Nik works with us on a part-time basis, but he’s a full-time life saver when we’re in a staffing pinch! After retiring, Nik focused his love for learning to wine, he has his WSET III and an affinity for cooking and wine pairing. Read on to learn who he’d love trade places with for a day, and what he loves most about working in the wine industry.
VS: How did your journey into wine begin?
NR: Always had a love for wine. After retiring, I decided to pursue my passion by taking the WSET courses. I’ve loved the learning… loved the people I’ve come to meet as well.
VS: You say that, “the perfect vacation destination is culinary camp in wine country”, what destination is number one on your list?
NR: I’d love it anywhere it would be offered. Learning about local techniques (wine making and cooking) ingredients, and grape varieties would be a fabulous experience. If I had to choose, it would be somewhere off-the-beaten-track in northern California. I love the region – the wineries, touring the cities, the ocean sunsets…and the chance to take in a baseball game – especially if the ‘Jays were in town – would be perfection.
VS: You enjoy cooking at home, what has been your favourite pairing of a dish you’ve cooked and a bottle from Vine Styles so far this year?
NR: Loved making dry-rubbed baby-back ribs finished in a tomato glaze. It paired perfectly with Devil’s Backbone Pinot Noir from Central Otago, New Zealand (Smooth section). The wine’s red-fruit complemented the glaze, its spiciness matched the dry rub, and the fuller body stood up perfectly to the meaty ribs. A unique and amazing pairing.
VS: What was the last book you read, would you recommend it to others?
NR: ‘419’ by local author Will Ferguson. It’s a book about life, dynamics and manipulation in the modern age. Some chapters are set right here in northwest Calgary. Ferguson is a very funny man, and I love both his written word and his media commentary. I’m currently reading his latest effort ‘Road Trip Rwanda.’
VS: What is your most fond memory of being in the wine industry so far?
NR: So many good memories, but my most fond is the people I’ve met at Vine Styles (colleagues, customers, sales reps, et al). It’s been a wonderful experience… doesn’t even feel like work – it’s like fun for me.
VS: Where is your favourite place to dine in the city?
NR: Sadly, my favourite is no more. It was Brava Bistro on 17th Ave. Loved the ambiance, the staff, the wines by the glass, the lobster poutine, the wedge salad. It was my pre-concert go-to. The last time we dined there we went to see Josh Ritter perform at Knox United. A great evening of special memories.
I had taken a course by their chef Kevin Turner too!
So, I’m in the hunt – and open to suggestions – for a new fave.
VS: What is something most people don’t know about you?
NR: That as secretary of the Calgary & District Soccer Referee Association (CDSRA) I helped found a charitable endeavour, the Referee Kit Donation Program (RKDP). We send gently-used referee outfits to referees-in-need all over the world. To date, we’ve distributed more than 500 outfits to appreciative referees in places like Mexico, Colombia, Morocco, and Kenya.
VS: You’re a pretty avid squash player, what do you enjoy most about the sport?
NR: The game is very strategic and a great cardio workout, when played at a high level it’s like a ballet on hardwood.
VS: What are you most proud of?
NR: Most proud of my family – my wife Karen, and our boys Matthew and Brandon. Matt is a landman with an oil major, and Brandon is a lawyer at a large downtown firm. They work two blocks from each other and are best friends.
VS: If you could trade places with anyone for one day, who would it be and why?
NR: Sidney Crosby on the day the Penguins won the Cup. Would love to hoist Lord Stanley’s chalice – would love to win the drink.
VS: If you could see any band/musician who would it be?
NR: It’s happening in August. Got front row seats (thank you American Express) for Sixto ‘Sugarman’ Rodriguez at the Jubilee. Love his sound and his lyrics. Just an incredible, unbelievable story too!
VS: Which one of our wine styles represents you the best, and why?
NR: I love them all, but as a former baseball player, I’d have to say Crisp. There’s a time-honoured practice in ball known as chirping (the art of getting-on an opponent/teammate/umpire), and something that has shaped my being. Chirping can be – and usually is – quite sharp and acidic, and in a way, not dissimilar to some of the whites in our Crisp section.
VS: For the non-baseball fans out there, can you give us an example of chirping?
NR: Sure. One time, at the big tournament in Enderby B.C., one of our players – after striking out – came back to the dugout, sat on the bench and opined – to no one in particular – “I think the pitcher hit me with that second pitch.” To which came the reply, “Hey… maybe he knows ya?!”