The best wines you can buy in a city that combines east with west

Another year, another wine awards. Gazing at the spectacular 35th-floor view of English Bay from the Coast Plaza Hotel & Suites, as four teams of judges work through yet another flight of wines for the 12th Annual Vancouver Magazine International Wine Competition, I’m taken aback by the monumental scale of what we do every year. I’m aware that sympathy is not to be expected, but tasting wine all day isn’t exactly a bowl of grapes. It grows gruelling after several hours as your teeth begin to hurt. Which is nothing compared to the mental strain: concentrating on the nuances of dozens of similar wines requires stamina, and even though we spit out everything we taste, it’s a tiring exercise that demands years of training. Of course, the days of actual tasting are merely the tip of the iceberg. Months of receiving deliveries from around the world, warehousing, coding, collating, categorizing, and flighting precedes the tremendous backroom task of organizing, opening, and pouring. But over the years, we’ve become a well-oiled machine. After all, our 17 judges participate in the Wine Awards in large part out of love. Our goal remains unchanged: We believe Vancouver has an important role to play in the evolution of food and wine, and we want to promote and celebrate new synergies that are developing in our multicultural city. European wine culture and Asia-Pacific food culture are comingling in a uniquely Vancouver way, and we’re thrilled to see B.C. wineries adapting their winemaking accordingly. Our extensive list, 115 this year, is a celebration of this diversity. Some personal tips from this edition include a lovely suite of rosés (the stunning category winner is French, but all the others are from B.C.); an astonishing array of sparkling wines, more varied than ever before; an arresting Croatian white; and four lovely sakes that carry a whole new category—one befitting the shifting city we live in.  

  Header image by David Strongman