Friday, December 11, 2009

Top Five in Five #3: Boozy Bottles

This is the third installment in my five-week series of mindful gift ideas for the food lovers on your holiday gift list.

For those on your list who imbibe, you can rarely go wrong with a nice bottle of cheer. Increasingly it is becoming easier to find products made locally, artisanally, or with organic ingredients (and sometimes all three!). I'm not a sommelier or drinks expert, so I'm not going to offer too many specific brands here. Rather, here are five categories and a few suggestions.

I'm a cider-lover. And with the number of orchards in south-western Quebec, it's no surprise that there are lots of cider choices. One of my favorites that is widely available is Degel by La Face Cachée de la Pomme in Hemmingford, but see what your local SAQ or grocer has to offer. Also, Le Domaine Steinbach in Ile D'Orleans produces five organic ciders, including an ice cider. You can order their product online. In Ontario, see if you can find County Cider products in your area.

Mead or Honeywine
Like cider, mead in Quebec is sold as an alternative to wine rather than beer. There are lots of small producers in the Eastern Townships, Montérégie and up north. A few varieties are sold at the SAQ, including four organic products sold under the Forest label from Ruchers des Framboisiers in the Gaspe.


We're spoiled for choice with hundreds of microbrews in the Montreal region. My suggestions is to take a trip to a local shop that sells a wide selection of microbrews and put your own tasting-pack together as a gift. My brother did this last year and we enjoyed trying out the different brews. One brew of note for locavores is Rur'Ale, produced in St-Polycarpe using completely local ingredients. Marché des Saveurs at Jean Talon Market, Fromagerie du Marché at Atwater Market, and Les Delires du Terroir on St-Hubert street, and the Metro grocery store on De L'Eglise in Verdun all have excellent selections of microbrews. In Quebec City, try Depanneur de la Rive. (If you have a favourite place to buy microbrews, I'd love to hear about it!)


Close to Montreal, Vignoble de Négondos is a small organic vineyard in Saint-Benoit-de Mirabel near Lachute, Qc. that produces some nice wines. You can purchase a bottle (or more) at the vineyard or at Fromagerie Yannick in the Marché de l'Ouest, DDO. The SAQ has started offering organic and eco-pratique wine choices. See what your local has to offer.

My first choice here would be a nice bottle of ice cider, which is only made using traditional methods in Quebec. As mentioned above, Le Domaine Steinbach in Ile D'Orleans offers an organic ice cider that you can order online. Other than that see what your local SAQ has to offer, either in ice cider or other Produits de Terroir. If you're in Quebec city, consider a special visit to the SAQ Terroirs d'ici in Le Chateau Frontenac.

Previous installments in this series were cookbook ideas and crafty catches.


Candace said...

Don't forget Sortilege the maple whiskey, available at SAQs.. it is so good. Smells like whiskey, tastes like maple, packs a punch!

Thanks! Will have to check out the Rur'Ale

Anonymous said...

I second the Sortilège, as well as its compatriots Fine Sève (an eau-de-vie made from maple, it's in the category of Poire William and other hard liquors) and Chicoutai, a syrupy digestif made from cloudberries.

I will note here to stay away from any cider from La Cidrerie St-Nicolas, which are available in grocery stores. Their ciders are bitter, badly aged, and I've returned or trashed every single bottle of theirs I tried. As for places I'd recommend, orchards, like the one at Quinn Farm, sell their own ciders, and will often have a few varieties (thank you apple-picking field trips for this discovery!).

Wikihow's How-to of the day lists hot mead as a comforting winter drink, and to be honest I would never have thought to heat up mead. If you're looking for a home-made gift of local drinks, perhaps checking this link out can foster ideas.

... which makes me think that another kind of homemade gift could be mixes of mulling spices for different types of drinks.

Thanks for the ideas!

Amanda said...

I love Sortilege too! (Actually I think the whole line of liqueuers from that company, like Chicoutai, are good.)

I also noticed a couple of other maple products while I was at the SAQ at the Atwater Market over the weekend; notably Gélinotte and Grand Esprit. I also found a maple liqueur (Désirable).

Amanda said...

I don't know Fine Sève, but it sounds interesting.

Thanks for the tips and warnings!