Tag Archives: festive

Four Calling Birds

14 Dec

I’m not a huge fan of calling birds – or any type of birds for that matter. They generally sit outside my apartment window in a tree and make lots of noise until someone throws something off a balcony at them.

What I am a fan of? Killing two birds with one stone (and no, I don’t mean literally, PETA-supporters). I’m talking the popular holiday dishes, turkey and ham. At my family dinner, we always have both. Why? Well, first of all because the gene to overfeed had to be passed down to me from somewhere and also, they’re both double-plus good. And who does one turn to, to match these yummy meats?

Welcome to the party, Gamay. Now, if you’ve read this blog ever before, you’ll know of my love affair with this particular grape. I’m going to do you a solid and present to you two potential holiday dinner bottles.

The first comes from our friends in France, DuBoeuf Beaujoulais Brouilly ($16.95, LCBO#70540).

Beaujolais is the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée or AOC (a region in France that’s important enough to be distinguished) known for its Gamay. On the labels of many French wines, you won’t see the type of grape written, they’ll have the AOC they’re from as the main identifier instead. For instance, when you’re drinking white Burgundy, that’s Chardonnay; red Burgundy, that’s Pinot Noir.

It’s a mighty confusing situation to many of us young wine drinkers who are used to having everything spelled out to us on a label (next to a sketch of an panda bear, or something equally cute and fuzzy). It gets even more confusing when the appellations divide up into sub- appellations, villages, etc. And generally, the more specific the area; the pricier the bottle.

This Beaujolais is from Brouilly. What does that mean for you and me? Well, it looks fancier to impress your girlfriend’s mom. It also has greater complexity (re: more bang for your buck). This pretty ruby red coloured wine is medium-bodied and plump full of cherry, berry and herbal notes. It’ll knock out the turkey and then turn to the ham and say “You’re next.”

If you’re looking to purchase locally, I recommended Malivorie’s 2009 Gamay (#17.95, Vintages#591313) in the Harvest issue of VINES.

“A zippy little wine that’s bursting with energy, this shows what Niagara Gamay has to offer. This scarlet coloured, organic wine is rich and fruity with spicy and earthy undertones. Medium-boded with juicy cherry, plum and a refreshing acidity especially apparent on the finish, this wine goes down easy and nly improves the next day. Pair with almost anything, from cheese and charcuterie nibbles to turkey dinner.”

Yeah, that’ll do just fine. Show up for a holiday dinner with either of these bottles and you’ll be welcomed with open arms – which is more than I can say for the calling birds at my place.

Three French Hens..

13 Dec

I’m pretty sure the ‘French’ drink many people would recommend this festive season would be Champagne. However, it’s pretty much always out of my price range and let’s be honest, if your buzzed brother’s old university friend’s new girlfriend is chugging it back from the bottle while swaying in your living room to Judy Garland – you’ll wish you didn’t spring for the pricey stuff.

A much more affordable option for our third drink of Christmas is Hungaria Grand Cuvee Brut ($12.00, LCBO#619288).

Many may not even know that Hungary has got a wine-making history that dates back to Roman times. They’re probably most famous for their dessert wine Tokaji (which is also quite yummy, thanks for asking) but this sparkling is a pretty little steal too.

For under 12 bucks, there’s not much other competition. You could buy some French Cross (please don’t) or Canada’s historic sparkling, Brights Champagne (which gets to use the capital-C reserved for wines from the actual region in France, through a strategic loophole) or any other handful of not-so-finely crafted, sugary sweet bubbles. The only other real serious contender at that price point is Freixenet Carta Nevada Brut from Spain ($11.95, LCBO#74757).

That’d do just fine here, but it doesn’t have the surprise element of popping this bottle from a country probably most known for its ottomans.

The Hungaria Cuvee Brut is mighty good on its own, off-dry and crisp with citrus and apple flavours and enough weight to hold up to your choosing of snackies off the buffet table. It’s got a great personality and sparkles just like the tinsel caught in aforementioned drunk-girlfriend’s hair after a mistaken tumble into the tree.

Cut her off and grab some of this bubbly – and hey, if you want to make it French, add a bit of LeJay Creme de Cassis de Dijon ($10.95, LCBO#496406) to your flute.

This yummy liquer is one of my favs (especially as an addition to vodka sodas) with a beautiful deep purple/blueberry colour and blackcurrant flavours. This drizzle will take your already stunning sparkling to a fancy pants Kir Pétillant. Just don’t let the drunk girlfriend have any.