Ever since Kelsey Danyluk opened TZiN Wine and Tapas just over two years ago, she’s seen a heightened curiosity about wine. “When I started seven or eight years ago in the industry,” says Danyluk, “there seemed to be less interest at the time. Now, people in Edmonton are interested in wine.”
She believes that this growing fascination with wine has forced restaurants and other mainstream establishments to offer more selection. “Places that are more bar and lounge focused are realizing the importance of wine and having a comprehensive wine list,” claims Danyluk. “When you go out for dinner, the wine list is promoted a bit better, and there’s a bit more selection than your chardonnay and merlot options.”
As someone who is passionate about wine, this growing appetite for wine is well-received by Danyluk. She had always considered the possibility of opening a wine bar, and when the tiny space on 104th St and Jasper Ave became available three years ago (conveniently located next to the boutique liquor store deVine), the dream eventually became a reality.
Initially, however, she found that patrons were hesitant to step foot inside TZiN. “When I first started, there was an assumption that there would be a snobbery about this place,” Danyluk shares. “But it’s such a fun environment—the music goes up, the candles are on—it’s just a fun place to come and try some wonderful wine and food.”
Now, she is proud to say that her clientele consists of an eclectic group of regulars—some come from the lofts and condos nearby, and the age range is anywhere from 18 to 90. “Wine doesn’t have to be an intimidating thing anymore,” offers Danyluk. “The more you try, the more you’ll understand your palate and find out what your preferences are.”
TZiN is an ideal place to experiment with wine. Danyluk is certified in Level 1 and 2 with the International Sommelier Guild, the professional body that accredits sommeliers with direct instruction. Moreover, Danyluk changes the wine list every six weeks, and has a minimum of 20 by-the-glass wines to choose from, in accessible half or full-glass portions. “There’s enough of a varietal range and enough diversity to satisfy most palates,” she says.
She also enjoys being able to introduce patrons to wines that they may not have considered before. “Customers may come in claiming to love an Australian Shiraz, for example,” shares Danyluk. “Great to know, but there are always qualities about that Australian Shiraz that people like that you can find in other countries or varietals that will offer a similar fit. It’s a matter of listening to the key words of what they are attracted to about that wine to broaden their [preferences].”
Although there are a few other wine bars in the city, the concept of an establishment devoted to the pleasures of wine still hasn’t really caught on in Edmonton, especially when compared with Calgary. Danyluk thinks this will be changing this year. “Edmonton may be a couple of paces behind,” she says, “but we’ll have a few more wine bars coming up very shortly.”
What makes TZiN stand out is their food program. “Although there are a few places around the city that claim to offer tapas,” Danyluk says, “we find that we’re more authentic to the definition of it.”
The food menu changes three times a year, and leans towards shared plates such as antipasto platters, caramelized onion and feta tartlets and crab spring rolls. In May when the City Centre Farmers’ Market opens, Chef Neil Chamberlain will be incorporating as much fresh produce into the spring menu as possible.
In terms of food and wine pairings at the bar, Danyluk has simplified things for the patron. “What we do is colour-coded dots to the left of the wines that correspond back to the colour-coded dots next to the food,” she explains. Of course, she acknowledges that the dots are “merely suggestions. As I always say, ‘Good food, good wine, good company, it’s going to work out anyways.’”
Danyluk finds that many people worry about supplementing the correct wines with dishes, but proposes an alternate approach to pairing. “When you go to a restaurant, the first thing that you do is look at the wine list even before looking at the food,” she says. “But it can work both ways—you can pair your food to your wine or wine to your food, depending on your priorities. The biggest thing is to follow your instincts and not necessarily the rule books. You don’t have to do a white with chicken or fish—you can do a red. It’s meant to be a fun thing.”
Danyluk is thankful that she is able to share her love of wine with so many people. “I’m very passionate about wine and how it becomes a part of the social experience of your day or your meal,” she shares. “So to be a part of people’s experience here with wine has been the best part through the entire experience over the last two years.”
With the city’s growing appetite for wine, Danyluk will likely be able to spread her wine enthusiasm for years to come. V
TZiN Wine Bar
10115 – 104 St, 780.428.8946