The season of entertaining and imbibing (guilt-free) is fast approaching and there is no better way to get into the holly jolly holiday times than popping, uncorking or twisting open a bottle of wine to share with your friends and loved ones. Whether you’re shopping for Christmas gifts, looking for a new ‘go-to’ to bring to holiday parties or, seeking a twist on a warm winter wine cocktail, I’ve rounded up my favourite wines for your sipping pleasure so you can take the guesswork out of your next trip to the LCBO. There is sure to be something for every wine lover in your life but if you feel like having fun play the ’12 days of Christmas wines’ and treat yourself to the adult advent calendar you’ve never had.
1531 Grande Cuvee Cremant
Cremant is a sparkling wine from France that often gets overlooked next to Champagne. If you love the refined taste on the palate that a traditional method sparkling offers, look for this option that still has all of the toasty notes and Champagne profile. A lot cheaper than Champagne, you can buy multiple bottles and still impress as a host or hostess gift this holiday season. Find it for $18.95 at the LCBO here!
Santa Margherita Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore
Nothing else confirms that the holiday season has arrived quite like Sparkling wine does. Prosecco is from Italy, whereas Champagne and Cremant are from France and this Italian wine is sure to leave a twinkle in both your eye, and on your Christmas tree. All Prosecco comes from North Eastern Italy and the bubbles come from a secondary ferment in the ‘Prosecco’ method also known as the ‘Charmat’ method that happens in a stainless-steel tank vs the ‘Champagne’ or ‘Traditional Method’ where the secondary fermentation happens in the bottle giving the bubbles a more complex mouthfeel and creaminess on the palate as they mingle with the remaining wine goodies (lees) in the bottle. One is not known to be better necessarily better than the other, they just offer different tasting profiles, so it all depends on what your palate prefers. with Prosecco, expect a lighter, clean crisp fruity feel – perfect for pairing with holiday apps and NYE toasts. Look for Santa Margherita Prosecco at the LCBO here, and thank me later. Find it for $19.95 at the LCBO here!
McManis Family Vineyards Viognier 2016
White wine lovers rejoice. Viognier is an aromatic grape varietal that hails from its authentic home in the Rhone in France. It has seen much success in its transition to the New World. Found in Chile, New Zealand and in California where it has seen the most success, as California now has the most acres planted under vine (roughly 10,000 acres) and McManis Family Vineyards has positioned itself as the leader in its Cali incarnation. Think white florals and stone fruit all wrapped up in a pretty little bow. So, wrap it up with a bow and gift it to your wine loving bestie! Find it for $19.95 at the LCBO here!
Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough
Planning to slurp some oysters on NYE? New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect pairing to oysters on the half-shell. With vibrant tropical fruit notes and racy acidity, squeeze a little bit of a zesty lemon wedge on a briny bivalve and see how this pairing pop on your palate. Find this Sauvignon Blanc for $18.05 at the LCBO here!
FRESH Adventures Crisp White
Give winter a warm Canadian welcome from your hearth and home. Make a soul-warming mulled wine cider cocktail with FRESH Adventures Crisp White – the ultimate wine to make white wine cocktails with. It pairs perfectly with Holiday flavours, so get creative – think mulling it with spices like anise or cranberry and cinnamon for a soul-warming beverage that will also leave your home smelling like the holidays! Serve in a mason jar and garnish with a cinnamon stick for an added rustic chic feel. Find it for $12.95 at the LCBO here!
The Grinder Pinotage
Pinotage is a uniquely South African style wine blend that is made up of Pinot Noir and Cinsault, known as South Africa’s signature wine, it has enticing aromas of chocolate and bramble. If you’re feeling ultra-festive why not try pairing it with a fruitcake or gift it to that fruity uncle. Find it at the LCBO for $13.95 here!
Montecillo Rioja Reserva
All Rioja’s are made from native Tempranillo grapes, a varietal native to both Spain and Portugal (where it’s called something different) and other international varieties. Expect full fruit and a minimum number of years spent in oak before being released. That’s the beauty of buying wines from Spain – the terms ‘Reserva’ and ‘Gran Reserva’ designate the top-tier categories for quality in bottle compared to other young ‘Joven’ wines. This gorgeous wine from Bodegas Montecillo is 90% Tempranillo & 10% other indigenous varieties and has gone through 24 months of barrel aging and then a minimum of 16 months of cellaring in bottle to allow for a deeper tertiary and reductive development prior to release. Find it for $17.95 at the LCBO here!
Villa Annaberta Jairo Rosso Venezie IGT
Alas, Italian wines are oh so fine. Introducing the 3 Amarone sisters – Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara. Used traditionally in the production of big, bold Amarone wine, these varietals are found native to Italy and have only recently begun to shine on their own as single varietal wines. Villa Annaberta is a leader in Amarone production, but this Jairo Rosso (red) wine is Corvina 60%, Rondinella 20%, Cabernet 10%, Croatina 10%….. and 100% delicious. Much lighter than Amarone, this is what you want to be sipping at the office holiday party. Find it at the LCBO for $13.95 here!
Villa Annaberta Amarone Della Valpolicella DOCG
The king of Italian wines – Amarone. Coming from the Valpolicella region, true Amarone adheres to strict standards of production designated in its DOCG (wine law) status. Grapes are picked later and dried to raisins before undergoing vinification. The resulting wines are big and slightly rasinated with lots of dried fruit notes, and this wine from the Cottini Family is a steal at the price point. This wine is perfect for the Italian loving oenophile on your list. Look for it for $38.95 at the LCBO here!
Achával Ferrer Malbec 2015
Malbec was once an integral member of the 5-grape Bordeaux boy band until its talents got undeniably over looked by the other members, so it packed up and found its new home in Argentina before also heading back home, where it could shine as a solo act in Cahors, France. This ultra-premium Malbec makes a perfect gift for the wine lover on your list. Bursting with sweet plum notes and fabulous florals, this wine will not disappoint. Find it at the LCBO for $29.95 here!
Taylor Fladgate 10-Year-Old Tawny Port
Port is a sweet and fortified wine that is the signature drink of Portugal coming. It makes a fantastic after dinner drink or accompaniment to sweeter deserts or dark chocolate. In fact, picking a wine to bring to a festive gathering has never been easier. Everyone loves Port and it pairs perfectly with a cheese plate accented by some nuts and dried cranberries. Find it for $35.95 at the LCBO here!
Unwrap a true holiday treasure under the tree with Icewine. A beautifully sweet and viciously delicious treat, there is nothing more quintessentially Canadian than this sipper. And, Inniskillin is the OG Icewine and is credited with putting Ontario one the wine world map when they won the 1991 Grand Prix D’honneur at the Vinexpo competition in France. Find it for $49.95 for 375mL at the LCBO here! Or the small 50mL version here for $7.95 that makes a great stocking stuffer!