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View Full Version : Importing mead into Ontario...I don't think so...



Jord
06-08-2010, 10:34 PM
I'm sure there are a lot of other folks in similar situations but here in Ontario, Canada all things liquor/wine related are regulated by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. Before I started my meading making adventures I was content to drink whatever was available on their store shelves but now I'm interested in expanding my pallette a little and taste some commercial meads. So in the interest of trying to find some meads to taste I head to the Commercial Mead Reviews thread here on GM and come across several threads on Rabbit's Foot.

Done. I'm in.

Head over to the ol' lcbo.ca website and punch in "Rabbit's Foot".....nothing. OK maybe too specific....lets try "Rabbit".....well a couple hits for some pinot noire. Too bad.

Oh, a page dedicated to making private orders. Cool, this could work out after all. *Clickety click*

Okay, it says give them the info and they'll get a quote for you....keep reading down the page.....Q&A's.....

"What is the cost and mark-up for Privately Ordered products?"

Typically the final cost per bottle of the product will be approximately three to four times higher than the retail price in the country of origin after application of exchange rates, LCBO mark up, freight, taxes and duty.

Ouch....RFM sells their Sweet Mead for $16/bottle so a case would be around $200 give or take.....so I'm looking at $600 - 800 after mark up? Crazy!

Oh wait, scrolls down page,

"Laboratory Testing"

LCBO tests all products imported and sold. These tests ensure that the products meet federal standards and are free from contaminants. There is a fee per product to conduct this test. For spirits based products the lab fee is $150.00 CDN plus applicable taxes per product. For wine and beer based products the lab fee is $175.00 CDN plus applicable taxes per product

WTF!?!?! Ok they don't want anyone going blind....I get it.....but seriously? $175?

So I guess I'm going to have to make the run to Michigan or NY State and pay duty instead.....it HAS to be cheaper than that.






Yes this was a totally useless post...but I was amazed at the cost.

Chevette Girl
06-08-2010, 11:37 PM
Are you sure the intent isn't for products imported for resale at LCBO outlets?

At least the lab test is probably a one-time thing...

You know, we'll just have to go into business and make our own damn meads... :P

If independent wineries can do it, we should be able to as well. I'm just too lazy to track down the requirements. ;D

Jord
06-09-2010, 12:30 PM
From my understanding those figures are for private orders not for resale at the LCBO. Ridiculous really. The lab test would be a one time thing if you kept ordering the same product over and over I would imagine it's possible to "need" another lab test if you decide to order something from another meadery....

I'm still new to mead making and am trying to get a better idea of what "proper" mead tastes like. I've managed a JAO, an incredibly dry traditional, a pretty flavourless cider, and have a pyment on the go along with a Corona clone. I'm planning on starting a cyser within the next few days (I've been saying that for two weeks now....) and I'm seriously considering a braggot after that....I'm more of a beer fan than wine. Of course the Corona clone was from a kit and I have no other real beer brewing experience so combining that with my meager mead making skills I'm not expecting a lot of magic out of my first braggot. :D

fatbloke
06-09-2010, 04:30 PM
From my understanding those figures are for private orders not for resale at the LCBO. Ridiculous really. The lab test would be a one time thing if you kept ordering the same product over and over I would imagine it's possible to "need" another lab test if you decide to order something from another meadery....

I'm still new to mead making and am trying to get a better idea of what "proper" mead tastes like. I've managed a JAO, an incredibly dry traditional, a pretty flavourless cider, and have a pyment on the go along with a Corona clone. I'm planning on starting a cyser within the next few days (I've been saying that for two weeks now....) and I'm seriously considering a braggot after that....I'm more of a beer fan than wine. Of course the Corona clone was from a kit and I have no other real beer brewing experience so combining that with my meager mead making skills I'm not expecting a lot of magic out of my first braggot. :D
There is no "proper taste" for mead.

Think about it. It was never made in the "New World" to any extent and due to being a bugger to make it as it was during, hell, I don't know, Tudor/Elisabethan (same thing really) times, well the industrial revolution killed all that sort of method.

Hence, we tend to make it using wine making techniques mainly. I don't know how long they've made it like they do in Poland, i.e. how recent those techniques are.

Plus, as it's being made using wine techniques, and there's so many different ones, it's really down to personal taste or experimentation - both of which, are relative!

Me? well the commercial meads I've tried here, all seem to be dessert meads (measuring up at an average of 1040 i.e. very sweet). So I reckon is should be possible to make a trad' but with 14+ % ABV and a gravity of around 1010 finished. To retain the aroma and enough sweetness, but not be cloyingly thick, almost like drinking neat honey.......

Oh and apart from a few historical recipes, it seems that most of them have been developed in the last X amount of years......

So I'd say, just read, read, read! Make smaller batches of the different types and see which one appeals the most and see what you can come up with.....

regards

fatbloke

wayneb
06-09-2010, 10:52 PM
Additionally, one of the world's most award winning commercial meaderies, Intermiel, hails from Quebec. So you do have access to some "proper" meads, at least those made in a winemaking tradition, assuming inter-provincial trade isn't as restricted as international!! ;)
http://www.intermiel.com/awards.shtml

Jord
06-10-2010, 12:04 PM
Is anyone around here familiar with the meads from Munro Honey? http://www.munrohoney.com/products.aspx?cid=Mead

I've purchased from them years ago (it was actually my first mead ever) but have not tried anything recently. Apparently they've been successful at the International Mead Festival

Smarrikåka
06-10-2010, 12:35 PM
Munro makes perfectly fine mead.

wayneb
06-10-2010, 01:30 PM
Yup - I forgot to mention Munro. Their stuff is quite good as well.

You can check out the winning commercial mead lists both from the past two Mazer Cup Internationals and from the International Mead Festival before that, and you'll find several Intermiel and Munro meads have been award winners.

Jord
06-29-2010, 10:27 AM
So I made it to Munro Honey on the weekend and picked up a bottle of their sweet traditional, a blueberry mel, as well as a product not advertised on their website that I can't remember the name of right now. It's a five year old sweet traditional aged in oak....they said it was about an 18 for sweetness.....what does that translate into for SG? I've done a search on google and here at gotmead but I don't know if maybe I'm not searching the right terms but nothing is coming up.

I think it would be good information so I can tell people trying my mead whether it's a 2 or whatever...people seem to understand those terms for measuring sweetness/dryness in wine as opposed to saying it has a specific gravity of 1.005. :)

Medsen Fey
06-29-2010, 11:19 AM
....they said it was about an 18 for sweetness.....what does that translate into for SG? I've done a search on google and here at gotmead... but nothing is coming up.

I think it would be good information so I can tell people trying my mead whether it's a 2 or whatever...people seem to understand those terms for measuring sweetness/dryness in wine as opposed to saying it has a specific gravity of 1.005. :)

I'm not familiar with the scale they are using. What's more, I don't think you can link sweetness-perceived to gravity very well. We often quote a range for dry, semi-sweet, sweet to give folks a ballpark, but it really depends on the other ingredients involved. Some traditional meads taste sweet at 1.005, but I have other meads that taste acidic (and dry) with a gravity of 1.020. You may be able to rank sweetness on a scale that people can understand like (I'm just plucking these out of thin air for illustrative purposes):

25 Corn syrup
23 Honey
20 sweet tea at the Baptist church social
15 Coca-Cola
10 Orange juice (fresh squeezed)
7 Orange juice (processed)
1 lemon juice

However, I don't think you can tie such a scale to gravity numbers. I don't think that means that a scale is useless. Quite the contrary. It would be nice to have a number that people could relate to as a measure of sweetness. I'm not sure you can get a lot of people to agree what should be a 2 and what should be a 10, because taste varies quite a bit (and will change depending on what else you may have recently eaten), but I'd love to have a scale that could be compared across different wines/meads.

Jord
06-29-2010, 11:39 AM
I know that our liquor stores here in Ontario they use a scale, which I believe goes from 0 - 6, to give an idea of the level of sweetness with a 0 being dry and a 6 being sweet. I don't know if that is a universal scale or anything but as I said it is in use here. I had assumed that those numbers were based on the actual residual sugars present in the wine as opposed to the perceived sweetness in the wine. I guess it would be similar to the scale for residual sugars in champagne/sparkling wine (brut, sec, etc...).

Medsen Fey
06-29-2010, 12:02 PM
I had assumed that those numbers were based on the actual residual sugars present in the wine as opposed to the perceived sweetness in the wine. I

They probably are based on the measured percentage of residual sugar, and not on taste, but there again, the gravity number will change based on how much alcohol is there. More alcohol giving a lower gravity, so two wines with the same residual sugar may have different gravity numbers, and again, they may have different perceived sweetness when tasted.

Maybe you can try a couple in comparison and let us know.

Jord
06-29-2010, 01:01 PM
I concede to your logic. :D

I spoke with the people at Munro Honey and was told that they send samples away to a laboratory to have a general breakdown and that it is the lab that tells them what the number of the wine is. She said it is based solely on the residual sugars in the wine and I would imagine that the alcohol content is also taken into account so that a 2 is a 2 as far as the scale goes whether it is 10% ABV or 20% ABV. Apparently this is just an Ontario thing.

Whether it is a good scale or not I don't know but I do know as MF has pointed the amount of residual sugar is not necessarily the only factor in the "sweetness" of a mead.

I'd be curious to get in touch with the lab and find out what the actual breakdown is as there's probably a rough alcohol to residual sugar ratio that is used for the scale.

Jord
07-13-2010, 09:24 AM
So I contacted VQA which is:

VQA Ontario is Ontario’s Wine Authority, a regulatory agency responsible for maintaining the integrity of local wine appellations and enforcing winemaking and labelling standards. VQA Ontario does not represent the wine industry in Ontario and is not a marketing agency.

to find out if they had any information on the residual sugar scale used in Ontario. I got a reply from them today with a copy of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) Sugar Code. It is as follows:

http://i86.photobucket.com/albums/k98/veritas666/Sugarcodescale.jpg

Now I don't know for certain but I would assume that this is the actual residual sugar regardless of alcohol content. I'm not sure of the exact lab procedures involved but from my understanding the winery must get a full spectrum analysis done by the lab before the wine can be sold in Ontario.

Apparently the LCBO is in the process of phasing this code system out.

Chevette Girl
10-25-2010, 03:52 PM
I just called the number on that webpage (1-800-668-5144) and they said the lab testing crap is only if you want to order it through the LCBO and/or you're ordering more than 45 litres in a shipment.

So it looks like you can go ahead and order something from Rabbit's Foot without going through the LCBO or any testing at all, I think you might have to sign something so you can't go sue LCBO if you go blind from drinking something that hasn't been lab tested... and if it's less than a full case, they don't care in the least, it's between you and the borderguard.

I had previously talked to Canadian Border Services (1-800-461-9999) and was told that importing small quantities of homemade wines through a shipping service that will ship alcohol (the US postal service won't) is perfectly legal, although you are at the mercy of the border guard as to whether they believe what's in the bottle or not before they crack it open for a closer look. The nice lady I spoke to recommends including an ingredients list and alcohol content and I'd probably be tempted to ship things in screw-top bottles.

The LCBO did tell me to check with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission about homemade wine (1-800-522-2876) so I did and was told that small amounts of homemade wine imported for personal consumption aren't their concern either.

Shipping interprovincially is different, each province has different amounts it's willing to permit before they think you're trying to bring in more than just for personal use and Ontario's got one of the higher limits for importing.

I'm going to re-post a bunch of this elsewhere for easier reference...