Forgive me readers, for I have sinned.
It’s been 6 months since my last post.
And boy have things changed since then.
Except for the weather. Why is it still so cold??
I am still re-acclimating to “spring” temperatures in Canada. When we returned from down south about four weeks ago, it was actually quite mild. Too bad under the Quarantine Act we weren’t allowed to leave the house under any circumstances for two weeks. And now that we are relatively free, it is winter again. Yesterday we even had a hailstorm here in Ottawa. *sigh*
Please excuse me while I dream about drinking wine in warmer climes.
But now we’re back home. And honestly, between self-isolating, cold temperatures and the new anxiety I feel every time I go to a public place, I never want to leave the house again.
However, I am quite thirsty.
And since I’m sure I am not alone in my thirst, I have taken the liberty of compiling a by-no-means-exhaustive list of ways to buy wines in Ontario in the times of COVID-19.
Old Faithful: the LCBO
- The good ol’ LCBO is still open, though with restricted hours (11-6 Tuesday to Sunday). The fastest way to get wine is in person: line up and maintain social distancing while in the store.
- For those of you suffering from anxiety due to other people’s complete lack of awareness of the current situation when out in public, there are other options. You can place an order for delivery, though you will still have to venture out into the outside world since the LCBO/Canada Post is only delivering alcohol to CP outlets so that ID can be checked. [Sidenote: For those of you across the bridge in Quebec, the SAQ has partnered with Purolator for deliveries right to your door. The $12 delivery fee is being donated to the Food Banks of Quebec so you can feel even better about your purchase.]
- You can also place an order for pick-up at your local LCBO. Some stores seem to be putting orders together faster than others, with some being ready as soon as the same day, and others taking over 2 weeks. Since the LCBO order I placed while still in quarantine has fallen into the latter category, I am looking to diversify my wine acquisition options, so let’s explore!
Support a wine agency
There are tons of wine agencies out there that deliver all sorts of wines to restaurants and private consumers. Most of the wines are not available at the LCBO, so this is a great way to branch out and try new wines. Note: wines must generally be ordered by the case, so make room in the cellar! Here are just a few options:
Note: Wine Align is currently offering mixed cases curated by various agencies, so if you’re looking for a selection of different wines rather than a case of a single wine, this may be a good option.
Click here for a full list of Ontario agents currently offering free shipping.
Support a local winery
There’s never been a better time to buy local. With tasting rooms closed to the public, many wineries are now offering free or discounted shipping across the province (and sometimes even across the country). Don’t delay, many bottles are selling out fast due to high demand!
- Wine Country Ontario has an exhaustive list of wineries that are currently delivering.
- Can’t decide what to order? Try one of these regional mixed cases:
Here are some Wining with Mel tried-and-tested wineries in Ontario:
- Kin Vineyards (Ottawa Valley) – read past review here
- Nyarai Cellars (Niagara Peninsula) – read past review here
- Rosehall Run (Prince Edward County) – read past review here
- Trail Estate (Prince Edward County) – read past review here
- Westcott Vineyards (Niagara – Vinemount Ridge) – read past review here
Hey, and why don’t you go ahead and support your local microbrewery while you’re at it!
Support a local restaurant
With restaurants no longer able to serve diners in-house, many are getting creative with different takeout and delivery options. The government has even allowed restaurants to deliver alcohol to help them stay afloat during these unprecedented times. Ordering from a local spot is a great way to ensure your favourite small business gets through this, while giving yourself a night off from cooking and treating yourself to one of those amazing wines you can only get in restaurants, in the comfort of your own home.
Here are a few local restaurants on my radar that are innovating in the wine department:
- Beckta is delivering curated wine packages across Ottawa, along with some cheese and charcuterie! They have just set up a brand new online store, with a section where you can indicate your wine style preferences. Brilliant.
- Can you imagine opening a new restaurant right before COVID? Gitanes has been open for less than a year but is adapting quickly to the new state of restauranting (it’s ok, I’m a language professional, I can make up words). They have amazing cocktails, drool-worthy food and a fabulous wine list available for pickup and delivery. Their sommelier is even on-call if you need a wine pairing recommendation.
- Petit Bill’s Bistro is donating $1 from every entrée made for pick-up to the local food bank. Plus Randy, the owner, is a sommelier himself, so you know the wine list is stellar.
- This was going to be the year I checked out Stofa (stymied again!) but they are now offering Stofa-on-the-Sofa family dinners, as well as wine and cocktails for delivery and pickup. How adorable are these cocktails?
Those are obviously just a few local examples. Have you heard of other creative measures? Have you resorted to new sources for your wine procurement? Discovered any new wines? Be sure to add it in the Comments and spread the word!
Hope you are all taking very good care and are safe and sound at home with delicious wine.