Joy to the World Holiday Wine Match

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You can help create the ultimate holiday wine shopping list in the Joy to the World Holiday Wine Match! Nominate and/or vote for your favourite wines from around the world under $25 to pair with holiday dishes.

As the first people’s choice awards for holiday wines, the competition takes a grassroots, “bottoms up” approach to get us rallying behind our favourite bottles so that we can pour like Santa, but save like Scrooge.



In the video above, three festive wine lovers and I get into the spirits of the season and chat about wines to pair with holiday dishes. Click the arrow to play.

How do I nominate a wine?

Go to the nomination wall for one of the six holiday dish categories: turkey, lamb, latkes, greens, seafood and fruitcake. Simply enter the name or product code of the wine. You can find product codes here. Once your nominated wine has been approved, you’ll receive an e-mail and can start voting right away.

Who can nominate wines?

This is the people’s choice awards for holiday wines, so you don’t have to be a wine expert to participate. You also don’t have to be a Canadian resident to take part, as the wines will come from around the world and will most likely also be sold in many countries.

Which wines can be nominated?

The Joy to the World Holiday Wine Match is open to all wines from any country in the world as long as they are currently sold in a liquor store and are under $25. So wines sold only at the winery or by mail order are not eligible as want these wines to be easy to buy during the holiday season for everyone.

There are no restrictions on vintage, bottle size or style: red, white, rosé, sparkling, late harvest, dessert/icewine and fortified wines may be nominated.

Do I have to sign-up to nominate or vote for a wine?

If you’ve already signed up for free newsletter or the VIP subscription, then you’re all set to participate if you’re logged in. If you haven’t yet, you only have to do this once, it’s free and takes less than a minute to join us here.

Why? This is the only way that we can prevent ballot box stuffing during the voting. Each nomination and vote is associated with a particular person and that’s the only way we can stick to our guidelines and make it fair for everyone.

Why should I nominate a wine?

Share your passion for value-priced wines with others by becoming a champion for one or more bargain bottles. Have fun tracking the votes for your wine daily, discover new food pairings for your wine and others, and enjoy some friendly rivalry with those who have nominated wines from other countries.

If you’re a wine, food or lifestyle blogger, this is also a great way to get recognition for your site since your nomination will link to your profile, site and social media accounts. Should your wine win one of the six holiday dish pairing categories, I will interview you on Google + Video Hangout about your choice and your passion for wine.

As a winery or wine agency representative, why would I want my wine nominated?

Just getting your wine nominated will give you exposure on Canada’s largest wine web site, and provide a strong call to action for wine lovers to try your wine and become champions for it. Award decals will be available for all nominees and winners.

The media coverage for The Great Canadian Wine Match included newspapers across the country, Canadian Press, Huffington Post, Zoomer Magazine, Wine News Magazine, CanTech Magazine, Canada AM, CTV News, CBC, CTV News at Noon and thousands of votes shared on Canada’s largest wine community on social media, including Twitter and Facebook.

How are the winning wines selected?

Five wines in each of the six holiday dish categories mentioned above will be selected at the end of the nomination voting round on November 21, based on the number of votes from five different regions and five different nominators.

How is this competition different from The Great Canadian Wine Match?

Just one wine from any particular country can be included in the finalist rounds for each category. For example, if an Australian shiraz and an Australian cabernet have the first and second highest votes in the lamb category during the nomination round, only the Australian shiraz moves to the finalist round. One wine from Canada will be included in all six categories.

Similarly, participants may nominate wines in all six holiday dish pairing categories, but if one person has the highest number of votes say in the lamb and turkey categories, he or she movies forward only in the lamb category for the finalist round. This is to help keep the people’s choice awards as broadly representative as possible, both for the wines and the wine lovers themselves :)

During the finalist round from November 21 to December 6 (yes, that’s 12 days, and no, it’s not a coincidence ;) the wine in each of the six holiday dish pairing categories garnering the most votes wins.

What else is different from the last competition?

When your nominated wine is approved, there will be a tweet on Twitter telling the winery you’ve done so. As well, each time you vote for that wine, the winery will receive a tweet. We’re spreading good news and festive cheer on social media more than ever this time.

We’re also fully engaging the mobile app world. This competition, unlike the last, is fully optimized for your smartphone, iPad or tablet, from the responsive design layout that will change to fit the size of your screen to the ability to nominate and vote for wines on the go.

What’s the cost of entry?

It’s free to both to nominate and to vote for wines.

How many times can a particular wine be nominated?

A wine can be nominated only once in each of the six categories: turkey, lamb, latkes, greens, seafood and fruitcake. The first person to nominate the wine in a category becomes the champion for that wine in that category.

When can I nominate a wine?

You may nominate a wine anytime until November 21, 2013. It’s good to nominate your wine as early as you can to garner as many votes as possible during the voting period. However, it’s also still worth recognizing terrific wines with a nomination at any time.

How many wines may I nominate?

You can nominate one wine in each of the six holiday dish categories: turkey, lamb, latkes, greens, seafood and fruitcake. If you would like to see a second wine nominated in a particular category, encourage a friend to nominate it.

What if the wine I want to nominate isn’t listed on your web site?

You can submit new wines to be posted on the site, as long as they are under $25 and sold in a liquor store. Once they are approved and posted on the site, you can then nominate them for the competition. Be sure you include a picture of the bottle when you submit it.

Other than picking the wine, is there anything else I should do?

Be sure you have your picture posted on your profile. This can be a traditional head shot, a graphic or avatar.

You may also want to say why you like the wine you’ve chosen on its review page. Find the wine, then click on its name. Beside the bottle shot, click on “Add My Review.”

This doesn’t have to be a formal tasting note and score. You can simply say why you like this wine with turkey, lamb, latkes, greens, seafood and fruitcake. However, this isn’t necessary to nominate a wine.

Wine, food and lifestyle bloggers may also want to blog about their choices to provide more background on their selections.

How do I vote for a wine?

Click on the voting button in the top right corner of the box for the wine. You can vote for wines without nominating any wines.

How many times may I vote for a wine?

You can vote for a particular wine once a day in each category. So if one wine has been nominated in all six categories, you can vote for it each day in each of those six categories.

How many wines may I vote for each day?

Until November 21, 2013, you can vote for as many wines as you like each day in each category, the only restriction being one vote for any particular wine in a category. The reason is that most of us like more than one wine with turkey or lamb, so we should be able to reflect those choices and variety in our voting until we get to the finalist stage to pick the best wine in each category.

How often are the voting results updated?

Votes are calculated in real-time: as soon as you vote for a wine, the total number of votes gets updated. If your vote tips the scales and enables the wine to move up in ranking on the wall, then it will also change position after you vote.

How do I get more votes for the wine(s) I nominate?

Encourage your friends to vote for your wine by sending them the link to the voting wall and share your votes on Twitter, Facebook and Google + daily. After you vote, you’ll see a box with the social media buttons: click on them to share your support for that wine. Use the hashtag #WHWM

Why those six holiday dish categories?

To launch this competition we wanted to focus on six different holiday categories. Future competitions will focus on different holiday dishes.

How do I choose a wine to pair with a holiday dish with which I’m unfamiliar?

We’ve provided tasty, wine-friendly recipes for each of the holiday dishes: turkey, lamb, latkes, greens, seafood and fruitcake. Experiment and have fun and learn about the food and traditions of other cultures.

May I submit a recipe?

Yes, you can  contribute a recipe for these dishes as well as others for the festive season.

How can I have more fun with this?

Organize an informal taste-off party with your friends, where each of you brings the bottle of your choice and you all try them. You can make it a potluck by making some of the suggested recipe pairings or your own.

When will the nomination results be announced?

The results of the nomination round will be announced on December 6, 2013

When do we vote for the finalists in each category?

Voting for the top five wines in each holiday dish category is from November 21 to December 5. The vote tallies for each wine in the finalist round start at zero again.

How many times and wines may I vote for in the finalist round?

You may vote once a day for one wine in each of the six holiday dish categories.

How can I learn more about the finalist wines?

The champions for each of the finalist wines in each of the six categories will participate in a Google + video hangout dedicated to that particular category where they will debate the merits of their respective wines. I will act as the neutral moderator, as I will throughout this competition. (I won’t be nominating or voting for wines.)

How often are the voting results updated in the finalist round?

Votes are calculated in real-time: as soon as you vote for a wine, the total number of votes gets updated. If your vote tips the scales and enables the wine to move up in ranking on the wall, then it will also change position after you vote.

When will the winners be announced?

Winners in each of the six categories will be announced December 6.

What makes this wine competition different from others?

Many traditional wine competitions are judged by experts, such as wine writers and sommeliers, who meet in one physical location on a specific date to taste the wines in isolation apart from food and then report their results when they finish. These play an important role in recognizing our best wines based on their technical merits.

This competition will be judged by wine drinkers themselves, online and over a 3-week period, within the context of the food pairings that these wines are usually consumed. Results will be tabulated in real-time and ongoing, with the full engagement of social media. This competition also recognizes and celebrates our best wines based on their appeal to wine drinkers themselves.

When will the next competition be held?

This competition will be held at the same time next year.

Questions or suggestions?

Please e-mail [email protected]


Joy to the World Holiday Wine Match


Natalie: Welcome to the Joy to the World Holiday Wine Match, Red, White and Festive Food. I’m joined today by three very festive wine lovers who are already getting into the spirits of the season. I’m going to let them introduce themselves and maybe recall a memory or two memorable Christmas or holiday wines that they’ve had in the past. Sarah, I’m going to start with you. Let us know where you are and maybe a wine you remember from the holidays’ past.

Sarah: Well, Happy Holidays everyone. My name is Sarah Mantle; I’m from Calgary, Alberta. I have a wine blog called Got to Get You Into My Belly and the site link is [email protected] and one memorable wine that we’ve had was actually recently. We celebrated our holiday dinner just this past weekend with my parents in town. They’re from Ontario so we don’t get to see them for the holidays very often. The wine my father, my husband and myself all really raved about was Chateau Beaumont 2008 Cru Bourgeois. It was just beautiful. It went with lots of food and it was like a holiday party in my mouth.

Natalie: Sounds great. Go ahead, Sarah.

Sarah: Oh, sorry. With that I will pass the decanter on to Kristy.

Kristy: Hi, my name’s Kristy Gardner. I’m in Toronto, Ontario. I also have a blog. It’s called and that’s a mouthful so I’ll let you Google it. Even if you’re close, it will come up. My most memorable wine, I think, would probably have to be not one that you can buy in liquor stores. Actually my parents have been brewing their own wine for a really long time. They thought it would be a good idea to try a white Port a couple years ago and it was terrible. It was awful. It was the worst thing I’ve ever had and they kept trying to pass it off to their friends and family as amazing wine and it wasn’t good at all. But it was funny. So that’s my most memorable wine that I’ve had.  And with that I’ll pass it on to Adam.

Adam: Hi, my name’s Adam Bauer, I’m from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. I live in Halifax. I’m joining you actually this evening from the historic Halifax Club, right on the waterfront of the Atlantic. For me, memories of Christmas time … I can’t help but think about the four litre box of Hochtaler  my grandmother always had in our fridge. It’s a white wine.  If you look for the grape on the bottle, it’s selected grapes. I wasn’t old enough to drink wine back then. By the time I was, we had already lived in France when I was 13 and then my parents started buying bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape that actually look like it was aged in a cave. It was a (inaudible) bottle, and luckily enough I got to experience that in the holidays over the time I was old enough to drink. That really brings back holiday memories for me and I still keep a bottle in my wine rack just for the nostalgia feeling.

Natalie: You’re so sentimental, Adam. Adam, speaking of that, you look like you are ready to host your own Christmas special there with that set.

Adam: I know, I should’ve had the sweater on. I thought of it.

Natalie: Yes, like a cardigan.

Adam: Next time, next year.

Natalie: Your memories are close to mine. I also grew up in the East Coast as you know, Adam, and we had that special wine in the fridge. Usually left over from Easter and they brought it out at Christmas.  We were Scottish … it was beer and whiskey. Wine wasn’t so memorable and needless to say, I didn’t go back to it until my late twenties. But anyway, we are here to celebrate friends, family and great wine and holiday food and that’s what this match is all about. Over the course of the next 9 days, I hope you’ll join us in nominating your favourite holiday wines. They could be from around the world, Canada, of course, but any country, under $25.   What we want to try to find are those that are easy to buy and affordable in your local liquor store. We are going to crowdsource, in effect, the ultimate holiday wine shopping list so that we can all pour like Santa but save like Scrooge.  To add an extra element of fun to this competition, we’re pairing these wines with different holiday dishes from different cultures and traditions. So we’re going to kick this off with this Moroccan Lamb which is part of the celebrations of the Islamic calendar. And I’m going to go to Sarah who has a pairing for Moroccan Lamb, that savoury stew. …  Sarah.

Sarah: Yes, I do have a pairing for that. We’re big lamb eaters in this family.  In the Moroccan stew you’ll find a lot of spice. A great pairing for that would be a Shiraz from Australia. The one that I have here is Nugan Estate.  It’s out of McLaren Vale, a small region in Australia. It’s 2010 and it’s very full bodied so it can stand up to the robust flavours of the lamb. It’s got the great flavours of spice as well as a little bit of fruit in there. It also pairs well with the spices in the dish. The bottle is $25.  It is at the upper end of the scale for the contest. However, it is definitely worth the money.

Natalie: That sounds great, Sarah, and I think you meant to say Australia, right? That one’s from Australia?

Sarah: Yes.

Natalie: It’s a slip of the tongue, Africa.

Sarah: Oh, sorry.

Natalie: Both are value regions … really great stuff and that’s a great wine. I recognize it. Let us go now to Kristy.

Kristy, I think you’re talking about a Portuguese-Italian holiday dish, Baccala, tell us a little bit about that.

Kristy: Well, for Baccala, I chose the Evolution by Sokol Blosser,  I put a little bow on it.  It has a different blend of grapes. I think there are 9 in the bottle and it varies from year to year. So you get different things like Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer.  There’s a whole mash up of different grapes. You get a nice full body but it’s still really light, really fresh and really crisp. It pairs well with fish or salt cod which is Baccala, essentially. If you were to pair it with a tomato dish, it’s got acidity to go with that.  Anyway that you want to dress your fish, your salt cod, you’re pretty much set. It goes for $16.95 in the LCBO.

Natalie: Awesome price, that’s great. Just so the folks are aware, if you are not familiar with some of these holiday dishes, now is the time to try them because we’re going to have delicious recipes on the site for these dishes so that you can experiment and get to know the food cultures of other regions and countries. Okay, Adam, a dish we all know and love, Roast Turkey. What have you got for roast turkey?

Adam: So I have a Dr. Zenzen Riesling. It’s from Germany, like my ancestors. I’ve lived in the Canada and the US so I’ve experienced thanksgiving on both sides of the border. This was a perfect pairing for me. It’s a 2009 Riesling and when you think Turkey dinner, you’re into stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. At my house there was always cheese sauce on the table, too. It’s a rich meal, it’s a heavy meal. You want something that’s a little lighter in alcohol. This one’s 8% and you want something with some acidity to cut through all that richness. You’re going to get some nice honeysuckle and apple jelly and the minerality that you get from Rieslings. But that sweetness, that residual sugar is going to go great with that cranberry sauce and that sweet potato. It’s going to work really nice. It’s cleansing, it helps you get through that heavy meal and it helps you make your way through to the final course. Save some room for the dessert which you need to do on any special occasion like this.

Natalie: Absolutely, it’s the ultimate goal, especially a meal like this.

Adam: This one goes for $18.20 in the NSLC here in Nova Scotia.

Natalie: Terrific, that’s a great price. Okay, so we talk about three categories today but there’s another three. There’s six altogether. We’ll round out our holiday dishes with our wines. So we’re going to go back to Kristy with a little quick round robin here because we also have collard greens which is an African side dish to celebrate the Feast of Kwanzaa. Greens are always part of the table. So Kristy what do you suggest with collard greens or veggies?

Kristy: I decided to go with a red wine for this just because it’s a little bit different from what you would normally do … like a white wine or something. I decided to go with La Vieille Ferme.  I’m probably butchering that because I don’t speak French at all. But it’s got Sirah. It’s got Grenache. It’s light. It’s fruity. It’s bright. It will pair well if you want something a little bit meaty in there like Pancetta. Usually you do that with Brussels sprouts. It usually works really nicely with a variety of vegetable dishes or collard greens in this case.

Natalie: That’s great, yes. Nice pairing, unusual pairing but I can see how it would work. Sarah, we’re also looking at Latkes, the potato pancake that is a traditional Jewish dish for Hanukkah. What have you got in mind for Latkes?

Sarah: Well, I think it’s time to bring out the bubbly. I would recommend a sparkling wine. I’m thinking either one of our beautiful wines from the Okanagan or there are some traditional method sparkling wines that don’t come for the Champagne region but usually retails in Canada around $20. The mouthwatering acidity of the wines generally pairs well with the fattiness that you may find in the pancakes and at the same time there’s a little bit of fruitiness in those sparkling wines, so it really brightens up the dish.

Natalie: That’s great, awesome, yes. How can we go through this discussion without bringing up bubbly? Thank you, Sarah. Okay, so Adam, I want you to bring it home with a merciful wine to wash down fruitcake … that dessert that won’t go away even though we might want it to.

Adam: Exactly, first my Riesling helps me get through to the dessert and now we’re on to fruitcake. I’m going to go Australian with this with an Australian Muscat that’s been preferably fortified. You’re going to get some nice raisin characters, some orange zest. You actually get a sort of a fruitcake character with a fortified Muscat. You don’t want the sweetness to be too heavy on the fruit cake or it will taste bitter. There’s enough sweetness there, but it is fairly crisp as well so it’s going to be a nice pairing.

Natalie: Terrific, and that’s a good rule of thumb for any dessert. The wine should be sweeter than the dessert or the wine will taste bitter especially with those visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads. That’s a good wine to end with, Adam. So just to wrap this up then, those were great pairings, everyone. We’re going to open up the nominations today. There’s only 9 days to do this. So get in there and nominate your favourite wines in the six categories. If you don’t have a strong feeling then vote for the favourites that you’re seeing and get your friends and family to vote, too. What we’re trying to do here is put together a great holiday wine shopping list, whether it’s for entertaining or gift giving with wines under $25 that tastes twice as expensive as they cost. So stay tuned on November 21st, we’re going to go to a showdown phase with the top 5 wines in each category from different countries. We’ll narrow it down to those and everybody can vote for their 5 favourites for each dish so we’ll really have a lot of fun with that. So, I would just like to raise my glass to you folks and I hope you all have a great, festive, spirited holiday season. Cheers.

All: Cheers.

Adam: Happy Holidays.






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