Independent wine shop, Chin Chin, opens in Creemore

 In Business

In France and Italy, cin cin means “to your health.” In the UK, where they add an “h”, chin chin can mean hello, goodbye or cheers. In Creemore, it will mean a welcoming place to sample, and buy quality wines.

Keiran Coyne is originally from Bath, UK – home of the Jane Austen Museum and the setting for period dramas such as Bridgerton. It is also home to many fine restaurants, where Coyne first developed an appreciation for good food and good wine. His work in the hospitality sector took him from Bath to London and eventually Toronto where he became the sommelier at Union Restaurant on Ossington. The same owners operated Heart’s Tavern in Kimberly. It was while doing some weekend work at Heart’s Tavern that he and wife Tammy Yiu Coyne fell in love with the area and started scouting for an opportunity to move north.

The pair eventually purchased a small home near Mansfield and spent the next year renovating and learning to deal with wells, septic systems and all the vagaries of life in the country. With the home reno under control, they began work in January to convert a Mill Street space, formerly occupied by The Refillery, into a wine bar and store. They did the work themselves, and the décor includes a counter from the old Port Carling Post Office and shelves of spalted maple from Mulmur.

Coyne says the Canadian hospitality industry, and Toronto in particular, is quite vibrant.

“The Toronto food and wine scene is truly world class,” he said. “There are many great sommeliers.” Unfortunately, he says, there is also a great deal of

pretentiousness and that is something they intend to steer clear of.

“We’re just two normal people doing what we love,” said Coyne.

There are many lovely, independent wine shops in London but they didn’t really exist here, pre- pandemic. Coyne says rule changes instituted during Covid have made it possible to operate a business like this in Ontario.

Chin Chin will open with 80 different wines, mostly European with a few Ontario, B.C. and California selections. All will be artisanal wines from small batch growers, not the sort of thing that is available at the LCBO. In an effort to offer something for every taste, they will stock a range of styles and prices from $25 to $200 per bottle. There will also be a limited selection of beers, de-alcoholized wines and luxury sparkling teas.

Coyne says Chin Chin will offer “sips and snacks,” but it is not their intention to become a restaurant. The bar area has seating for 10 people with a variety of wines available by the glass. On any given day, there will be 10 selections on the tasting menu.

“Typically we’ll have one sparking wine, a couple of rosés, one orange wine, three whites and three reds. We’ll offer a wine flight with a trio of two ounce pours to encourage people to try something new.”

Orange wine, he explains, is white wine fermented on the skins of the grapes which imparts colour, aroma and flavour.

Chin Chin, located at 180 Mill St, Creemore, will be open Thursday through Sunday, and Coyne is hopeful that by late spring they’ll be ready to host group wine tastings. It will be a place to interact, talk about wine, and pick some up to take home.

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