Keeping Your Bottles at Their Best – Tips for Cleaning, Storing and Preparing for Bottling Time


Planning ahead for your next batch of wine? One of the best things you can do to prepare is to keep your bottles always-at-the-ready. Whether you get empties from friends and family, by saving your LCBO purchases, or by reusing the ones from previous batches, follow the steps below to keep your bottles clean and ready for your next bottling date.

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Wedding Wines: Custom Options for your Big Day


Making your own wine is not only an affordable way to serve alcohol at your reception, it also gives you more opportunities to customize your wines to better fit your style. Here are some of the many options available when you make your own wedding wines:

Your Choice of Varietals (i.e., wine type)

We have kits available in many of the same varietals and blends that you’ll find at the liquor store – from Amarone to Zinfandel, and everything in between. Our most popular choices for weddings are crowd-pleasing reds like Cabernet Merlot (a smooth wine with great well-balanced flavour) and Cabernet Sauvignon. For whites, Pinot Grigio is always at the top of our list – it has been our best-selling white for years, and pairing perfectly with most foods. If you have a specific preference, or a favourite commercial wine, we can usually find a match or recommend similar varietals.

In addition to standard kits we have many limited release vintages and richer wines that are excellent for cellaring (if you have time to make your wine in advance, they’ll improve with age). We also have some unique options for more seasonal selections. Fruit wines are great during the summer (they blend nicely in custom-cocktails or signature sangrias), and specialty wines (ice wine-style & port) are elegant choices for winter weddings.


Customizing your labels allows you to use wine bottles for a variety of additional purposes. For example, some couples use them as guest books (by having guests sign the bottle that the couple will open on their anniversary), menus, or as table number signs to help guests find their seats for dinner. By far the most popular reasons for customizing labels, though, is to dress up the bottles you’ll give as thank you gifts or favours. Click here to see examples of labels our customers have made.

(Hint: our Pinterest boards have tons of great ideas if you’re looking for inspiration for label design or for incorporating wine bottles in your wedding décor!)


Most of our couples opt for standard 750mL Bordeaux bottles in green or clear , or 375mL “splits” for favours and bomboniere (we include the first 30 bottles per batch for free in our Wedding Wine Packages). If you have your heart set on something specific, though, you can always source & bring your own bottles. Just be sure to let our staff know, beforehand, so that we can make sure that our corks and shrinks will still work with your selection (or find alternates).

100% Guarantee

As part of the process, you’ll be able to taste each of your batches of wine before you bottle them, so you’ll be abe to make sure that your wine is exactly what you were hoping for. Many of the wines from our kits have won awards at winemaking competitions, so we’re confident that you’ll be very impressed. But if, for any reason, you’re not thrilled with the results, we’ll offer a hassle-free replacement or refund to make it right.

Let us demysitfy winemaking and make it a fun experience for you!
Contact us to learn more about our wedding wine packages, or to get started.

3 Questions to Ask Before Making Wine for Your Wedding Reception


Are you planning a wedding? If so, congratulations! This is undoubtedly a very exciting – and maybe also a little bit stressful – time, with so many plans to make in preparation for the big day.

One thing you may be considering is what to do about alcohol. Will you have an open bar or cash bar? Cocktails before, or wine with dinner only? When it comes to celebratory drinks, there are probably at least as many options for wine and drinks as for anything else – which can be especially tricky if you want to stay within budget.

Making your own wine can be an extremely smart and cost-effective way to serve wine at your wedding reception. Before you begin brewing, though, ask these questions to make sure that your bottles will be permitted at your Ontario venue:

1. Does your venue allow you to bring your own alcohol?

Check with your event coordinator or venue representative to confirm before making any arrangements. Be sure to ask if special permits are required, and if you’re required to provide your own (certified) server(s), as they’re not always provided.

Even if you can’t bring wine to serve, consider giving wine as favours or bombonieres. Restrictions on alcohol apply only to service – not to gifting sealed bottles – so there’s no reason this wouldn’t be possible.

2. Are there additional fees?

Some venues may charge a corkage fee for alcohol you supply yourself, or require you to supply your own certified servers. In both cases the costs will likely not outweigh the savings of bringing your own wine, but it’s important to ask these questions in advance so that you can budget accordingly.

3. Are special permits required?

If your reception is taking place at a privately-owned (not rented) location or residence, such as a friend or relative’s home, then no permit is required to serve your own wine. Serving your own alcohol at any other facility will require a “No Sale SOP,” which costs $25 per day. Note that you are not permitted to charge money for your own wine or beer, regardless of the venue type – it must be served free of charge.

This information may change without notice. For the most up-to-date information, and to download any required forms, please visit the AGCO’s website.

When you consider the potential savings, and the fact that it provides many opportunities to customize your bottles to match the rest of your wedding, making your own wine is a terrific way to reduce your wedding expenses without sacrificing great quality and style. It’s also easier than you’d expect, and requires no knowledge of the winemaking process, since we handle the hard parts for you.

To learn more about wedding wine packages, click here – or email us to discuss how we can help you add signature wines to your special day.


Cruising Away this Winter? Good News: Your Wine Can Come Too!

picjumbo.com_DSC_2444If you’re escaping the cold with a cruise this winter, you may be able to pack your own Cabernet in your carry-on, to save on on-board expenses.

Beer and liquor are usually forbidden aboard, but many cruise lines will let you bring a bottle of wine (or a few) for your own consumption, as long as you abide by certain conditions. And while some impose corkage fees for drinking your own wine in restaurants and common areas, those fees are often still less than buying onboard bottles. Here’s a quick overview of the policies of several main cruise lines, to help you with your packing:

Carnival Cruises

One bottle of wine is permitted per person on embarkation. A $10 corkage fee applies for consumption in the main dining room; $14 corkage fee at the steakhouse (no fee if consumed in passengers’ quarters). No beer or spirits may be taken onboard for consumption. (source)

Celebrity Cruises

Two bottles of wine are permitted per cabin at embarkation. A $25 corkage fee applies when consumed in public areas, but there is no fee if it is consumed in the passengers’ cabin. No beer or spirits may be taken onboard for consumption. (source)

Disney Cruises

Alcohol is permitted onboard but must be hand-carried in a bag no larger than 22″ x 14″ x 9″. Outside alcohol cannot be consumed in public areas, except for wine and champagne at Palo and Remy (where a $20 corkage fee applies). (source)

Holland America

Wine is allowed onboard (it seems that HA may have recently revised its policy; whereas guests could previously bring an unlimited number of bottles, they are now restricted to one 750mL bottle per person). A corkage fee of $18 applies at onboard restaurants and bars, but consumption in guests’ rooms is free (of course). No beer or spirits may be taken onboard for consumption. (source)


Wine and champagne are allowed onboard. When consumed in any restaurant, public area, or stateroom, corkage fees are: $15 for a standard 750mL bottle, $20 for 1L, $30 for 1.5L. No beer or spirits may be taken onboard for consumption. (source)


Guests are allowed up to three bottles per cabin of wine or champagne. When consuming wine in public areas, a corkage fee of $25 per bottle applies. No beer or spirits may be taken onboard for consumption. (source)

Princess Cruises

At embarkation, passengers are allowed one bottle of wine or champagne per person, with a $15 corkage fee for additional bottles (regardless of where you drink them), and a $15 corkage fee for any bottles consumed in the dining room or restaurants. No beer or spirits may be taken onboard for consumption. (source)

Royal Caribbean

Two bottles (750mL or less) of wine or champagne per cabin are allowed. A $25 corkage fee applies when consumed in public. No beer or spirits may be taken onboard for consumption. (source)

A helpful tip, regardless of your cruise line:

If you’ll be taking wine with you on your travels you can save space and reduce the risks associated with transporting liquids by packaging your wine in reusable mylar bags rather than bringing glass bottles. Because you can collapse them as you use them, they’ll help keep your wine fresher for longer. And they’re a very practical choice if you’ll be enjoying your wine in your cabin rather than bringing it with you to dinner.

For the most up-to-date information,  confirm with your cruise line by visiting their website prior to travel.

Bon voyage!

Easy, Inexpensive Thanksgiving Centerpieces

This weekend is a time to gather with friends and family and give thanks for everything that we have.  In honour of the holiday and the bountiful harvest it celebrates, we’ve gathered some inspiration for festive centerpieces that are elegant, festive, and won’t break the bank. And, of course, they all feature an ode to wine…

Wine Bottle Candle Holders

This elegant table setting (from YoungHouseLove) is as simple as it is stylish. Use a simple table runner and different sized wine bottles (you have some of those around the house, right?) as candleholders.

For longer tables, add small groupings of baby pumpkins or fall leaves on either side of the centerpiece, a little further towards the edges of the table.

Tada! Instant chic!

Grape Harvest Cornucopia

If you’re like us, wine is a staple at any holiday gathering.

Celebrate the fruits of the vine with this easy arrangement by Martha Stewart – all you need is a large bowl, a few bunches of grapes, and some autumn foliage.

(Bonus: when dinner is over, you can eat the grapes for dessert!)

Corks and Candles

Equally suitable for tables of all sizes and shapes, this centrepiece uses items that you probably already have lying around – wine corks.

Put a votive candle in a candleholder at the center of your vase (any tall cylindrical vase will do), and surround it with corks. Be careful not to pile them too high, for safety.

Setting the table, made simple!

And if you’re looking for suggestions as to which wines would pair well with your Thanksgiving menu, check out last year’s Thanksgiving post – featuring links to many great pairing guides from across the web.

Have a wonderful holiday, and please remember
to drink responsibly!


Want to Improve Your Palate? We’ve Got Good News: It Just Takes Practice!

The idea that  improving your palate takes practice is doubly-appealing. First, it means that improvement is possible (great news for those of us born without finely-tuned tastebuds!). Second, it implies that part of the hard work will involve – you guessed it! – tasting, tasting, and more tasting until you get it right. Talk about a labour of love!

If you’re looking for shortcuts, though, there are a few strategies you can employ to improve your ability to pick out and identify key notes and flavours in wine. Try these tricks with future bottles, and see if you can coach your tastebuds into heightened sensitivity…

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Wine Trends: Beyond the Bottle

The world of wine has been pretty creative, lately! In case you missed our previous posts on the subject, here are snapshots of some of the new and innovative ways that winemakers are packaging their products…

Photo: McCann Vilnius

Photo: McCann Vilnius

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