For many of us, a glass of wine is a quick trip to relaxation or a charming companion with dinner. For Stephen Beaumont, a certified wine educator, a glass of wine isn’t just something to be enjoyed (although he certainly does enjoy it). It symbolizes a marriage between art and science, with a thousand-year old history.
In its basest form, wine is fermented grape juice, but Stephen finds the wine making process awe-inspiring. “In studying wine, you learn about chemistry, physics, agriculture, botany, geography, culture, history, languages, and philosophy,” he says. “Couple that with travelling to the different parts of the world where wine is made, meeting the passionate people involved in the craft, and wine is a journey of discovery that never ends.”
Stephen’s career in the luxury hospitality industry in Europe, Caribbean, and North America has given him the opportunity to spend quality time in wine regions, where his appreciation for this fine liquid has flourished.
He returned to Waterloo in 2014 and launched Clarity Wines earlier this year, to provide intimate and fun wine tastings for small groups and corporate functions.
“My certified wine educator designation is actually a pretty big deal,” he says. “I hadn’t leveraged it fully, so I wanted to mix that with my passion for high-end service and wine, to create something unique for the region.”
His clients tend to be those celebrating special occasions, such as anniversaries or house warmings, and companies who want a different approach to corporate training. “Using my wine education and training skills, I offer curated tastings in private homes as well as use wine as a metaphor to understand team dynamics and leadership in corporate settings,” he says. Wine tastings can be stuffy or academic, and Stephen delights in providing tastings that are informal, inspiring, and fun.
As a wine expert, Stephen gets asked lots of questions such as if red wine causes headaches, what’s better to pair with wine: chocolate or cheese, and if he prefers white or red.
He suspects the headache-red wine issue is more complex than mere sulfites found in red wine; he thinks chocolate can be tricky to pair with wine but cheese holds an array of delights; and he has room in his heart for both white and red wine, as well as beer and spirits. “Each beverage has a time and place, and a large part of the fun and challenge of wine is to try new pairings, explore new regions, and continue to learn and enjoy,” he says.
Stephen also teaches at the school of hospitality and business program at Conestoga College, writes about wine, and is a photographer.
P.S. Stephen’s favourite topic of conversation: topics he knows little about. And of course, wine.