Make it red for the holidays: 6 wines for the dinner table

When it comes to wine, white Christmases are overrated.

Photo courtesy of CedarCreek Estate Winery.
Photo courtesy of CedarCreek Estate Winery.

Although our brains might be hardwired to think that white meat goes only with white wines, a glass of red might be the perfect match for your holiday feast. When it comes to turkey dinner, it’s really more about matching the wine to the trimmings rather than to just the bird. The rich, full flavours of the dishes, from the stuffing to the sweet potatoes, might be better with red. The key is to find a red that will complement the food but not overwhelm it. Pinot noir is generally the perfect match, having plenty of acidity without plenty of tannins.

As for country of choice, I find the best pinots come from cooler climates and I am more than happy to recommend a pinot from the coolest of all: Canada. Who better to support over the holidays than the wineries hard at work right here in Canada. While the wines below all hail from B.C. (a little easier to get in the West), there are plenty of great ones coming from Ontario, as well.

Happy holidays!


CedarCreek 2012 “Block 2” Pinot Noir, B.C.

Um, wow, this is a beauty. From CedarCreek’s Block 2 comes this top-shelf quality bottle. Subtle and complex with layers of berry fruit, spice, earthiness, and dried herbs. Slightly silky in texture with juicy raspberry, plum, and integrated tannins, it’s perfect for something nice to share with the family.

B.C. $40; AB $48.

Tinhorn Creek 2011 Pinot Noir, B.C.

A certain plushness to the fruit, it's very enjoyable, with cranberry, raspberry, and cherries leading the way. Plenty of acidity, but the tannins are exceptionally soft. I’d happily match this with some grilled sausages if I ran out of turkey.

B.C. $20; AB $22.


Kettle Valley 2011 Pinot Noir Reserve, B.C.

This one is spicy and full on the nose with pepper, ginger, dried herbs, and vegetable leaf, while fruits run to cherry notes. A bit leaner than some of the other pinots here, but I do think this would be a solid combo for deep fry turkey or ham.

B.C. $38; AB $55.


Spierhead 2013 Pinot Noir Cuvée, B.C.

The pinot noir cuvée is made up of specially selected barrels, and it shows. Plenty of blackberry fruits, spice, earth, a little smoke, and some delicate floral aromas. A bit of tannin fights for prominence on the palate, but I would eagerly match this up against a cheese course or red meat on the table.

B.C. $33.


JoieFarm 2011 “En Famille” Reserve Pinot Noir, B.C.

Positively packed with black fruits, along with herb, spice, and smoke. Wonderfully textured on the palate, as well, with great intensity and just a hint of jammy fruit toward the finish. Great quality and very enjoyable to drink.

B.C. $40; AB $40.


Quails’ Gate 2011 Pinot Noir, B.C.

Bursting with black cherries, plum, and complex spices and a touch of earthiness, this has the tangy fruits and firm tannins I love. Should be very versatile with turkey (the dark meat), or even red meats such as roasts or rib eyes.

MB $24; B.C. $24; NS $26; ON $27; SK $27; AB $30.