Barb Wild and I were colleagues when we first met in late 2012. We became fast friends and I learned a lot from her about business and marketing. She had a passion for wine that I could tell was more than just a hobby, and it came as no surprise to me that four years later she has developed into an impressive expert in wine. Her story is a long and remarkable one, and I am eager to follow her journey as it continues.
GG: Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got to where you are today.
BW: The short-story-long is that I was a food marketer. I had a passion for specialty foods, fell in love with wine, and had been blogging about it as a hobby for years. Four years ago, someone asked to see pictures of my kids, so I opened up my phone and it was just full of wine labels and the food I’d had! It was then that I decided to start studying wine seriously. I took WSET Level 2 and Level 3 courses, which are a great foundation for anyone who is interested in wine to take. There was a pause in my life where I was still doing my consulting work, and then one day I saw a job posting from a wine shop and I thought it was about time I used my knowledge to help other people discover and learn more about wine.
I started part-time at Liberty Wine Merchants Park Royal in West Vancouver, Park Royal South, and it is a beautiful shop. We have very old, rare, and unique wines as well as everyday table wines. We have collectors who hunt us down from all over the world because of the old Burgandy’s, Bordeaux’s and Italian wines that we carry.
Now, I am running the shop full time, and have also started taking my diploma from WSET which is the second-highest level that you can accomplish in this program. I’m learning everything about how wine is produced, from the soil to the vine to the winery to the market and all about the business of wine. Very appropriate and very cool.
GG: Looking ahead to summer, what are your predictions for top-selling wines?
BW: In the last few years, the conversation has been all about rosé. Rosé, rosé, rosé! We have gone from having one shelf of rose in the store to having three, just in preparation for the summer. There are areas in France, for example, a region called Tavel, where all they make is rosé. Certainly, Southern France is very well known for its lovely light-coloured pink, fresh, high-acidity rosé wines.
I would say that the rosé trend will certainly continue not only from France. We also have very popular rosés from Bordeaux, Spain, Italy, even America – a winery called Sokol Blosser out of Oregon makes an amazing rosé called Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir Rose that is very popular in our shop. But we also have some new entrants right out of BC, one of them is Seastar from Pender Island, BC. They started up about four years ago, and they have a style called Blanc de Noir, a beautiful rosé-style wine that I know will sell out.
Another trend that is here to stay are ready-to-drink ciders. A winery called The View makes a delicious, dry sparkling pink (“beach-ready” as I call it) canned wine called Bling; Everything from the packaging, color and taste, to the name gives everything a girl could want in a can.
GG: Speaking of trends, what do you think about the validity of so-called “healthy” brands such as FitVine Wine that are trying to market to the fitness and health community?
BW: I have a hard time saying that wine is healthy, because really, what is healthy is moderation. There are grapes that have characteristics which make their antioxidant content higher—for instance, they have to have a thick skins, lots of pulp, high tannins–they need to be dry, and most white wines today are dry wines. Generally, the health benefits of wine are from the resveratrol, which is more common in red wines. The healthiest of all red grapes are Tannat grapes because they have the highest amount of tannins.
Similar to a strong tea, tannin coats your mouth the way a really strong cup of steeped tea can. Madiran is a region in southern France where they only grow Tannat. We carry wines from there that retail at $26.99 a bottle. So, if someone were to ask me what the healthiest wine is to drink, I would say any wine that is made from the Tannat grape.
The other story that is really interesting is that Uraguay has decided that Tannat is their national grape. Like Malbec is Argentina’s grape and Carménère is Chille’s grape. Tannat grapes are deep, rich, full-bodied with a bright acidic flavor. If you are going to drink this wine you’ll want to pair it with something that will offset the tannis like a rich barbecued steak or really strong cheese.
GG: What is your favorite wine right now?
BW: I am a champagne gal—I love bubbles. And bubbles are very healthy for you, too. There is an effervescence that they bring to your palette as well as to your cheeks and your personality. Champagne is very fun and celebratory. Every element from the way you pop open the bottle to the oysters or other decadent hors d’oeuvre you serve with it.
Bubbly wines instantly change the mood of the evening and can be enjoyed at any stage. My go-to is a blanc de blancs which is a white grape chardonnay that is just delicious.
GG: Where can we go to learn more about Liberty Wine Merchants and you?
BW: Liberty Wine Merchants Park Royal has a Facebook Page, Twitter, and Instagram account, and you can follow me on my personal Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter accounts to stay up to date with the store and my latest discoveries in wine.