Demystifying Vintages - Part II | Special Feature

Date March 30, 2008 | Sean | Editorials & Special Features
In Demystifying Vintages Part I we introduced you to the Vintages concept and what to find there. In Part II we look at the people who work at Vintages and some tips to make your visit quick and painless. It's ok to walk in to Vintages without any forethought. You could browse around for hours, get lost in the countries and fancy labels. In case you have a job, kids, friends or other silly things taking up your time there is some free help to speed this up. In almost every store with a sizable Vintages section comes your own personal guide, a wine Sherpa. They actually prefer to be called Product Consultants (I like Sherpa better. Them, not so much) The Product Consultant is a little different from the other LCBO employees roaming the aisles or working the cash. They have received additional training and have the opportunity to sample hundreds of wines every month. In some stores they have access to the wine makers and wine critics. Also, Product Consultants must complete a certification similar to the one from the International Sommelier Guild (which is the same certification I have; seriously I got it framed and everything. Friends call it my license to drink, and it comes with tights and a cape). If you live in Ontario you are probably familiar with the Food & Drink magazine. If not, here's the low down. Food & Drink is a free magazine produced by the LCBO 5 times a year (1 per season plus a huge Holiday edition). It has loads of recipes and pairings with wine, beer and spirits. It has countless entertaining tips and covers a wide range of food and drink related topics. It's several hundred glossy pages of perfectly photographed, exquisitely laid out, air brushed porn for foodies and drinkers. (Darlene H, a friend of who did a three year jaunt in Europe enjoys it so much she had it air-mailed across the pond. Devotion!) All that being said, there is another magazine you need to concern yourself with. It's called Vintages (little on the nose, don't ya think). Vintages is published twice per month in connection with the bi-weekly product releases. This is a catalogue of what will be coming to a store near you in the next two weeks. You need to get your hands on one of these books before the release and browse through it. Look for keywords in the descriptions that you are familiar with like "cherry", "blackberry", "crisp". Off to Vintages! Wait, hold on. Warning: You will be asked by the Product Consultant "What food will you be serving with this wine?" The Product Consultants are trained to approach your dilemma from a food perspective. That way they can help you find something that will compliment your meal, is in your price range and you'll hopefully buy again. So, to help them, help you, be honest. Whether it's macaroni and cheese with hot dogs or a standing rib roast let them know. You know what you're going to eat, you've circled some things that interested you in Vintages or printed off some reviews (we prefer you do the second one, I'm just sayin) and are ready to work with the Product Consultant. Chances are you will come home with something you're impressed with and didn't break the bank. In the third and final installment of this feature we look at some highlights of Vintages including The Wine of the Month, In Store Discoveries, and Essentials.


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