Whether it’s a bottle of wine shared amongst loved ones, a fine glass of scotch after a
hard day’s work or a cold beer on a hot day, only the best selection makes it to the shelves of the
Kensington Wine Market. An outstanding galore of liquid gold imports are carefully chosen, making this
beverage hub the go-to store for exclusive, hard-to-find bottles. After all, no matter what time of year, a
satisfying, rich drink can make time spent with the people closest to you even better.
Having been open for almost two decades, this Calgary treasure definitely knows its wine, liquor and beer. Their established, trusted reputation is a result of far more than just their exceptional selection. In 1992, the Kensington Wine Market was one of the original 24 stores to attain a private licence to sell wine, two and a half years before the privatization of the liquor industry in Alberta. On May 15, local architect Richard Lindseth and businesswoman Nancy Carten opened the doors of the store.
Over the years, the store has built relationships with a loyal group of regular customers that shop at the Kensington Wine Market for their exclusive selection, individualized service and friendliness. “We have our regular clients, people who live in the surrounding area for whom we’re the neighbourhood store. We know them by name and we know what they like, be it wine, beer or spirits,” says Carten
But the store also sees many first-time shoppers who are unfamiliar with the history and art of wine and have trouble choosing the right bottle for their taste and type of gathering. “Our staff are highly trained and can guide our customers appropriately, be it a bottle of white for tonight’s chicken dinner or, in the case of our corporate client base, suggestions for their Christmas client gifting,” shares Carten, who says the store’s motto is “You are only as good as your second sale.” The secret to their unmatchable service is asking a lot of good questions to get to know the shopper.
On top of their obliging in-store service, the Kensington Wine Market website is a whole world of its own. Wine and liquor connoisseurs can take advantage of the website managed by Chris Lunder, which offers access to the company’s exclusive wines, hard-to-find imported beers and signature single malted whiskies. Visitors can sign up for the store’s newsletter, The Wine Times, which comes out three times a year during the fall, winter and spring.
Unique to the Kensington Wine Market, the store offers regularly scheduled wine tastings, which typically occur on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings in their in-store tasting area. Interested customers can visit their website and choose a tasting theme they want to know more about, for example an introduction to Italian wines. For true wine fanatics, the store puts together special dinners and events such as their annual Robbie Burns Dinner, a scotch event that will be held at Fort Calgary on Jan. 26.
Carten’s current favourites are a selection of wines from Catalonia in Spain, Argentina, Shiraz and Cabernet wines from Australia, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from California and Belgian beer. “Spain has made tremendous technological gains in their wine making. The packaging is gorgeous and the wines are well-priced and delicious,” says Carten.
The store also has a selection of limited and rare whiskies. “At the moment we have casks from Springbank, 1996 Oloroso, Glendronach, 1995 PX Sherry, Kilchoman, Bourbon Cask and a Glen Grant 1966, which is the star in our lineup. For a 41-year-old whisky, it’s surprisingly fresh and eminently affordable,” says Carten. The store carries about 400 brands of beer, mainly European and North American microbrews. With Belgian exclusives such as Gulden Draak and their newest addition Saint Sebastiaan, the Kensington Wine Market is certainly a go-to destination for one-of-a-kind selections. •
The Kensington Wine Market is located on 1257 Kensington Rd. in Calgary. For more
information, you can reach the staff at 403-283-8000 or toll-free at 888-283-9004. Visit their website at
kensingtonwinemarket.com to see their selection, sign up for wine tastings and more.
Knowledge and service
Carten of the Kensington Wine Market offers Lifestyle some tips on how to choose the perfect scotch, beer and
Single Malt Scotch:
“When it comes to single malt scotch, it’s easy. We have over 110 scotches available for our customers to try before they buy,” says Carten. The store’s “scotch guy,” Andrew Ferguson, expertly guides first-time customers who might be overwhelmed by the grand selection. “The world of single malts is a landmine of taste choices and the best way to discover your particular preference is by ‘taste.’ By offering our customers a wee dram it helps with their decision,” Carten adds.
Most of the store’s beer customers know exactly what they want and come to the store to find unique and hard-to-find beers. Since the store carries close to 400 brands of beer, less experienced beer drinkers can go to buyer Mike Robertson for thoughtful suggestions. Robertson likes to bring in rare brands and new products to keep things alive for regulars. “Right now we have double magnums of Chimay, Duvel and Gouden Carolus Keizer, as well as a great selection of beautiful Belgian gift packs for Christmas giving. Mike is always available to offer a taste, and many of our customers sign up for our Wine Times beer tastings to help broaden their experience,” says Carten.
It’s all about wine tasting at the Kensington Wine Market. Familiarizing customers and staff with the world of wine isn’t an option — it’s a must. “Wine tasting is a staff requirement. As part of our training philosophy, we taste and analyze at every staff meeting. The benefit to our customers is that we have tasted most of the wines we have on offer,” says Carten.