Thirsty for learning about wine pairings with fab foods? Head to SOIF in Gatineau!

“Many people love bubbly, and I do too. But, did you know Champagne makes a perfect pairing with fatty foods, because the bubbles have a high acid content, which cuts through fats? So when everyone’s over to watch the game and they’ve got a case of 24, know what I have? I bring a bottle of bubbly – and pair it with potato chips! Try it!”

So said Véronique Rivest at SOIF, the sommelier’s newly opened wine bar at 88 Montcalm Street in Gatineau – conveniently across from Théâtre de l’Île.

Now, you’d be forgiven if you thought a sommelier who, in March 2013, took second place at the World’s Best Sommelier competition (in Tokyo that year) might be hoity-toity. Howe'ver, this recommendation and her approachable manner blasted any such notion out of our heads.

Soif wine pairing
Enjoying a wine pairing and tasting party at SOIF. The cork-clad walls are an appropriate touch, and help absorb sound. Photo: Eric Fletcher

My photographer husband Eric and I were at SOIF for a party evening of wine pairings and tastings, where Rivest proved not only to possess tremendous depth of knowledge, but also have a warm, natural delivery and warm smile. A perfect pairing, particularly as she’s the world’s very first woman to be “on the podium” at this renowned world competition. And the fact Rivest is Canadian made us all just so proud.

I asked her about her achievement, and Rivest explained, “The World’s are like the Olympics for sommeliers. We have to have an incredible depth of knowledge not only about international wines, including how the grapes are grown, but also about different cuisines of the world, too.”

Makes sense when you think about it, after all, a sommelier, must possess a broad knowledge in order to match wines to foods.

What sort of pairings did we enjoy? Cava Brut 1312, Heretat Mestres (Spanish “Champagne”) paired beautifully with fried oysters and smoked trout with crème fraîche. Mantinia 2013, from the high plains of the Greek Peloponese winery, Domaine Tselepos, paired beautifully with roasted Brussel sprouts with pistachios and barley.

Wine glasses at Soif are hung from maps of wine-producing regions of the world. Photo: Eric Fletcher
Wine glasses at SOIF are hung from maps of wine-producing regions of the world. Photo: Eric Fletcher

While we sampled, Rivest wandered through the crowd, chatting amiably and then introducing the next tasting. And of course, while chatting, I couldn’t resist asking her about what to pair with a ceviche I was preparing, for a Spanish dinner party with friends. Did she mind offering free advice? Not at all. “I’d go with a crisp and light Rueda wine or perhaps an Albarino – it’s a bit rounder and fruitier, from Rias Baixas region of Spain.” We chose the Rueda – and it delighted everyone at our international dinner.

Want to delight your palate, learn a lot about wine, and meet our very own Outaouais international star? Head to SOIF Wine Bar and be charmed by Rivest. And for other savory outings in the Outaouais region, visit Cheers!


Katharine Fletcher is a freelance writer, author and visual artist. Visit her at

Photos details and crédits: Author Katharine Fletcher with Soif owner Véronique Rivest. Photo: Eric Fletcher


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