December 20, 2018 – Ottawa, ON

Today on CTV Morning Live, Sommelier Matt Steeves showcased his top wine picks for entertaining and gifting this holiday season. Checkout the CTV video here!

The holiday season is a great time of year to gift and enjoy wine.  Between the numerous holiday parties and gifts for your boss, colleagues, neighbours, etc., there are tons of opportunities to gift and serve wine, the question always is which wines to choose out of the 10,000 available at the LCBO?

There’s no need to stress when it comes to selecting wines for gifting or entertaining.  Although the thought of those 10,000 options at the LCBO can be a bit intimidating, the good news is there are plenty of affordable and much loved wines that are readily available at your local LCBO and they’re guaranteed to be enjoyed.

The wines selected here are the result of scouring the aisles of the LCBO, and tasting hundreds of wines this past year, to select some wines perfectly suited for gifting and entertaining this holiday season.  Whether you’re looking to spend under $20 or a few times that, we’ve got plenty of options throughout the whole price range for you to consider.

With Christmas only a few days away, there’s no shortage of holiday entertaining that will be taking place the next two weeks leading up to New Year’s Eve.  Given all those parties that are taking place, it’s nice to have some well suited options and these Sommelier approved wine picks are the perfect choice for your holiday gatherings, for giving to a host, or for tucking under the tree for that special wine lover in your life.

With so many options at the LCBO and SAQ it can be a bit overwhelming to start looking for that perfect bottle but it’s actually not that hard to find great wines at affordable price ranges.  With just a few tidbits of information about your party or your host’s preferences, any Sommelier or knowledgeable LCBO product consultant can easily recommend a few great wine picks that will fit within your budget and work wonderfully for you this holiday season.

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Keep in mind that you don’t need to spend a lot to get wines that will be enjoyed.  In fact, when it comes to entertaining, often the most suitable wines are some of the least expensive, and these wines tend to appeal to a wide variety of tastes. Italian Prosecco (bubbly), California Cabernet,  Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc are great examples of, generally speaking, very widely appealing wines and wines that can be found at very attractive prices making them great for buying in volume to serve at large holiday gatherings.  I call these wines ‘crowd pleasers‘ or ‘consumer friendly‘ as they’re affordable and most find them super tasty.

I’ve selected some great entertaining and gifting wines below that are guaranteed to be crowd pleasers, well received and enjoyed by many this holiday season.

Before we get into my top picks, one recommendation I like to offer for people looking to host holiday parties is to serve more sparkling wines.  Sparkling wine is super festive, pairs beautifully with all foods (especially hors d’oeuvres), and really steps up your hosting game when you greet your guests with a glass of bubbly upon their arrival.

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There are terrific value priced sparkling wines out there such as Prosecco and Cava. Prosecco, which is a sparkling wine made in Italy, and Cava from Spain, can be purchased often for under $20 a bottle, and since Prosecco tends to have a kiss of sweetness it’s well suited for welcoming guests to your home, whereas a $50+ Champagne may be best for that special toast or to enjoy with one of the five courses in that fancy meal.  Offering a glass of $50 Champagne to everyone gets pretty expensive though, but a $17 bottle of Cava runs you under $3 a glass which is similar to the cost of a bottle of beer yet at the right time and place can mean so much more.

So, here is my Sommelier recommended list of wines I’ve assembled that you can be sure will complement your holiday festivities and be appreciated by anyone that’s fortunate enough to receive one of these as a gift.

Starting out with festive fizz…Image result for champagne, christmas

Having a tough time finding a gift for someone that has it all?  It’s not easy, even if you go with a sure bet of consumables, such as wines, then you face the challenge of picking the right one(s) and with 10,000 options at LCBO… it can be tough!  Where do you even start?

What wine do you pick to gift your boss, colleague, neighbour, prof (or kid’s teacher), as a holiday gift or as a hosting gift for their holiday gathering you’re attending tomorrow night?  Not to worry, I’ve scoured the aisles of the LCBO to select some perfect gifts for you this holiday season whether you’re looking to spend under $20 or a few times that, and plenty of options in between.  These are wines that are perfectly suited for gifting and entertaining this holiday season and are sure to be well received and enjoyed, IMHO.

And despite Christmas being only a few days away, there’s no shortage of holiday entertaining that will be taking place the next two weeks, which makes these Sommelier approved wine picks perfect choices for your holiday gatherings, or for giving to a host.

With so many options at the LCBO and SAQ it can be a bit overwhelming to start looking for that perfect bottle but it’s actually not that hard to find great wines at affordable price ranges.  With just a few tidbits of information about your party or your host’s preferences, any Sommelier or knowledgeable product consultant can easily recommend a few great wine picks that will fit within your budget and work wonderfully for you this holiday season.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to spend a lot to get wines that will be enjoyed.  In fact, when it comes to entertaining, often the most suitable wines are some of the least expensive, and these wines tend to appeal to a wide variety of tastes. Italian Prosecco (bubbly), California Cabernet,  Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc are great examples of, generally speaking, very widely appealing wines and wines that can be found at very attractive prices making them great for buying in volume to serve at large holiday gatherings.  I call these wines ‘crowd pleasers‘ or ‘consumer friendly‘ as they’re affordable and most find them super tasty.

I’ve selected some great entertaining and gifting wines below that are guaranteed to be crowd pleasers, well received and enjoyed by many this holiday season.

Before we get into my top picks, one recommendation I like to offer for people looking to host holiday parties is to serve more sparkling wines.  Sparkling wine is super festive, pairs beautifully with all foods (especially hors d’oeuvres), and really steps up your hosting game when you greet your guests with a glass of bubbly upon their arrival.

There are terrific value priced sparkling wines out there such as Prosecco and Cava. Prosecco, which is a sparkling wine made in Italy, and Cava from Spain, can be purchased often for under $20 a bottle, and since Prosecco tends to have a kiss of sweetness it’s well suited for welcoming guests to your home, whereas a $50+ Champagne may be best for that special toast or to enjoy with one of the five courses in that fancy meal.  Offering a glass of $50 Champagne to everyone gets pretty expensive though, but a $17 bottle of Cava runs you under $3 a glass which is similar to the cost of a bottle of beer yet at the right time and place can mean so much more.

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So, here is my Sommelier recommended list of wines I’ve assembled that you can be sure will complement your holiday festivities and be appreciated by anyone that’s fortunate enough to receive one of these as a gift.

Starting out with festive fizz…

Santa Margherita Prosecco – $17.95 at LCBO

Santa Margherita Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Santa Margherita’s Brut Prosecco Superiore is a terrific option when looking for a refreshing sparkling wine. Made from 100% Glera grapes, this Prosecco has lively bubbles with crisp pear and white peach aromas and a delicious apple finish persisting on the refreshed palate. Great for pairing with rich appetizers, and makes a terrific ‘spritz’ which is ideal in the summer sun. Tasted February 2017. 89 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Regularly $19.95 but on sale for the holidays at $17.95!

Ruffino Prosecco – $16.95

Ruffino

A very approachable (and value priced) Prosecco exhibiting beautiful orchard fruit and a pleasant note of fresh baked bread. Refreshing fine bubbles make this wine great on its own, yet pairs wonderfully with your favourite appetizers (and brunch!). This would make a great house-bubbly to keep on-hand (and chilled) for those impromptu celebrations, and a great choice for holiday entertaining, or to enjoy any evening! 89 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Ruffino Prosecco $16.95 at LCBO

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Jackson Triggs Grand Reserve Entourage Sparkling Brut 2015 – $29.95

JTEntourage2015

A great way to ring in the New Year and celebrate every occasion this holiday season.  This Niagara Sparkling Brut is made in the “Methode Classique” way (just like Champagne) which allows a creamy texture and bright (food friendly) acidity. This veratile bubbly has notes of floral and lemon zest.  Pairs well with chevre cranberry tart or tangy shrimp appetizers.

Image result for chevre cranberry tart
chevre cranberry tart

2011 vintage review: A fantastic traditional method sparkling wine from the Niagara Peninsula! Jackson-Triggs’ Entourage Grand Reserve 2011 Sparkling Brut is a fine example of the high quality value priced vintage sparkling wine that Canada’s producing and excelling at. A recent Gold Medal winner at the WineAlign 2015 National Wine Awards of Canada (the Nationals), the price does not reflect the high quality of this aged vintage bubbly. A light golden yellow colour, evidence of it’s nearly 3 years spent on the lees to extract colour, body, flavour, and aromatics, the nose is full of sweet green apple, citrus, and lime peel. A fine mousse covers and cleanses the palate leaving a fresh apple and mineral finish that persists until the next sip. Terrific with rich dishes, seafood, celebrations and those memorable toasts, this wine shows just how versatile quality vintage sparkling wine can be. Enjoy 2015-2020. Tasted October 2015. 91 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Entourage Sparkling Brut available at LCBO – $29.95

Now, into some red and white wines.

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Kim Crawford Holiday Edition Sauvignon Blanc – $16.95 ($3 off this holiday season)

Kim Crawford continues to be one of the most appreciated Sauvignon Blanc expressions around the world. The 2016 vintage shows the characteristics of Marlborough that the world has grown so fond of. Expressive passion fruit, guava, and grapefruit interlaced with sweet herbal tones. Mouthwatering citrus and lemongrass on the long crisp fruit finish. Year after year, Kim Crawford manages to produce quality wines at a great price making them a top selling brand around the world. Enjoy with seafood, lightly spiced Asian cuisine, salads, and fish tacos, and why not serve this with your holiday entertaining as Sauvignon Blanc is a terrific party wine! 90 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

High-Res PNG-2016 KIM Holiday Sauvignon Blanc 750ml Bottle Shot (1)

Buy Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (holiday edition) for $16.95 at LCBO this holiday season ($3 off until Jan 6).

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Whip up these easy to make fish tacos (on crackers) and serve with Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc at your holiday party!

Because so many like Cabernet Sauvignon, the most popular red variety around the world, I’ve selected a few great options here, starting with this new offering from Chile, from Concha Y Toro…

Casillero Del Diablo Reserva Privada Cabernet Sauvignon – $18.90

CasilleradelDiablo
It’s new to the LCBO and it’s devilishly delicious!  $18.90 at the LCBO.

The all-new Casillero Del Diablo Reserva Privada Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine worth sipping this holiday. The Reserva Privada tier uses Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Chile’s Maipo Valley, one of its finest winegrowing regions. The wine is matured in oak barrels for one year. Dark fruit, vanilla and cedar aromas are followed by cassis, mocha, and spice notes on the palate. The smooth finish lingers. Pair with beef dishes and aged cheeses.  It’s devilishly delicious and is available for $18.90 at the LCBO.

Casillero Del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon – $18.90 at LCBO

Enjoy the Cassillero Del Diablo Cab with beef steak skewars…

Image result for beef appetizers

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon – $20.95

MondaviBourbon

A nice toasty way to warm up by the fire! This is a rich wine with bold expressions. With flavours of blackberry, smoke, and vanilla.  Paris well with a nice holiday charcuterie board or a hearty turkey pasta dish.  Now, for a limited time, available in the beautiful gift box, while quantities last.

Robert Mondavi’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon – $20.95

Image result for winter charcuterie board

H3 Cabernet Sauvignon – $16.95

H3 Cab Sauv

There’s no surprise that this is Washington State’s best selling Cabernet at the LCBO, as it offers great value in a very crowd-friendly style. Chalked full of sweet dark fruit, black currant, black cherry, plum and a hint of graphite. Expressive, refreshing, and silky smooth, all the hallmarks of a wine perfectly suited for entertaining, and equally great when paired with tangy BBQ fare, stews, or spicy chili. Tasted December 2018. 89 points. Matt Steeves – www.quercusvio.ca – on sale at LCBO throughout December until January 6 for $16.95.

H3 Cabernet Sauvignon – on sale $3 off until Jan 6, 2019

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Try meatballs with H3 Cab when entertaining this holiday season.

The Grinder Pinotage – $13.95

GrinderPinotage

The Grinder Pinotage 2016 from South Africa, Western Cape, shows expressive espresso, mocha, vanilla, and stewed cherry notes. Repeat on the palate. Big flavour, great structure. This is an intense wine that commands big flavoured dishes. Gourmet burgers, ground coffee rubbed tenderloin, beet salad with goat cheese and fresh ground pepper would all be fantastic with this wine. Coffee-styled Pinotage are very popular in South Africa and can be attributed to the incredibly heavy toasted oak barrels that play the largest role in contributing those coffee and mocha aromas and flavours. Since this style hit the market roughly 15 years ago it has attracted a loyal following around the world, and is a favourite at the LCBO. Tasted December 2018. 89 points. Great value! Now a Vintages Essential product. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

The Grinder Pinotage – $13.95 at LCBO

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Coffee rubbed tenderloin – a great pairing with The Grinder Pinotage.

This Californian Pinot is uber popular and ideally suited for holiday entertaining with its warm and inviting style…

Meiomi Pinot Noir – $28.95

MeiomiPinot

Everyone’s favourite Pinot Noir is now available for the holidays in this great gift box.  A velvety smooth Pinot that will keep your guests dancing! Notes of ripe fruit like juciy strawberry and dark cherry blend with the richness of vanilla and toasty oak. Paris will with oven baked turkey and tomato-based stuffing.

Meiomi Pinot Noir at LCBO – $28.95

Image result for chevre cranberry tart

Perhaps you’re looking for a rare premium wine to gift to a wine lover in your life…we’ll check out this low production reserve Malbec from Argentina.  Son Vida 2015, which was recently released in LCBO just in time for the holidays…

SonVida Malbec Reserve – $29.95 at LCBO

SonVida2015

This single vineyard expression of Mendoza Malbec showcases exactly how well structured, complex, and delicious premium Malbec can be, especially those from the high altitude (+1km a.s.l.) Paraje Altamira GI, a region renowned for producing the finest Argentinian Malbec. Deep ruby red with an opaque core, the nose shows sweet Damson plum, blackberry, mocha, graphite, pipe tobacco, and sous bois. The palate is rich and concentrated with dark berries, blueberry, Damson plum, cacao, and leather on the finish. An exceptional wine that is showing beautifully now and will only gain further complexity over the next 5-10 years. Enjoy with Matambre (Argentinian stuffed flank steak) or Tira de Asado (Argentinian-Style Grilled Beef Ribs) – both terrific pairings! For $30, the 2015 SonVida Reserve Malbec offers great value. Tasted December 2017. 93 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca

SonVida Malbec Reserve at LCBO – $29.95

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And finally, it doesn’t get better than this, not sweeter, not more festive, this is the ultimate holiday special celebration wine or wine gift.  Sparkling Canadian Vidal Icewine by Inniskillin…

Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Icewine – $79.95 at LCBO

Sparklingicewine

Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Icewine – $79.95

Nothing says celebration like sparkling wine and when you pair that with iconic Canadian Icewine, such as this Sparkling Vidal Icewine from Canadian Icewine legend, Inniskillin, you have the perfect extra special holiday gift/treat of the season.

This is the ultimate wine for pairing with the most decadent dessert dishes, cheese boards with Blue Haze or Camembert, and one of my favourite pairings, spicy Asian cuisine, the hotter the better. Could there be a more proudly Canadian wine that Sparkling Icewine!?

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I hope you and yours get a chance to enjoy some of my top recommended holiday wines this season and perhaps that you find a few special bottles wrapped-up with your name on them too…

Cheers,

Matt Steeves

Matt Steeves – Sommelier, Wine Writer, & Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild – follow Matt on Twitter @Quercusvinoor www.quercusvino.ca