I’m so excited about this post!
You know that person who always has incredible recommendations for wine? For Michelle and I, that person is Shelley Boettcher, executive editor of Wine Access magazine and author of Uncorked!: The Definitive Guide to Alberta’s Best Wines Under $25. (It’s a great gift. Go pick up a copy at Chapters.)
Shelley very kindly completed a Toque Girls questionnaire on booze for you, dear readers. We gave her ten scenarios in which we’re likely to want to a drink in hand and she told us what she’d be quaffing in said scenario.
Grab your pens (or your iPad, iphone, iwhatever) and take notes! You’re going to want this list at the liquor store.
1. A drink for trimming the tree on a cold, snowy night
Maybe you’ve decorated your tree. Maybe you haven’t. But if you’re looking for a great bottle for tree-decorating, or simply for a cold night, try Port. Any Port, depending on your budget, as long as it’s the real deal, from Portugal. Leave some for Santa, too, because, really, we all know the fat guy in red doesn’t really want milk with his cookies.
2. And for Boxing Day evening when you’re wearing sweatpants and doing the giant Globe and Mail crossword with your brother
, by Waterbrook; it’s about $14 a bottle, easy to find and easy to drink. It’s available at Zyn.ca. Or look for the Chianti Classico Riserva
from Castello di Gabbiano; this smooth, rich Italian red retails for about $25 a bottle and is widely available, including select Calgary Co-op Wine & Spirits locadtions.
3. A bottle for your friends who always invite you to their place for impeccable dinners and who make wonderful homemade Christmas gifts
I suggest the Brancaia Tre
, 2006 (Christmas label). The red “Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year label is so festive, you only need to add a ribbon and a card, and you’re ready to go. About $23 at CSN Wine & Spirits, Cork Fine Wine, Spirits and Ale, Enoteca, Eau Claire Wine Market, Ferocious Grape, Highlander Wine & Spirits, Kensington Wine Market, Wine Ink, and, in Canmore, at Cellar Door, and in Medicine Hat at 8th Street Liquor.
4. Midnight on New Year’s Eve
If you’re on a budget, pick up a bottle of Veuve du Vernay, Brut, NV
(non-vintage). You’ll pay about $14 for these bargain bubbles. Widely available, including select Real Canadian Liquor Stores, select Calgary Co-op Wines & Spirits, select Liquor Depot locations, Highlander Wine & Spirits, Willow Park Wines & Spirits and Zyn.ca.
5. Wine for Christmas dinner
It isn’t too late to pick up a bottle of the Grgich Hills
2008 Estate-Grown Chardonnay, from Napa Valley. A perfect pairing for turkey, this full-bodied classic California Chardonnay costs about $50 a bottle and is widely available, including Safeway (Garrison Gate), select Calgary Co-op Wines & Spirits, Crowfoot Wines & Spirits, Willow Park Wines & Spirits and Zyn.ca.
6. Canadian wine as a gift for an American friend
If I could give a little-known Canadian wine as a gift, I would give something, anything, from Orofino
, in British Columbia’s Similkameen Valley. Alas, the organic winery’s creations aren’t yet available in Alberta, so my friends will have to wait until the next time I’m in BC to stock up. In the mean time, I’ll hand out Alibi, from Black Hills Estate Winery
, for my white wine-loving friends; and the red wine fans will get the Black Hills Syrah. Alibi
’s about $50 a bottle, while the Syrah
goes for about $35. Both are fairly widely available, including Highlander Wine & Spirits, and Willow Park Wine & Spirits.
7. A wine that’s great price and perfect for stocking over the season
The stock-up wine for party season? Apothic Red
. Widely available, about $14 a bottle (but I’ve seen it as low as $10 a bottle.) From California, this easy-going red blend has super-soft tannins and great fruit, and it pairs with practically everything — pizza, pasta, grilled meats — or you can just drink it by itself. Maybe not one for wine snobs, but the rest of us will suck it back and ask for more. Very widely available, including Calgary Co-op Wines & Spirits, Liquor Depot, Northmount Wine & Spirits and Zyn.ca.
8. The first thing you’d order after a long day of skiing or snowshoeing (or something you’d take with you)
Going skiing? Or snowshoeing? And you want something to keep you warm on a cold day? Try a cognac. Made in France’s Cognac region from white wine, it’s a spirit that can be used in cocktails, or enjoyed by itself on a cold day. Beautiful. I suggest Remy Martin VSOP
, which is widely available and retails for about $55 a bottle, but if your budget can handle it, try an XO
– it will be even smoother and more beautiful.
9. A beer for that handsome boy who likes cool, little-known microbreweries
I can’t imagine Christmas without some Wild Rose Cherry Porter
; brewed in Calgary, it’s a rich, fragrant dessert in a glass. About $12 for a 750-ml bottle. Or, if a trip to Banff is in the cards, stop by the Banff Avenue Brewing Co.
to pick up a selection of artisan-brewed treats. Or try a mixed six-pack of rare and unusual beers from your nearest wine store. A few to consider: Something from Innis & Gunn
. All good, very good.
10. A drink for a long conversation with a friend you haven’t seen in ages
What better way to reconnect than over wine? I suggest a bottle of Beso de Vino, from Grandes Vinos y Vinedos
(Carinena, Spain). This medium-bodied, easy-drinking red is loaded with flavour. The cartoon bull on the label is named “Antonio, and the word “beso” means “kiss” in Spanish — perfect for patching up a rocky friendship, or rekinding a new one. It’ll retail for about $13 at Aspen Wine & Spirits, The Cellar, CSN Wine &Spirits and Sunnyside Liquor.
Now get thee to the liquor store. Thanks, Shelley! We’ll have a toast in your honour.