Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

Continue reading

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…

ViktorHanacek1 Continue reading

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

Continue reading

Wine-Making 101: Think 30 is a Lot of Bottles? Here’s Why We Think it’s the Perfect Amount

For most of our customers, 23L (or 30 standard bottles) is the perfect amount of wine for savouring and sharing. If you’re not a regular wine drinker, though, or if you have limited storage space, that number may leave you wondering whether making your own wine is really for you.

If that sounds like you, fear not – you can still take advantage of the great savings (not to mention the fun!) of making wine in bulk! We’ve compiled a list of some of the best ways that you can make your own wine without sacrificing your space.


Continue reading