Rave: Spain vs. Portugal Wine Tasting at the University Club of Toronto

We work with a private members’ club called the University Club of Toronto. Recently, they held a private wine tasting, featuring wines from Spain and Portugal. We were able to invite a few of our food-loving friends to the evening, and we all enjoyed the delicious dinner and wines at the Club.

Tucked away in an innocuous-looking building on University Avenue, the UCT is a bit of a surprise when you first enter through its simple doors. The gorgeous black and white checkered floor leads to several little rooms tucked off the main hallway, each decorated with original Canadian art (from the likes of Tom Thompson and A.J. Casson). At the end of the hallway is a cozy, wood-panelled lounge, complete with overstuffed club chairs and a crackling fireplace.

Upstairs, the Club has several formal dining rooms, each with soaring ceilings, pillars and pretty chandeliers (they rent out these spaces for private events – it’s one of the best-kept venue secrets in the city, and you don’t need to be a UCT member). Here, amongst the crisp white linens, candles, and even more original artwork, is where we experienced the featured wines.

The company was great, and the talk quickly turned to a serious discussion about wine with William Delgado, member of the Portuguese Wine Trade and Arlindo Beca, also representing Portuguese wines.

Each dinner course was paired with either a Pieropan or Resalte wine, matched to chef Patrick Desmoulins’ precisely prepared dishes. As others have mentioned, the discreet service was impeccable, allowing us to enjoy every moment of the night.

Resalte’s winery in Spain.

Among our faves were the grilled prawns with garlic sauce and red pequillos. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and the garlic sauce was delicious. We had to stop ourselves from licking the plate.

The homemade Parisienne-style gnocchi was light and melt-in-your-mouth, with a savoury pomodoro sauce. For dessert, the whole plate was amazing, which included brandied plum ice cream, but the handmade Spanish churros were the stand-out for us.

Of the fantastic wines sampled, the clean Pieropan Soave Classico White (2009) and the Resalte Vendimia Seleccionada Red (2009) pleased our palates the most.

The UCT offered a unique experience to taste wine and sample delicious cooking. Of course, a night with good conversation and good food will make any wine enjoyable, but this experience taught us to look for Spanish and Portuguese wines the next time we’re at the LCBO. Oh, and if you’re interested in becoming a UCT member, make sure to check out their membership offerings. Salud!