How did you get started at the NSLC?
That was way back in 1992. I, like a lot of people, started working at the NSLC as a casual job. At the time, I was taking the Bachelor of Commerce program at St. Mary’s University. Admittedly, I had visions of becoming a marketing tycoon but the longer I stayed at the NSLC, the more hours I got and more opportunities I had. Twenty four years later I’m still here; now as a RPS (Retail Product Specialist).
Why did you apply to become an RPS?
I’ve always loved the product knowledge part of the job. Even prior to taking the RPS position, I studied the subject informally. Since I’ve become an RPS, I’ve completed WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) Level 1 and Level 2. Through the NSLC, we’ve also had some great experiences to learn from. Every few months we are brought together for seminars, constantly being educated. Next month I am due to begin my WSET Level 3 studies. It’s a real privilege to be supported by the NSLC in furthering my education through programs like this.
You’ve spent a long time working at the Fall River NSLC. Why that location?
I love working at the Fall River NSLC. In fact, this is my second stint there. I fi rst began working in Fall River when I got my full-time status in 2007. When I attained the title of RPS in 2010, I was originally moved to the NSLC Tacoma Drive location, but it wasn’t long before I had the opportunity to come back to Fall River. I’ve fallen in love with the community itself and I’ve found that a lot of the local clientele has accepted me as part of their store experience. A lot come in now and accept my recommendations. It’s a really great environment for me and the rest of the staff.
It’s been important for me to connect with our local customer. As such, I’ve been doing monthly ‘Wine and Dine’ classes with the chef at the local Sobeys store for years. The evening events are essentially cooking classes with beverage alcohol pairings; often wine but sometimes we pair the dishes with beer or spirits. The classes are consistently sold out. They have been very rewarding as I get feedback from customers. I think our ‘Wine and Dine’ series has actually been catalyst for others to do similar classes.
We are entering the holiday season, a time when customers look for recommendations to serve at holiday dinners and get-togethers. Do you have any favourite recommendations?
My go-to is always sparkling wines. I think local wineries such as L’Acadie Vineyards and Benjamin Bridge both do a great job, but I’d say I most often reach for a bottle of Cava (Spanish sparkling wine made using the Traditional Method) because the quality is so good and the price point is so affordable. Freixenet Carta Nevada offers a lot of wine for the price and makes for a great wine to start and fi nish a meal. For holiday dinner itself, I really love a good white Burgundy, but it can be expensive. A great New World white wine selection for a holiday dinner is McGuigan Founders Series Pinot Gris. It’s a personal favourite as it offers a range of fl avours. It will pair well with turkey but also the appetizers. As for reds, I gravitate to lighter reds such as Italian Dolcetto as it makes for an excellent alternative to the classic Pinot Noir pairing. I really like Antinori’s Prunotto Dolcetto d’Alba.
Do you have any holiday dinner recommendations for the non-wine drinkers?
Absolutely! There are a lot of great beers available. Chimay Grande Reserve from Belgium is fantastic! It’s one of the world’s great beers and comes in a 750 ml bottle, making it great for sharing. Another Belgium-inspired beer I really like at the moment is the Unibroue Blanche de Chambly. Both are great with food.