Maude Sips Offers a Joyful Entry Point to a New Generation of Wine Nerds

The monthly(ish) wine nights curated by Martina Maude serve up intriguing bottles and new friends galore.

“Before I moved to B.C., I thought there were three kinds of wine,” says Martina Maude, wryly. “Red, white and corked.”

But a year and a half later, the Ontario import is a self-taught aficionado welcoming other imbibers into the vivacious world of vino with her cult-y cool Maude Sips events.

“When you move to a new place, what do you do? You drink a lot, you go out, you try to meet people,” says Maude. Glass by glass, she fell in love with the stories behind the wines she was discovering, and started hatching a plan to use her new passion to make connections: she’d start a wine club, something casual, inclusive and, most import- antly, fun. “I wanted to bring a little vogue, a little sexy to wine culture.”

She stayed up for three nights studying and prepping tasting notes, and crammed a dozen friends and friends-of-friends into her studio apartment for her first blind tasting night. Her approach was, well, approachable, and both the wine and good times flowed. “I led with the intention of, it’s not going to be an intimidating space. You don’t need the right vocab. You’re going to taste and try and just see if you like it or don’t like it,” she says.

Photo: Lucy Guo

A year later, Maude Sips has outgrown her apartment and now takes place in a rotating selection of venues (like Subject Studios) throughout Vancouver. Collaborator Becca Higdon—a personal chef—feeds the crowd each month, focusing less on flavour pairings and more on beautiful, sharable plates that align with the theme: a big, bold salad; a decadent main. New friends are made, new favourite wines are discovered, and the night usually ends with an organic dance party.

Photo: Lucy Guo

Maude’s approach to wine education is friendly and story-focused. “You’re going to remember that a wine is made by nuns, not that it tastes like stone fruit,” she says. Over the year, with the help of her (much-appreciated) “ops team” and the occasional guest curator, the events have evolved around themes, typically tied to the region or identity of the winemakers. September was all about Indigenous-owned wineries, while May (co-hosted by Sharla Farrell) centred on female vintners.

Photo: Lucy Guo

Maude’s nine-to-five is in marketing (she’s currently working in fintech) and, intentionally or otherwise, she has put her knack for building buzz to work here. Monthly events have limited tickets ($125) that drop with minimal notice on her Instagram; if you do manage to snag one, you’ll find yourself in a space full of dressed-to-impress, eager-to-socialize friends who are absolutely going to post about this beautiful long- table dinner on social. In other words: it’s a vibe. “If you’re coming with an open mind, if you’re coming to meet new people and learn something along the way, then you’re welcome,” says Maude. The only thing stopping her from opening up the tickets further? “There are just never enough chairs.”

Follow @maude.sips for spring event dates