Giving a bottle of wine as a gift over the holiday season is always a great way to leave an impression, but sometimes selecting the right wine is not easy. You want the recipient to appreciate and enjoy your thoughtful offering, so here are some tips to help you choose.
Knowing what kind of wine recipients might like can be helpful, but often you may not know if they prefer red or white wine or sweeter or dryer styles. If you know what they favour, great. If not, don’t worry too much about it; wine is a gift that can always be (shhhhh) regifted.
A general rule of etiquette to keep in mind when bringing wine as a host or hostess gift is that there is no expectation that the bottle be opened that evening. Therefore if you have selected a white wine you do not need to chill it before bringing it. On the other hand, if you have been invited for a dinner and are asked to bring a bottle of wine it is expected that the wine you bring will be opened, so chilling the white wine is appropriate.
Around the holidays many Ontario wineries offer gift baskets that they have assembled with their wines and other local Ontario products. The baskets are often impressive and while they can often be a little pricey they can save you time should you want to give such a gift.
For those who would like to include a bottle in their own gift baskets, or are looking for a few Ontario wines that will make sensational gifts, here are some suggestions.
Westcott Estate Pinot Noir 2015
(VINTAGES #427500, $29.95)
Ontario’s cool climate is perfect for top notch elegant pinot noir. Westcott’s vineyards are located on south-facing slopes in Niagara’s Vinemount Ridge appellation resulting in longer sun exposure and riper fruit at harvest. This wine is a fine example of a medium-bodied, dry red wine with red berry fruits, anise, mushroom, earthy and smoky notes.
Weather Rock Cabernet Franc
(LCBO #558809, $14.10)
While some of the 2016 vintage may still be found on the shelf at the LCBO, the Ontario cabernet franc was flying out of the store so quickly the 2017 vintage was released earlier than expected to meet demand. It’s a medium-bodied wine, dry and loaded with red and black berry fruits. The 2017 vintage has a little more tannins, perfect to pair with rare and medium rare steaks. Weather Rock is a virtual winery produced at Harrow’s Oxley Estate Winery and wines under the Weather Rock label are only available at the LCBO.
Colchester Ridge Estate Winery “CREW” Merlot 2016
(VINTAGES #310532, $17.95)
Merlot has traditionally been used as a blending grape in Bordeaux but in many new world wine regions it is often bottled as a single varietal. CREW’s merlot is its best offering to date of this grape, and is offered at an insanely cheap price point that will stand up to many $40 – $60 California merlots. This is a full-bodied, dry, complex velvety wine with fruit forward blackberry, black plum, black cherry notes, with cedar and tobacco characteristics. Exceptional value, buy this one while you can!
Mastronardi Estate Winery Syrah 2016
(VINTAGES #581223, $24.95)
Syrah, also known as shiraz, is made from the same grape and can be very different in style depending on where it is grown. Shiraz is commonly identified as the style of wine produced in Australia, ripe and full-bodied, while syrah is associated with a lighter and leaner red wine. Mastronardi’s syrah is medium plus in body, dry, black fruit and a hint of cracked black pepper. Give this wine as a gift to someone who enjoys a glass of wine around the fireplace on one of Ontario’s cold winter nights.
Casa-Dea Reserve Chardonnay 2015
(VINTAGES #546812, $26.95)
Some of the best Ontario chardonnays I have tasted were from Prince Edward County. The limestone-rich soil found in many of the vineyards in this region offer ideal varietal expression. Medium body, dry, with ripe green apple and pear fruit notes balanced with light vanilla and butterscotch nuances from time spent in French oak barrels. Chardonnay leads the way in production as Ontario VQA’s single varietal wine.