2nd Annual iYellow Ice Fest: Nice Try

15 Feb

We Canadians are a hardy and resourceful lot.  We embrace the cold, ice and snow, and stubbornly do things no one else would do at temperatures low enough to freeze the hardest of liquors.  Things like golfing in the snow.  Admittedly, this is a rather daft bastardization of a pleasant summer stroll in the park, but it could be fun with the help of a little rye and a tail-happy golf cart.

When we first arrived at iYellow Wine Club’s second annual Ice Fest, held in Liberty Village, we thought it could actually turn out pretty well.  I applaud the organizers for being very Canadian in holding the event outdoors. However, we quickly realized that subzero wine tasting is extremely one dimensional – most wines just tasted like, well, wine.  Some of the weaker whites didn’t even make that cut.  Hints of cherry, leather or minerality gave way to overpowering notes of everything that had flash frozen in your glass.  Forget about sniffing the wine and inhaling a lovely, subtle oaky scent.  Every attempt to smell a sample just led to more nose hairs turning into icy stalactites.  Even a few stand heaters strategically placed beside the tasting booths would have gone a long way to solving these problems.

I was hoping that the food would provide some consolation, but sadly this was not the case.  Burrito Burrito, the Mexican fast food joint that was fenced into the event, did a decent job of pumping the crowd of people through at a decent clip.  However, they shouldn’t have been pumping what looked like glowing radioactive waste into their tacos and calling it “cheese”, when their clientele was made up of wine club members with allegedly refined palates.

I rarely leave food uneaten (because I am a glutton), but Burrito Burrito’s tacos were so inedible that abandoning them to stand outside in a polar vortex drinking frigid grape juice seemed like a much better option.  Disappointingly, the only other source of food was a chocolaterie serving up chocolate-covered strawberries, which simply did not satisfy the “hit the spot” requirement that goes hand-in-hand with an all-you-can-drink event.

I hope that future Ice Fests aren’t as icy as this one, because Torontonians should get a better understanding of some our province’s greatest wines.  They should also be able to choose from food options that are commensurate with the quality of those wines.  They should be able to taste the wines and savour the subtleties that the winemakers have painstakingly crafted, without having their samples and their palates blunted by blustery winds.  Clearly the iYellow Wine Club couldn’t control Mother Nature, but it could have done a better job of responding to her frigid fury.

2.37/5 brown thumbs down.

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