Literary editor, drinks writer
Ben Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits. He paid his way through university by working at a handful of wine stores in Winnipeg, which helped him land the wine-writing gig on a freelance basis in 2005.
Ben started working in the newsroom in 2012 as a part-time copy editor. Later that year he was hired as a full-time web copy/web editor, working the graveyard shifts.
When esteemed books editor Morley Walker retired in January 2014, Ben rekindled his love for all things literary and started a new chapter at the Free Press.
Ben holds a bachelor of arts degree in English/politics from the University of Winnipeg as well as a master of arts degree in English (writing stream) from the University of Manitoba.
Recent articles of Ben Sigurdson
In late June, two dozen seasoned palates from across Canada (myself included) descended upon Ontario’s Niagara region. the bunch of us spent five days holed up at Club Italia tasting nearly 1,900 wines from eight provinces at the WineAlign 2022 National Wine Awards of Canada. And as always, the release of the annual competition’s results (available at winealign.com/awards) is a chance to reflect on the state of Canadian wine.
The number of entries was down slightly at the 2022 competition versus the previous year, but still amounted to an impressive 1,890 wines from 250 wineries in eight provinces. Overall, B.C. producers made up 137 of the wineries entered, followed by Ontario with 87, and then Quebec, Nova Scotia and so on. (Yes, there were Manitoba entries that won medals — more on that in a minute.)
The competition sees wines sorted into flights by grape variety or style and then tasted blind by panels of judges — only the grape variety/varieties are given so that price, producer, region and the like don’t influence the results of the judging, which is done on a 100-point scale. The first few days are spent sorting through wines that are worthy of being re-tasted in the final two days of judging, when the top medals are awarded. Platinum, gold, silver and bronze medals are doled out based on the scores the wines receive; this year just 24 wines received platinum medals, which averaged a 93-point score or higher.
Once the scores are all tallied and medals awarded, organizers take the scores and create a list of the top performing wineries, from each of B.C. amd Ontario as well as the country as a whole. They also create a list of the best performing small wineries – outfits who produce 10,000 cases of wine or less.