December 2021

Today on CTV Morning Live Regina, CTVs Brit Dort, and Sommelier Matt Steeves showcased some great wines and spirits which are sure to impress the in-laws this holiday season. Wines that will suit every palate and budget, including white, red, bubbly, and some spirits too. And whether you’re celebrating in-person with your bubble, or dropping off some holiday cheer for a virtual gathering, these are some great options to check-out this season.

Life is too short to drink bad wines so this holiday season why not treat yourself, and those around you, to some fine wines and spirits. We’ve scoured wine and spirits shops to curate a short list of wines and spirits from all over that are sure to impress.

Starting off with delicious sparking wine, this one from Spain…and their traditional method sparkling wine, (which is made like Champagne) which is called “Cava”. Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava is a must have for any holiday gathering. It’s perfect for greeting guests at the door with, also a super food friendly wine which makes it great for enjoying with finger foods, and I always advise to buy by the case and keep a bottle or two chilled in the fridge so you’re prepared for any impromptu celebration. After all, the holidays are filled with opportunities to celebrate so you’re certain to get lots of enjoyment from this Cava. And with it’s special holiday presentation, it adds a festive touch to any table or bar cart too!

Look for the boxed gift set of a bottle of Freixenet Cordon Negro Cava with two sparkling wine flutes. A great gift for anyone this holiday season.

Now, one of my absolute favourite white wine styles, and no it’s not just great in the summer…Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in this case, is fantastic this time of year with a wide range of dishes, from rich canapes/hors d’oeuvres to spicy takeout, cheese platters, or brunch, Sauvignon Blanc like Matua is a great option for enjoying this holiday season. See for yourself just how versatile it is this holiday season.

Now some delicious juicy red wines. As the weather gets colder and those days get shorter and shorter, means evenings are longer and longer, making more time to enjoy great wines, and award winning (and value-priced) big reds like Cellier des Dauphins from Cotes du Rhone in France – this is a great option especially this time of year.

Cellier des Dauphins was founded in 1967 by the Union of Cotes du Rhone winegrowers, which bring together 2,300 winemaking families in the southern Rhone Valley.

Decanter magazine provided this wine a near perfect score of 97 points (out of 100) for the 2018 vintage, noting: “This is delicious! Very classy and appealing aromas of flowers, garrigue, spice and forest floor. On the palate sweet vanilla oak marries into the charming and svelte herbal, red and blue fruit mix. It’s full of flavor, super supple, super drinkable and authentic. Bouquet, taste, finish: all are magnificent.”

If you can get your hands on some of this great wine, I highly recommend it, whether for gifting, entertaining, or simply enjoying this holiday season and over the next ~5 years. Readily available across Canada, this is another buy-by-the-case wine.

Italian wines are great options for the holiday season. Valpolicella’s Amarone and Ripasso, Piedmont’s Barbera D’Asti and Barolo, and of course Tuscany and the delicious Sangiovese grapes that thrive so well there. Well the region of Montecucco may be Tuscany’s best kept secret…situated in the south of this famous wine and food paradise, it’s there where they make fantastic Tuscan wines!

The favourable geographical location of Montecucco in the centre/heart of Italy positions it to produce wines of great quality, like Tenuta L’Impostino’s Montecucco red wines, showcasing the region’s superstar, Sangiovese, and their 2013 Viandante Montecucco DOCG Riserva is a fine example and one that would certainly impress this holiday season. Aged Tuscan wines, such as this beauty from Monteccuo DOCG, would be incredible for that special meal with the in-laws, a meal you plan well in advance and anticipate how great it will all be when it comes together…great food, wine, and loved ones. That’s what it’s all about and for those moments it’s nice to select a wine that will impress and leave a memory that will last a lifetime.

The holidays are a great time to have some fine spirits on-hand for that holiday cheer, for unwinding, and for marking the occasion. Starting the evening with a cocktail is a wonderful treat, whether it’s before dinner or as your bubble-guests arrive, mixing a fine cocktail and enjoying it in great company is one of the things that make the holidays and spending time with those around you so special.

Using Gin as one of your go-to spirits is a great idea to suit a wide range of palates and in the Gin world there are many unique and delicious ones out there to explore like this Super Premium Scottish Gin from the Island of Islay. Botanist Islay Dry Gin with its 22 foraged island botanicals, is distilled and hand-crafted at the famous Bruichladdich distillery, where they make some of the world’s finest Whiskies. They use 22 hand-foraged local botanicals to complement the nine berries, barks, seeds and peels during the slow distillation to produce a very aromatic and flavorful Dry Gin. The results is a satin smooth aromatic Gin with complex flavours and great texture which complements any cocktail.

Treat yourself and your guests with one of the world’s finest Super Premium Gins this holiday season. And if you haven’t enjoyed a Super Premium Gin before, I highly recommend enjoying this one neat, chilled on ice, perhaps with a splash of soda water, it makes for a superbly refreshing dram, just as the Whiskies do from the same distillery.

Although wonderful when enjoyed neat/on it’s own, checkout some of the delicious Winter-perfect cocktail recipes at http://www.TheBotanist.com – such as the Clementine and Sage G&T, Marmalade & Thyme Old Fashioned, Mint 75 Champagne Cocktail, or the Winter Mojito.

The Botanist Martini
• Combine 2 ½ oz The Botanist Islay Dry Gin and ½ oz dry vermouth in a mixing glass with ice.
• Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
• Finish with a twist of lemon and/or a seasonal garnish.

Why not substitute some ultra premium Gin in place of Whisky and enjoy a Gin Old Fashioned.

Ingredients

50ml The Botanist Gin

1 sugar cube

1 tsp water

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Orange peel or dehydrated blood orange (Blood orange Citrus Wheels)

Method: Place sugar in an Old Fashioned glass, add bitters and water then muddle until dissolved

Add the gin and a whole lot of cracked ice before stirring well. Garnish with a twist of orange

Step up your cocktail game with a Marmalade and Thyme Gin Old Fashioned

Ingredients:

  • 60 ml – The Botanist Gin
  • 15 ml – Lime Juice
  • 10 ml – Agave Syrup
  • 6x Fresh Cucumber dices
  • 2x Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 5 ml – Splash of Rose Water
  • Teaspoon of orange marmalade
  • Tonic water

Method:

Muddled all ingredients together except the thyme. Shake and strain into Brandy sniffter filled with ice. Top up with tonic water and garnish with thyme sprigs.

The holiday season is a precious time to enjoy with family and friends, and what better than some delicious wine and spirits to complement your holiday cheer! Here’s wishing you a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

Cheers,

Matt