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After placing second at the World’s Best Sommelier Competition four years ago, Véronique Rivest returned home to Gatineau, Quebec, and opened Soif, one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants in 2015. Now, as Air Canada’s new sommelier, she’ll be selecting the wines served at 30,000 feet, in International Business Class. We caught up with her at Soif before a pinot noir tasting trip to Germany’s Ahr, Pfalz and Baden regions.

Véronique Rivest

What’s your packing style?
I combine folding and rolling, and pack light whenever possible.

Any tips for ordering wine if you don’t recognize anything on a list?
Ask for help. True wine lovers will never look down on you for asking, because we’re always making mistakes and learning. But be wary of anyone who doesn’t ask you a single question before making a recommendation, because they’re just going to tell you what they like.

What makes a wine plane-friendly?
I’m looking for wines that are moderate in alcohol, food-friendly and, as we say in French, digeste – balanced and lively, with bright flavours and fresh acidity. Basically, a wine that makes you want a second glass!

Soif is very laid-back. Would you like wine to be more accessible?
Totally. Everyone in wine has one common goal: to get more people into it. But our discourse for years has turned people off because we’ve made it so intimidating. We should be there to give insight into how things are done, how wines taste and why, and to get people excited.

Which wine regions are on your to-visit list?
Loire wines are a staple in our house and I’ve never been. And I would love to see Central Otago vineyards, in New Zealand.



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