Bring Your Own Wine an enlightened step for B.C. restaurants
By now, you’ve likely heard the news, maybe even experienced it for yourself: we’ve got Bring Your Own Wine in B.C. restaurants now. BYOW is something more enlightened jurisdictions have had for years. It’s simple, really: you can bring your favourite wine (or an affordable one, or both!) to your favourite restaurant and have it opened and served to your table.
There is a fee—a corkage charge—for the service, but it means a couple of important things: you don’t have to shell out the usual, usurious restaurant markup on a bottle, and you can drink something you really like from your own cellar or your neighbourhood wine store.
The new law was passed last month without much fanfare. It’s a step in the right direction, part of the ongoing, it’s-about-time evolution of our arcane booze laws. Not every restaurant has chosen to do it—there’s no rule that says you have to offer it—but many have climbed onboard. Prices for corkage (which include the cost of dishwashing) are mostly around $20.
A couple of price bookends I’ve found: West on Granville, arguably one of the best restaurants in the city, is charging $38; Vera’s Burger Shack is asking two bucks! Some restaurants are waiving the corkage fee altogether on certain days of the week.
It’s certainly a good step. Can other loosenings of the law be far behind?
Harper’s Into Wine?
Here’s a new winery from the dry country up Kamloops way, by the name of Harper’s Trail. No, it’s not named after our current PM; it’s derived from the cattle-drive trail of one Thaddeus Harper. The first wines were made by Michael Bartier (ex–Road 13, now at Okanagan Crush Pad) and include a $20 Riesling, a $17 rosé, and a $17 white blend. For the time being, your best source is the winery itself (www.harperstrail.com/).
I haven’t tasted any of the wines yet, but with Bartier onboard the pedigree is sound, and as soon as I can coax some into a glass I’ll pass along some tasting notes.
Zunga to you, too
A new brewery has opened in Powell River called Townsite Brewing Inc. There are five ales available (one only on tap, the other four by the bottle in some of the better indie stores); the four bottled ones come in generous 650-millilitre bottles and are all priced under five bucks.
My favourite by far is Zunga Golden Blonde Ale; it’s also the cheapest, at $4.75. Tasty, bright, and easy on the yeast, with a nice hint of bitterness in the finish. Zunga, the Townsiters tell us, is “a word peculiar to Powell River, meaning rope swing, esp. over water”.
It’s a fabulous warm-weather ale, a great brew to accompany those Terra veggie chips while you watch the green-architecture show on the Knowledge Network. It’s crisp and gently malty, with toastiness rather than caramel, clean, refreshing, subtle, and dry. The other brews are Tin Hat, Pow Town, the seasonal Westview Wheat, and Suncoast Pale Ale, the latter being available only in 20- or 50-litre kegs and only on the Sunshine Coast.
What’s a WOSA?
August is WOSA month at the LDB. WOSA is Wines of South Africa, an industry organization, and it means 75 liquor stores are showcasing a baker’s dozen of South African wines, primarily reds, ranging in price from $11 to $30.
You’ll recognize some of the labels, but others might be new to you: DGB Bellingham, Fairview Estates, Flat Roof Manor, Graceland, Graham Beck, the Grape Grinder, KWV, Nederburg, Saxenburg, Six Hats, Spier, Thelema Mountain, and Two Oceans. There are a couple of Chenin Blancs and a Pinot Grigio, as well as Shirazes, Cab Sauvs, red blends, and the famous South African red, Pinotage. South African wines will be featured at the LDB all August; check ’em out for new summertime tastes.
Yes, you can get Triple “O” with that
There’s a new wine list at White Spot restaurants, and it’s all B.C. and all VQA. You can order six- or nine-ounce glasses, half-litres, or bottles. Prices are $5.99 to $7.99 by the glass, $24 to $32 by the bottle. Here’s what’s on offer: Peller Estates Family Series Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Merlot; Inniskillin Okanagan Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon; Jackson-Triggs Reserve Sauvignon Blanc and Reserve Shiraz; Red Rooster Merlot; and Mission Hill Five Vineyards Chardonnay and Five Vineyards Cabernet Merlot.
Kudos to the folks at White Spot for implementing the new homegrown wine list. There’s something for every taste and to match every food, especially the Bennies and yes, even Nat’s Hearty Breakfast, which continues to be my weekend favourite.