In the fall issue of the LCBO’s Food & Drink Magazine, I’ve chosen eight of my favourite Ontario wines for fall meals and Thanksgiving dinner. Lucy Waverman has developed some extraordinary recipes to pair with these wines. Pick up your copy soon … although there are half a million copies published, they go fast! Let me know what your favourite Ontario wines are.
What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than with a bumper crop of our own Ontario wines? With such a wide range of styles, there are lots of choices for every dish on your holiday table, whether it’s the main entrée or the side dishes. And just as there are a variety of side dishes on the table, why not offer friends and family a choice of wines too? They can enjoy mixing and matching them with their favourite sides.
For the lentil soup, try the 2009 Open Riesling Gewurtraminer (134965, $11.95). It’s pretty floral notes and zesty lime refreshment are terrific with the savoury-sweet notes in the soup. The wine also proves that wine and vegetables can make a terrific match: just avoid heavy oak, alcohol and tannins, and you’ll find that they dance together.
This wine also works well with the squash risotto, gratin and broccoli dishes. Its mouth-watering acidity cuts through the richness of both the risotto and the gratin, and it makes an excellent complement to the broccoli. Serve Open as a wonderful aperitif to guests while they’re waiting to sit down at the table: it’s light but flavourful.
Two other tasty choices are the 2007 Angels Gate Gewurztraminer (58594, $13.95) and 2008 Konzelmann Riesling (200501, $11.95), both of which have vibrant melon-fresh flavours and a touch of sweetness to highlight the sweet notes in the dishes from the sweet potatoes, onions, pomegranate relish and squash. Thanksgiving side dishes are often sweet or have a touch of sweetness in them, whether it’s creamed corn, chutney, cranberries or succotash (creamed sweetcorn, beans and onions). You want a wine that has a thread of sweetness to match your dish.
The 2008 Innsikillin Pinot Noir (261099, $14.95) is a knock-out with the roasted mushrooms and chestnut stuffing. The wine’s racy cherry aromas are a delicious silky cushion for the earthy-woodsy notes in the dish. Another option is the 2007 Jackson-Triggs Reserve Meritage (526228, $12.45), a more full-bodied red that muscles in beautifully with the red wine sauce. In fact, a good pairing tip is to drink the wine you cook with: so if you have a cabernet-based red wine sauce, serve that wine in the glass too.
Ontario dessert wines are known around the world and deserve a place on our harvest table. While our benchmark icewines are wonderful with fruit-based desserts, such as flans, tarts, pies and cobblers, they can be overwhelmed with a dessert as rich as this one. The chocolate-laden nuttiness in the dacquoise cries out for an equally robust dessert wine. The pairing guideline is that your wine should be both sweeter and richer than your dessert so that it doesn’t taste bitter or dull by comparison.
A perfect bridge is the Kittling Ridge Icewine & Brandy (558999, $19.95). Its gorgeous apricot and honey aromas mingle beautifully with the white chocolate and whipped cream. The added depth of the brandy helps to melt the chocolate in your mouth. Yum!
Think about the flavours that are usually blended in a chocolate dessert, such as raspberry, strawberry, and orange, and then look for similarly flavoured wines to make excellent matches. Southbrook Vineyards Framboise (341024, $15.85) offers luscious flavours of raspberry jam that are also perfect for this dessert. The bonus is that you can also mix this dessert wine with Ontario bubbly such as the Henry of Pelham Catherine Brut (144873, $29.95) for a festive kir royale to toast the holiday!