Anthony Gismondi: Perfect wines for main courses this Christmas

Anthony Gismondi offers up some wine pairings for Christmas dinner

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As we have hinted forever, there are no right or wrong choices to serve at Christmas dinner. Still, the diverse palates of family members and guests, ages, and likely generations suggest the goal should be to serve generous wines that complement the food.


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It is not the time for controversial, one-off eclectic wines, nor is it appropriate to serve very old cellar treasures because they won’t be appreciated.

Red wines with soft tannins and reasonably fruity white wines with an aromatic demeanour are the call for one of the biggest gatherings of the year. You will be thanked for serving quality the family can enjoy without dissecting the nearest appellation and grape variety — leave that fun for another day.

Wine prices continue to climb unabated at retail and wineries leaving little room for shopping mistakes. That said, we are ready to help out. What follows is a selection of bottles that will get the job done with prices locked in at government wine shops until Jan. 1. Of course, we can’t cover all the food bases, but you can mix and match our picks to take on the big six main dinner courses.


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If ham is on the menu, think off-dry Riesling. The fruit and acidity are a perfect foil to the smoke and salt. Suitable wines include Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Riesling Dry 2019, Mosel, Germany ($15.69), Van Westen Vineyards Viscous 2020, Okanagan Valley ($24.90), Selbach Riesling Fish Label 2020, Mosel ($19.99).

There is good news for vegetarians who seemed to prosper at Christmas thanks to the many meatless, vegetable side dishes and trimmings that combine brilliantly with the emerging category of aromatic blends. Matches to look for are: Umani Ronchi Casal di Serra Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore 2020, Marche ($19.99), Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino di Sardegna 2020, Sardinia ($19.99) or Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards The Mischief Pinot Blanc 2020, Okanagan Valley ($18.50).


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Although it’s hard to beat a fruit-forward Chardonnay or New World Pinot Noir, some of the previous picks work well with turkey. If red blends are your thing, consider a tasty blend of Rhone red varieties. Three we like and are widely available are: Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay Vintner’s Reserve 2019, California ($20.99), Meyer Pinot Noir 2020, Okanagan Valley ($26) or Boutinot Les Coteaux Côtes du Rhone Villages 2018, Rhone Valley ($18.99).

Beef means slightly richer reds like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. There is plenty to choose from here. Among the modestly priced are Hess Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, California $26.49, Hester Creek Block 3 Reserve Cabernet Franc 2018, Golden Mile Bench ($28.99) or CedarCreek Merlot 2017, Okanagan Valley ($20.99).


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Lamb comes with a slam dunk match, namely Syrah, but other red blends are equally welcomed, as is Malbec with its savoury, juicy dark fruit flavours. Our picks feature the Argiano Non-Confunditur NC Rosso 2019, Tuscany ($25.99), M. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Les Meysonniers Rouge 2018, Rhone ($23.99), Bartier Bros. Syrah Cerqueira Vineyard 2019, Okanagan ($30.99).

Salmon can go either with Chardonnay or Pinot Noir — see earlier picks. But, again, soft and juicy is the requirement. Yuu can add in your favourite sparkling wine or see our weekend picks on this page, and you should be good to go.

Weekend wine picks

Anna Spinato Prosecco Organic N/V, Veneto, Italy

$17.99 I 88/100

UPC: 8011204003874

There’s no missing this neon green bottle on the shelf, and the wine stands out, too. It’s quite expressive with zesty lemon, confected pear, and almond wrapped in orchard blossom aromatics. Light bodied with a gentle, soft mousse, this is well-balanced in a brut style that finishes just off-dry. Ideal as an aperitif, this will handle a range of canapés — a worthwhile discovery. Don’t let the packaging deter you — certified organic.


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Mission Hill Reserve Brut N/V, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada

$22.99 I 88/100

UPC: 776545996114

Mission Hill’s first Reserve Brut is tank fermented, charmat method, blending mostly Chardonnay with 10 per cent Pinot Noir grown on two estate vineyards in the south Okanagan. Appropriately mellow on entry with an enticing lime/pear aroma that spills across the palate. The acidity is perfectly tuned to keep it all fresh, and at 11 per cent alcohol, it is light on its feet. A fun party fizz for the holidays.

Cattin Sauvage Crémant d’Alsace Brut N/V, Alsace, France

$26.99 I 89/100

UPC: 3488330007017

The Cattin family has been making wine in the same village in France since 1720. Today it is in the hands of 11th and 12th generation Jacques and Jacques Jr. This 80/20 Pinot Blanc/Chardonnay is native fermented in stainless steel and spends nine months on its lees in bottle. Look for aromatic white blossoms, pear, red apples, aromas and flavours tightened crunchy acidity and balanced by a touch of residual sugar you don’t notice — a lively, pure, food-focused crémant primed for enjoying now.


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Albet i Noya Petit Albet Brut Reserva 2017, Penedès, Catalunya, Spain

$26.99 I 90/100

UPC: 8437000043300

Petit Albet Brut is your classic Penedès bubble, blending macabeo, xarel·lo and parellada, and the label is as simple and as clean as the wine. Look for a steady stream of tight bubbles with the scent of toast, fresh-cut herbs, and flowers that run into bright green apple and pear and a stream of acidity that feeds the wine from front to back. It spends 15 months aging in the bottle to add some autolytic complexity to the mix. The perfect late-day wine for tapas or pre-dinner appetizers to kick off the evening. Organically grown fruit.

Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut N/V, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County, California, United States


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$42.99 I 91/100

UPC: 097546102008

It has been a while since we have seen the Roederer Estate Brut multi-vintage sparkler, but it is simply better than ever. Set among the fog in Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley, it is a sparkling California star. The owners Champagne Louis Roederer know a thing or two about making sparkling wine, and the latest edition is outstanding. The fruit is estate grown and subject to a meticulous vineyard regime. Each year oak-aged wine from the estate’s reserve cellars is added to the blend, creating a multi-vintage cuvée in the traditional Roederer style. The attack is lively with enticing pear and hazelnut dusted in complex, tasty lees. Long and intense, this is a winner.

Apple and Sage Stuffing with The Very British Bangers from The Very Good Butchers.
Apple and Sage Stuffing with The Very British Bangers from The Very Good Butchers. Photo by The Very Good Butchers

Recipe match: Apple and sage stuffing with vegan sausage

Created by the team at the B.C.-based company The Very Good Butchers , this vegan-friendly recipe creates a comforting dish for a cold winter’s evening. Serve it with a choice of greens on the side to make it a meal.


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Apple and sage stuffing with The Very British Bangers

1 loaf sourdough or French bread, cubed

1/4 stick vegan butter

1 white onion, diced

2-3 The Very British Bangers cut up into small pieces

1/4 cup (60 mL) cranberries

1 apple, peeled and cubed

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 celery stalks, diced

1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) dried sage

1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) thyme

1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) rosemary

1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) sea salt

Fresh pepper, to taste

2-3 cups (500-750 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth

Preheat the oven to 400F and grease a casserole dish and set aside. Cook The Very British Bangers according to grilling package directions

Remove the bangers from the pan. In the same pan, sauté the onions and celery until soft and translucent. Then lower the heat and add in the garlic, cranberries, herbs, and re-add the cooked sausage.


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Combine all ingredients to a bowl, add the bread and continue adding the stock a little bit at a time.

Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes.

Serves 2-3.

Recipe match

Sausages and apple sage stuffing make red wine better, and the match is local Syrah. 


Corcelettes Syrah 2019, Similkameen Valley, British Columbia $27.90 

A drier style with blueberry and black pepper flavours dusted in local sage and deer brush — perfectly structured to a sausage dish.

Dirty Laundry Vineyard Kay’s Syrah 2018, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $29.99 

The palate is expansive, with lush textures of blackberry jam, cassis, smoked meat, milk chocolate and leather.



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