Mavrik Wine Bar
Mavrik Wine Bar may easily be missed on bustling West Queen West. For whatever reason, the wine bar trend has never really caught on in Toronto. The whole mixology craze, on the other hand, seems to be mostly a gimmick to justify ridiculous mark-ups rather than the simple appreciation for well crafted libations (though Cocktail Bar would be a noteworthy exception). Mavrik seems to be bucking both trends by offering a cozy spot to appreciate well crafted wines that has been thoughtfully selected. It's good to sip our drinks. And sometimes it's good to have wine as your entree.
A bit bright and a bit loud, Mavrik fights the constant lull that wine imbues with an improvised soundtrack casually curated by the servers. The mood is lively and a great launch into our long night of holiday parties. A quick glance at the wine list showcases micro-producers from the Niagara region and a heavy does of old world winemakers — hough the inclusion of labels from Oregon and Hungary do follow the latest hot spots. For the novice, the wines are grouped by genres, taste above origin, which makes it quite approachable.
If you do decide to come to Mavrik or any wine bar for that matter, you must start with a tasting or a flight. Mavrik offers three 2oz. tastings for $15 or four for $19. White wine is not my main squeeze, so we opted for reds only. The first was an impertinent Aglianico that hit the tip of the tongue only to rush off with a rough finish. From the Niagara region, Nyarai Cellars presented a 2007 Veritas blended in a Bordeaux style. A tannic caramel flavour is balanced by a hint of charred oak. This specific Veritas is a definite find for a VQA - truth! Third, was another Italian and much better than the first. At 16 per cent alcohol, it was a beast, but somehow quite drinkable.
What goes better together than wine and cheese? Cured meats. As quickly as we ordered, our charcuterie appeared accompanied with coarse mustard, cornichons, honey and hazelnuts. Proper garnishes that heightened the dish and were appreciated. The duck prosciutto was amazing — the best of both worlds! The only fault was the Tillagio on offer. It was served far too cold and lacked its unique sharp flavour. For $19, you can choose three selections from local cheese and meat producers.
We loved the Veritas so much that we ordered another glass, which led us to dig into to a bit more food. We ordered the poutine ($10) dressed simply with duck gravy and Ontario cheese curds — a proper dish with a satisfying gravy and crisp fries.
The price per glass can be steep if you're on a budget ($10-17), but spliting a bottle (or two) that you've liked from the tasting might be a smart way to go. It should also be noted that the space is definitely conducive to groups — a holiday party was starting just as we were leaving. I'd bet that they had fun.