It looks to be a quieter holiday season but still a welcome time to celebrate and relax without breaking the bank, all eleven of these wines sell for less than $20 and are widely available in Ontario.
In the Old World (i.e. Europe), the start to the day is best typified by the English saying;
“If you aren’t sipping a glass of something fizzy by elevenses are you sure it’s even Christmas?”.
So, if you are looking for a tipple with brunch, why not go for a good Prosecco, lower in alcohol but with just a touch of sweetness to accompany the food.
Fiol Prosecco $16.25
Not the lowest price Prosecco but great value and quality with an array of flavours including pear, green apple, citrus, and toast.
ABV 11.0%, Residual sugar 17 g/L.
Even if we don’t have guests arriving, let’s get into the mood with a glass of sparkling wine (or is it another?).
Segura Viudas $16.05
An old favourite which successfully stands the test of time as an inexpensive substitute for Champagne.
This medium bodied sparkler has flavours of peaches, pears and apples, grapefruit and toast with a refreshing finish.
ABV 12.0%, 10 g/L sugar.
Gerard Bertrand Cotes des Roses Rose $16.95
Not a fizzy type? Enjoy a pleasant medley of light tastes – strawberry, raspberry and watermelon with a touch of citrus in this still dry rose with gentle acidity and a smooth finish.
ABV 13.0%, 4 g/L sugar.
With most people opting for poultry or red meat for the main course, seafood oriented appetizers are very popular.
Chardonnays have good body with enough acidity to serve with smoked salmon but also match well with shellfish.
The oaky versions of this wine with their big profiles alienate some people but unoaked varieties can be bright, crisp and clean with a good fruit balance.
Canada is producing some very good Chardonnays and here are two excellent choices.
Strewn Chardonnay Barrel Aged VQA $14.95
From the Niagara region and one of the most popular Canadian white wines, the Strewn is a lighter version of the big California Chardonnays with green apple predominating plus buttery and oaky flavours in the background.
ABV 12.4%, 3 g/L sugar.
Kacaba Unoaked Chardonnay VQA $15.95
Kacaba, also from Niagara, has a light/medium body with green apple tastes plus some softer tropical and other fruit tastes.
Bright, clean and refreshing, easy drinking with a long finish.
ABV 13.5%, 5 g/L sugar.
Continuing with the Canadian theme, it is wise to have a slightly sweeter non Chardonnay on hand and the Diabolica White VQA from the Okanagan wine region is a great option.
Diabolica White VQA $13.95
A blend of four grape varieties yields pineapple and tropical fruit tastes with a touch of honey on the finish.
Medium bodied with lively acidity which keeps the sweetness in check, serve well chilled.
ABV 12.5%, 14 g/L sugar.
Traditionalists with their roast turkey dinners are becoming increasingly joined by those favouring chicken based presentations.
White wine lovers will do well with one of our recommendations in the preceding section but a lighter red wine will work equally well.
We favour Pinot Noirs as their slight fruitiness also complements sweet sides such as buttered carrots and cranberry sauce.
Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Pfalz $15.00
Red fruit, oak and smoke in a light/medium body with minimal tannins and a slightly pepperish finish make for easy drinking and a good accompaniment to roast turkey with stuffing.
ABV 12.5%, 5 g/L sugar.
G. Marquis Silver Line Pinot Noir VQA $19.95
From the Niagara region, this is lighter than the Villa Wolf with tastes of raspberries, cherries and strawberries with light tannins and a touch of pepper on the finish.
ABV 12.5%, 6 g/L residual sugar.
Red wines generally work best with meat dishes.
If you prefer a lighter red then a good Chianti fits the bill nicely while Cabernet Sauvignons are a traditional fuller body choice.
There is a good variety of both types at reasonable prices, here are a couple of suggestions.
Frescobaldi Castiglioni Chianti DOCG $15.95
Now here is a conversation piece, the Frescobaldi family have been producing wine in Tuscany for more than 700 years.
Expect typical Chianti tastes of red fruits, cherries, strawberries and raspberries with a touch of earth in a dry medium bodied wine.
Well balanced with mild tannins and acidity, let it breathe before serving.
ABV 13.0%, 5 g/L residual sugar.
Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon $19.95 (on sale now for $17.95)
A highly popular award winning wine at a terrific price, this is an aromatic, bold fruity wine with ripe blackberry and plum tastes with a hint of chocolate.
Easy drinking with a touch of sweetness and a long smooth finish.
ABV 13.5%, 9 g/L sugar.
If you are entertaining vegetarian diners with specific dishes such as savoury tarts or fennel tomato sauce based dishes then you might want to look at an Australian Shiraz which can stand up to and bring out some of those flavours.
19 Crimes Shiraz Durif $18.95
Aromas of dark fruit and tobacco with blackberry jam and red fruit tastes, the wine is actually dry but tastes a touch sweet because of the fruit
Nice smooth finish.
ABV 14.5%, 2 g/L sugar.
There are just so many options to serve after dinner ranging from Christmas cake to cheese platters to sweet desserts and an equal number of drinks options such as port, sherry, icewines, sweet dessert wines that we can’t even begin to address them.
But, a Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz are surprisingly good matches for many of them!