What’s in a name?

During my recent mini-vacation on Vancouver Island, I found myself browsing a wine shop (specifically, the Castle Liquor Store) in Sooke.

Really, my travelling companion was executing an informed selection process while I wandered around – like a ten-year-old-boy who’d been taken along with an elderly aunt on an annual brassiere purchasing adventure – and gazed with half-awareness at whatever caught my eye.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy a glass of wine – I’m just not so interested in shopping and I get bored quickly when I attempt to do so. When I buy wine I generally pick up something known, something tried-and-true, something close to the check-out, and get the hell out and and resume living as quickly as possible. Hence, this was the first occasion in quite some time that I’ve actually looked around in a liquor store.

Speaking of liquor stores – I actually worked in a liquor store once. It was about thirty years ago, when I was barely of legal drinking age. It paid well, being a government operation, and of course it was a union shop. It wasn’t long before someone took me aside and told me to slow things down a bit as I was making everyone else look lazy. The crazy thing is, the guy that gave me this advice was the manager, who wasn’t even in the union.

There’s nothing like doing something in slow motion to make time drag in a way that makes glacier-watching seem like raucous action, and before the manager talked to me, I’d already felt like I was on some sort of paid vacation. It wasn’t long before I abandoned that gig in favour of something lower-paying but less soul-destroying.

Anyway. Back to Sooke.

Not much has changed about wine bottles in thirty years, but the marketing seems to have shifted a bit. It seems that one can now buy a wine that contains a label intended to appeal to whatever taste, obsession, or fetish with which one’s attention is most occupied. Are you a cyclist? Love cats? Go for blondes? Don’t mind having your bum spanked with a riding crop? There’s almost certainly a wine label specifically engineered to draw your attention.

Maybe you like fishing on Georgia Strait, or have a summer home on Lake Huron? There are plenty of wines named in the same nauseatingly bourgeois manner as watercraft and cottages. It wouldn’t at all surprise me to see wines named “Master Baiter” and “Villa Costalotta”.

Here, however, are some actual wines I spotted in Sooke:



I was at a party once where some garrulous old queen, who’d been consuming a series of martinis while he passed judgement on the poor fashion sense of whomever was in the lavatory at the time, had grown sullen and uncharacteristically quiet. After a while, he suddenly sprang back to life and onto his feet. “I think it’s time for a little physiotherapy!” he announced. In my naiveté I expected a massage table to be rolled out, but instead several bottles of champagne appeared.

Come to think of it, I never did use the washroom at that party…




“Freudian Sip” and “Pink Freud”


Expensive counselling? Bah! What better way to resolve your persistent emotional distresses than a crisp white or a nice, light rosé? And if you’re still having bad dreams about poor old Syd Barrett, get ready to sleep peacefully!




Dirty Laundry


This doesn’t bring to mind used underwear, not at all.
Nor does it make me think of smelly socks. Nor greasy rags. Snotty hankies. Rancid diapers. Bloody sheets. Clumps of hair in the lint trap. Skid marks. Ring around the collar. “Ancient Chinese Secret“.

No, this reminds me of Don Henley.








The aromas filled the glass with mule, boat shoe, Birkenstock, and a hint of Croc. Excellent varietal character, with acrid sweat, juicy bunion, and athlete’s foot supported by a nuance of toe jam. It was also nice to not have have the strong espadrille and Mary Jane hint in this wine which is so common amongst this varietal.  Perfect for corn-on-the-cob in the backyard.”










Ummm… Well. To hell with it, I’ll have a Guinness, please.

(I wonder if the vintner secretly borrows grapes from a neighbouring vineyard?)








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