wine tasting at wine shop at Toulouse Victor Hugo market

Casual tasting and wines by the glass at the market wine shop

Travel, they say, broadens the mind. It also sharpens your perspective at home.

A recent tasting in France found me thinking, once again, despite some progress, just how outdated BC’s liquor laws really still are, outdated—and ridiculous.

We were in the Victor Hugo Market, in central Toulouse, on a bustling Saturday morning. Surrounded by fresh produce at the wealth of butchers, cheese shops and fishmongers, and by the local citizenry going about their business, we were hosted by a wineshop for a casual tasting of wines from South West France.

market tasting aydie l'origine with foie gras

With foie gras? A robust red, for a change

The setting was perfect, as we stood beside the counter, pairing a few wines with typical local fare, such as mineral and crisply citrus toned Ode d’Aydie 2011 with smoked trout which the wine merchant had caught and prepared himself (SAQ $18.95). Chateau d’Aydie Madiran l’Origine 2012—a bold, earthy blend of Tannat and Cabernet Franc—was a perfect foil to foie gras, SAQ $26.85.

duck confit at Toulouse market

Come to think of it, duck confit would also have been a good match,,,

Spicy toned, forest-floor edged Chateau Montus 2009 proved the ideal partner to a rich, duck sausage SAQ $30). As we were sipping and talking about the wines and their pairings, a couple of seven year olds casually helped themselves to our platter of foie gras : they knew a good thing when they saw it! Nobody blinked. And, no, they didn’t help themselves to a sip of Domaine St. Lannes Prelude d’Hiver, the perfect match.

Fresh mackerel at Toulouse market

Mmmm…Super fresh mackerel

More to the point, also as we stood there, the patrons were busy not only buying their wine but also enjoying wine samples and drinking wines by the glass, having finished their shopping in the market. It all seemed so perfectly normal and civilized. Indeed it was. And there’s no reason why we shouldn’t enjoy the same liberties here in B.C. However, even though we now have (grown in BC) wines at farmers markets, you can be pretty sure it’s a scene you won’t see any time soon at likes of Granville Island Public Market or Lonsdale Quay.

Various south west France wine

A good selection of south west wines …

We should be asking ourselves, “why not.” Instead, despite promises of sensible, liquor reforms that pair perfectly with our blossoming—no, make that “newly entrenched”—food and wine culture, we’re treated to an ongoing spectacle of back room deals that continue to favour a few well-placed and politically connected interests.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m just too cranky about this issue. But it seems to me that despite politicians’ professed good intentions, when it comes right down to it, we’re just treading water.

What do you think?

Comments below …

Toulouse market fishmonger counter

Toulouse market fishmonger counter