Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 01.14.05
Stanstead, Quebec


The Old Plonkster Weighs In

With no end in sight for the SAQ strike, Quebecers are having to turn to other sources for their wine. Luckily, we live in a province where your next booze fix is just around the corner, at least until 11 p.m.

Yes, dépanneurs offer consumers everything they require in an emergency wine: cheapness, 1-litre sizes, and the opportunity to say, "Ah yes, a very good shift." But how do they taste? Our experts chug some Château de Dépanneur to find out:

Si Si Si: The name of this wine answers the following three questions: Is it cheap? Does it nicely compliment a meal of Doritos and hot dogs? Will I go blind if I drink the whole bottle?

This is an "Italian" wine, meaning after a few glasses you want to drive recklessly and pinch strangers' bottoms. It is not so much the Sophia Loren of wines as Roberto Benigni. Roberto Benigni accepting an Oscar. In a thong. Embrace its Old World rowdiness by drinking it from a cracked coffee mug on your front step at 10 a.m.

What to serve it with: Serve the red with pasta with anchovies and olives, pizza with pineapple and hot pepper rings, water with Alka Seltzer. Serve the white with chicken - not cooked, just any chickens you might have walking around the neighbourhood.

Cost: Coins-in-the-sofa-cushions cheap.

Porte d'Enfer: Or "doorway to hell," which is what this wine will feel like both going in and coming out. This is wine for people who choose their libations based not on vintage but on alcohol content. At 14 percent, it's as though someone thought, "You know, this dépanneur wine is already pretty dreadful. Let's take it to the next level of badness by adding the taste of raw alcohol."

This is the perfect wine for subtly hinting at lingering guests that it's time for them to go home. Can also be used for fondues (heat source, not ingredient).

What to serve it with: Not appropriate for any food. It is the ideal choice, however, to pack with you on winter outings. The high alcohol content will give you a warm feeling all over as you frolic in the snow. You may even start to feel a bit sleepy. Go ahead and have a list rest in the snow bank until the paramedics come to pry you out.

Cost: Borrow-from-the-kids-piggy-bank cheap.

Harfang de Neige: There are no warning labels on alcohol in Canada but the next best thing is any booze with a bird on it. Baby Duck, Wild Turkey, and this wine:if you see a bird, stay away. The snowy owl shown on this dépanneur delight is depicted coming right at you, its talons extended, ready to rip open the entrails of some unsuspecting creature, which is how your stomach will feel after consuming this. A sweet wine with a hint of pine, candle wax and Lifesavers; an emaciated body, plugged nose; mops the palette with Javex then finishes by locking the doors and turning out the lights.

What to serve it with: Small mice.

Cost: Leftover-from-your-lottery-ticket-purchase cheap.

Cochon Mignon: If you're attracted by the concept of a "dainty pig," then this wine is for you, though you should be warned that normally wine doesn't fizz when you pour it. Also be warned that there are those who believe that, like fluoride in our water, there are conspiracies at work that make this wine a veritable truth serum. An excellent wine for knowing what your friends really think of you. A cheeky little number with tones of apples, strawberries, and sodium pentothal.

What to serve it with: Veal, pastas, soft cheeses, political prisoners.

Cost: It's-almost-like-they're-paying-me-to-buy-it cheap.