Behind the Styles: Nik Rasula

Behind the Styles: Nik Rasula

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?!”

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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.



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



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.



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



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



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.



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



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



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.



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



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.



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



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.



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



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!



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



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!



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



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.



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



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.



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



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.



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



We have many amazing wines in our online shop.

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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.



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