Classy Drinks

La Grande Dégustation Offers a Sampling of Wine, Spirits and Beer

La Grande Degustation to Nov. 10

This weekend has some serious alcohol in store, and not in the typical college-kid-playing-Edward-40-hands kind of way. It’s classy. There is wine. Lots of wine. And some rum and beer thrown in for good measure.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This is about tasting. Thursday marked the beginning of the second annual Grande Dégustation de Montréal, sponsored by the Société des alcools du Québec. More than 200 producers from 24 countries are taking over the Palais des Congrès from Thursday to Saturday as a part of Montreal’s inaugural Happy November festival.

“It’s really appealing for every single one of us that likes to drink,” said Jessica Harnois, the president of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers.

The featured country of this year’s Grande Dégustation is Portugal, with more than 30 Portuguese winemakers visiting. Event organizers are hoping for a turnout of up to 12,000 patrons over the course of the weekend.

Cabernet Sauvignon and rum are also flowing freely as the featured libations.

Well, not quite so freely. Tickets are $15 at the door, and a three-day passport to the event is $30. Inside, tasting coupons are on sale for a few dollars each, depending on the quality of the beverage.

She said what brings people together at this event is shared passion.

“Wine gathers people together. It’s a fun pleasure,” Harnois said. “And at the same time it’s very intelligent, it’s challenging. It challenges your senses, it challenges your serious side.”

Harnois added that this is also an event where you don’t have to get drunk: “You can enjoy wine without having to drink the entire bottle, right? People tend to forget that.”

Grande Dégustation de Montréal / Nov. 8-10 / Palais des Congrès (1001 Place Jean-Paul Riopelle) / $15