I don’t make any bones about the fact that I really enjoy Ontario wines. Looking at the tastings listed in Grape Juice, you would think that’s all I drank. While that’s not really that far off the truth, there are several factors that bias me in that direction. First and foremost is proximity. I’m less than half an hour (my driving speed mind you) away from Niagara-on-the-Lake, where dozens of vineyards are just sitting waiting for you to drop in and try things. As a result I often have such an enormous list of Ontario wines that I would like to try that everything else gets pushed to the backburner. You know, for that never-going-to-happen point in time when you’ve tried all the local wines you wanted to and your tasting list stands empty…
Another part of the problem is that Ontario wines, in my opinion, are second to none. They always taste very well at competitions and people who try them for the first time are more often than not very pleasantly surprised. There’s a great variety available to try, and some of the most dedicated cool climate wine makers in the world. How then, could I not be all ga-ga for provincial vintages?
Despite the draw of proximity, quality, and the idea of promoting of Canadian products, I have had an absolute bugger of a time trying to get Canadian wines to accompany my dinner is some of Southern Ontario’s restaurants. Unless you’re right in NOTL, where it would be commercial suicide not to offer local wines, it’s no easier to find canuck offerings on our own wine lists than it is to find them down in California. Except for icewine. To which I only have one thing to say really: we make more good wine than just icewine. A lot more. I feel like I should caps lock that statement, or splash it all over every post I make until people take the hint. Enough with the icewine. If I walk into one more establishment and find that the only Canadian on board is Inniskillin ice wine (no offense to Inniskillin, just seems to be the way it goes), I’m absolutely going to walk out and go elsewhere.
I’m not saying that Canadian restaurants should be shackled into only serving Canadian wines as some sort of cultural obligation, but hey, it would be nice to see one red and one white on the list. Keep the ice wine, the ice wine is superb, but there are those of us out there that don’t particularly care for it (I’m working on this), and may want to try some of the other things available from just down the road. I wouldn’t be so liable to push this if I thought, in any way, that I was endangering the reputation of these restaurants by recommending bottom tier wine. There’s nothing worse than a frothing yokel who stomps around squealing the virtues of local products. I feel confident that I’m not one of those people, and that we could benefit from a little patriotism in this case.
Have a little pride folks.