Victoria DeCourcy, Retail Product Specialist, Wyse Rd., Dartmouth
Why did you become a wine professional?
There was a combination of factors. First and foremost, I was very fortunate to have lived a year in Dijon, which is in the Burgundy region of France. Being surrounded by vines and some of the best Pinot
Noirs and Chardonnays in the world, I was immersed in wine, its history and its culture. My brother also exposed me to the wonderful world of wine. He owns a restaurant and taught me to appreciate both food and wine and inspired me to pursue my sommelier certification.
What organization did you do your wine training with?
I did my training through the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers. I started off with their 10-week Sensory Development and Wine Styles course. In that course, I learned about the basics of wine. Then my instructors told me one day I would be able to smell and taste a wine and recognize this wine is, for example, a Merlot from St Emilion, a small appellation in the Bordeaux region of France.
Originally I thought they were crazy but I was so interested in the subject that I committed to studying and tasting as many different wines as I could. Soon, I had passed the almost two-year long course and continue to educate myself every chance I get.
How have you translated this knowledge to your role as a Retail Product Specialist (RPS)?
I love my job as an RPS. There are always new products coming into market, which gives me something new to learn about and then I get to share that knowledge with customers and colleagues. With the assistance of programs such as the Wine Discovery Guide, it’s increasingly easy to get customers to branch out and try something new. There is always a customer with a new occasion and let me tell you … I have a wine, beer or spirit for that!
Do you offer food and wine pairing suggestions?
I often have customers who are hosting dinner parties. I love being able to recommend a wine to go with a specific course. I tailor my food and wine pairing suggestions to their individual needs. I have been able to get to know a lot of my customers’ taste preferences and their willingness to experiment. I also have a secret weapon; his name is Chef Mike O‘Hanlon from Sobeys. He brings over delicious, easy meals and I make a pairing suggestion based on the time of year and what customers are looking for. Food always works in my favour because it allows customers to taste first hand why, for example, a sweeter style of wine pairs well with spicy foods like Thai. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity or a little food to help customers break out of their shell. This summer I will be encouraging customers to make Pinotage their new barbecue wine.
What wine style will you be drinking this summer?
Pinot Noir is my favourite wine. A part of me will always be in Burgundy.
Victoria’s Summertime Entertaining Freezer Cocktails
In the summer I enjoy serving cocktails. I’ve found that you can freeze just about everything into ice cubes. I’ve frozen flowers, berries, red chilies, mint and much more. This is a fun way to add colour and pizzazz to a gin and tonic or mojito.