nosnob.com had full access passes to the Toronto Wine & Cheese Show held at the International Centre in Toronto April 4 - 6, 2008. This article takes you inside the show and offers some tips to make your visit more fun. In the coming weeks additional articles will be published stemming from the people we met and things we learned. Be sure to check out the photo blog at the end of the story. Lets begin by saying that on Saturday the show was a complete success, maybe too much of a success actually. When we arrived the line-up was out the door and around the building.
As we checked in and picked up our passes we were told that the show had been "locked down" due to over attendance. That certainly spoke to the popularity of this annual event. As you enter the show you're given a standard tasting glass to carry around and a bag with brochures and show information. We ditched the bag of brochures in favour of out tasting sheets and binders. If you do the same don't make the mistake we made, get the show guide out of the bag then ditch it. The map comes in handy. Once inside the show you'll need to get your hands on some tasting tickets. The tickets are $1 a piece plus tax. To get a taste of the wines being displayed you'll need between 1 and 50 tickets. Most of the wines are between 1 - 3 tickets, so $1 - $3 per sample. The 50 ticket wine was a thousand dollar bottle of Bordeaux offered by the LCBO, that wasn't on our agenda today. Chuck mused that when you're dealing with tickets you disassociate them with money and readily "spend" them without thinking. Set a budget and stick with it.
Tip: Some booths have a bit more of a party atmosphere, you'll get a lot more mileage out of your tasting tickets if you know what I mean...
We doubt you open 500 bottles of wine at home on a Saturday afternoon (if you do, kindly email us your address. See you next Saturday). Hence the benefit of going to an event like this, the wines are from all over the world and at a range of prices, generally under $20.00. Once you start tasting it can be hard to stop, it's like being a kid in a candy store. The show wasn't setup for spitting so keep in mind that 12 samples is about the same as 5 glasses of wine. nosnob.com sampled over 40 wines at the event, pouring out much of the sample even though we used public transit.
Tip: If you do wish to spit, get two tasting glasses on the way in and use one as a receptacle. (Do yourself a favour and don't confuse the glasses, gross.)
If you're feeling a little hungry there is no shortage of food to be had at the show. Of course as the name of the show suggests lots of cheese was on hand and even at some of the tasting booths. The food booths are grouped together and feature pastas, sausages, chocolate, fruit, hors devours - the usual wine pairing suspects. Food can be purchased using the same tasting tickets used for the wine, and the prices were generally inexpensive. The atmosphere was fun and relaxed with lots to taste, see and smell. Overall it was a good event which we will return to next year. We do recommend pre-purchasing admission tickets online so you don't end up out in the cold, literally.
More photos from the show can be found at Flickr.com by clicking here
Special thanks to the following exhibitors who went above and beyond to provide information to nosnob.com
Bill and Jillian from Select Wine Merchants http://www.selectwines.ca/ and Concha Ye Toro www.conchaytoro.com
Suzanne from Stonechurch Vineyards http://www.stonechurch.com/
New York Wine & Grape Foundation http://www.newyorkwines.org/
Churchill Cellars http://www.churchillcellars.com
Oak Heights Estate Winery http://www.oakheights.ca/
For more information about the show visit http://www.towineandcheese.com/