My Article: A Day in Montreal

February 9th, 2011

(MONTREAL) I arrived at my hotel from offices of the Société des Alcools du Québec in Montréal, and I realized that I had left my tasting glasses there — or worse, in the taxi.

I am working on an interesting project with the SAQ — the stater-run wine and spirits distribution company and arguably the biggest wine merchant in the world — where I am blind-tasting many of its specially selected wines, and we share the tasting notes on our websites. There is no financial relationship. It’s sharing information and contacts. Besides, I think Montréal is a really cool place. It reminds me of Paris in the 1980s. And it’s a hell of a wine city. I will tell you more soon.

You may not know it, but I travel the world with my Riedel Sommeliers Chardonnay glasses in a small battered black leather case that I have had for probably 20 years. Those glasses are one of my most treasured objects that I own. They are part of my heart and soul as a wine taster.

I guess it’s sort of like the favorite guitar of my buddy, jazz genius Anthony Wilson, or Alex Lifeson of Rush. You get the idea.

Maybe I am a little psycho, but I think that I taste better with my Riedels. I believe that I can taste more consistently if I review wines from the same glasses, even if I am away from the tasting room at my house in Tuscany or my office in Los Angeles. It just makes me feel better at the end of the day.

So I was really pissed off when I thought that I lost my case of tasting glasses in the taxi that let me off at the Downtown W Hotel. I was livid. I was shaking. Could I taste wines the same without them?

I called the SAQ and they didn’t have them. My friend at the SAQ, Marie Eve, called the taxi company, and it didn’t have them. The hotel didn’t have them. I was really bummed out to say the least.

I called the taxi company and I told her in French that I had lost “mes verres.” She said that she spoke English perfectly, and no glasses were found in the taxi. I said, “Mes verres pour la degustation.” (My glasses for tasting.)

“Sir, I speak English, so please don’t speak French. We have found no glasses, sir,” she said in her thick Québécois-laced English. She seemed pissed off now. I even offered her 100 bucks reward, and I admit, she became much more friendly all of a sudden. But she sadly said she could not help.

Why in the world would someone want some tasting glasses from some long-haired dude from Los Angeles anyway? Did they think the case was full of drugs or money or something truly valuable?

I called Marie Eve again and asked her in English if she had seen my glasses. “No,” she said. “I asked around the office. The receptionist even said he saw them on your head when you left the office!”

“On my head?” I thought to myself. “I don’t remember balancing my case of wine glasses on my head when I left.”

OMG! “Ils ne sont pas mes lunettes mais mes verres de vin!” I said. (They aren’t my eyeglasses, they are my wine glasses!)

“Oh, those are right next to my desk,” she said.

I had a huge smile over the phone. I felt like taking a taxi to the SAQ and giving Marie Eve a big kiss. My day was made. Not only did I taste with 200 passionate and fun wine shop heads from the SAQ, and speak to them about my life as a wine critic, but I found my tasting glasses.

“La vie est belle à Montréal,” I thought. (Life is beautiful in Montréal.)


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February 11, 2011

Thats hilarious James but as soon as you mentioned to them you lost your glasses, I knew that they thought "Spectacles" it's a Quebec French thing!

James Suckling

February 11, 2011

I thought it was too funny not to write a blog about it! Lost in the translation! The woman kept on saying that my French was bad and speak English! I am still laughing about it!


February 12, 2011

This story is great! I'm thrilled you had/are having a great time in Montreal. If you're still around, my friends and I would love to take you to one of the best BYOB's in the city - the food is awesome, and you get to bring your own cherished wines and not pay 3x retail prices If you're already gone, well then, as we say, "a la prochaine!"


February 17, 2011

Bien content que tout se soit bien terminé!
J'ai bien noté vos suggestions sur le site de la SAQ et bien hâte de goûter ces vins...Avec un cassoulet ou tout simplement avec un confit, quel vin choisisez-vous? Merci pour votre partage et votre modestie...))

Guy de Repentigny


February 17, 2011

Mais votre français est encore très bon! Je regardé vos videos sur SAQ et c'est excellent! ;-)))


February 17, 2011

Perhaps too much vino? No... just not possible! LOL

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