Canadian wine lovers know that Ontario produces some mighty fine fermented grape juice, so why not serve Ontario VQA wine with your Christmas turkey? There is a vast array of styles from a large selection of grape varieties, so there’s bound to be an Ontario wine to suit all your holiday needs – from celebratory sparklers, to terrific wine to serve with turkey dinner, to sweet wine for dessert, to the perfect gift for the wino…I mean wine lover…on your list. To ensure that the wine is 100% Ontario, look for the VQA logo on the label or neck of the bottle.
Please read my post titled “Sensational Sparkling Wine From Ontario” for recommendations of sensational sparkling wine. Sparkling wine is a great way to start off the evening, instantly putting everyone in a celebratory mood. However, it should not be forgotten that not only is sparkling wine an excellent way to toast the holidays, but it is also very versatile with food and pairs beautifully with a number of dishes, including turkey, so don’t be afraid to pair it with the main course!
Wine for Turkey:
The rule of serving white wine with turkey is always a safe bet, but don’t turn your back on all red wines – there are some great red wine options for turkey that play the same role as a spoonful or two of cranberry sauce. But, no matter what colour of wine you choose, it should be relatively high in acid, low in tannin, and lighter in weight, with moderate alcohol, and little to no oak. And, don’t forget about rosé!
Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling: A delicious wine and always one of my favourites – a great price too at only $17.95. Complex aromas and flavours of grapefruit and lime, green apples with a minerally character and crisp acidity. A very versatile wine that not only goes with turkey, but also salads, seafood, and all sorts of cheese. www.tawsewinery.ca
Nyarai Cellars Trois: A blend of Viognier, Pinot Gris, and Sauvignon Blanc. Bursting with melon, citrus, and yellow fruit flavours, this wine is a crowd pleaser. Available online at www.nyaraicellars.ca.
I was going to recommend Stratus’ Wildass Rosé as a pink option, but checking the website I see that it is sold out. If you do happen to have a stash of it stored away in your cellar, then Christmas dinner would be a great time to pop it open.
Malivoire Ladybug Rose: A favourite rose of mine, just off-dry and brimming with loads of juicy red berry fruit. Another very food friendly wine that will also pair well with a number of dishes including turkey, prosciutto, hot dogs, pizza, and nachos. Available for $15.95 at the winery or the LCBO.
Chateau des Charmes Gamay Droit St. David’s Bench Vineyard: This particular clone of Gamay was discovered by Paul-Michel Bosc, founder of Chateau des Charmes, right in his own vineyard. It produces wines of greater body, colour, and flavour than other Gamay clones and is a great pairing for roasted turkey dinner with all the fixin’s. At $14.95 is a great value and can be found at the winery or the LCBO.
Pinot Noir is also a great grape to pair with a delicious roasted turkey dinner and luckily enough, Ontario has many excellent examples. Look for names such as Angel’s Gate, Norman Hardie, Fielding Estate, Featherstone, Henry of Pelham, and Tawse to name a few.
Colio Estate Cabernet Franc: From Lake Erie North Shore, this Cabernet Franc is light and lively enough to pair well with a turkey dinner. This wine shows loads of red berry fruit and a bit of black pepper. A great value at $10.95 and readily available at the LCBO, the winery, and Colio Estate retail boutiques. **If you would like to pair Cabernet Franc with your Christmas dinner, make sure it is a lighter version such as this one.**
Sumptuous Sweet Wines for Dessert
Ontario makes loads of delicious sweet wines. In fact, if you were to ask anyone anywhere else in the world if Canada makes wine they will probably tell you that we make Icewine – and that’s it. Our Icewine is world famous, and rightly so. It is, after all, the ‘nectar of the gods’. And, we’ve gotten quite creative with our Icewine. Examples of sparkling Icewine, oaked Icewine, and Icewine made with less traditional grape varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Viognier, and even Chardonnay are more and more common. Ontario also makes some excellent late harvest wines, which aren’t quite as sweet and luscious as Icewine but are delicious and can be good value since Icewine is a pricey indulgence. Some care needs to be taken when pairing sweet wine with dessert however. Always make sure that the wine is at least as sweet or sweeter than the dessert you are pairing it with. And, be careful…not all sweet wine is a good match with rich, chocolatey desserts.
Southbrook Vineyards Framboise: This fruit wine made with raspberries pairs magically with chocolate – any type of chocolate. It’s even great drizzled over a scoop of chocolate ice cream. Sweet and luxurious, this wine is full of …you guessed it….raspberry aromas and flavours along with raisin pie and a hint of mint.
Inniskillin Riesling Icewine: A leader in Ontario Icewine, Inniskillin consistently produces excellent examples. Riesling is one of the best grapes to use for Icewine because its high natural acidity balances the high sugar levels in the wine. A pricey wine at $69.95 for 375 ml but worth the indulgence. Pair Riesling Icewine with fruit based desserts such as peach cobbler or apple crumble.
Stratus Red Icewine: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah this wine is bursting with strawberry, raspberry, cranberry flavours with a hint of something floral. An amazing match with strawberry rhubarb pie and will even pair well with some dark chocolate desserts. Small quantities are available at the winery for $39.95 for 375 ml.
Cave Spring Indian Summer Riesling: This is not made from completely frozen grapes so it is not an Icewine. It is a Late Harvest wine made from grapes that were left on the vine until late autumn and early winter when they were rasined and partially frozen due to late frosts. Showing aromas of apricot, peach, caramelized pears, and ginger, this wine’s medium sweetness is lifted by crisp acidity. Pair this wine with apple cake or lemon tarts. It would also be wonderful at the beginning of the meal with foie gras. Available for 24.95 at the winery or the LCBO as a ‘Vintages Essential’.
These are just a few of the many wonderful Ontario wines available, but in order to keep this post short I can’t name them all!