Sunday, April 27, 2008

Back in Japan

Just spent my first day in Japan. Noticed some very interesting things right away. We arrived in the afternoon. The flight was ok, not too painful. For me that is. My aunt's new place is awesome, great location.

We spent today shopping. I needed to get a suit, and luckily, there was a huge sale going on at the store close by. I'm having a suit made for me - it's not as expensive as it sounds. And it's good quality as well, 100% wool, two buttons, side vents, pants that hugs everything right. I also bought an Aquascutum suit jacket, single button with peak lapels. And a pair of checked light grey cotton pants. Beautiful.

What comes across most is that it is a country of unfailing courtesy and formality. Almost excruciatingly polite everywhere you go. The people here have an attention to detail that is unsurpassed. After a day of polite smiling and bowing, things begin to seem fake to you. I mean, it just isn't natural to act this way. Let me give you an example: I was in UNIQLO, buying maroon dress socks. The girl at the cash was bowing and smiling and saying all these things as I was giving her money. I asked my cousin what she was saying, and he told me that she was just saying, 'Please give me a moment to give you change'.

Speaking of my cousin, Kazuhide is definitely by far the coolest person I know. Without a doubt, Kazu is just cool. He's completely mastered the 'I don't give a shit about anything' look. If there ever is an unpretentious and effortless sense of style, the kid has it. There's cool people that have to work really hard at it, the kinds that want to make sure other people notice it as well. Nothing Kazuhide does is ever forced. He just has that way about him - the slouching, the quiet demeanor, the way he carries himself. And he's only going to reach 19 at the end of next month! I was an absolute mess at 19. Wow, what a cool kid.

We're in the heart of Yokohama, right next to Tokyo Bay, so there's a lot to see. Excited to begin exploring the food here. I went with Kazuhide to the local grocery store today. You can learn so much about a culture just by buying groceries, trust me. I saw so many interesting things inside, especially the seafood. Tonight, we had sushi - not those cheap hand rolls that North Americans believe is sushi. No, the authentic kind. It was fantastic - fresh and beautifully structured firmness and weight to it. And I visited the local wine shops already. Of course I did - no one should be surprised. The selection at the more expensive stores is impressive. They sell a 2001 CH. Cote de Montpezat, AC Cotes de Castillon, as well as a 2000 Bodegas Lan Gran Reserva, both of which I have in my cellar, and both of which I thought was quite obscure. The markup is even higher, compared to LCBO, which was a shock. I bought a bottle of Suntory red wine, a Japanese bottle. Havn't tried it yet, but eager to do so. I also bought a bottle of Chianti Classico, which we tried tonight. Not good. That's all I want to say. Candied fruit, weak structure, at least it was cheap.

Very excited to be able to try some new Japanese cuisine. New, in the sense that I've never tried before. I'm beginning to see this country in a new light, and hopefully I'll be able to communicate that through here in the next few posts.

Tokyo and Shanghai

After months and months of planning and discussing, I'm going to Japan again after exams are over. It'll be my first trip back in nearly 8 years, so I`m looking forward to it very much. More importantly, it means that I'll be able to spend some time with my cousin and aunt. The second leg of this trip takes me back home to Shanghai. I can't believe that it`s been 18 months since my last visit, so also looking forward to that.

I remember quite a few things from my last trip to Tokyo. Admittedly, I was far too young to appreciate the culture. This time, I just want to relax and enjoy spending some time with my family. Also, I definitely want to experience Japanese cuisine. Interestly enough, I understand that there's quite a vibrant French cuisine scene in Tokyo, so we'll absolutely be visiting a French restaurant. And finally, the Japanese have quite an interesting relationship with French wine. I'm very excited to see for myself. After all, I did buy futures from a Bordeaux Chateau owned by Suntory, Chateau Lagrange.

We'll also be spending some time in Shanghai. But that trip is completely family-oriented, as there are several things to take care of there. Just being in my hometown will be enough.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Some thanks.

The term is over, and what an amazing 4 months! Firstly, I need to thank my roommates, Bebe and Sis. You guys made living in Waterloo fun and were the best roommates I could have asked for. And you tolerated all my drinking.

My buddy Pris is leaving for Europe, and won't be back for a year. So best of luck Pris, and take care of yourself. Have lots of fun, and we'll try our best to organize a trip up to visit!

My sister is going to Europe as well, but not as long. Take in the culture, try to stay away from the shopping! Lol, and rehearse your story when you go through customs!!

Christie, have a lot of fun in Cuba. You need to get out of Canada and away from everything.

So, everyone is going somewhere. Even you Rocky. Everyone have fun and take care. We're not going to be together for a while, but I'm sure there'll be tons of great stories to tell once we're all back.


Today was a busy day. But a good and productive day. For some reason, I woke up quite early today, and got up at 9am, on less than 7 hours sleep. Funny how you never seem to need sleep when you know you have a big day ahead of you.

First stop: Capelli at Bayview Village, haircut appointment with Super Mario. Met a girl named Georgia, who works for L'Oreal. She suggested I try this product in my har, not bad, but I think I'll stick with my paste. Nice girl though.

Second stop: Bayview Village LCBO. Time to pick up my Vintages orders! 12 bottles of wine: 3 bottles of 2005 CH. L'Arrossee, 3 bottles of 2005 CH. Rauzan Gassies, 2 bottles of 2004 CH. La Lagune, 2 bottles of 2000 Bodegas Lan Gran Reserva, a 1980 Kopke Colheita Port, and finally, a 1981 Kopke Colheita Port. I was so so happy. My goodness, I was so happy today.

Third stop: Lunch with the roommates, Pris and Rocky. Last time we'll all be able to get together for a while.

So, that was my day. Had to wash my Civic today, Waterloo made it absolutely filthy. And of course, I needed to start packing. I'm leaving tomorrow, won't be back until late May. So, unfortunately, I may not be able to post for a while. We'll see.

Home for...good?

Just settled back home. Tonight's exam was brutal. Really brutal. I feel shell-shocked, like, what the fuck just happened?

Feel very tired, but still wrote up the tags for the bottles that I brought home from Waterloo. Two bottles of 2005 CH. La Fleur Jonquet, Champagne J. Lassalle, CH. La Bastide Blanche, CH. Faizeau, and finally, a CH. Du Trignon. Desperately running out of space, I guess the rest will have to go in the basement closet.

Big day tomorrow, lots to do. Finally, I'm home.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Like getting your wisdom teeth pulled

This is getting so painful. My last exam is tonight, 7:30-10. My professor is an asshole. Who the hell picks the last possible day to have the exam, and at the last possible time slot? I wouldn't mind if something bad happened to him, because he's trying his hardest to make life as difficult as possible for us. It's like he sits in his dinky office all day, just thinking of ways to screw us over.

Bebe left just before noon, so I'm alone in the suite. Everything's so dusty, but at least I've packed neatly, so it should be quick and easy tonight to load the car up. Just want to go home and sleep in my own bed, for the first time in a month. You know what? I've been in Waterloo since late March, so this is the longest time that I've ever stayed in this town. Three consecutive weekends. And I'm reminded why I don't mind leaving. My window is open, and I'm receiving a noseful of fresh Canadian geese droppings. Kind of like the Rioja and Bandol that I drank a few months back. Barnyard.

I don't want to study this stuff. The textbook is garbage. I've been awake since 5:15 am, and up since 8. Let's get this over with. I need at least a 40% to be in good shape for this course. I just want to pass. May have trouble doing that.

I don't want to study!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What wine am I?

I feel so mentally drained. Didn't sleep last night, as I was studying for my Health Economics exam this morning. After all that - going into the exam, there wasn't a single topic that I was really confortable with. And that feeling sucks. Like, all you want to do in an exam is to survive - not to excel, not to ace it, but just to survive.

Thanks very much to my dear friend Christie, who dropped by this weekend to give me an early birthday gift. And what else, but a bottle of Gigondas? I loved the birthday card, and your rationale behind choosing this bottle.

Which got me to thinking: If I were a wine, what kind of wine would I be? What flavour profile would I have? What kind of structure? I have yet to come across the exact bottle, but I think I have a pretty clear idea.

Firstly, the wine would have to be ripe. Nice, fresh fruit. It must have a fragrant, complex bouquet, one that speaks directly about where it's from. A bouquet that you can get lost in, and one you don't mind sniffing all day. The wine must have solid acidity, to the point of austerity. It must be well-structured and solid. Something that isn't heavy, but delicate and steely, and a wine that would show infinitely better with a good meal. And above all - the wine must be honest. It must be honest about where it comes from, and speak truthfully about itself. No excessive human manipulation, it is what it is.

So...I'm an acidic, fragrant, well structured, honest wine. I'll let you know if I ever come across.......myself.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Adding to the collection

Today was a good day. Good, but I had one of those introspective moments that makes you stop and think. My Humanities final exam was today, with my roommate. My sis. It was also her last exam in Waterloo. I still can't get over the fact that we're done living with each other. It's weird - it'll take an adjustment, not seeing someone that you've spent every day with for the past year. Having pulled an all-nighter, I think I did well during the final. Professor suprised me with the fact that there was going to be 200 questions. I went in under the impression that there was only 100.

We all went out for dinner tonight, my roommates and Alan. There's not that many dependable places in Waterloo to eat besides Ben Thanh, and even this place isn't all that great. Our last dinner together in Waterloo.

Some great news today. Arranged with the LCBO stores at First Canadian Place and Bayview Village to transfer a few bottles of the 2004 Chateau La Lagune. Very, very excited to receive this wine, it's a Troisieme Grand Cru Classe of the Haut Medoc. It's the first property entering the Medoc, and personally, it's one of my favourites. I've drank the 1986, and the elegance and purity of the wine were stunning. Absolutely stunning.

Some other wines coming my way are of course, my 2005 Chateau L'Arrosee and the 2005 Rauzan-Gassies. Also, my 1980 and 1981 Kopke Colheita Port. And finally, the icing on the cake, the centerpiece, the bottle I've been waiting for, for 6 months: my 1986 Glenfarclas Family Casks Scotch.

Unfortunately, I'll only have one day to pick up my wines. The 24th. Hopefully, everything will have arrived.

And by the way, I opened a bottle of Muscat de Rivesaltes. First time I've had wine from this region. It's a sweet, fortified wine made from the muscat grape. Velvety in all its fruit-bomb glory, and just not for me. Lacks...something.

No sleep for the hard-working

It's now 6am. I've been up all night, studying for my Humanities exam later today at noon. Professor was nice enough to let me do the exam earlier, instead of on the 23rd. This is probably my last all-nighter I'll pull in a while. Feeling ok now, just a little bit hungry. I'm used to still being awake when the birds start chirping in the morning. It's gotten to the point where I can identify what kind of bird it is just by the sound of its chirp. I'm sure I'll start feeling wasted right after the exam.

The course is called Humanities, but why change the name? It used to be Western Civilizations. I really enjoyed this course. Really gives you a broad understanding of Western culture, and the forces that shaped it. Really interesting stuff. Unfortunately, there was no mention of wine.

Now, there HAS to be someone that agrees with me when I say that without wine, there is no civilization. There just can't be. You learn about politics, economics, science, and so much more just by studying wine. Without wine, we're nothing more than savages.

Anyways, still have some re-reading to do and then I'll go over the quizzes again. I havn't had a drop of wine since the 5th, and I think I can't take anymore. I'm heading to LCBO after my exam today, depending on how tired I feel. Maybe I'll get a half bottle.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Middle of exams

I just completed my second final exam today, for my monetary economics class. It was nerve-wracking. Not sure if I wrote enough for each question. It was a huge exam too - 23 pages. Really, really nervous about it. I havn't had any wine since April 5. Seriously. I really could use a glass now, starting to get antsy.

Just discovered that LCBO has a few bottles of the 2004 CH. La Lagune. It's an estate that I've been following for quite some time. I'm trying to build up a collection, I've had the '86, and it was magnificent. I have a few lots of the 2005 and 2006 locked up already, but I'm looking for a few earlier vintages.

Oh, and I received an interesting response to my paper I posted earlier. Appreciate the correction. I now know that LCBO is not the world's largest importer of liquor. Whoever googled that up and posted the right answer, thanks so much. I'd respect you so much more if you didn't name yourself 'Anonymous'. At least be more creative and make up a nickname if you have to, so I know its not some loser who's fact checking other's people's writing. If you're not even confident enough to do that on the internet, how confident can you be in real life? Just wondering, don't take it personally.

Anyways, 3 more exams to go. Key is...just to survive.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Read a Book!

I've had several people ask me how to start learning about wine. I don't know if I'm the best person to realize that I've only been earnest about this for about 4 years right? Mr. Choi, this isn't about you, I enjoy talking wine with you. It's about other people, who shall remain nameless.

At the moment, I'm pleased at my progress, but clearly, I will be learning new things about wine until I die. There is truly, endless knowledge and endless experiences in wine. I don't mind talking about specific bottles of wine. It's always good to see what other people are drinking.

Read a book. People want easy and fast solutions to everything. Why do you think critics are so successful these days? People just want other people to tell them what the best wines are, and want to know whether they're drinking wines with high scores or not. They want fashionable wines, and wines that make them look like they know what they're doing. There's a fantastic lack of creativity and a lack of desire to really learn things the right way. So read a fucking book.

Also there's this incredibly misguided notion that wine connoisseurship is all about identifying the different flavour elements of wine. That if you can tell that a wine tastes of strawberries and violets and hints of leather and tobacco, then wow, you're a wine expert! That's a shitload of nonsense. The Americans are to blame for this phenomenon.

In part, Robert Parker is the one most responsible. This is the easy way to taste wine. To describe wine in this manner makes sense to the general public. Everyone is more or less familiar with these tastes, and using these descriptions, people feel like they really are fully experiencing a wine. But that is a huge mistake. What about these descriptions tells you where a wine is from? The quality of the harvest and vintage? The techniques used to make the wine? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Of course, how can I forget Gary V? He makes it popular to use quite ridiculous terms to describe taste. But I suppose that's the knowledge level of the majority of his fans. It works for him, and his wine business is making lots of money, so I can't argue against that. But is it really increasing the average American's wine knowledge? I mean, one of his fans started his own blog, with his own "tasting notes" - I won't name him, I promise. And I put "tasting notes" in quotes, because I've read some of his stuff and to put it gently, it sets the American wine industry back 30 years. All the work that Robert Mondavi has done to revolutionize American wine? GONE, with the increase in people like this; the kinds that learn about wine from hyperactive online video hosts, who encourage and bloat their tasting abilities far beyond reality.

Taste is such a subjective thing. You don't need me to tell you that. So to describe all these wines in such simple terms is doing an incredible injustice to wine. Well, I shouldn't be surprised that Americans have popularized this. No matter how defensive they get, these people have simple, unrefined tastes. Come on, this is the country that invented fast food. No need to say more.

So, you want to learn about wine? Try as many different wines as you can. Try everything. Once you have a more experienced palate, and have some idea of what you're doing, it's a good idea to focus on one region, to really gain a stronger understanding of what you're putting in your mouth.

This isn't a rant. This is the truth. I don't glorify, or advertise that I enjoy wine. Wine is very personal - why does everyone need to know how much knowledge or expertise you have? So learn on your own, and then when you can talk intelligently about it, let's have a glass together. And if you ever describe a wine as having flavours reminiscent of Fruit Loops cereal and Juicy Fruit, I'll slap you right in the face. Rocky, we should however, have more wine together.

LCBO and Organizational Change

Umm...don't know if anyone's interested. But for my MSci 311, I wrote a piece on LCBO and how they've instituted organizational changes. Thanks Professor RD for the 80. Maybe a little undeserved, but see for yourself:

Tastes have changed, but what about the LCBO?

March 24, 2008

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) has come a long way from its founding mission to enforce strict control on the sale and consumption of liquor, as well as provide social responsibility in protecting the public from the potential ravages of alcoholism. However, that mission statement dates from over 80 years ago. The LCBO’s mandate and organizational structure has revised over the years, to adapt to and take advantage of changes in the market. It has demonstrated that a government owned corporation can succeed and indeed, thrive in today’s market. The LCBO is a model for organizational change, and has demonstrated that with the right management in place, sweeping changes can be implemented, while producing immediate benefits. The government is not the only beneficiary of the LCBO’s success. The organization has been instrumental in bringing a wide variety of products to consumers, allowing access to products that are near impossible to locate otherwise, due to the LCBO’s purchasing power. While the future looks bright for LCBO, it did not arrive at its current state without some hardships. Not only must we look at what caused these changes to occur, but also to what changes the LCBO needs to make in the future.

Let us first examine the internal make-up of the LCBO. It is the single largest buyer and retailer of liquor in the world, operating 602 stores across Ontario and holding 50.5% of the province’s alcoholic beverage market share. LCBO stores offer 19,226 products and 5,935 products offered through its Vintages program.[1] It employs about 6,500 full and part-time employees. The LCBO is run by a 9-person board. Members are appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor, through Orders-in-Council, on the recommendation of the Premier and the Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal, for terms of up to 5 years. The LCBO has 6 major divisions: Human Resources, Finance, Information Technology (IT), Retail, Merchandising and Distribution. Divisions are responsible for coordination amongst themselves, whenever an issue affects more than one division. However, there are no systematic policies in place to ensure daily coordination between the various divisions. Also, the LCBO does not have any benchmarks for measuring communication and information flows across organizational departments. Requests for interviews with LCBO regional store managers for further information were refused, and the requests were instead directed to the corporate website.

As the LCBO moves away from simply being a distributor of liquor to a full-fledged retailer, the most important thing to focus on is the customer. More precisely, what type of alcoholic beverage is most attractive in the market, and how can the LCBO capitalize on it? The answer is quite simple. In one word, wine.

It does not take a wine connoisseur to discover the increasing popularity of this drink. New wine producing regions are sprouting all over the world, and consumers are becoming more and more sophisticated in their knowledge and appreciation of wines. An inspection of the LCBO’s annual reports shows that in 2002-2003, wine sales totalled $819 million, a 6.4% increase from the previous fiscal year.[2] In 2005-2006, wine sales were $988 million, an increase of 3.1% from the previous year.[3] In 2005, Canadians consumed 396 million bottles of wine, which shows an increase in consumption of 23.23% from 2001-2005.[4] As consumers continue to demand more wine from all parts of the globe, the LCBO must adjust its distribution system, and streamline its own internal structure to maintain efficiency and effectiveness.

As explained in Gareth R. Jones’ Organizational Theory, Design, and Change, Fourth Edition, planned organizational change is normally targeted at improving effectiveness at one or more of four different levels: human resources, functional resources, technological capabilities, and organizational capabilities.[5] While not clear cut, organizational change in the LCBO as the result of increased demand for wine falls under several of these levels. Effectiveness at the human resources level is important because of the increasing knowledge of consumers. Staff at the retail level must be able to articulate product details, whether to novice wine drinkers or more seasoned connoisseurs. With the wide variety of wines available, staff must be trained not only to be knowledgeable on basic wine facts but also to be able to offer recommendations to customers. This requires more than buying everyone a copy of Robert Parker’s Wine Buyer’s Guide. A framework must be laid down to familiarize store staff with existing inventory as well as each new release of wines, so as to be able to act more as an advisor to customers rather than just a salesperson. In terms of functional resources, the LCBO must be able to handle rising levels of inventories. This means better coordination between its distributors and its retail locations. Systems must be in place to ensure that manageable levels of inventory are maintained in the stores, without sacrificing selection and choice for the consumer. Technological capabilities must increase. New IT systems must be implemented to keep track of inventories and shipment times. It is also useful for customers who are looking to see if certain bottles of wine are available in other locations. While laws forbid the online purchase and shipping of alcohol, an online database to view wine selections would be very useful for customers. We must now make a comparison of actual changes the LCBO made, to see if theory can make it into practice.

The organizational structure of the LCBO began to change in earnest in the late eighties. In 1988, the LCBO used no computers in its stores and all accounting and payroll tasks were done manually. Quarterly sales results took 6 months to reach upper management. It was obvious that things needed to be modernized. Every facet of the operation needed to be overhauled, along with its unknowledgeable and overstaffed stores. A new board and upper management was brought in, to bring accountability to the LCBO. New programs were introduced to improve on its organization, distribution systems and retail services, as well as a redesign of its stores. Customers began to respond favourably to these changes, as well as an aggressive new marketing campaign that sent the message that drinking wine was simply a part of a healthy lifestyle.

In recent years, LCBO has changed a great deal, to meet these new challenges. While not all of these changes can be attributed to the rising consumption of wine in Canada, it certainly has played the largest role in increasing profits and cash flows to the government. One task that the LCBO’s top management wanted to improve on was its supply chain procedures. A large part of the supply chain is the flow of inventory. The objective was to get 80% of deliveries straight from the trucks into the stores, without having to be stored in warehouses. To make this happen, store managers had to be retrained to work with smaller inventories that arrived just on time. Inventory managers used a centralized inventory replenishment system, which delivered inventories to stores several times a week, in smaller loads. The result is an inventory turnover rate of 7.6 compared to 5.2 times in 2001, a cost reduction of $86 million and an increase of $1 billion in sales.[6]

In 2003, LCBO instituted a system called New Item Submission System (NISS). This was provided to its suppliers, in an effort to bring new products to the market faster. It led to cost reductions of $1.18 million annually and nearly $130 million in new product revenue by managing new products almost immediately. In 2004, the LCBO introduced a more secure, flexible, and high performance Enterprise Project Management system (EPM). It wanted to provide its staff with an efficient way to collaborate on projects, and this software was the answer. Benefits were immediate: improved project management and resource allocation, streamlined communications and collaboration among IT teams, and reduced time spent on administrative tasks.

LCBO is also making a concerted effort to train its employees as well. All staff undergoes mandatory product knowledge training, and because of the improvements in supply chain procedures, are able to spend more time dealing directly with customers. There are also highly trained product experts that can provide customers with very detailed information; there are 190 employees who have received this designation. Finally, LCBO is dedicating more and more space for its Vintages section in their stores, specializing in more premium wines. All these changes and enhancements indicate that LCBO is not resting on the fact that it is a monopoly, and is actively pursuing opportunities that this new demand for wine can provide. It demonstrates that the LCBO is willing to do whatever is necessary to improve, whether it’s hi-tech solutions at the management level or training solutions at the store employee level. Every stage of the operation is crucial to its success.

Over the years, the LCBO's general trend has been towards innovation and learning. It has fostered this sense of learning, in order to better cope with changes in the marketplace. The LCBO has created a learning centre to gather research on changes made by its competitors. There have been new employee training techniques, such as teaching videos and new marketing strategies such as venturing into the gift market. An increase in IT has also been witnessed, as well as more product testing and knowledge management, to maintain a competitive edge. Most promisingly, upper management has displayed that it is able and willing to implement major changes. There have been significant efforts to increase the organization’s ability to handle and implement change, and as a result, the LCBO has become less bureaucratic and more responsive to the needs of its stakeholders.

Looking forward, there are some more improvements that can be implemented. A system to order wines online to be picked up at the store would be more efficient than the current system of sending in order forms and waiting for sales representatives to call for payment method confirmations. Also, more availability of premium wines would satisfy the die-hard wine collectors. While greatly improved, the distribution process is still in need of tweaking. Orders from special Vintages catalogues can take months to be delivered, even after arriving in warehouses. A more transparent tracking system, similar to the ones used by post offices, would allow customers to track their purchases online, without having to call LCBO over and over.

The LCBO truly is a model corporation for organizational change. It has shown that it has not only the ability to implement change, but also the willingness to do so. It always keeps an eye on the market, anticipating its next move so that there is no surprise. As for the future? Wine sales will only go up, and as wine consumers become more and more savvy, will LCBO be able to keep up? It will be a challenge to keep everyone satisfied, not only among the wine drinkers but also with the beer and spirits crowd as well. It is a challenge that LCBO has shown it can master.


Barrows, David and Arthur Barrows., Change Management & the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), IPAC IAPC Ryerson University Case Study 2.19

Bird, Malcolm G., Revolutionary Change: The Liquor Control Board of Ontario, 1985-2005, The Department of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University, (June 2006), from:

Cirillo, Jennifer., Beyond the Bottle, Beverage World, Vol. 126, Iss. 1781. (Dec 15, 2007), pp.60-68.

Genosko, Gary and Scott Thompson., LCBO: Profits vs. Social Responsibility, Toronto Star, (July 25, 2005), from:

LCBO Annual Report 2002-2003, from:

LCBO Annual Report 2005-2006, from:, Media Centre, from:

Maclean, Natalie., The Grape Canadian North, Nat Decants, 2007, from:

Patrick, Ryan B., LCBO keeps supply chain flowing, itWorldCanada, (July 9, 2004), from:

Vintners Quality Alliance 2007 Annual Report, from:

Wines of Ontario, Media Centre Fact Sheet, from:

[1] Media Centre
[2] LCBO 2002-2003 Annual Report, Wines, pp.24
[3] LCBO Annual Report 2005-2006, Wines, pp.10
[4] CNW Group, The increase in wine sales in Canada is twice as high as in the rest of the world, (Feb 8, 2007)
[5] Jones, Gareth. Organizational Theory, Design, and Change, Fourth Edition. Pg. 302
[6] Cirillo, Jennifer., Beyond the Bottle, pp.62

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

LCBO plastic bags

The Toronto Star finally produced an article that's worth reading. It's about the LCBO and how our premier is working towards a ban of plastic bag use. And it's something that I completely agree with.

I appreciate that LCBO has taken steps already to be more environmentally friendly. After all, every true wine lover is also an environmentalist at heart. Which, ironically, is very odd because global warming has been fantastic for the ripening of grapes.

Anyways, over the years, I've noticed that LCBO has steadily changed their packaging of wine. It used to be paper bags for every single bottle, and then a big, thick plastic bag. LCBO plastic bags are without a doubt the thickest bags anywhere. Glass bottles are heavy and need sturdy support. Stores then had a phase where they would paper bag some bottles and use these green mesh nets on the others, to prevent the bottles from breaking. In the past year or so, they've thankfully moved away from the nets. However, they're still sticking with the paper bags and plastic, although they've trained their staff to ask you whether or not you want a bag. It's a noble effort to try to cut down, but it's not enough. Definitely not enough.

Another issue is returning bottles. My family has always recycled bottles, but apparently the vast majority don't. That's why they instituted the bottle refund system, the same system as with beer bottles. And it's a great success - I don't mind paying an extra $0.20 deposit.

I don't understand why they can't phase out plastic bags altogether. Paper bags, at least you can recycle. But there's no way to recoup the losses of a plastic bag, from the resources needed to produce it, to what happens after you through it away. It's so damn thick that, as the article says, it's going to be in landfills for the next million years.

There's a stigma to carrying your own bag to go shopping. Things like groceries. Why? The Shanghainese do it. So do the French. So why not North Americans?

So, the conclusion is...I promise that from now on, I'll never pick up a plastic LCBO bag ever again. And I'll try to use as little paper bags as possible. The wines that I order from Vintages come in cardboard boxes, so I'm covered there. I can't believe how self-righteous North Americans are when it comes to environmentalism, since we're the most guilty in terms of pollution.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008


My roommate was right - this is really bittersweet for me. I attended my last day of lectures today, as an undergrad at the University of Waterloo.

I cannot believe that I've spent 4 years here. How can it be? I mean, I still remember my first day in junior high.

This wasn't just about the profs, and the courses, and the books. My four years here has overwhelmingly been more about the experience. Being with friends, growing up a little bit, becoming independant.

Today was a long day, about 7 hours on campus. My last lecture was for ARTS 301. I'm pleased it worked out that way. Anyways, enough, have to begin studying. Definitely, I'll come back to this, after exams are over and it really hits me that school is over.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Emptying the cupboard

Both my roommates went back to Toronto this weekend, so I was alone. Finished my last bottle of wine in Waterloo, as an undergrad. Unfortunately, it was a terrible bottle, a very pretentious Chianti Classico that clearly was nowhere close to what an Italian wine should be.

I decided to clear out my wine cupboard last night. Took out all the empty bottles, packed up the ones that I`m taking back to Toronto. For this term, I had 24 wine bottles, 2 bottles of gin, and a couple other things that my roommates bought. When I went to refund them today at the Beer Store, the cashier short changed me as well. I've completely lost faith in the people of Waterloo. Why you can't you count up to 24?

So, getting ready for the final stretch. No more wine until final exams are over, I promise.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Vintages Orders

Things are looking up for 2008! I have a few lots of wines coming in, from both my 2005 Futures, from the March Classics Catalogue, as well as a Vintages special.

Two lots of my 2005 Bordeaux Futures have arrived at Bayview Village already. First thing I need to do when I return home is to pick them up. They are 3 bottles each of the 2005 CH. L'Arrosee and the 2005 CH. Rauzan Gassies.

From the March Classics Catalogue, I just received a phone call from LCBO that both the wines I ordered are in stock. I ordered one bottle each of the 1980 and 1981 Kopke Colheita Port. What's special is how rare colheitas are. They make up about 1% of the total production worldwide of port. Very, very special indeed.

And finally, I`m still waiting for my bottle of 1986 Glenfarclas Cask 3434. This is my bottle of vintage scotch, which I bought last October. For some reason, LCBO keeps delaying delivery, even though I'm told repeatedly that it`s arrived in their warehouses and just needs to be processed.

Hopefully, these will all arrive before April 25th, which I'll explain later. Looking forward to these wines, which I believe will form the foundation of my hopefully soon to be very large collection.