re always telling us about delicious meals you cook up at home, what is your favourite dish to cook? What wine pairs perfectly with it?
AA: Hard to say, I’m a big fan of many things, I’d say it’s a coin toss between duck breast and rack of lamb. For me Duck and Pinot Noir are the best of friends, whether you go Old World like Burgundy or something from our own backyard from BC you can’t miss. I love lamb because it allows you to pull out the big guns and open a right bank Bordeaux like a St. Émilion. Merlot from that area always has a rosemary-herbaceous quality the really speaks to me.

VS: As a resident of the Kensington-Sunnyside neighbourhood, what are your ‘go-to’ bars and restaurants?
AA: As a guy that spends weeks on the road I rarely eat out. I’m always excited to get home to my place and cook. But that said, Asian cuisine I have not mastered, so Ikemen Ramen bar on 10th is a favorite of mine. I’ll also be found at Oak Tree Tavern just about every Wednesday. The comedy is almost as good as their burgers.

VS: What bottle of wine have you had this year that stands out the most?
AA: Hard to say, years only half way through. But so far the Norman Hardy Pinot Noir was pretty epic… or was it the company?

VS: So, not only are you a double certified sommelier, but you’re also an established stand-up comedian – do the two pair well together?
AA: I feel it’s a natural fit, but that’s because it’s two things I love. I enjoy making wine tasting more fun than the average somm. They can sometimes be a bunch of stuffy, know-it-alls. I like getting away from that and push the envelope a little bit.

VS: Sometimes you’re on the road traveling for weeks at a time, what is your favourite city to perform in?
AA: I’m originally an East Coast boy, so going to Halifax is always a treat. I have many good friends there, but just as a favorite wine it’s hard to say, I have fun with all of them.

VS: If you could perform in any city/venue where would you pick, why?
AA: Montreal in the summer…there’s something going on all summer long. If I had to pick a venue it’d be a JFL (Just for Laughs) Gala, I’ve yet to do a big show there. The opportunities coming out of it could be big.

VS: What do you find most difficult about being on the road for extended periods of time?
AA: I miss my bed a lot but probably my kitchen the most. It’s really hard to eat well out of clubs, condos and hotels.

VS: When you’re not on the road, or working at Vine Styles, how do you enjoy spending your time?
AA: I like to get away to the mountains, fish and camp in the summer and ski in the winter.

VS: How would people describe you in a sentence?
AA: “He takes up a lot of space.”

VS: If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be and why?
AA: Hugh Heffner 30 years ago, duh. I hear he has a great pool at the mansion.

VS: Which one of our wine styles represents you best and why?
AA: I’d say probably ‘Bold’ but I’d like to be ‘Smooth’. I’m often a lot to handle. I’m not always the most sensitive and very rarely keep any comment bottled in. Just not my style I guess!

VS: Lastly, if you could give one piece of advice to someone starting their wine journey, what would it be?
AA: Forget the notion that there is a grape you don’t like. Nothing angers me more than dealing with people that don’t drink ‘x’ or ‘y’ because it tastes like ‘z’. Every grape has many personalities depending where it’s from, I get annoyed when people are grapists. Except for Tannat, nobody likes Tannat (just kidding… kind of!).

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Crisp

Whites with snappy acidity and vibrant flavours that will awaken your senses

Our crisp whites offer lovely refreshing acidity and a nice citrus punch; these wines will revive you and make you feel like you’re enjoying fresh fruit in an orchard in the middle of July. Think about of the last time you were out somewhere in the heat of the summer; one of those days when the pavement was melting, the paint was peeling off buildings and all you could think about was how badly you wanted something to quench your thirst. When you stumbled onto a lemonade stand and took that first sip, you were cured.

We can’t say our wines will cure dehydration but they are a great option while you’re enjoying patio weather.

 

Varietals

You’ll find varietals like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Riesling and Vinho Verde and more!

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Mellow

Loved for their understated qualities these whites are beautiful and exotic

Talking about mellow wine is like talking about a classic film star. She’s a lady with international acclaim and classic appeal. Mellow wines don’t jump up and down screaming for attention; instead they prefer to lure you in with their quiet charm and feminine wiles. Swirling a nice Viognier or Pinot Gris is all about soft, intricate and attractive flavours that might make you think about your favourite perfume, stepping into a flower shop or leaving a patisserie where they’ve just taken almond pastries out of the oven. This is Sophia Loren in a glass.

 

Varietals

If you enjoy varietals like Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer or Chenin Blanc you’ll love this style!

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Lush

Whites that ask to be a muse. This is Claude Monet’s water lilies’ in a wine glass.

Lavish and luxurious wines with all the razzle-dazzle. Think about the things in life that make you feel like you’re living large. Imagine yourself wearing layers of pearl necklaces, leading a ticker tape parade, eating popcorn laced with truffle oil and lounging on the king bed of the Ritz Carlton penthouse all at the same time. Lush wines are what we drink when we’re feeling on top of the world and when we want to celebrate life. This is 4th of July fireworks and the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve all rolled into one beautiful gold package. Bottoms up!

 

Varietals

Varietals like Chardonnay, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier are found here.

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Elegant

Ruby reds with a timeless style and appeal; wines that will never go out of fashion.

Elegant reds ask you to dig a bit deeper. Some people enjoy them for the romantic ideas they conjure while others enjoy the subtle nuances that each bottle possesses. We can’t think of a better way to describe elegant reds than talking about Coco Chanel. Think about No. 5, the little black dress or the most importantly the iconic Chanel suit, a true couture item that is well lined, carefully crafted and something that will always be in vogue. An elegant wine is like a nice stroll along the promenade in the seaside town of Biarritz or a day at the ballet in red maillot.

 

Varietals

Here you’ll find Pinot Noirs, Gamays, Chiantis and more!

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Smooth

Reds that are pleasant from start to finish

Supple and velvety, smooth reds are a real crowd pleaser; something that everyone loves. Like a popular jazz standard, the best way to sum up these wines is to think about hearing Miles Davis on vinyl. Everyone has heard those tunes and when the horns come in on the track you can’t help but connect over the sheer universal joy in hearing something so incredibly smooth and pleasing to the senses. Miles Davis was one cool dude and that’s how we feel about the wines in this section. You’ll feel like you’re slipping on a new pair of driving gloves every time you pour yourself one.

 

Varietals

Varietals such as Grenache, Merlot and mouth-watering blends can be found here.

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Bold

Our deepest most complex reds; these wines make a statement

Full and flavourful with an intense fruit core, these reds are the talk of the town. Bold wines have an intensity about them that not only commands your presence but also asks you to stay a while. Pretend for a minute that Clint Eastwood has just walked into a bar, stared at you for a long hard second and proceeded to put out a cigar out on his forearm before challenging you to an arm wrestle. You’re heart might skip a beat but you’ll be happy that you tried it. That arm wrestle might be one of the best things you ever do in your life. That’s how we describe a bold wine.

 

Varietals

Food friendly varietals like Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are right at home here.

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Bubbly

There’s nothing quite like hearing that cork pop!

Call us crazy but the sound of a cork being popped just makes everything better. Headaches dull, clouds seem to part and even the sound of crying children can be drowned out by the wonderful thought that you’ll soon have a stem in hand and an effervescent treat to tickle the end of your nose. A glass of bubbly just spells a plain good time. It might be a celebratory drink with friends, an excuse to get all gussied up for a fabulous night out or it might just be a date with the couch to watch Sex and the City re-runs solo.

 

Varietals

Here you’ll find everything from Champagne to Cava, Prosecco, Lambrusco and everything in between!

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Rich

Wines made with a little extra TLC

What are you going to find in this section? You’re going to find late harvest nectar, ice wines, delectably sweet Rieslings and 5 puttonyos worth of sweetness. And why are you going to love these wines? The grape juice that you’ll find in our Rich section took a lot of extra TLC to make the transition from vine to glass and can be used to make some of the most magnificent food and wine pairings known to man. We just have 3 words for you: Oysters and Sauternes.

 

Varietals

This style houses dessert wines like Sauternes, Ice Wine and Tokaji.

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Clean

Simple and Straightforward

When you think of simple and uncomplicated you can’t help but think of a guy in his college freshmen year. The beers that we’ve categorized as Clean are straightforward and unassuming with bright flavours and not too much complexity. You’ll enjoy these beers more than a keg stand and find them to be about as fresh as a 19 year-old guy at an all girl frat party. Big time!

 

Examples

Light and easy, simple Lagers, Pilsners & Blonde Ales.

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Balanced

Find your zen on our beer wall

Life Coaches and self-help books will tell you that balance is the key to a happy life. That may true but when we’re talking about a balanced style of beer we’re talking about the merits of a good pale ale with well integrated hop and malt flavours. Balanced beers won’t help you understand the deeper meaning of life but they’re still worth sampling for their easy-drinking quality. Take that Deepak Chopra!

 

Examples

Brews such as Brown Ales, Red Ales, Cream Ales, Black Lagers & Dunkels.

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Fruity

For your fun side, beers not meant to be taken too seriously

There is fruity like the Village People and there is fruity like wonderfully citrus kissed Hefeweizen, warm kirsch Belgians and bubbly orchard fruit ciders. While there is no denying the fun of disco and flamboyant cowboys, our Fruity section will give you options to keep you singing and dancing all year long. This is an amiable selection to accompany garden time, dinner parties and of course they pair wonderfully with dessert.

 

Examples

If you’re after a Cider, Radler or any fruit infused brew, you’ll find it here alongside Wheat beers.

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Intense

The safe way to have an intense experience…

Here’s a short list of things that are truly intense: squirrel suit jumping, big wave surfing and the insane ramblings of Gary Busey. While our Intense selection of beers could be described as big and loud, they certainly won’t lead to death on impact, shark attacks or being verbally abused on Celebrity Apprentice. You’ll love the IPAs and scrumptious Trapist ales. Gary agrees.

 

Examples

Some like it hopped! Here you’ll find IPAs, DIPAs, Trappist brews, Sours & Barleywines.

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Robust

Beer that leaves an impression

Powerful, sturdy and strapping are all great words to describe the Robust section. Everything you find here possesses strong brawny flavours that leave a lasting impression. Just think back to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s version of Conan the Barbarian; despite the horrifically bad acting that comes with those 80s classics we just can’t help but love the brute force and thick accent. Conan would call you an infidel for drinking anything else.

 

Examples

Home to heartier brews like Stouts and Porters & some Barrel Aged offerings.

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Examples

We have many amazing wines in our online shop.

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Rosé

Effortless and exhilarating in any season

It’s undeniable, Rosé is in vogue. It’s enjoying a renaissance following the White Zinfandel craze that swept North America in the 70’s. Today, Rosé is the queen bee. Rosé is your ever fashionable friend. It’s the timeless accessory you can turn to in any season. In the spring it’s like wearing peeptoe shoes on a warm day. In the summer, a breezy dress. In the fall it’s the perfect boots and in the winter, a cozy knit scarf.

 

Varietals

Rosés are the product of a myriad of varietals, some of the most common are: Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Cinsault.

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