Festive wines to please all your guests this holiday season
With holiday preparations nearing their peak, it’s a good time to remember that guidelines for selecting wine for a festive gathering should take into account both the participants and the style of the gathering. A cocktail party requires different drink options than a seated dinner. Likewise, any dietary restrictions — particularly gluten-free or vegan diets — should be reflected in the beverage choices you choose to serve, as well as the food.
Ultimately, holiday entertainment is about creating the conditions for everyone to have a good time, including the hosts. With that in mind, here are some sparkling wine recommendations to add style to a cocktail party, a plea for balanced and flavorful white wines to accompany dinner, and kudos to the growing range of vegan-friendly wines that are downright delicious even if you’re a confirmed carnivore.
Sparkling wines are not only considered festive, their fresh character works with a wide variety of tastes. These bubbles help refresh your taste buds between bites. Here are three traditional-method sparkling wines (fermented in the bottle you’re pouring from) to consider.
Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Extra Brut Rosé Champagne 2013 (France), PRICE: $106.95
A product of a challenging growing season in Champagne, with grapes harvested in October as opposed to the usual late August and September timeframe, this is a racy and flavorful rosé champagne. It will age beautifully, but I’m really enjoying the freshness and intensity right now. Drink now through 2029. Available in Ontario.
Noble Ridge The One Sparkling 2017 (Canada), PRICE: $39.99
Noble Ridge continues to impress with the quality of the sparkling wines produced at its Okanagan Falls Winery. This blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir benefits from prolonged aging on the lees (the spent yeast cells left over after the second fermentation) which impart rich nutty and bready aromas and flavors to the finished wine. Drink now through 2025. Available direct, nobleridge.com
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava (Spain), PRICE: $16.95
Crafted in a consistently indulgent style, this classic cava label offers a pleasantly fruity and refreshing character. The crisp finish cleanses your palate between bites, making it a great wine to enjoy with appetizers or a meal. drink now Available in Ontario at the above price, $17.99 in British Columbia ($16.99 through December 31), various prices in Alberta, $18.99 in Saskatchewan, $18.99 in Manitoba, $15.75 in Quebec, $20.49 in New Brunswick, $21 in Nova Scotia, $19.99 in Prince Edward Island, $20.83 in Newfoundland.
Red wines are usually given undue attention in meal planning, but white wines are just as important – if not more so. The best white wines for the dinner table offer an appealing aroma and flavor with a nice balance of acidity, alcohol and sweetness, like these recommended recent releases.
Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc 2021 (United States), PRICE: $21.95
True to the Gott style, this Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of grapes grown throughout California to produce a balanced and concentrated white wine. Layers of citrus, peaches and tropical fruits make this easy to appreciate and enjoyable. drink now Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $29.99 in Saskatchewan, $19.99 in Manitoba, $21.60 in Quebec, $27.97 in Nova Scotia.
Matua Sauvignon Blanc Hawke’s Bay 2021 (New Zealand), PRICE: $18
This fresh and juicy Sauvignon Blanc is a different variant of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and comes from Hawke’s Bay on the North Island. Expect more tropical fruit aromas and flavors than you would find in styles from Marlborough, with some floral and herbal notes. drink now Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.99 in British Columbia ($15.99 through December 31), various prices in Alberta, $20.49 in Saskatchewan, $18.49 in Manitoba, $38.68 ( 1.5 liters) in Newfoundland.
It may come as a surprise that most wines are not vegan. For example, products of animal origin are often used during production for clarification and stabilization. Vegan-friendly wines are those that do not use animal products to refine or filter the finished wine. Vegan-certified wines are audited by a third party to confirm that vineyard and winery practices, including packaging, follow vegan principles. This information is usually shown on the back label.
Bottega Rose Gold Brut Sparkling (Italy), PRICE: $29.95
Many sparkling wines, grappas and liqueurs from Bottega’s extensive range are vegan-certified, including this attractive rosé prosecco with its pleasant blend of berry and citrus aromas. drink now Available in Ontario at the above price, $34.99 in British Columbia ($32.99 through December 31), various prices in Alberta, $28.70 in Quebec, $34.99 in Nova Scotia.
Cave Spring Estate Grown Cabernet Franc 2020 (Canada), PRICE: $19.95
Produced on the original Cave Spring Vineyard on Beamsville Bench, this fragrant and focused red wine is a great expression of Cabernet Franc. The core of juicy berry fruit is nicely balanced by polished tannins and light acidity. Drink now through 2028. Vegan friendly. Available in Ontario at price above or direct, cavespring.ca, various prices in Alberta.
Domaine Jean Bousquet Malbec Organic 2021 (Argentina), PRICE: $15.95
A precious Malbec expression with plum fruit and spice accents. The smooth texture adds to the appeal. Drink now until 2025. Vegan friendly. Available in Ontario at the above price, $17.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $16.04 in Manitoba, $18.99 in Prince Edward Island.
El Petit Bonhomme Blanco 2020 (Spain), PRICE: $17.99
This fresh and inviting white wine is made from Verdejo grapes grown on 50-year-old bush vines in the Rueda appellation. A mix of tank and barrel fermented batches results in a wine with a nice balance and intensity. drink now Vegan certified. Available at the above price in British Columbia ($16.99 through December 31), various prices in Alberta, $18.99 in Manitoba, $15.75 in Quebec (2021 vintage).
Taittinger Brut Réserve Champagne (France), PRICE: $61.20
Appealing, rich and refreshing, the Taittinger style is bright and balanced. A great all-round expression that’s enjoyable on its own or with a meal. Vegan friendly. Available in Ontario at the above price, $74.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $60.25 in Quebec, $88 in Nova Scotia (Bishop’s Cellar).
Zonte’s Footstep Chocolate Factory Shiraz 2019 (Australia), PRICE: $19.95
Crafted in a rich and mature style, this concentrated and full-bodied Shiraz from McLaren Vale offers the chocolate flavors promised in the name along with an intriguing blend of herbal and spice notes. Drink now until 2026. Vegan certified. Available in Ontario at the above price, $27.20 in Newfoundland.
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