In Your Mouth with David Stansfield

Everyone’s a DJ. All it takes are headphones, hubris, a working knowledge of Neil Diamond’s oeuvre, and when to “drop” it. Despite that, it’s easy to screw up. I’ve done it so many times that I now politely decline the AUX rather than, once again, overestimate a party’s interest in Japanese synth pop.

A banquet I attended during a five-day drinking tour of Italy’s Trentino region with 40 wine experts from around the globe proved the wisdom of this approach. On the final night, we gathered to break bread, toast our time together, and, our organizers hoped, come together on the dance floor. The night also coincided with one guest’s 30th birthday. The birthday boy was a cherubic, young Chinese man with a slightly Kim Jong-un-ish body and haircut. After blowing out the candles on a wedge of tiramisu, he stunned the party with a pitch-perfect performance of the “La Donna È Mobile” aria from Puccini’s Rigoletto.

The room erupted. Corks flew. Wine flowed. People wept. I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. It transcended time and culture in a way only music, food, and drink can. When the applause died down, everyone looked to the DJ. This was his moment. The right song would get everyone on the dance floor like a model UN unified by a love of fine wines and party jams. That didn’t happen.

Instead, to shocked silence, he pumped up the volume and pressed play on “Gangnam Style”. Nobody moved. The Russian sommelier seated next to me leaned over and asked, “is this racist?”

“Yes, Alexander,” I replied. “Yes, it is.”


Ferrari Trento Burt Metodo Classico

$29.99 at BC Liquor Stores

Champagne is the ultimate lifestyle wine. It’s a brand first and a booze second. That’s why restaurants can charge hundreds of dollars to d-bags in pre-distressed denim who otherwise never drink wine. Everyone else in the world of fine sparkling wine chases Big Champagne. They see the margins and masses of aspirational drinkers and scream, “WE’RE FANCY TOO!” It’s not a good look, but I get it.

One of the best Champagne alternatives comes from Trentino in the Dolomite mountains in the north of Italy from a winery named Ferrari (no relation). It costs half as much, tastes twice as good, and paid for me to travel around northern Italy in a helicopter. Two thumbs way up!


Pazzo Chow Daily Special

Around $10/bowl at Pazzo Chow

Vancouver has an Italian food fetish. Every second restaurant opening is some design team’s take on an Italian trattoria complete with authentic regional dishes and nice fonts. Fair enough. Pizza and pasta are great and I want them all the time.

It’s the authentic bit that’s troubling. Did you know that Christopher Columbus brought tomatoes back to Italy from Mexico? You do now. All food is fusion. Even if fusion is the dirtiest word in today’s authenticity obsessed dining scene.

Skip the pretense and eat at Pazzo Chow instead. You’ll find it under a parkade in Chinatown. They may be Vancouver’s smallest, sort of Italian shop, but they’ve got the biggest heart.


Blue Dream

$10/gram at various dispensaries

Everybody’s getting into the weed review game. Vancouver Magazine’s got them. Same with the Georgia Straight. Any day now Margaret Wente will trot out a terribly written, thousand-word treatise on the best strains for getting blitzed and committing plagiary in the Globe & Mail. It’s a heady time.

Not that it matters, but Archive was first. Today, I’m celebrating with the Kush Cup 2016 winning Surfer’s OG strain. It’s one small step for weed journalism and one giant blunt for my hippie neighbour.

David began his wine career as a teenage cellar hand 20 years ago. Today, he works as an independent sommelier and is a co-host of the popular Sunday School wine school. When not ruminating on the grape, his interests include spy novels, escape rooms, contact juggling, Slovenian design, and beer.

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