Archive for June, 2013


June 24th, 2013

BYOB Corkage Fee
So many of us with wine cellars really appreciate a restaurant with a reasonable corkage charge allowing you to Bring Your Own Wine (BYOB). It also helps those ever increasing more casual places that no longer can afford the ever increasing cost of maintaining an inventory of older wines. The Aussies have been the best in encouraging BYOB.

In British Columbia with our restrictive government regulations this idea has been illegal until the recent law change last summer. After less than a year it is still unclear what the corkage policy might be for any given restaurant in Vancouver. However several places are supporting this new initiative and continuing to work to modernize BC’s antiquated liquor laws. The amount of corkage varies widely from $60 at Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, $38 at all four of the outstanding restaurants forming The Top Table Group to the more common $20-$ 30 at the majority of spots. Always ask whether there is any special deal for a certain day of the week. For example La Cigale French Bistro has no corkage charge every Tuesday, Versace Pizzeria every Wednesday and even Four Seasons Vancouver offers half price on all their wines on the extensive wine list at their Yew Restaurant every Sunday.

What are some places that allow you to bring your own wine that you would recommend to us?

What do you think is a reasonable charge by a restaurant to allow you to bring in your own wine?




June 17th, 2013

What wine competitions can you rely on?
By Guillaume Paumier (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Spent last week ensconced at Government House in Victoria judging the 11th Lieutenant Governor Awards For Excellence in BC Wines.

This is a competition for wines from 100% grapes grown and processed within British Columbia to determine the best of those entering and celebrate “excellence” in our home grown product regardless of the grape variety or the blend. Every winery can enter up to 4 wines with no entry fee charged and no restriction on the vintage submitted to be judged by 7 wine judges all knowledgeable on BC wine – of which I am one.  We tasted 400+ wines and came up with only 12 winners – less than 3%! Pretty strict in our top selections.

Ontario has followed this with their own similar program for Awards based on Ontario wines now in the 3rd year. There are lots of other big wine competitions out there including the Los Angeles International Wine Competition going for 7 decades with nearly 100 judges. The International Wine Challenge in England and International Wine & Spirit Competition have been around for a while. Decanter World Wine Awards is still somewhat the new kid on the block but now in the 10th year has really expanded with an impressive line-up of world judges and over 14,000 entries. The Aussies have lots of these and are the pioneers of all these medals with the Sydney International Wine Competition still going strong for 13 judges processing 2000 entries (the final 400 being judged with food pairings) resulting in a Top 100.

Blind wine judging is always interesting and very educational for the judges. However, it is a very subjective process and I usually take in all these many competition results with a grain of salt. Are the Awards actually credible? I want to know how many wines were entered, what the wines were, who were the judges, and what was their experience with the wines they were tasting. Naturally the wineries that win are ecstatic and undoubtedly it should help them with their subsequent advertising campaigns. I guess I still have mixed feelings on their overall reliability to guarantee for me that the winners will satisfy my own personal nose and palate preferences.

Would be interested in your comments on what Wine Competitions you respect or feel you can rely on both internationally and locally to help you with your own wine purchasing decisions.




June 10th, 2013

Best Wine Cellar Inventory Mangement System

Longing for the good old days of a simple wine inventory cellar book with hand written entries?

I still cling to that antiquated system somewhat because it was so excitingly hands on and personal but as a computer nut I also like the additional features, valuations and organizational benefits of the many new on line alternatives.

Hard to believe that so many friends of mine now have each individual bottle in their wine cellar barcoded for easy management. Wow are they ever organized! But there are so many different software programs out there it is hard to choose how to even get started.

I really like what Eric LeVine has done with Cellar Tracker ( redesigning to make constant improvements and they also now have posted nearly 4 million tasting notes for references and recommendations. Impressive work indeed!

Please let us know what you recommend as working for you based on your own wine cellar management system. Much appreciated.





June 4th, 2013

Attended this week in Vancouver a tasting by Gambero Rosso of “tre bicchieri” (3 glass awards) from their new 2013 Guide on Italian Wines. This was a very impressive promotion for this publication as well as their Wine Travel Food magazine by showing off some 77 Italian wine producers with over 100 top rated wines this year!

Raised the immediate question for me about the current marketing of wine advice which seems to be so rapidly changing! In the good old days you could depend on Decanter, Wine Spectator, The Wine Advocate (Robert M Parker), International Wine Cellar (Stephen Tanzer) and a few others to help you make your decisions on which were the best wines to purchase.  Now there are so many sites online and for specific wine regions that the landscape has really changed and continues to do so.

In Canada, and among others are all important reference points.

James Suckling ex Wine Spectator has and now Antonio Galloni ex The Wine Advocate has just launched his own site at

So many other blogs out there offering wine advice often based on limited wine experiences in this increasingly wider and wider world of wine choices.

Maybe the time has come to rely on your own opinion on what you like rather than some one else’s 90 point hype!

Please comment on who you believe you can rely on for your wine advice these days!




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