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Wine stomped by any other feet will taste as sweet

September, 2010

Once, when I lived in Greece, I attended their annual wine-making festival.

After paying admission, you were given a crude hand-made ceramic mug. It was in a lush park, not unlike Mount Royal, and as you strolled through the thick trees and pathways, you would come upon shallow, cement basins like huge baby pools where each grape grower had dumped his stock, and people stomped around in the basin mashing the grapes with their feet.

Wine samples were offered at each basin, where you were encouraged to join the stompers. If you didn’t like the wine, you poured it out into the woods and trundled on to the next basin. The U.S. navy sailors I was with adored this outing – the mucking around was great fun and a really cheap way to get drunk. I didn’t realize at the time that I was participating in culinary history.

That history lives on every year in Montreal, and this is the moment when you can participate. Making your own wine is part of the tradition of many families, and has become an addictive hobby for others.

The best part of this hobby is that you get to drink the results, and you can stock up on perfect and incredibly inexpensive ($2-$3 a bottle!) gifts for holidays or an any-time house gift.

Grapes come to town from now until mid-November from California, Ontario and Europe.

You can buy them at the public markets or at Bacchus in LaSalle. You can make a fast, young wine in as few as 40 days, but waiting 90 days till Christmas yields a finer wine. If you want to skip the grape crushing, you can buy the grape in concentrates at any time of year.

These stores offer all the guidance you’ll need. Cheers! The reason for the huge space Bacchus Le Seigneur du Vin takes up is revealed in September. Crates full of grapes are ordered for customers, and the machinery needed to crush them can be rented here and done on the spot. There are daily deliveries of about 25 varieties of grapes. You must order a minimum of six cases (approximately $26 a case) to use the crushing service, which costs $25 for 6-10 cases and $2.50 per case above that. The rest of the year, you can buy fresh Village Vintner juice concentrates (about 24 reds or whites), bottles, labels, corks, rubber stoppers and even 54-litre containers.

1820 Dollard, LaSalle. 514-366-8000. Now till end of October: Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Rest of the year: Tuesday to Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For under $100, you can ferment your own wine ($2-$3 a bottle) in about four weeks. If you have no room at home, you can make and bottle your own wine at the premises of PurVin-Paul Bourget for $3-$4 per bottle. Advice is offered by this 37-year-old business, along with the glass aging jars, hydrometers, bottles, gallon jugs, corks and labels for Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are about 75 vineyard-quality wine juices from Italy, California, France, Australia, Chile and Spain.

1265 O’Brien, Ville St. Laurent. 514-747-3533. Tues.-Fri. 9-6, Sat. 9-5.

Mosti Mondiale 2000 has been located in a busy wine-making community for the past 14 years. You can buy or rent such equipment as press and crushers. You’ll find new and recycled bottles, labels, barley, malt, hops, concentrates by Sterile and fresh juice. There are lots of beer possibilities: Irish, Australian, Mexican, Scottish, Dutch and ales too, with beer kits starting at $10.

5187 Jean Talon E., St. Leonard. 514-728-6831. Mon.-Fri. 9-6, Sat. 9-5 (Sept.-Nov. Sun. 9-5).



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