Ever drank wine with roasted chicken or curry beef? This Toronto sommelier wants you to try

The world of wine may seem stuffy, exclusive and pretentious to many, but a Toronto sommelier is trying to change that by opening it up to cuisines around the world.

Beverly Crandon grew up in a household that served Caribbean food. She says she’s always had a taste for wine, but never actually got to see the two. So she started experimenting and made it her profession.

“If you take something that’s not the norm, and you pair it with wine, it starts some conversations about and why that’s so and also about diversity,” said the sommelier.

That’s why Crandon’s website features blog posts about what pairs up with curry beef and jerk chicken — not the kind of dishes you see in most wine magazines.

And now her GTA event series, called Jump into Spice, challenges the story of pairing wine with various ethnic foods, including Caribbean, Thai, and Indian. She says one of the most common tropes is that spicy food pairs with Riesling wines, but she says there are many more great pairings to explore, comparing the process to simple science.

“When you look at it, it’s just food, made up of molecules. When you understand that you’re just mixing things up, it becomes so much easier and it’s beautiful.”

Magdalena Kaiser, the PR director at the Wine Marketing Association of Ontario, says the wine world is changing and people like Crandon are part of that shift.

“If you look back at even the last 100 years, it certainly has a reputation for being a stuffy environment in wine,” Kaiser said.

“Every year it changes in a good way to make it more accessible and fun. We should explore every food culture through wine.”

Crandon is excited to change people’s minds about what goes well with different foods, while helping to break down barriers in the hospitality industry.

“It’s Toronto – we have so many cultures here. Let’s talk about why there is stigma or prejudice around certain dishes,” she said.

“Doing this through food and wine makes it a lot easier to have those conversations.”

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