Toronto Wine Bars

GLAS Wine Bar
1118 Queen Street East, Toronto. Tel: 1 (647) 351-4527. Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday. Cash.

I first came across GLAS Wine Bar via their Twitter updates (@glaswinebar) and added it to my review list. However, upon arrival at their location we noticed that there was no mention of ‘wine bar’ in their signage – simply GLAS – and once inside noted the absence of a bar too. From my perspective we had clearly walked into a restaurant and not what I think of as a wine bar.
Ah well, here we were and both very much in need of a drink so
we grabbed the prized table in the window.

Menus and wine lists arrived and the simplicity of this tiny venue in Leslieville followed through in the selection of small plates and about a dozen or so wines. GLAS is all about being local – Chef-owner Dan Pantano believes in supporting local purveyors of good quality food and the menu reflects this and changes regularly to accommodate current availability. Rather than give a full review of the excellent small plate menu here, check out the October issue of Zoomer magazine where James Chatto gives a great write-up.

The local flavour continues with the wine list, and just like the food it is all about quality from top-notch Ontario wineries. Again, the simplicity follows through with the pricing structure with all the whites at just $5.50 for a generous 3 oz pour, $10 for a 6 oz and $40 per bottle. The reds are just a dollar more for the 3 oz, $2 more for the 6 oz, with a bottle coming in at just $46. Given the shortness of the wine list, Will Predhomme, the sommelier who put this together has done an excellent job of covering all the essential varietals and blends, giving something for every taste and food pairing.

If you like to start off your meal with a glass of bubbly, (and who doesn’t?) then the Hinterland Whitecap 2010 will be sure to please. Dry and crisp, with notes of melon and peach on the nose, this is produced using the Charmat method, which is the same as used to make Prosecco.

My next two wines were both from Creekside, the first being a nicely oaked Chardonnay with typical buttery mouth-feel, and then a Cab Shiraz, which was amazingly full-bodied for an Ontario wine, with all the requisite black fruit and peppery spices on the palate – I’d highly recommend this one! My friend opted for the Henry of Pelham Pinot Grigio, followed by the Muscedere Cab Franc. We finished off with glasses of Karlo Estates Val Alstine red and white ports – just $8 for a 2 oz glass. My friend said I had to add in here that she thought it was ‘super, delicious’, and I would have to agree!

Aside from the fact that this is clearly not a wine bar from my perspective, but rather a small plate style restaurant with a very well thought out wine list, I highly recommend a visit. The dishes and flavour combinations are creative and work really well. Add to that a friendly and attentive staff that makes you feel completely welcome and are totally up-to-speed and passionate about the food and wine they are serving… I’ll certainly be heading back very soon.

Midfield Wine Bar
1434 Dundas Street West, Toronto. Tel: 1 (647) 345-7005  Currently accepts cash only.

Some wine bars are merely bars that have added the word ‘wine’ to their name. Others are far more glitz than substance, or add so much substance, in the form of a two-inch-thick wine list, as to become intimidating to the average person out for a glass of wine after work. But somewhere in the midst of those extremes are the bars that place the focus right where it should be – front and centre on the wine. Midfield Wine Bar falls perfectly into that last category. Instead of a hefty tome, there’s a clipboard featuring a single sheet listing about a dozen reds and an equal number of whites, all available by the glass. Or you can just glance around at the numerous chalk boards strategically placed at each end of the bar for convenient viewing. Two methods of communication that are easy to change regularly, which is how they roll at Midfield. Pop in one week and Spanish wines may be dominantly displayed, while a week or so later the highlight could be Italian. Either way, you’ll always find an interesting selection, including a few local Ontario gems. But the draw here is the chance to try a few wines that you may not have considered before. While there could be a Riesling on the list, you may also find something like an Assyrtiko from Greece or a wonderful Grüner Veltliner. And they are all at a very approachable price, ranging from $9 to $13 a glass, with bottles in the $40 to $60 range.Not sure what to order? Just tell Christopher Sealy, Sommelier, or Guiseppe Anile, Co-Owner at Midfield what your likes and dislikes are and they’ll be sure to come up with a couple of winning suggestions.In the mood for food? Then try a charcuterie plate featuring local cheeses and meats and a pile of rustic baguette on the side. Rumour has it that the kitchen is about ready to make an appearance, taking the food offerings up a notch. Stay tuned for more details.

If you want a quiet drink and a chat with Christopher or Guiseppe, show up between 6 and 7 pm when all is calm. Looking for a bit more of a lively buzz? Then after 9 or 10 pm on a Saturday is a better bet, when the room fills with people and music. Either way, you will find a laid back casual atmosphere, and come away with a new wine or two in your vocabulary.

Located at 1434 Dundas Street West at Gladstone Avenue, it’s easy to access by transit, and a great addition to the up & coming restaurant and bar scene for those living locally.

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