Sips and Savours: Holiday Edition

With a busy season of parties and entertaining upon you, the easier you can make things for yourself, the better. There are so many opportunities to pour and present wine, and they will not all need the same thing. Take this list along when wine shopping, and you will be set for any occasion.

Ready for Anything Wines

Greeting guests with a glass of bubbly makes any event feel special. Trius Brut VQA is a traditional method sparkling wine (made like Champagne) without the traditional high-end price tag. It smells and tastes like fresh red apples, melon, lemon, and toast. It goes with a wide range of savoury snacks; everything from potato chips to mild creamy cheeses to smoked salmon.

sip1A refreshing white wine is welcome at cocktail hour, and around the table. Boschendal “The Pavillion” Chenin Blanc – Viognier 2011 from South Africa has a nose of apricot, pear, melon, and lanolin. On the palate there is all of that, plus green apple and beeswax. Roasted spiced almonds, tangy tuna tartare, or a seafood supper would be great matches.

If you’ve got red meat in the oven, or a hearty pasta with tomato sauce on the menu, some red wine is always handy. For something like sausages or lasagna, lightly chill a bottle of Cantina di Negrar Valpolicella 2011. It has smells and flavours of cranberry, sour cherry, earth, and pencil lead.

Chilling brings out the fruit, and makes the wine taste more refreshing. When making gourmet pizza, ratatouille, or a roast of beef, a good local option is Trius Merlot 2011 VQA, with notes of raspberry, cocoa powder, earth, and a hint of vanilla. This wine even goes well with dark chocolate.

Just In Case Crowd-Pleasers

Even if you’re not a wine collector or connoisseur, it’s a good idea to keep a few bottles of wine on hand for those times when you just need something to sip on, the neighbour comes by for a visit, or you decide to host a spontaneous party around the grill. The wines should be crowd-pleasing, yet distinct enough to be interesting.

Here are four that fit the bill.

Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc 2012 has a fresh, youthful nose of grapefruit, candied lemon slices, wet stone, and freshly cut grass. The zesty palate shows lemon peel, gooseberry, candied citrus, grapefruit, and a mineral note. This would be a great apéritif to wake up people’s tastebuds, and would pair well with grilled chicken rubbed with fresh herbs, seafood and lemon, or goat cheese on fresh greens with a light vinaigrette.

Peninsula Ridge Unoaked INOX® Chardonnay VQA 2011 has aromas of green apple, melon, lemon, pineapple, and stone. It has flavours of fresh red and green apple, pear, melon, and pineapple. An elegant wine to match with French onion soup, or roast pork with applesauce.

Deep Purple Zinfandel


Deep Purple Lodi Zinfandel 2010 is medium-bodied, and has a nose of leather, raspberry, cranberry, and earth. On the palate it shows smoke, pencil lead, raspberry, black plum, and cocoa powder. For food, think homemade pizza, ratatouille, and meatloaf.

Cesari “Mara” Valpolicella Ripasso 2010 smells like black plums, leather, tobacco, violets, black currants, and smoke. It is dry, full-bodied, and has medium to medium-plus tannin. It tastes like leather, plums, blackberries, smoke, earth, and vanilla. Dishes that match well include sausage and peppers, sirloin grilled to rare, hearty tomato sauces, and robust cheeses.

With these wines in the rack, you’re ready for just about anything.

Happy sipping,


Image of holiday table credit: “Dinner Party” by Jill Clardy on Flickr.

Susan Sterling

Author of our monthly feature Sips and Savours, Susan Sterling’s love of wine blossomed when she worked in Europe as a cycling guide. She holds Intermediate, Advanced, and Diploma certificates from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) in the UK, and hosted the online wine shows Naked Wine Show and Grape Notes. Find out more about Susan at

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