By: Matt Steeves – Quercus Vino Ottawa

Buying high quality interesting wine is easy if you’re willing to pay for it. For $30-$50+/bottle, you’re likely to get a great wine. That isn’t necessarily the case when you only want to pay $10-$20 per bottle.

Lianne Laing and I chatted about terrific wines for the holidays this morning in our regular wine segment. Click to watch our video chat below:

You can also catch us again on CTV on December 18  when we’ll be chatting about sparkling wines for the New Year.

What I’ve done here is assembled a selection of wines that you can be sure will complement your holiday meals and gatherings and most importantly, they’re all affordable, quality wines that won’t break the bank, yet deliver on taste. I should mention that each of these wines is available at the LCBO or SAQ here in the National Capital Region.

I’ve got wines from all over the world, in different styles, to showcase how versatile holiday wine pairing can be. From light and fruity white wine to big bold spicy red wine, and sparkling wines to sweet and refreshing ice wines, there are so many options to make your own perfect pairing at home this time of year.

There’s no shortage of great wines at the LCBO and SAQ, however, finding quality wines at a low price takes a bit of experience and that’s why I’m here – The goal is to offer you a shopping list of readily available, affordable, interesting wines to help make your wine buying that much easier.

holiday wine

Let’s start with the white wines which are naturally terrific pairings for turkey and glazed ham dishes, or rich seafood chowder (a family tradition at my home):

Remy Pannier Sauvignon Blanc – Loire France ($14.95) – fantastic chalky minerality!  A superbly food-friendly Sauvignon Blanc from the home of Sauvignon Blanc, the Loire Valley.  This is what I’ll be enjoying with our family tradition of seafood chowder with steamed veggies on the side, over the holidays.  Once you try this, you’ll understand why Sauvignon Blanc should be at the top of your shopping list for white wines.

Sauvignon Blanc RP-2

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc – New Zealand ($16.95)

Oyster Bay Chardonnay – New Zealand ($16.95)

Sterling Chardonnay – Napa Valley, California ($22.95)

Reds – that pair well with beef, pork, lamb, stews, roasted or grilled, pasta dishes, like lasagna which is our family tradition on Christmas Eve. All these wines will warm your heart and soul:

(lighter bodied and fuller bodied, value and more expensive…)…

Oyster Bay Pinot Noir – New Zealand ($19.95) – One of my favourite Pinot Noir expressions, especially at that price!

Robert Oatley Tic Tok Shiraz – Australia ($15.95) – incredible value!

Thelema Mountain Red – South Africa ($12.95) – can not find better value!

Foreign Affair Winery The Conspiracy 2012 – Ontario ($19.95) – This is an Ontario Ripasso from the Pioneer in Appassimento winemaking from Ontario, the Foreign Affair Winery!

Featherstone Cab Franc – Ontario ($17.95) – great wine to enjoy with roasts, or beef tenderloin steaks.

Creekside Cab Shiraz – Ontario ($16.95) – A meaty big red that would pair wonderfully with medium-rare roasts.  Decant 1-2 hours before.

Pascual Toso Ltd Edition Malbec – Argentina ($15.95) – Exceptional value priced wine to enjoy with roasts, steak, or aged firm cheese.  Robert Parker gave it 90 points, so I’m not the only fan of it!

Toso_LTD_90 Parker

Trapiche Extravaganza Red Blend – Argentina ($15.95) – a crowd pleasing beauty!

Santa Alicia Carmenere – Chile ($12.90) – Incredible value!  Pair with chile, stews, or stir fry.

Errazuriz Max Cab Sauvignon – Chile ($18.95) – First impression was that it was double the price.  Exceptional value for this Chilean Cab.

Frescobaldi Nippazzano Chianti – Tuscany, Italy ($21.95) – I’ll be serving this on Christmas eve with our family’s tradition – homemade lasagne.  This is a terrific Tuscan wine.  Get some while it’s still around.

Rosenblum Zinfandel – Pasa Robles, California ($19.95) – Your guests will be thrilled to enjoy this with appetizers such as tangy meat balls, short ribs, or braised beef dishes.

Sterling Merlot – Napa Valley, California ($30) – A pioneer in Napa Valley, Sterling has been producing high quality wines for nearly 5 decades, and the quality shows.

Chateau Pipeau – Bordeaux, France ($38.95) – One of my favourite Grand Cru wines from Bordeaux, that I can afford!  This is an ideal cellar starter yet is ready to enjoy now if you don’t have the patience to wait 5-15 years for it to continue to evolve.

Dessert Wines – for me there’s no better time of the year to enjoy Canadian ice wines or fortified wines like Port. These go hand in hand with the various cakes and desserts that have dried fruit in them, like mom’s fruit cake or your neighbor’s rum cake.

Reif Vidal Icewine – Niagara, Canada (iconic Canadian icewine) – $24.95 (200ml) – This delicious icewine from Reif Estate Winery demonstrates just how terrific their icewine is.  No wonder the world has such an affinity for this product.  Reif has been at it for 30 years and the proof is in the bottle.  I’m a big fan of the smaller size bottle as it’s a way to keep the cost of a very expensive style of wine (ice wine) within reach and offers just enough for everyone at the table to get a nice taste.  Also available in larger size formats if you don’t mind spending a bit more.  Well worth it in my opinion, especially over the holidays.

Sandeman 1997 Vintage Vau Port – Portgual – $11.80 (375ml) – this is my best kept secret at the LCBO…incredible value, so much that it doesn’t really make sense why this is only $12.  It’s been in a bottle since 1999 which means it’s ready to be enjoyed now and in fact, I’d encourage you to enjoy it before 2015 as it’s probably reaching the end of it’s peak drinking window.  Pair with fruit cake, rich chocolate desserts, or pungent soft cheese (stilton).

Sparkling wine – celebrating isn’t complete without sparkling wines. Sparkling wines are some of the most food friendly wines available and you should always have at least one bottle chilled and ready to serve. Make that two bottles around the holiday season. You don’t have to buy a $50 Champagne to get a quality sparkling wine. Spanish Cava, made the same way as Champagne, can be found for $12-$20 and taste twice that good.   From Canada to New Zealand, you can find terrific sparkling wines at very reasonable prices.

I will present the a full flight of ~10 sparkling wines on Dec 18th on CTV, in the meantime here are a couple of my favourite value-priced sparkling wines:

Trapiche Extra Brut 2013 – Argentina – $11.95 – My favourite value priced sparkling wine at the moment.  Love the flinty minerality on this extra value priced sparkling wine.

Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 (aka Moscato D’Asti) – $26 – Available at SAQ. – Lianne Laing absolutely loved this, and I share her sentiment as it’s a fantastic wine, proudly from Nova Scotia, Canada!  Enjoy with fresh fruit, scones, semi-sweet desserts, or simply on its own.

Summary: You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a quality wine to enjoy over the holiday season, however, it pays to do some research or let a sommelier or LCBO product consultant do the “hard” work for you! Check out http://www.lcbo.ca for these and other holiday wine recommendations.