Eat & Drink / Festivals & Events September 16, 2017

8 FOOLPROOF TIPS to Sample Like a Pro at the NSLC Festival of Wines

The amateur wine lover’s guide to Halifax’s grapest wine event to hit Halifax.

WHEN: September 29-30, 2017
WHERE: The Cunard Centre, Halifax
WHAT: 350+ wines representing a dozen countries
TICKETS: Purchase tickets here!

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The wonderful world of wine can seem daunting for us amateur wine drinkers who, though enthusiastic, may not be confident in our ability to taste the difference between a Malbec from a Merlot.


I believe firmly that wine should be enjoyed by all, so with the help of the NSLC and @TheRealWineGuy, Peter J. Rockwell, we’ve created a guide to the upcoming VIVA ESPANA: The NSLC Festival of Wines 2017! Now even the most inexpert among us can attend the Festival with all the confidence of a master sommelier!


Tip #1 – Plan out your route ahead of time

From Argentina to Italy and every stop in between, the Festival will have wines from around the world, so make sure that you’re prepared with the event map.

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Tip #2 – Follow the Wine Discovery Guide

The Guide describes the tastes and flavours, and is organized into six colour-coded Taste Profiles. This will help you to determine which wines you like most and where to find them, both at the Festival and in store.

Take the Discovery Guide QUIZ before heading to the Festival. Even if you’re fairly comfortable with what you like, it can help you determine which wines to check out at the Festival, as well as provide some new suggestions you may not have known before.

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Tip #3 – Branch out and try something new!

Chances are, you’ve got a few standby bottles that have become tried and true favourites. Old faithfuls are always great, but the Festival is your chance to try something different! Pick a wine you’ve never heard of, or maybe can’t even pronounce. You may find a new favourite!

@TheRealWineGuy pro tip: Don’t be afraid to ask the pourer a bit about the producer, and the region of origin. The quickest path to becoming a wine expert is to feel confident in your own opinion.

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Tip #4 – Don’t arrive at the Festival with an empty stomach

There’s nothing worse than having to cut the experience short when the wine hits you harder than expected. Avoid this and enjoy the event to the fullest by getting something in your stomach before you arrive.

@TheRealWineGuy pro tip: Avoid spicy dishes when deciding on a meal to have before making your way to the event. The sharp, overpowering flavour of anything spicy will be hard to diminish and influence the flavour of every wine you try.

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Wear comfortable clothing. That means YES to sneakers and flats and NO to stilettos and slingbacks! Dress in comfortable clothing that you won’t have to adjust throughout the event.

@TheRealWineGuy pro tip: It is guaranteed that you’ll be on your feet for most of the Festival, so remember, it’s a long, long walk from Australia to Spain.

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TIP #6 – Swirl like a pro

For novice wine tasters, that swirl that people on TV do with their wine ACTUALLY HAS A PURPOSE! A little movement of the wine will release more of the wine’s aroma, which is another element of a wine’s profile and personality. Give it a light spin and breathe in the bouquet!

@TheRealWineGuy pro tip: Back away from the tasting table once you’ve been poured a sample. It allows other tasters a chance to approach and will give you more elbowroom to swirl your glass.

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Tip #7 – Get home safely

Part of planning to attend the event is planning to get home safely. Either have a designated driver, pre-book your ride home with NSLC’s taxi partner Yellow Cab, or arrange for accommodations within walking distance of the venue.

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This is a fantastic event where you can learn and enjoy amazing wine from around the world. It really doesn’t get much better than this. So even if you’re like me and your relationship with wine veers more on the side of “enthusiast” rather than “expert”, remember, everyone is there to have fun and enjoy it themselves, just like you.

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Final tips from @TheRealWineGuy:

  • Don’t feel you have to drink everything you’re poured. You’ll experience a lot more of the Festival if your approach is to taste rather than drink your way around the room. You’re not going to fall in love with everything you try so spittoons are provided for you to pour out the less appealing choices that come across your palate.
  • Don’t come determined to try everything. With over 350 offerings it’s much better to browse through the catalogue you receive as you enter the Festival and highlight a few wines you find interesting or before the Grand Tasting use the NSLC’s Festival app to create your own personalized tasting plan.

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Get tickets to the event now!

Thank you to @TheRealWineGuy, Peter J. Rockwell for contributing his expertise.

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