Our 2019 Alberta’s Finest Drinks List Awards is our third edition, and as always, it is a pleasure to see the efforts of so many restaurants, hotels, clubs, and other venues regarding their drink list.

It’s been a rough few years for Alberta’s economy, we’ve seen a number of beloved and treasured establishments shut their doors, and many others scale back trying to ride things out-large with extensive wine lists one of the first things on the chopping block, but that doesn’t mean lists are full of cheap, commercial bottles these days.

The lists we saw over our two days of judging were – for the most part – a testament to the skills and experience of the people creating them; lists full of interesting and unique bottles, lists that play off a specific theme or focus, and lists that prove an exciting, well thought out list can be a smaller one.

Our judges score each list independently, and most importantly, evaluate consistently. This isn’t about who they know or like, but about the list on the table – does it have breadth or depth, is it interesting or noteworthy, does it seem approachable or manageable – or was only the barest attention paid to offerings?

New this year, we’ve added a category for “Curated Lists”, which seek to celebrate the efforts of the sommelier or person responsible for the list – lists where every single bottle serves a purpose and it shows.

We’ve also added a Canadian Content symbol (🍁) to recognize lists that have a significant Canadian-made presence on the list. Canadian wine, beers, and spirits are among the best in the world, and these lists do much more than pay lip-service to Canadian bottles, they proudly offer them up beside examples from around the globe.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone who shared their lists with us, our judges, and to Q-Haute Cuisine for being a perfect venue to be sequestered in for the two days of judging. Thanks too to the Italian Trade Commission for collaborating on our category of Best Italian List.


Linda Garson, Co-Chair, Editor in Chief, Culinaire Magazine

As the creator of Vine & Dine in 2005, Linda has spent nearly fourteen years eating, drinking, and studying menus and wine lists, and there’s no stopping her. Running these educational pairing dinners for so long has given her such an appreciation of Alberta’s vibrant culinary scene, that she launched Culinaire Magazine in 2012 to celebrate the best our province has to offer.

Tom Firth Co-Chair, Managing Editor, Culinaire Magazine

With nearly 25 years in beverage industry, Tom spent several years retailing for two of the best wine stores in the province before moving to the journalism side of a wine bottle. Tom is the Managing Editor for Culinaire magazine, and Competition Director for the Alberta Beverage Awards; he’s spent many a day pouring over wine lists with an eye for exciting bottles that won’t wreck the budget. 

Laurie MacKay

A sommelier by trade and a traveler by passion, Laurie’s 20 years in the wine and spirits industry has taken her from work in a trendy wine boutique to a premium wine importer, to harvest in New Zealand. As the Drinks columnist for CBC Radio, Laurie appreciates a well-curated list (wine, beer, and spirits) and loves to share her discoveries with her diverse listening audience.

Renée Delorme

A graduate of the International Sommelier Guild, Wine and Spirit Education Trust, and Fine Vintage, Renée is a sommelier who started her wine adventure 12 ago. She runs custom wine tastings, guides groups visiting wine regions, pairs menus for special events, designs and teaches wine courses, and writes for magazines. She also enjoyed a regular segment on Radio Canada.

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