The Christmas season is upon us, and that means two things: wine and food. Ok, three things, because I guess I should include family as well. But we all know that people show up to holiday dinners because there will be wine.
Picking a wine to bring to a meal is not an easy task, but that doesn't mean you have to stress-purchase the first red or white wine that you see in the liquor store! I've given up on finding a wine that everyone will like--it doesn't exist, and you'll make yourself crazy trying. But that doesn't mean that crowd-pleasing wines don't exist!
Let me help you find a wine for your next holiday feast, so that you can focus on keeping your stress levels as low as possible! These are among my favourite wines that I've tasted, and pair very well with different variations on "Christmas dinner". I'm still pregnant and can't actually consume any of them this year, so let me know if you try any of them so that I can live vicariously through you!
A quick note: I have chosen a few wines that are imported into Alberta by Enotri. I have worked with the owner, Eberhard, in the past, and I trust his palate implicitly. I'm genuinely not sure if these wines can be sourced outside of Alberta, so I've included wines that I know can be found in different parts of Canada as well.
Average pricing is per Vivino.
DOMAINE DE L’AMAUVE SÉGURET CUVÉE LAURANCES (france)
I'm going to start this recommendation with a huge apology, because I can't guarantee that you can find a bottle of this in Alberta, let alone anywhere else. The winery is low-yield, and won't release any vintage that they aren't 100% proud of. But honestly, I couldn't imagine a list of my favourite wines to drink at Christmas without including my very favourite red wine ever.
That's right. I'm declaring my allegiance. If there was one wine that I could drink for the rest of my life, this would be it.
A blend of grenache and syrah, this is a well-balanced and elegant wine. Deep purple in colour, it's full bodied with a healthy boldness from the tannins. Spicy plums on the palate, and a long finish, make this Seguret a memorable wine. Because of the intensity, this is a wine to be savoured and enjoyed, not thrown back to wash down your meal. It pairs very well with red meats (lamb especially!) but I quite enjoy it with pies and tarts as well.
Average Price: $24
Hillside Estates Gamay Noir (canada)
I'm a really big fan of gamay noir in general because I really enjoy that it's a lighter, more fun red. Hillside is a favourite winery of mine, so when they released their first gamay noir--the 2014--I was incredibly excited.
It's medium bodied, and it pairs well with pretty much everything. From pizza to pasta to roast beef and turkey, I've tried it all, and I've yet to be disappointed with a pairing. It's very fruit forward, so expect juicy raspberries, blackberries, and a woody, earthiness that their website tells me is, in fact, cedar. The acidity is balanced by it's slight sweetness, with a relatively short finish. Chill it slightly before decanting if you want to curb some of the fruitiness in the wine.
Average Price: $22 (winery)
Lang Vineyards Marechal Foch (Canada)
All of these wines are special, but if you can get your hands on a bottle of Marechal Foch from Lang Vineyards, you won't be disappointed. The terroir is considered glacial due to the groundwater, but the climate is typical of the Okanagan Valley--hot summers, somewhat mild winters. The combination of the two make for stunning grapes, regardless of the bottle, but the Marechal Foch...it's special.
The grapes used in this wine are the very best of what the area can offer, and the care and attention paid to this variety during the winemaking process results in a wine that can only be described as spectacular.
It has a rich nose, with prominent plum and blackberry flavours on the palate. It's finish is long and smooth, and the balance. This is BC wine at it's very finest, my friends.
Price (per Lang's website): $21.00
*This wine sells out every year, so I'd suggest ordering directly from the vineyard's website if you can. I've tasted the 2012, 2013, and 2014 vintages, and all have been spectacular. The Legacy Marechal Foch (if you can get it!) is truly an experience as well.
Kulina Gewurtztraminer by Andreas Bender (Germany)
I have a soft spot in my heart for gewurtz, as it was the first wine that I was introduced to that I actually tasted and enjoyed, rather than just downing it to get drunk. Classy, I know, but you've done it too. Don't deny it.
Because it's a perennial favourite of mine, I've tried easily hundreds of different gewurtztraminers, and I'm very picky about which ones I'll buy more than once. For Canadian gewurtz, Blasted Church is my go-to, and it's relatively easy to find across the country. I honestly never thought I'd unseat Blasted Church as my favourite, but here we are.
Andreas Bender is an incredibly talented winemaker. I had the privilege of working with him on several winemaker's dinners earlier this year, and his passion for wine is captivating. Beyond his passion, his skill for producing incredible wines is absolutely remarkable. I could easily have made this list exclusively using his wines, but that would be unfair to anyone outside of Alberta that can't get their hands on it!
The Kulina is an experience, truly. The main point to note is that this wine sings. Balanced doesn't begin to describe it--it's harmonious, and every element comes together perfectly to create a flavour and mouth feel that is unmatched. Technically, the palate may detect lychees, citrus, crisp green apples, but a technical review of this wine doesn't do it justice. It's an experience, that's the best way that I can describe it. And I'll keep saying it until you try it and agree with me!
Average Price: $23.78
Château de Puligny Montrachet Saint-Aubin 1er Cru En Remilly (france)
I had the pleasure of enjoying this wine at a chef's table dinner a few years ago, I believe the actual vintage was 2010. It was paired with a smoked salmon amuse bouche, and to this day I can still remember the flavour combination.
Like most whites, the wine if very crisp, with a sharp acidity. Unlike most whites, however, the standout aroma and flavour is fresh lemon. Normally you'd also find other fruits, perhaps fresh cut grass or a similar spring aroma, but the lemon is pleasantly overpowering. There is a minerality to it that I can't put my finger on that balances out the flavours, making it much more enjoyable that you may expect. It's lush for a white, and has an enjoyable mouth feel.
Average Price: $32
Joie Farm A Noble Blend (Canada)
If you're a fan of Alsacian-styled wines, then this Noble Blend is for you.
The nose on this wine is distinctly BC white wine, with pear and melon being the standout aromas. A slight spiciness on both the nose and the palate is distinctly nutmeg, making this a great pairing for Christmas dinner! It's off-dry with a high acidity, making it an intensely flavourful and refreshing wine. I prefer to drink this particular wine colder than most whites, so I throw it in the freezer for about 10 minutes before serving.
Average Price: $28 (Vivino); $23.90 (winery)
Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe Pinot Grigio Ramato (Italy)
This is one of my very favourite white wines; to me, it tastes like sunshine and relaxing evenings--but that doesn't mean it can only be enjoyed in the summer!
Crisp, light, and refreshing, it's peach colour is a result of very minimal contact with the grape skins. The nose is very clean, and the main flavours on the palate are fruit and floral--think honeysuckle, apple blossoms, peaches and apricots. This is a very balanced wine, with no hint of sourness. I drink it with everything, but it is a lovely accompaniment to fish, roasted poultry, and Brussels sprouts.
Average Price: $22.99
Poplar Grove Winery Blanc de Noirs (Canada)
I'm a rose girl, and I'm not ashamed of it! I'm also a year-round rose girl, which is why I'm including this Poplar Grove bottle on the list.
I really love Poplar Grove Winery. Not only is the tasting room breathtaking, but the owners exclusively source their grapes from their own 100 acres of vines. Estate-grown wines have a special quality about them; once you've visited the estate, and tasted the wines on location, every time you open a new bottle--no matter where you are--you'll taste the estate in the wine. It's like when you smell something, and it takes you back to a memory or place--estate wines capture the flavour and essence of the location and bottle them for future enjoyment.
Their award-winning rose is very fruit forward, with a ton of strawberries on the palate. Rhubarb, melon, roses, and citrus flavours all float in once the initial strawberry crush subsides. It's bright, fun, and incredibly refreshing--the long finish will have you pacing your glass so that you can enjoy all of the flavours it has to offer.