By: Sabrina Bedford

If you came to binge, think again.

That’s the advice provided by Brenda Mahoney, college librarian and sommelier, when she spoke to a sold-out crowd for a wine tasting workshop at Restaurant International in the H-building on the evening of Oct. 1.

Referring to wine tasting as drinking with thinking, Mahoney started the night off on a lighter note.

“Forgive me if I start speaking into my wine glass instead of the microphone,” she said. “It has been known to happen.”

The third annual event, put on by the Algonquin College Students’ Association and Student Affairs and Orientation, began with a cocktail reception in the lobby and moved into the dining area for the food-pairing portion of the evening.

The main objective of the workshop was to teach the basics of wine and food pairing.

“The best way to enjoy wine is with food,” said Mahoney, who has a wine cellar of her own.

She said the workshop was aimed at teaching the proper tasting process – from looking and smelling to pairing it with food that compliments it suitably.

Mahoney first described the different types of wine, and how to identify them, simply by smell.

Once that part of the process was over, the audience was able to taste the wine and experience how it mixed with food, which was carefully selected and paired by Mahoney.

Red and white wines from all over the world were sampled, but both price and quality were the main factors in deciding which ones were chosen for the workshop.

“I wanted to make it affordable, not ‘here’s something you’ll never have again’,” she said.

The food served at the workshop – everything from crab cake with fennel and halibut for the white wines to spinach and ricotta lasagna for the reds – was prepared by chefs in the culinary programs at Algonquin and served by students studying hospitality.

The workshop attracted all levels of wine appreciators, from self-declared connoisseurs to beginners looking for a bit of guidance.

Daphnie Faucher, a student in the paralegal program at the college, said that while she loves a glass or two at the end of the night, she doesn’t really understand the specifics and hoped the workshop would help.

“I’m a big wine fan, particularly white more than red,” she said. “I just don’t know the differences between them so I wanted to learn a little bit about the differences in taste.”

Not everybody at the workshop was there to learn. Katelyn Pacholuk, a student in the interior decorating program, said she’s already well-versed in the world of wine, but her reason for attending was not only for her personal love of the beverage.

“I absolutely love wine,” she said. “I wanted to introduce my friends into the wonderful world of wine connoisseurs.”
Latisha Kalinovits, Pacholuk’s friend who is also in the interior decorating program, hoped to come away from the workshop with a deeper appreciation for wine.

“I’m just having fun,” she said. “I don’t like wine, so I’m trying to learn to like it.”

The event was $10 for students and $20 for guests. All proceeds went to the United Way.