Tasting in a Tokaj cellar

Tasting in a Tokaj cellar

Toronto-based Master Sommelier John Szabo is the educational and technical lead for Volcanic Wines International. He was the first Canadian to add the “MS” after his name in 2004, and has seen the hospitality business from all sides including cooking and washing dishes, serving and sommellerie, importing, teaching, writing, and speaking, consulting and judging internationally. He was listed as “Canada’s best-known sommelier” in Meininger’s Wine Business International. 

John first connected the dots between great wine and their volcanic origins in 2009, in an article on the subject for Wine Access Magazine. Many years later, that initial fascination led to the publication of Volcanic Wines, Salt, Grit and Power (Jacquie Small, 2016, UK), which hit shelves in October 2016 and won the year's André Simon Award, and was also shortlisted for the Roederer Awards for best drinks book, in addition to making the top drinks books in The Guardian, Forbes Magazine, Decanter, Globe & Mail, Drink Business, and JancisRobinson.com, among others. It has also earned him the distinction of being "one of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject” according to Drinks Business Magazine. Today, John continues to teach and consult, but his day job is as partner and principal critic for WineAlign.com, Canada’s most authoritative wine publication. He writes occasionally for US-based Wine & Spirits Magazine, and has published or held columns in dozens of other magazines and newspapers. His other books include Pairing Food and Wine For Dummies (Wiley, 2012), and Sommelier Management, (Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, revised edition 2013).

Closer to the land, he is a partner in the small J&J Eger vineyard in Hungary. And as a third degree black belt in Goju-Ryu Karate-do... his grapes are well protected, too.