Nova Scotians can soon expect a more eclectic selection of imported wine, beer and spirits on menus and store shelves, thanks to a new venture from three Halifax restaurateurs. Remedial Wine Imports, or REMY’S as its owners call it, is Halifax’s latest alcohol agency. It’s the brainchild of Jenner Cormier, Annie Brace-Lavoie and Jess Beauchamp, a trio you might recognize from the north end’s popular Bar Kismet restaurant.
Officially launched just this week, the agency is currently working with 25 producers—most of whom make wine—to bring a variety of interesting products to Nova Scotia.
“We geek out over this stuff all the time,” Beauchamp, Bar Kismet’s wine director and general manager, says. “We’re really interested and passionate about these wines. So, how can we share them with more people than just the people who come into the restaurant?”
Most restaurants in the province that serve alcohol will receive orders through the NSLC or private stores such as Bishop’s Cellar. That’s what Bar Kismet’s owners, Cormier and Brace-Lavoie, had been doing since opening their restaurant in 2017. But over the past year, they considered how they could change that aspect of their business.
Starting their own importing agency would let them share interesting wine discoveries with other restaurants, and suggest specific bottles to the NSLC in hopes of getting them listed locally. It was also a chance to fill in some of the holes that exist in the local liquor market.
“Our market is great. There’s lots of great stuff that’s on our shelves currently being brought in from other people,” Beauchamp says. “But we’re trying to find little gaps of what we could be bringing in that maybe isn’t as well represented in our market.”
For one, REMY’S is trying to bring more wine from provinces such as British Columbia and Ontario. Beauchamp says the liquor store wine shelves labelled “Canadian” are often full of Nova Scotian wines; they’re all great wines, but the options for wines made in other provinces are slim.
The agency will also put a slight emphasis on sparkling wines—a category Beauchamp says isn’t very large in local liquor stores.
Moreover, the agency is working with a lot of natural producers. Natural wine is a current trend that many people are searching for, but can’t find locally since it’s not well-represented.
“My hope would be that as we start to bring in more products and people taste them, that they start to trust our taste and that we’re always open,” Beauchamp says. “It’s sort of the same as whenever you’re in dining at a restaurant…It’s not necessarily that I’m trying to find the best of my favourite glass of wine. I’m trying to help you find your favourite.”
With REMY’S, she says it’ll be interesting to see which products are most popular and what people enjoy best. “Then go from there, so we can continue to always be pushing ourselves to find more little holes and little gaps, and be able to explain these cool wines and cool producers to people in a way that’s approachable and it’s fun,” she says.
“At the end of the day, it’s wine. It’s meant to be just fun, right?”