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Category Archives: My relationship with wine

Wine boxes – classy or trashy?

I’ve been met time and time again with either drastically positive or negative feedback when I bring up the wine box question. From the most educated sommelier to average wine drinkers, it just seems that the wine box has gotten a bad wrap over the years. I, on the other hand, find that the wine box is a brilliant and economical invention. BUT, it depends where you buy it.

I don’t understand how someone who enjoys wine, can’t also be a smart shopper? Wine boxes have come long way…

The Alcohol Commission in Quebec doesn’t believe in more for less. Their pricing always comes down to what it would cost for one bottle. Therefore, if you’re trying to buy in bulk in terms of cases, it’ll still cost the same per bottle. Which is the same concept with the wine box – if the box contains the equivalent of three bottles, then you’re going to be charged for three bottles. Sure the wine’s quality is a little better in the boxes sold at the commission, but why buy a box when you can get three bottles for the same price, right?

You need to get savvy if you want to save money with the box – which in all honesty is the main reason I buy wine boxes. My husband has a rather large family, so it makes more sense to get boxes for our family functions.

More wine for less

More wine for less

Do your research. How much would you normally pay for a bottle? Normally it will contain 4 litres – the equivalent of about 5.5 standard bottles of wine. In Quebec, we can purchase wine at the convenience store, supermarket and even Costco. There’s some really great brands available in box format. Most boxes will vary between $30-$40. Keep an eye out for sales or rebates, the better wines are always around the $40 mark – you can get them for $30-$35 on sale most of the time.

As many of you have already read in my previous posts, I’m partial to Wallaroo Trail wines, as well as the Toro Loco brand. Due to the vacuum sealed bag, I find the wine doesn’t ‘go bad.’

Come on…. Wine boxes aren’t that bad.



Happy Easter Break

As I sit here listening to the snow melt in backyard, listening to the birds chirp and nature slowly come unfrozen – I can only think how quickly summer will be upon us. Another dreary winter comes to an end.

So until the sun beckons pool parties, long days spent with friends chatting about life and its mysteries and the crickets chirping long into the night – I wish you all a very Happy Easter weekend surrounded by friends, family and loved ones.

I will content myself to sipping this glass of white wine, in my spring jacket and seated on my deck listening to spring emerge. In true Canadian fashion.



Pink champagne and Bill Haugland

My husband and I both work for the municipality we live in… and consequently both grew up in. Before becoming a manager he slowly worked his way up the ranks – first starting as a janitor at the local community centre. This said community centre has been not only a cultural but a historical staple in our city as well.

To mark the centre’s 50 year anniversary they invited a bevy of past and current employees to come celebrate with a soirée of music, keynote speakers, drinks and hors-d’oeuvres. I love our cultural centre so when my husband got the invitation to attend and it was a plus one event I was elated!!

I got all gussied up dressed to the nines and we made our way to the centre. Upon our arrival we were handed the evening’s program sheet. We said hello to some of my husband’s old and current colleagues.

We made our way to the bar where the usual drinks were being served. Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay and Wyndham Estate as the red option – both two great Australian wines, right DrivingMsMiranda? There was also Champagne. As you have read from my previous post Champagne Showers and Chambull in Cuba – I have a real love for the stuff. If you can believe, at my age, I still hadn’t even tried pink champagne. I thought it was something you only saw on television or in the movies. It really does exist, and the stuff’s pretty freaking delicious. As you can guess, I had found my drink for the night.

As if this evening wasn’t already a winner, I finally took the time to read the night’s program and get acquainted with the guest speakers. My eyes fell on the last person I would expect to see at a function like this. Bill Haugland.

For most Anglophone Montrealers who spent every weeknight at 6 watching the news when it was called Pulse on CFCF and then progressively became CTV News – you know who Haugland is. He was the news anchor for our local news program for over 45 years. He retired in 2006 – one year after I earned my Journalism degree.

I grew up watching the man. He was practically a member of our family. He was one of the icons that pushed to earn an Anglophone degree in a predominantly francophone province. You can believe my surprise when my brain finally caught up to my eyes and it finally clicked. HOLY CRAP BILL HAUGLAND IS THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER TONIGHT!!

Discovering one of my journalism icons was a keynote speaker at the event

Discovering one of my journalism icons was a keynote speaker at the event

It might surprise you, but I’ve never really been one of those pushy reporter types. A lot of journalists have the guspah and the cojones to walk up to someone and demand something. Not me. I’m sort of, hey, I’m charming and nice maybe you’ll possibly see me smiling and decided to come over and talk to me?

I guess this is where the brilliance of my newly discovered love… passion for pink champagne comes in. At this point the waiter had put a bottle of the pink stuff aside for me. The champagne I assume was essentially to ‘toast,’ the opening speech. Not me. Not how I roll.

Armed with some solid Dutch courage in me, the killer charm my mother instilled in me and my father’s quick wit I walked over to the Mayor and managed to arrange a photo op with him and Haugland. The news anchor was on a break, but the Mayor assured me he would find me and I would finally be able to meet one of my icons.

(On a side note, I never actually thought the Mayor would come find me with Haugland in tow. I essentially just thought he was being polite and trying to get rid of me)

I continued talking with some of my husband’s colleagues. My jaw literally dropped when in the corner of my eye I saw the Mayor walking directly towards me with Haugland in tow. (in my head OMG OMG OMG act cool, act cool) I got my picture and I got to talk to Haugland for a few minutes. You could not ask for a nicer individual. After saying thank you for the 10 billionth time I finally let him go.

Bill Haugland to my left and Mayor McMurchie on my right

Bill Haugland to my left and Mayor McMurchie on my right

… and as the mature individual that I am ran to my husband, started jumping up and down (literally) saying oh-my-god! oh-my-god! To the point where my husband told me to calm down.

I had to toast myself with just one… more… glass of pink champagne!

I guess nothing really mattered after that. I can honestly say it was one of the highlights of my life. Yay!


Champagne Showers and Chambull in Cuba

I love travelling to Cuba. I love the friendly, courteous and generous Cubans. You’ll rarely find a rude one. The hot sun; the amazing beaches and vast landscapes; and the turquoise waters – all take my breath away every single time I visit.

I travelled there last week with my family – my husband, his son and daughter and my stepson’s girlfriend. We had eloped a little over a year ago to get married not telling a soul. This was our chance to do it with the kids and have a ‘real’ ceremony.

After our renewals on the beach

After our renewals on the beach

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the last 12 times I’ve visited, is that the wine really is house wine. A previous visit had keyed me into the fact that the wine served at the buffet, snack bars, bars and à la carte restaurants all came from a huge jug (think water jug that goes in the water cooler at work) and they careful poured into already opened wine bottles. Sure you get what you pay for… plus if I wanted quality wine I wouldn’t be on vacation in an all-inclusive resort but on a winery tour.

The beer in Cuba is pretty good. Two standard brands exist – Cristal and Bucanero. Cristal is what I guess you could consider a ‘light’ beer and Bucanero a ‘strong’ one. I prefer the Bucanero, I find it more flavourful than Cristal. Regardless that I’m not a beer person, I will have a few from time to time, but I really do prefer wine.

Besides buying a bottle of red (Jackson Triggs Shiraz 2012) at the Duty Free at the airport pre-flight, for one of our à la carte suppers, I still wanted to find a happy medium between the wine that the resort served and my high-fallootin’ palette. I had to find something that came from an unopened bottle… and that’s when I discovered that this resort served Champagne. Pop!

The amount of different champagnes I tasted last week was exceptional. Mostly were Spanish Cavas from Spain. We did have the chance to taste at two different occasions a French Brut (obviously not Moët) – once to celebrate my stepson’s engagement to his girlfriend and the other the night of our vow renewals. It was a lot drier than the Cavas they served at the different lobby bars. It had more of a punch. I enjoyed the taste very much.

The bottles of Champagne didn’t sit around for very long behind the counter. Therefore, the aromas and flavours weren’t stale or faded. I was very happy that they did have this alternative. I drank Cava for the better part of the week.

I wasn’t the only one that enjoyed the bubbly beverage – so did my stepson, but not for the same reasons. Let me end this blog post with this little anecdote. 🙂



With the vow renewal came two bottles of the drink. We were to toast the renewal at the end of the ceremony. Since we were five people, these bottles would allow us to do so. I remember having one glass and a half. My husband too. The kids were pretty giggly, so I assumed they had drank most of it.

We made our way to the lobby bar where the staff opened two more bottles for us. We left to take pictures with a horse and carriage. When we got back all our glasses had been drained and I finally discovered who the culprit was – my stepson!

Husband and Stepson

Husband and stepson

My daughter-in-law and my Stepdaughter

My stepdaughter and daughter-in-law had been slowly sipping theirs with Redbull (it’s called a Chambull according to my stepdaughter) except my stepson was making it an Olympic event downing everyone’s glass of champagne. It’s pretty easy to say that the two bottles of Champagne he drank to himself hit him pretty quickly. This definitely made for an interesting supper at the Mexican à la carte restaurant. A hyper 21 year-old and a fancy supper. Oye! At least he was pretty freaking cute and loveable. Ha! Ha! He came down pretty fast from his champagne-induced hyperness.

All I can say is… thank goodness for Gatorade.


My Love/Hate/Hate Relationship with Chardonnay

I’m pretty much open to tasting all sorts of wines. I like to keep an open wine (ha! ha!). Of course as with everything in life, you’re going to have your favorites and your least liked.

Chardonnay falls into that last category for me. For some reason, over the years I’ve just associated Chardonnay with middle-aged to very much older women – no offence ladies. It’s stale to me. When I see a bottle, I try to avoid it – move onto the next aisle, next topic of conversation. I also find that there is a predominent olive-y taste to most Chardonnay’s and they just don’t keep well after opened – no matter the price point. BUT – that’s just me.

I tend to go back and forth between whites and reds during various periods in my life. I really enjoyed red wine, but then I discovered I suffered from migraines and combining red wine with other factors caused me to get brutal and crippling headaches. I started leaning towards whites.

I was still a relatively young and a new wine taster – back when I was 25. With a very minimal wine repertoire, I started drinking the hell out of Chardonnay. I couldn’t get enough of it. Different vintages, prices points, countries, wineries, etc… I was synched onto the Chardonnay channel all. the. time. I thought I was clever, sophisticated and a social marvel for my diverse Chardonnay drinking. Yikes. You know, I was young. As with most things when you’re young, I grew tired and bored with Chardonnay – so we broke up.

That my friends is the moment I discovered what the white wine community had to offer me. I mean my eyes were really open. I was able to try, taste and really appreciate all the other white wines out there. I discovered that I enjoyed Rieslings, Pinot Grigios, Sauvignon Blanc – OMG I love Sauvignon blanc.

I guess this goes to show, that as with everything is life, you can stick to just one wine because you will be disapointed. You hav to branch out and try different wines and discover what they have to offer.

By doing this you will be your discovering your palate. What jumps out at you in terms of colours, aromas and taste – will be defined due to your broad exoeriene with tasting different wines. You’ll find it easier to taste different aspects of each wine – to pair the wine with your meals.

I in no way desire Chardonnay. I get a twinge in my stomach when someone brings me a bottle as a hostess gift. Seriously Chardonnay, it wasn’t you – it was me.