It's the festive season, when family comes first in our thoughts. Of course, friends dropping by for special weekend dinners and winter evening parties also come into vogue.
Lots of the feasting will focus on turkey or whole chicken, special fish dishes, aged clove-studded hams, as well as racks or leg of lamb and sirloin or prime rib roasts. The best wines to accompany these should be special, but that does not mean they have to cost an arm and a leg. I am always in the hunt for the best hidden gems at a price that does not involve a second mortgage.
So today, I bring you my latest top value white and red wines. Between the five choices, they can match with almost anything you can dream up in the kitchen.
You may be aware that several wines can go with a single dish. For instance, with roast turkey, a sauvignon blanc will cut cleanly though all that gravy and excite and clean the palate. But an oaked chardonnay also can go, because it matches or compliments the gravy and all the butter on mashed potatoes and veggies. Some folks will even match a pinot noir or gamay to roast turkey, although that is quite daring. But this lighter styled red does go with mushroom or savoury stuffing, as well as cranberry sauce.
So don't feel bound by my food suggestions. By experimenting with your own palate and different foods you widen your taste knowledge, and learn at the same time how wine and cuisine can transform one another. It's also fun to see how your guests react to various wine and food combinations. So, welcome to my latest greatest top values!
Santa Rita 120
2013 Sauvignon Blanc
$9.95 (Chile) LCBO #23606
Appealing tropical aromas feature pineapple, guava and lime notes. The flavours are juicy, with yellow apple, pineapple and lemon meringue and a clean crisp lemony finish.
Food suggestion: Fish dishes, shrimp or crab cakes.
2012 Reserve Chardonnay
$10.95 (France) LCBO #255885
The aromas entice with smoky golden apple and pear while the flavours dish up butterscotch, yellow apple and lime sorbet with a vivacious lemongrass finish.
Food suggestion: Roast chicken/ turkey, lobster.
Esquinas De Argento
2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
$11.90 (Argentina) LCBO #358812
The nose suggests deep plum, blackberry, vanilla and a hint of mocha. The flavours dish up smoky plum, black cherry, chocolate and cedar layers. Wonderfully smooth.
Food suggestion: Pork tenderloin, festive ham.
Cantina Tollo Colle Secco
2011 Montepulciano D'Abruzzo
$9.25 (Italy) LCBO #195826
This astounding best buy red has a smoky, minty, cherry wood, lavender and blackberry bouquet and suffusive layered flavours of blackberry, plum, cedar and blueberry.
Food suggestion: Roast lamb, or rare duck.
$14.95 (Spain) LCBO #372177
Enticing aromas of plum, blueberry and vanilla lead into rich and mellow flavours suggesting cedar, vanilla, blackberry, black cherry and summer black and red plums.
Food suggestion: Thick steak, prime rib roast.