My Fellow Inebriates,

If I hear another parental exclamation about how expensive this season is and how booze is a “luxury,” I’m going to lose my furry mind. The budgeting conversation was so boring today that I rested my head in the curve of a bunch of bananas for most of the day, drowning out the banality.

Okay, maybe that doesn’t sound too understanding. As a bear without a social insurance number, I’ve never felt any obligation to bring home any bacon (barf—that’s for you, Hanukkah Harry—bacon is blech). So I don’t know how to budget, shop, do taxes, save, open an RRSP or any of that financial stuff. Why would I? It’s totally boring.

Except. Except that all this budgeting curtails my wine consumption.

I like exploring wines a lot, especially nuanced vintages and off-the-beaten-track varietals. I love detecting the layered scents before taking that first, tentative sip and disappearing into a wondrous, sensory ravishment by an exceptional wine.

But let’s face it, I’m a raging alcoholic, and the important thing is to keep wine in the house. If that wine is in a box, so be it.

My parents do not agree. They draw the line at boxed wine and will not stoop below the $10 mark. No matter how engagingly a liquor store’s $9 shelf talker ogles them, they will not purchase wine they can actually afford. Instead they keep a dry house for days on end and then spring for an occasional “decent” bottle.

Of course this is total BS. It means long periods of dreadful shakes and shivers, not to mention desperate cravings and urges to taste Windex and Clorox. The other day I drank half the vanilla in the baking cupboard, only to discover it was artificial and devoid of alcohol. If only my parents would invest in a friendly box of cheap plonk, I could park my mouth under the spout during these dark times and stop being the nuisance they say I am.

Still, I have to applaud my parents when they find something cheap enough to buy and drink without feeling guilty. The latest find, CASTILLO DE MONSERAN CARINENA OLD VINES GARNACHA (2007), was recommended by their local liquor store consultant, who pointed out that Spanish wines at the store often boast slightly older vintages, presumably because they tend to trickle more slowly to the North American market. Thus you can find, with a good consultant, some spectacular buys on mature wines that can certainly hold their own against the pricier Australian, US and Canadian bottles.

I’m wondering how we can get to know this wine consultant of ours a little better. My parents say he’s young and very friendly (which puts him out of their league as a potential buddy). If I wish to meet him, I may need to stow out of the house inside a purse or jacket pocket. The only problem: the liquor store is currently overrun by bears for its annual Share A Bear program, and I’m not sure what species they are. If they’re grizzlies like my friend Scarybear, then they will make things very difficult for a handbag-riding interloper, and I might end up getting the crap kicked out of me.

The reason I want to get to know this wine consultant (whose name my parents can’t even remember) is that I suspect he goes to tastings, and he might not object to taking along an alcoholic bear. Of course he might not have a man-purse that I could ride in, but maybe he has a backpack or some pockets. It would depend which pockets and where they were on his anatomy, because I wouldn’t want things to get weird.

That dude would be good to go to a tasting with because he certainly has good judgment. CASTILLO DE MONSERAN OLD VINES GARNACHA ($13.99) was a phenomenal surprise; even before it opened up, one inhalation revealed its promise. Ripe and full, this traditional old-vine Grenache bursts with plum and dense cherry, balanced oak and hints of olive. Remarkably complex for a Grenache, CASTILLO DE MONSERAN is lush yet structured, with a deliberateness about it that tells you these particular Spanish dudes know their craft.

I felt such sorrow when the last drop was drained, I had to curl up with the bananas on the counter. A spectacular value, CASTILLO DE MONSERAN OLD VINE GARNACHA is worth buying by the case.


  1. Very funny post as always. Needed the grin. Stting here with a can of Fresca while doing the insomnia thing.

    Don’t normally enjoy Grenache as the bottles I have tasted are not complex enough. After your description, and the price point, am going to google to see if it’s available in the Reno area. Sounds tasty. If it is available I’ll put it next to the menorah, Star of David and dreidel shaped sugar cookies for Hanukkah Harry. Hoping for the best on this. Have some cool neon colored food coloring that my daughter and I used last year. Totally Chool Chanukah Chookies!

    If not, there’s always Sanity Clause a few days later 😉

    Thank you as always for the recommendation.

  2. I should have mentioned that there are two CASTILLO DE MONSERAN bottles, the Old Vines one for $13.99 and another for $9.99 (CDN prices, so they should be far more reasonable in Reno). The wine consultant said the cheaper one was good but not outstanding. Both good for insomnia 😉
    Happy Chanukah! Has Harry visited yet?

What's your poison? Drop me a line.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s