Life

Now you know: Grape Witches' ultimate advice for which bottle of wine to bring to your thing

Why your favourite wine will win every time — almost!

Why your favourite wine will win every time — almost!

A vibrant illustration with pinks and purples, featuring six hands reaching into frame holding wine glasses and a hand in the middle holding a wine bottle.
(Illustration: Katya Roxas)

Grape Witches, the Toronto-based importer and seller of international natural wines, is anything but stuffy. "Please use a glass with a stem," was the only rule of conduct Nicole Campbell, the company's director (and full disclosure: my friend), offered when asked. "We are huge proponents of one glass for all wine — aka ditch your sparkling glasses; ditch the huge bowls; ditch the aerators — but we'd love this glass to be a traditional white wine glass with a stem," she said, since holding the bowl can warm up the wine and affect the taste. 

It's that approachable advice that prompted us to turn to Campbell with the question so many of us need answered so often: which bottle of wine should I bring to this thing??

There are as many answers to that question as there are situations, for sure. "When folks are coming into the shop to look for a dinner party bottle, the first question I ask is 'How adventurous is the host?'" she said, before recommending a crémant  — a sparkling wine made in the champagne method — for "classic folks;" and for "freaky folks," a pétillant naturel, which is made by an ancient method for sparkling wine and is often cloudy. "If you have no idea (my partner's boss's annual holiday luncheon?!), bubbles, a textured winter white, or a light-bodied red will go with literally anything."

2 side-by-side images. Left: wine bottles on display in a wine shop. Right: A hand holding a glass of red wine.

Source: Grape Witches Instagram

However, there is one tip she has for choosing a wine that will be a winner in any situation. "The most exciting bottle to bring to any event, dinner date and larger celebration is the bottle you have a connection with…. Add a host note with a one-liner of why this bottle matters and you've won guest of the year."

Campbell acknowledged that finding that special bottle again can be tough, especially with small producers' vintages routinely changing — but she has tips for finding another you'll love too. "Take pics or write down your fave bottles. Show them to a knowledgeable person in a wine shop or wine bar," she said. "An expert will be able to [suggest] so many other things you'll love." She also thinks the best bottle for you will be a bottle within your budget. "Don't be shy to ask for exactly what you want," she said. "While quality wine made properly does cost more, you can find great examples starting in the low to high $20s."

The only caveat Campbell would add is that you should use what you know about the event you're attending if the wine is being poured. There may be a couple of instances where that special-to-you bottle clashes with the occasion. "Tannic red wine and fish? No, thank you," she said. "Really wild wine while meeting your new partner's parents for the first time? Maybe next time."


Yasmin Seneviratne is a producer at CBC Life and the creator of Le Sauce Magazine.

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