One of the delights of wine is that there are always surprises to be found and bargains to be enjoyed, if you are open to trying new things or going off the beaten path.

I thought I had a pretty good handle on the Yukon Liquor Corp selection until I went on my “money diet”, but now I am delighted to be discovering some new and very drinkable options that I would like to share with you.

While I wanted to follow up on my last article with a second article on more “money diet” wines that I have tried recently, I also wanted to share some discoveries that I made during a recent excursion to the YLC warehouse.

During the summer months, when many of our members are out on vacation, our Rotary Club organizes a series of field trips in lieu of our regular Tuesday morning meetings. In the past we have toured places such as the Air North airport facility, the Legislative Assembly building, and the hydro dam.

Our most recent morning trip was to the warehouse facility of the Liquor Corp. Several weeks ago, we assembled to tour the facility with corporation’s vice president, Virginia Labelle. It was a lot of fun and I learned a great deal.

Here are a few things I thought you might find interesting:

Our wine delivery operation is very green. Given our distance from southern Canada, the delivery of our wine (as well as beer and spirits) has a very small carbon footprint.

The YLC buys wines off the BC list, packs them in containers, ships them to Seattle, and then barges them up to Skagway and trucks them into Whitehorse.

So the amount of driving required is actually only a couple of hundred kilometres, which is likely less than the distance that wines in Ontario, Quebec or BC have to travel.

Barging to Skagway is both low lost and very eco-friendly, and travel on a barge also causes less bottle breakage than trucking the wines up the Alaska Highway would. Cool!

The YLC carries close to 1,100 different selections of liquor. Granted, that includes beer and spirits, but I’d estimate that wines account for at least half of that, which isn’t too bad.

Also, the buyers have been making spot buys of small amounts of wine, which has been adding variety and more interesting options to our selection.

A recent and excellent example of this is the Chateau Ste. Michelle Washington State wines, which I have reviewed and would urge you to try if they are still in stock.

Despite the statistics in the press, we aren’t as heavy drinkers as you may have been led to believe. The calculation cited is based on amount of alcohol divided by the territorial or provincial population.

What it doesn’t capture are the seasonal workers and tourists who purchase liquor while they are here. As we know, they make up a large percentage of our seasonal population, but are not counted as permanent Yukoners.

Face it, we all tend to have a few more glasses when we’re on vacation, and I was once a seasonal worker in the Yukon. I don’t want to think how much beer I put away back in the day!

They pour perfectly good wine down the drain! Sigh… If a bottle of wine breaks and the labels of adjacent bottles are stained or damaged, they open the bottles and pour them down the drain.

I think they should have a “factory seconds” section at the wine store with stained and peeling label bottles, reduced in price for quick sale. I’m just sayin’!

All in all, it was a fun and educational tour, and it was interesting to see how the wine gets from southern BC to the YLC selling floor.

Finally, two more “money diet” wines that I have tried and enjoyed. Both are Italian wines that come in litre bottles (1/3 more wine than a regular bottle).

The first is Cantina Tollo’ Rosso (Italian for red) Terre de Chieti, for under $12. This is a very tasty IGT wine, which means that the local Italian Grapes are mixed with some non-Italian types of grapes, like Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.

The primary Italian grape is Montepulciano, and I was very pleased with the bouquet and taste of this wine. Let it breathe for half an hour or so and you’ll have a terrific food wine, for the price.

I had it with a steak last night and it paired very well, not overwhelmed by the charred meat taste, but also with less tannins (the mouth pucker element in some wines), which many people prefer in a red wine.

The second wine is the Donini Collezione Trebbiano Chardonnay Rubicone white, also an IGT. Again in a litre bottle, and priced at around $12.

This fresh, dry white is a treat with chicken, or pastas with cream sauce, and delivers taste superior to what you’d normally find in a white in its price range. In fact, I’m not sure you’d find anything that would taste as good for the equivalent of a $9 regular wine bottle, given that this little gem comes in a litre.

So feel free to check these two out, and explore the low cost options. It turns out there are some interesting wines, even in this price range.

Cheers!