With us now being in the heart of the season for eating, drinking, and being merry, here are a dozen recommendations for filling your glass, inspired by “The 12 Days of Christmas”:
Twelve drummers drumming
When I have a turkey on the table, drumsticks and all, I’m always a fan of a buoyant red to keep things light. Fowles Wine Farm to Table Pinot Noir 2015 (Victoria, Australia; $15.99, B.C. Liquor Stores) is a heck of a deal, shimmering with red berry fruit and toasty baking spices. It’ll complement the bird even better than the cranberry sauce.
Eleven pipers piping
Going strong since 1785, the Champagne house behind Piper-Heidsieck NV Brut (Champagne, France; $60.99, B.C. Liquor Stores) gets things consistently proper, as evidenced by this toasty, citrusy blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. A holiday gift from the house itself also sees it being sold at $10 off through December 30. Stock up for New Year’s Eve!
Ten lords a-leaping
Hop into a glass (or two) of d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre 2012 (McLaren Vale, Australia; $17 to $20, private wine stores), a perennial favourite inexpensive red, which should be a definite crowd pleaser at get-togethers. Blueberries and plums are soft and silky, dusted with nutmeg, and oh-so-juicy.
Nine ladies dancing
The winery is already sold out of Terravista Vineyards Fandango 2016 (Okanagan Valley, B.C.; $23 to $28, private wine stores), but you can still pick up this perfect-as-an-apéritif white blend of Albariño and Verdejo (two grapes more commonly associated with Portugal and Spain) here in town. Lively blood oranges and peaches are carried by generous acidity and minerality. Available at local B.C. VQA wine stores.
Eight maids a-milking
I recently tried Hearthstone Brewery Chocolate Milk Stout (North Vancouver, B.C.; website), and any fear of it being too rich or cloying was unfounded. Dark, dusty cocoa and cardamom are well elevated at a civilized 5.5 percent alcohol. I recently picked up a couple 473-millilitre cans at Steamworks Liquor Store (375 Water Street) for four bucks a pop.
Seven swans a-swimming
Innocent Bystander Moscato 2015 (Swan Hill, Victoria, Australia; $20 to $24, private wine stores) is like a cheeky, fizzy, extra cherry-laden sip of boozy cream soda. Actually, it’s hardly boozy at all: a mere 5.5 percent. Want to give it a whirl while out on the town? Sip away at chef David Hawksworth’s Nightingale Restaurant, where it should go quite well with his dish of Château de Bourgogne cheese, roasted apples, clover honey, pine nuts, and caraway Melba.
Six geese a-laying
Wild Goose Autumn Gold 2016 (Okanagan Valley, B.C.; $18.99, B.C. Liquor Stores) has been a dependable drop of B.C. goodness for a couple of decades now. When you’re having a casual soiree, this aromatic white blend of Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Pinot Blanc will perfectly accompany a wide array of salty snacks, from chips and popcorn to mixed hors d’oeuvres fresh out of the oven.
Five golden rings
Wychwood Brewery Brewdolph Golden Xmas Beer (Oxfordshire, England; $3.99/500mL, B.C. Liquor Stores) is new to our shores, and I love that it’s a holiday-themed ale that won’t weigh us down; it’s only four percent! A fine balance of malt and hops with a kiss of golden honey.
Four calling birds
Lingenfelder Bird Label Riesling 2013 (Pfalz, Germany; $27 to $32, private wine stores) is the Riesling that got me into Riesling more than 20 years ago, and I still have a soft spot for it. Great for the beginning of your holiday dinner, when you’re snacking—or afterward, when you’re noshing on dessert. Plenty of apples and pears, with tarragon and fresh mineral notes. Spotted recently at Marquis Wine Cellars (1034 Davie Street).
Three French hens
One of the more fun wine terms I’ve learned over the years is “hen and chicks”, which refers to grape bunches that ripen unevenly (when you have some berries overripe while others haven’t fully developed). Zinfandel is prone to this effect, so extra vineyard care is necessary. A great example of the variety done well—and a perfect, rich red for those wanting something bold this season—is Ridge Vineyards East Bench Zinfandel 2014 (Sonoma County, California; $56 to $62, private wine stores). Toasty gingerbread, blueberry compote, and cloves. Find some at New District.
Two turtle doves
Turns out there’s a decent population of European turtle doves in Turkey, and that’s where we also find Suvla Kabatepe Red 2013 (Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey; $20 to $25, private wine stores). A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Karasakiz (an indigenous variety)—think currants, strawberries, wild mushrooms, black tea, and a nice touch of rustic charm. Spotted recently at Everything Wine (various locations).
A partridge in a pear tree
Why not mix things up a bit this year? Elephant Island Orchard Wines Pear Wine 2016 (Naramata, B.C.; $18.39, website) is a dry white that would be just lovely with any holiday ham or turkey. Made from Naramata-grown Bartlett pears, this wine is that first bite of a perfectly ripe pear while standing in a sunny orchard, and it’s an absolute delight. In decent supply at Legacy Liquor Store (1633 Manitoba Street).