Sunday, January 29, 2006

Wine touring - the 'Why' question.

Since I arrived in Toronto - now over seven years ago - I've likely been wine tasting in the Niagara region at least thirty times. While I'm not suggesting that everyone needs to become such a frequent visitor (in fact there isn't room for everyone), I'm sure that most anyone who enjoys wine will enjoy a day trip down to our ever-expanding backyard wine region.


It's true that the larger LCBO outlets have a good selection of Ontario wines. However, the top ends of most producers' lines are generally not offered through the government run stores. If you are looking for wines in the $7 - $13 range, the LCBO will have a reasonable selection from the larger establishments. However, you'll be hard pressed to find the excellent wines from smaller wineries - or the better wines from wineries such as Cave Springs and Henry of Pelham.

The LBCO does offer a few of these 'finds' in the Vintages (tm?) program - either in the monthly/bi-monthly releases, or in the Classics Catalogue - however, the representation is minimal in the overall scheme of things.


The second advantage that making the trip to wine country offers is to provide you the opportunity to taste the wines before purchasing. In many cases, there is no tasting fee - or the fee may be waived if you purchase wine. (In a future post, I'll cover how tastings work at the typical winery.)

There is no substitute for your own pallate when buying wines for you and your household. The LBCO may have printed up tasting notes and ratings from Wine publications such as Spectator or Wine Advocate. While the ladies and gentlemen behind these notes may be very knowledgeable about wine, they are not YOU. In terms of your tastes, YOU are the expert.

When you go to taste wine in Niagara (or Napa, Tuscany etc.), trust your taste buds.

Pastoral retreat

Yes 'wine country' is country. Now while the Niagara Peninsula is not bereft of built-up areas, but most wineries are in rural spots. If you are looking for an escape from Urbia or Suburbia, you can certainly choose to head to a rural area that specializes in hog-farming, however, in my humble opinion, wine-growing regions are way more fun that hog-farming regions.


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