As seen on Girls of TO
Happy Holidays! Cheers to a season filled with office parties, family dinners, get-togethers and more…and because your mother taught you to never show up empty handed, the holidays can bring last minute gifting woes.
While it would be nice to hand out thoughtful, personal gifts to our loved ones, the truth is that our lives don’t offer the time or cash flow to figure out exactly what it is your mother-in-law needs this Christmas. Or consider the perfect hostess gift. Or toil over which wine to bring to the cookie exchange (with the cookies you picked up from Loblaws the day of). Also, which wine will go with your Dad’s famous turkey curry potpie?
Such questions can be daunting with so many wines and so little time. Let’s be honest: We’d be lying if we said that we never grab a last minute bottle of something on the way to a Christmas party.
In order to help all of us get through this festive season, I’ve pulled together ten crowd-pleasing, appealing and affordable wines that will be perfect for any holiday get together:
- Frisky Beaver Red VQA – $14.95
I bought this wine because I liked the label and with a mind that essentially lives in the gutter, I really enjoyed this wine’s name. We had some Frisky Beaver with our dinner and dived in for more during and after dessert. The back of this label declares this ‘…a wine so adventurous it pairs with any food imaginable from grilled salmon to messy poutine. A wine so unpretentious, you can drink it anywhere from a garden party to a camping trip.’…And this wine stays true to its claim. This red is a lively, charismatic wine that truly wants you to have fun with wine. It is approachable and juicy without being too sweet. This versatility is especially handy as a fun hostess gift if you don’t know what your host is serving for dinner.
- Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catherine Brut VQA – $29.95
My fiancé and I popped this bottle the morning that he popped the question in November of 2013. I think of this as our engagement brut so I am slightly biased when I say that this is one of my favourite sparkling wines. That being said, I have heard/read nothing but positive reviews for this home grown beauty. It is consistently complex and rich with citrus on the nose and tongue with a sharp finish. This is the perfect aperitif for any occasion.
- Alpha Estate AXIA Red – $17.20
When in doubt, a nice red blend is always a holiday hit. The holidays are expensive enough so knowing a dependable wine under $20 is a necessity. Hailing from Greece, this extra dry wine is a well-rounded and approachable red. Made from Syrah and Xinomavro, this is a wine with firm character. This winery won Winery of the Year in 2013 so you know it is a solid buy.
- Rumchata – $29.95
I was introduced to this drink by my cousin-in-law (Is that a thing?). Although this isn’t a wine, this delectable Bailey’s alternative is the perfect gift: It is a creamy, spiced and mouthwateringly drinkable version of an oatmeal cookie. This is the perfect holiday beverage and I will highly recommend it to anyone. It is quite likely that most of your friends haven’t even heard to Rumchata yet so you will gain LCBO pioneer points and most likely be the hero of the party.
- Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc – $18.95
Anyone who knows me knows that I have very strong opinions of Sauvignon Blanc, a wine that characteristically smells of cat pee. Don’t get me wrong- there are fabulous Sauvignon Blancs out there; it’s just that I have tasted very few. So when I recommend this New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, you have to believe me. It’s a rule. Although I have been known to exaggerate, trust me when I tell you that I have never met anyone who dislikes this wine. It is light, crisp and flavourful, full of citrus, passion fruit and kiwi. This will make anyone’s Christmas merry.
- Danzante Pinto Grigio delle Venezie IGT – $14.95
A pinot grigio is always a safe bet when it comes to holiday drinking and Danzante invites you to ‘Dance the pure emotion of Italian wine.’ Characteristically, Pinot Grigio is a light, crisp, inoffensive white wine that everyone feels really posh saying and even more posh drinking. This particular wine is balanced, dry and smells of tropical fruit such as banana and papaya. The finish is harmonious like a beautiful classical ballet that has been orchestrated specifically with you in mind, ending with such perfection that it may just bring a tear to your eye. Oh- and it has a picturesque label with a sketched dancer on the front. It is regularly in the chilled section at the LCBO. You’re welcome.
- Trapiche Vina Jorge Miralles Terroir Series 2009 Single Vineyard Malbec – $39.95
This is one to bring to the in-laws: In fact it was my father-in-law (to be) who introduced me to this magnificent red. While a bit pricier at $39.95, know that it is worth every penny. This Malbec has a very silky texture with layers of mocha, chocolate and of course, some luscious dark fruit. Use this red as a Christmas gift and/or a hostess gift for mother-in-law. A wine this awesome will earn you a solid place in her good books. Slap a bow on it for extra brownie points.
- Masi Costasera Amarone Classico DOC – $20.95
This wine is a staple at my in-law’s family Christmas Eve party. I, myself, have recycled many an empty Masi bottle, especially at this time of the year. Masi Costasera Amarone Classico DOC is a well-known Italian Amarone that is reliable, firm and full-bodied. Hearty and tasting of earth, ripe plum and dark purple cherry, this red wine seems to be awarded at least 92 points wherever and whenever it is judged. I also find that Moms and Dads are big fans of this wine so feel free to bring this home to your parents as a peace offering for not calling them over the past three months.
- Taylor Fladgate First Estate Port – $16.50
Taylor Fladgate is my favourite port producer: They have ports (yes, from Portugal hence the name) ranging from $16 to near $500. Port is a deep ruby red colour and tastes of rich, dried fruits. This beverage is sweet and should be consumed in small amounts. God help anyone who attempts to down a Pinot Noir glass full of this thick fortified wine- (96g of sugar per liter!!!). Taylor Fladgate’s port makes the perfect digestif and ties a tidy bow on the perfect holiday meal. Port makes a perfect gift for your grown up friends- The LCBO even offers a gift set complete with two branded port glasses. Alternatively, it is nice to pull out at the end of your own holiday meal instead of coffee or tea. If you’re feeling terribly grown up, feel free to pair with a cigar.
- Apothic Red – $15.15
Showing up to any party with an Apothic Red is a pretty safe bet. At every holiday function there is bound to be someone who says, ‘Oh my goodness! I looove Apothic!’ Medium bodied and fruity, Apothic is a drinkable wine with juicy layers of red fruit and vanilla. It’s enticing red and black label makes it aesthetically please before you even remove the cork. For those making an entry into red wine, Apothic is a solid choice with its sweetness and accessibility. This wine will undoubtedly be a hit at your ‘Girls only cookie exchange’ or as the third bottle at family Christmas dinner.