Toronto Wine Shops? - Printable Version

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- quijote - 02-19-2003

I'll be visiting Toronto in late March. I already have two or three cheese shops lined up to visit (Vacherin!), but I'd like to hear of any recommendations for wine shops, if anyone knows of some good places in the center city area. Thanks if you happen to know of anything....

- Kcwhippet - 02-19-2003

I'm not absolutely certain, but isn't all the wine sold in government stores like PA and NH? I hear a lot of people complain about the LCBO and their terrible selection.

[This message has been edited by Kcwhippet (edited 02-19-2003).]

- Innkeeper - 02-19-2003

In most Canadian Provences, as well as in some states such as New York, wineries and their tasting rooms get away with much more than wine shops. Here are some in the Toronto area:

- quijote - 02-20-2003

Thanks for the info! I was hoping that cosmopolitan Toronto would be a treasure of international wines, but it doesn't seem to be that way.... But I hope to get to one of those wineries.

- quijote - 04-06-2003

I didn't have a chance to get to a winery in Ontario, but I did try a few Canadian wines, and after a bit of a struggle I managed to find a couple of decent wine shops in Toronto.

As mentioned, liquor is regulated by the government, so wine (to take home) must be purchased either at government controlled stores (LCBOs) or winery outlet stores (for Canadian wineries, almost always).

Most of the liquor stores in Toronto have a very poor selection of wines, reminsicent of the selection of wines in US supermarkets (where allowed). Lots of Canadian wines, lots of South African wines, some Californian and Australian, and a very small smattering of other nationalities.

The two exceptions (in the downtown vicinity) to the abundance of poor wine selections are at Queen's Quay (on the waterfront in central Toronto) and just south of Summerhill metro stop on Yonge Street.

The Summerhill shop, in fact, is really spectacular; it's a converted train station, and though all kind of alcoholic beverages are sold, wines take up most of the space. There is a room with standard and premium New World and European brands, and another large room with hard-to-find premium brands from all over Europe and the Middle East. (Wines from Greece, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Serbia, Israel, and other places are available.) In the premium room there is a special temp-controlled case against an entire wall with Bordeaux premier crus and other delectables. There is also a third room loaded with wine, mostly bargains and special features from all over. And last but not least, there's a tasting area connecting these different rooms.

If I had known about this place before I got to Toronto, I would have turned my hotel room into a little enoteca. But I still managed to come back to the States with some good buys!

(Take Eglinton-Finch metro line to Summerhill stop, walk a block or so west over to Yonge St., then walk a couple blocks south to the remodeled train station LCBO.)

[This message has been edited by quijote (edited 04-06-2003).]

- Thomas - 04-06-2003

How are non-Canadian wine prices in Toronto? I know from trips to Montreal that wine was often over-priced there. Perhaps things have changed since.

- quijote - 04-07-2003

Foodie, for the most part, the non-Canadian wines I saw for sale were going for about 5-10% over what we would pay in the U.S. The least overpriced seemed to be U.S., South African, and Eastern European wines. The most overpriced were the Aussies and New Zealands. For example, I saw a bottle of Cloudy Bay SB going for the equivalent of about US$32.

Interestingly, there seem to be many brands in favor in Ontario that I haven't seen or heard of here in the States. One of the major house brands for bars is Two Oceans (from South Africa, I think). It seems to be as popular as Inglenook in the States.

- Thomas - 04-08-2003

I am sure that some brand names are the same wines found in other locales under a different name, and that some brands are assigned to certain region/locales, for whatever marketing reason the big guys use.

As for the prices, LCBO takes a large cut.

One other matter: I remember when I had a NY winery that, like Pennsylvania in the U.S., the Ontario LCBO demanded a certain production volume in order for a producer to sell to them--which often ruled out small producers and favored brand names.

[This message has been edited by foodie (edited 04-08-2003).]

- culinart - 05-03-2003

quijote....can I get the address to that Queens Quay location. I'll be going to toronto around June so I wouldnt mind making a stop there and seeing if I can find some wines that have been mentioned here....

Any other locations you know of there that have a good selection of international wine?

Thanks for any help!


- quijote - 05-09-2003

Hi Culinart,

I don't have an exact address for the Queen's Quai LCBO, but it's not a far walk from the Royal York. Just head to Queen's Quai east, and the store is by the intersection with Cooper St. The Redpath Museum is across the way from it.

The more spectacular liquor store with a great wine selection is the Summerhill location. Just go north on Yonge (from Downtown) just past Rowanwood Ave. (on the subway it's the Summerhill stop). The official address is 10 Scrivener Place; it's a former train station.

I'm sure there are several other good places for wine (all LCBO controlled, though), but these are the best two I found. Enjoy!