THE news from north of the border is both trivial and unsettling: they won’t be making shiny new pennies in Canada anymore.
The government in Ottawa has made this decision after years of deliberation, for reasons that would seem to apply equally well in the United States. “Pennies take up too much space on our dressers at home,” Jim Flaherty, the Canadian finance minister, said in a speech last month. A persuasive government brochure put it this way: “We often store them in jars, throw them away in water fountains, or refuse them as change.”
Pennies cost more to produce than they are worth. Yet because of inflation, they are worth so little that many Canadians don’t bother to use them at all.
It’s not very different in New York City. In January, when Starbucks raised the price of a 12-ounce cup of coffee in Manhattan to $2.01, with taxes, many coffee drinkers were appalled — not so much by the cost as by the indignity of needing to fish for pennies. In the intervening weeks, I’ve given up on coins at Starbucks and begun paying for my morning joe electronically.
Do we really need pennies?
The Canadian government doesn’t think so. By the fall, it plans to stop minting them and stop distributing them through banks. It won’t actually ban them, though. Some people have grown so attached to pennies — a penny saved is a penny earned, after all — that they may want to keep using them indefinitely, and they can, the Canadian government says.
But those who can bear to part with their pennies are being encouraged to bring them to banks for eventual melting or to donate them to charities — which will presumably bring them in for melting. Electronic transactions will continue to include cents, while retail sales will be rounded up or down.
Inflation is sometimes cited as a threat whenever small coins are phased out. A $2.01 cup of coffee should be rounded down to $2, while $2.03 should become $2.05, for example, but retailers in the real world might raise prices more than lower them. That could cause a small, one-time inflation burst, says François Velde, an expert on the history of small change.
Strange Random Penny Quote:
“A penny is a lot of money, if you have not got a penny.” – Yiddish Proverb
- The End of the Canadian Penny (fox4kc.com)
- Canada’s Pennies Down The Tubes (afterhisimage.wordpress.com)
- Numismaticism Update: Oh, Canada! (wfmu.org)
- Why the U.S. Penny Won’t Die Like Canada’s Just Did (followmehere.com)
- Weird: Canadian government decides to yank penny from circulation (bazaardaily.com)
- Pennies: Do We Need Them? (fox2now.com)
- Penny’s demise worries small-business owners (cbc.ca)
- Canada is getting rid of the penny (kottke.org)
- Storify: Canadian penny versus nickel debate on Twitter (theprovince.com)
A wine’s flavour can suggest many things besides grapes: blackberries, vanilla, citrus, chocolate, herbs, even tar or hay. It’s all in the mind and sometimes merely in the crazed craniums of wine critics. But there’s a new style of South African red that leaves little doubt as to what’s on offer. It has been dubbed coffee pinotage and the flavour has Starbucks written all over it.
In fact, the labels on most brands provide the first not-so-subtle clue. There’s Barista, Cappuccino Pinotage, Café Culture, Coffee Pinotage, The Bean and The Grinder, to name a few. The last two even feature images of a coffee bean and an old-fashioned hand-crank grinder, respectively. It’s enough to make you reach for an espresso cup in lieu of fancy stemware.
Several brands were recently launched in various provinces across Canada, ramping up the coffee-wine buzz that has been building since the launch of the first such example, Diemersfontein Pinotage, a decade ago.
Based on South Africa’s signature red grape, pinotage, the phenomenon is the accidental brainchild of Bertus Fourie, Diemersfontein’s former winemaker. A master’s graduate in oenology from the University of Stellenbosch, Mr. Fourie had specialized in the effects of wood aging on wine. By lining steel tanks with heavily charred French-oak staves the secret is in the temperature and duration of toasting and fermenting with a special strain of yeast, the wine developed an uncanny essence of espresso as well as chocolate. A similar thing happens with other varieties, but not to the same degree as with pinotage.
Strange Random Wine Quote:
- Pinotage on Tap (POT) comes to the UK (pinotage.org)
- Taste Pinotage Sunshine on 16 Dec (pinotage.org)
- The Power of Pinotage! (cybercellar.wordpress.com)
- Cape Ardor Launches a Dedicated South African Wine Website in the United States (prweb.com)
- The Wines of South Africa (winebookclub.org)
- South African winemaker uncorks award (travelnews.britishairways.com)
- Bokke Wines Portfolio Tasting (gothicepicures.blogspot.com)
- Naked Wines to Host Crowd-powered Online Auction with South African Producers (prweb.com)
- Biodiversity Bombshell (blogs.timeslive.co.za)
- Beyers follows Mao with a new little red book (blogs.timeslive.co.za)
- Black South African tastes success in winemaking (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Great South African Pinot (barrys-wine.blogspot.com)