CTV Morning Live

Ottawa, ON

November 2018

Today on CTV Morning Live, we’re talking winter wines, otherwise stated, wines that complement the season…wines that are suited for entertaining, enjoying with comfort food, and enjoying this holiday season and throughout the winter. Check out the video link here!

With the holiday season quickly approaching, and lots of fresh snow on the ground, there’s no debating the fact that winter is on its way…and with any change in the seasons, the arrival of winter brings with it all kinds of opportunities for change.  Take for example the meals we enjoy this time of year, they tend to be richer and heartier dishes, with plenty of comfort foods that magically warm the soul.  This is also the time of year that we start holiday entertaining, and enjoying frequent dinner parties with the fireplace glowing in the background, and of course lots of tasty wines to keep us warm on those chilly winter nights.  So given the change in seasons and the dishes we’re serving, this is a great time to think about which wines you’re pouring to make sure they’re best suited for the occasion.


I find I’m naturally drawn to heartier meals once the temperature drops.  I’m sure there’s a very good explanation for our tendency to crave rich pasta and braised dishes this time of year, and like clockwork every year after Thanksgiving that’s exactly what happens.

I love enjoying crisp white wines throughout the spring and summer – I find a bottle of chilled refreshing white wine in the summer sun, paired with light summer fare, is a wonderful wine and food experience, and now that the seasons have changed, so are some of my most common wine and food pairings.  Full bodied red (and white!) wines, paired with braised dishes, rich Italian pasta, and casseroles, are such soul warming wine and food experiences.  Those are the sort of gastronomic experiences that are sure to be enjoyed by all, and when a fine and appropriately paired wine is used, it elevates the experience and showcases your game and just how exceptional your sommelier skills are!

Let’s get into my top winter wine picks of the season.

Here are a few of my top recommended wines for you to check out this winter and holiday season…

  • Whenever there’s an opportunity to celebrate life’s special moments, do so with a bottle of sparkling wine. They’re perfect all year round, as they’re always ‘in-season’!  This Cava, from Spain, is tasty and a great value-priced alternative to Champagne.  I like to greet people at the door with a glass of sparkling wine when I take their coat, it’s a small gesture that welcomes your guests in great style thereby starting off your event in


Villa Conchi Cava $17.95

Try this small batch off-dry sparkling wine from British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.

Niche Wine Co’s inaugural vintage sparkling wine would make a terrific entertaining sparkling wine as its slightly off-dry style complements finger foods and holiday cheer perfectly.

Buy Nice Wine Co’s Small Batch Bubbles winery direct – $25

  • For white wines, I’m a huge fan of premium Sauvignon Blanc, all year round, and California Fumé Blanc, especially Robert Mondavi’s Oakville (Napa Valley), is an outstanding white wine to enjoy as the temperature drops outside…This wine style has more body and texture than most Sauvignon Blancs would dream of, which is partially thanks to the winemakers subtle oak aging and sûr lie aging, but this Sauvignon Blanc is from some of the best vineyards in the world which is why it’s such an outstanding wine and top of my list this season.   An incredible pairing with seafood, hors d’oeuvres, and creamy pasta dishes.
The provenance of Robert Mondavi’s Oakville Fumé Blanc is some of the finest Grand Cru quality vineyards in North America, being the world-renowned To Kalon Vineyard in Napa Valley’s Oakville AVA.

Robert Mondavi Oakville Fume Blanc  – $44.95

Meiomi Rose – $27.95

Meiomi Rosé is sourced from a blend of California’s preeminent coastal wine regions. The Pinot Noir-dominant blend layers notes of strawberry and rose petal from Sonoma County fruit, bright acidity and minerality from Monterey County terroir, and flavors of stone fruit and a creaminess on the palate from grapes grown in Santa Barbara County. Each of the vineyards chosen for this wine offers the best expression of its appellation, carefully blended to achieve balance, complexity, and richness of flavor. A great wine to enjoy this winter with a wide range of dishes. $27.95 available @LCBO

  • Grenache, is one of the most widely planted red grapes in the world.  If you haven’t heard of it then no worries as you’ve probably tasted it in blends from Southern France, or Spain, and I bet you liked it as the style tends to be a bit spicy, with berry flavours, in a style that’s soft on the palate, making it very approachable and easy to like. This is a great wine to enjoy with braised dishes, BBQ, or just to enjoy fireside.  Check out this value-priced Spanish wine from Torres…$13.95 @LCBO, and even cheaper throughout December.

Torres Sangre de Toro Garnacha $13.95   ($2 off Dec 9 to Jan 5)

  • Tuscan wines are world-renowned for their storied history, consistent high quality, and approachable style.  Take for example this premium Chianti Classico Gran Selezione from Ruffino…an exceptional choice for any winter meal, holiday entertaining, or gifting purpose too!

2014 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro – $47.95

Ruffino’s Riserva Ducale Oro is produced only in the best vintages, a tradition started in 1947 to showcase the finest fruit from Ruffino’s acclaimed vineyards. The 2014 sourced fruit from Ruffino’s Gretole, Santedame, and Casavecchia di Cagnano estates in the renowned Castellina subregion of Chianti Classico. Savoury, structured, and delicious, the nose is full of fresh sage, violet, plum, dark chocolate, cherry, espresso, leather, and cedar. Terrific structure, it’s immediately accessible and beautifully balanced, with fine tannins coating the palate making this premium Chianti ideally suited for rich dishes such as pasta bolognese or cinghiale in umido (stewed wild boar). Pop and pour and enjoy over the next decade. Tasted September 2018. 93 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Chateau des Charmes Cabernet Merlot – $15.95

Chateau Des Charmes, founded by Paul Bosc in 1978, has been making wine as a family ever since. Their 2016 Cabernet Merlot is a blend of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot sourced from several vineyards. This full-bodied wine has floral and berry-fruit aromas and flavours, finishing with supple tannins.

  • British Columbia produces exceptional quality red and white wines, and their Merlot is outstanding, and perfectly suited for enjoying this time of year.  Case in point is this Black Sage Vineyard Merlot that’s sure to be enjoyed by all!

2015 Black Sage Vineyard Merlot – $29.95

Deep ruby red, the nose shows dark plum, stewed cherries, mocha, smoky notes, and its namesake in spades, Black Sage – a hallmark of fine Okanagan Merlot. Silky smooth and very inviting with layers of dark chocolate, plum, and black cherry persisting on the finish. This luscious wine pairs beautifully with braised dishes, smoked brisket, and gourmet burgers. Tasted September 2018. 90 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

  • The Okangan Valley, Canada’s own pocket desert, also produces fantastic Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon and Burrowing Owl’s Athene is a blend of exactly that…making it a wonderful expression of premium Okanagan wine, also perfectly suited for enjoying this winter given it’s rich full bodied style.

Burrowing Owl Athene – $44.95

Burrowing Owl Athene – $44.95

This beautiful Okanagan blend showcases the strength, elegance, and harmony of Burrowing Owl’s premium wines. A blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon and 42% Syrah, from Burrowing Owl’s estate vineyards on the Black Sage Bench, it’s deep and concentrated with layers of dark fruits, sweet spices, and an elegant yet rich texture. The wine was aged for 18 months in a blend of 71% French, 23% American and 6% Hungarian oak, with only 17% new oak, then bottled unfiltered, and the result is pure Black Sage Bench expression of these two remarkable varietals that together are far greater than they’d be on their own. A testament to the winemaking genius of Burrowing Owl’s team, that produced a truly remarkable wine from the outstanding 2015 vintage. Tasted November 2018. 95 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

  • Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is loved around the world for its approachable style that consistently delivers high quality results each vintage, without fail!  Rutherford Ranch’s Cabernet is a great example of a modestly priced Napa Cab that’s guaranteed to be loved, and complement any winter dish you’re serving.

Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon – $39.95

Rutherford Ranch excels in the production of high quality, complex, and consumer friendly wines. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, from Napa Valley, shows concentrated deep dark fruit, sweet spice, vanilla, herbs and earthiness on the nose followed by a silky smooth and well integrated palate that perfectly integrates the refreshing fruit with the mouth covering tannins. Very well balanced and what a bargain for a beautiful Napa Cab! All in all, this is one heck of a sexy beast that’s sure to please…Tasted September 2015. 91 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Now for some soul warming spirits… when nestled up by a fire, enjoying a tasty cocktail or sipping on a spirit neat, either way, these are great ways to enjoy a cold winter evening with friends.

I’ve selected two Rums, from Nicaragua, from the world renowned producer, Flor de Caña.  Last year Flor de Caña was named Global Rum Producer of the Year by the prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London.

Flor de Cana 12 year Rum – $37.75 ($3 off now)

Flor de Caña on the rocks, with an orange twist for garnish.  A great sipping spirit in the winter!

This reddish, 12-year-old amber ultra-premium rum is stately, elegant and semi-sweet. It’s delicious neat, on the rocks or with a splash of water or soda. It won a Gold Medal in 2016 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Flor de Cana 7 year Grand Reserva – $33.85

A 7-year-old, mahogany-hued, extra-smooth and full-bodied rum, recommended for sipping with sparkling water and a twist of orange, with giner ale,  in a Rum and Eggnog, or in the Flor Old-Fashioned cocktail, which is prepared with brown sugar, three to four drops of coffee bitters, a splash of sparkling water and two orange rinds.

Try this premium aged Rum with Farm Boy Organic Eggnog…a sublime holiday cocktail!  Add Eggnog, Rum, ice, and shake in a cocktail shaker, strain, and garnish with nutmeg and a cinnamon stick for a delicious seasonal cocktail.

Try Flor de Caña Rum with Ginger Ale for a fresh and spicy, and easy to make, cocktail.