The real thrill of any festive meal is enjoying the leftovers on the days that follow. After all that expectation, stress and toil, there’s often a bounty of dishes and ingredients to revisit, rework and reheat while you ensure nothing is wasted.
Typically little thought is given to the wines that will be served alongside meals that come after the big day. We spend so much time planning a showstopper main event that we fail to embrace the opportunity to keep the celebration going.
Here, along with a couple of splurges, is a selection of affordable wines that are enjoyable and promise to work, come what may, with a wide variety of dishes. In wine jargon, these sorts of wines are often called “food-friendly.” They tend to have brighter and lighter characters that complement a vast assortment of flavours
The downside is that food-friendly can also be code for lacklustre wines that are bland and boring. Maybe it will spring to life served with a roast chicken breast?
Trust the term is a compliment here. These are wines that I find enjoyable with or without a meal. They’re solid selections that should elevate reheated leftovers back to festive feast status, but wouldn’t be out of place should you call any of them forth on the big night.
Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne (France)
Fresh and vivacious, this doesn’t have the wow factor of capitol-C Champagne, but its bright and lemony character has a lot of charm and appeal – and it costs a fraction of the price. Made in the traditional method, with secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle, this crémant also shows some toasted and honeyed aromas. Available in Ontario at the above price, $27.99 in British Columbia, $24.95 in Quebec.
Cave Spring Vineyard Pinot Gris 2018 (Canada)
This counts as one of the most surprising wines I’ve tasted this year. Pinot gris isn’t a grape you’d closely associate with riesling specialist Cave Spring. It isn’t a variety that usually rises to such heights in Ontario. But here is a stellar expression that offers spiced apple flavours with an enjoyable honeyed character and appealing texture. The price makes it even more attractive. Available in Ontario.
Château Fuisse Juliénas 2016 (France)
This 100-per-cent gamay noir offers a mix of fruity and earthy notes, with soft tannins and a smooth texture. Like many high end Beaujolais, it’s extremely enjoyable to sip with or without a meal. Drink now to 2023. Available in Ontario.
Clos de los Siete 2015 (Argentina)
As one would expect given the close association of famed Bordeaux consultant Michel Rolland, Clos de los Siete is a ripe and layered red with a core of polished fruit. A successful blend of malbec, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, cabernet franc and petit verdot from Mendoza, this is an integrated and smooth red blend that’s easy to appreciate. Ready to drink. Available in Ontario at the above price, $26.49 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $24.99 in Manitoba, $24.95 in Quebec, $34.99 in Newfoundland.
Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2018 (Chile)
Consistently one of the best value whites available, this presents the exotic fragrance and character that make the viognier grape so charming. A touch of sweetness adds even more appeal to this fruity white that’s nicely balanced and flavourful. Available in Ontario at the above price, $10.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $12.99 in Manitoba, $13.49 in Nova Scotia.
Henkell Sparkling Rosé (Germany)
This fruity and easy-going sparkling wine is the very definition of cheap and cheerful. The bubbles are more foamy than fine, while the fruit is a mix of peach, apple and berry, which makes this pleasant on its own or a solid base for kir or mimosa cocktails. Available at the above price in Ontario, various prices in Alberta, $14.99 in Manitoba and British Columbia, $16.98 in Newfoundland.
Miraval Rosé 2018 (France)
The star power of co-owners Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie helped garner international attention for this estate-grown Provencal rosé when it launched in 2013. We’re still talking about it (and happily drinking it) years later because the classically made liquid in the bottle is equally worthy of our attention. This is a great expression of crisp, fragrant and fruity rosé that’s as mouth-wateringly delicious in December as it in July. Available in Ontario at the above price, $28.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $22.55 in Quebec, $22.34 in Nova Scotia.
Nk’Mip Cellars Mer’r’iym White Meritage 2017 (Canada)
“Mer’r’iym” is the Osoyoos Indian Band’s word for marriage. Aptly it’s the name they choose for the top white and red wines in the Nk’Mip Cellars portfolio. A stylish blend of sauvignon blanc and semillon, the Mer’r’iym White Meritage 2017 is fresh, fragrant and finely balanced. The sauvignon blanc portion was fermented in a tank. The semillon was fermented and aged in French oak barrels for increased weight and complexity. The palate presents refreshing citrus and floral notes with a creamy texture that carries through to a persistent finish. It’s ready to drink now. Available in British Columbia at the above price. Residents of British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan can order direct from the winery through nkmipcellars.com.
Peller Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (Canada)
This has long been one of the best value wines to sport a Vintners Quality Alliance logo, which signifies the grapes are locally grown and the finished wines were subject to inspection, laboratory analysis and tasting by an expert panel before release. For the 2018 vintage, both the Okanagan and the Niagara Peninsula VQA labels stand out as recommended buys. They deliver bright, refreshing sauvignon blanc character, with attractive citrus and tropical fruit flavours. Available in Ontario and British Columbia at the above price.
Roche de Bellene Mâcon La Roche Vineuse 2015 (France)
Here’s an enjoyable dry and crisp white wine that shows remarkable restraint and balance from a noteworthy producer. There’s an attractive core of citrus and apple, with some wet stone, earthy and spice notes to add interest to the flavor profile. Everything is in the right place, with an impressive finish that refreshes the palate between sips or bites. Drink now to 2022. Available in Ontario.
Sister’s Run Calvary Hill Shiraz 2017 (Australia)
This expressive red comes from a single vineyard in the town of Lyndoch. There’s classic Barossa character here, with intense spice, chocolate and fruit notes on the aroma and palate. It’s heady and flavourful stuff made for cheese boards or roasts. Drink now to 2024. Available in Ontario.
Tinhorn Creek Vineyards Pinot Gris Estate 2018 (Canada)
Always enjoyable, Tinhorn’s pinot gris presents an attractive mix of fruit and savoury notes (that Okanagan sage note always shines through). A touch of sweetness and spice adds to the depth of flavour and continues to make this one of the benchmarks Okanagan white wines on the market. Available in British Columbia for the above price ($17.49 until Dec. 28) or direct from the winery through tinhorn.com.
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