Gift Wines to Make Your Holidays Sparkle

Team member Matt Steeves above, chats about his favourite holiday gift wines on CTV’s Morning Show above.

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Champagne and christmas gifts. Isolated on white background




Team member Tania Thomas recommends her favourite holiday sparkling wines on Rogers Daytime Television.


Gift Wines to Make Your Holidays Sparkle 1st video

Leanne: Well you don’t need to spend a lot to get great wines. In fact when it comes to entertaining often the best wines are some of the least expensive and the most appealing. So here with his top picks and tips on how to serve wine at your holiday party, we have sommelier Matt Steeves joining us once again, always a pleasure.

Matt: Thank you.

Leanne: Giving the gift of wine, It’s nice to receive and then…

Matt: Absolutely.

Leanne: … it’s nice to have a bottle to give.

Matt: Absolutely. It’s a great thing and you know it’s very welcoming when someone comes into your house and you have some wine on hand. You can open up a bottle and when you go to someone’s house, it’s the same thing … it’s a great gesture and will definitely be used. It’s not like a sweater that you tuck away in a closet, it will be well used.

Leanne: Nice sweater by the way.

Matt: Yes.

Leanne: But we’ll get to that in a little bit when we talk about some of the bottles.

Matt: Exactly.

Leanne: It’s interesting everything we’re going to have is going to be under $20.

Matt: Correct.

Leanne: But perfect especially when you’re entertaining. I know you have some tips for people who are having people over … what should they do? I love some of your tips for when people first arrived at the door.

Matt: What I like to do, Leanne, is have a bottle of Sparkling wine or a few in a bucket of ice near the front door. I grab their coat put it away and then I hand them a flute of Sparkling wine. It’s a very welcoming way to greet people into your home and it starts things off in a very festive manner.

Leanne: Right, you’re going to be in for a really good time tonight here’s a way to start.

Matt: That’s right exactly.

Leanne: Despite the fact that some people may have preferences, having both red and white wine on hand is important.

Matt: We were talking earlier that some people actually can’t drink red wine for whatever reasons. So, regardless of what you’re having for food, it’s nice to have options. What I’ve done here is I have some really crowd pleasing white and red wines that everyone is going to enjoy.  They’re all under $20 so it’s a no brainer.

Leanne: Okay, let’s start with some on your list.

Matt:  Once we get into the Sparkling wine … we have Oyster Bay Chardonnay. It is currently on sale which is nice for the holidays. It is a beautiful wine … a crowd pleaser. This is one of the top selling wines across Canada and you can tell why. It’s just great quality at $16.95. Aren’t they’re great now?

Leanne: I think anytime people see an Oyster Bay bottle coming their way, they will think this is going to be good.

Matt: Yes.

Leanne: So that’s a good one and it is on sale.

Matt: That’s right.

Leanne: You’re saying a couple of them from that area are actually on special for the holiday wines.

Matt: Yes, from New Zealand, think Kim Crawford as well. This Sauvignon Blanc is $3 off now. We were talking earlier about making one big trip to the LCBO. You go and you buy a case or two. In terms of quantifying how much wine you need for your dinner party, I like to say for every two people you need about one bottle.

Leanne: So you do the math? Okay.

Matt: Do the math so you’re not short.

Leann: Worst thing is to run out.

Matt: To run out.

Leanne: So if you know the number of people, have that on hand?

Matt: Yes and then a few extra.

Leanne: One bottle for every two people?

Matt: Correct.

Leanne: Okay some good things to think about right there. What do you have going on in this Kim Crawford glass?

Matt: These are wine gems. So if you’re familiar with whisky rocks, those rocks that you put in whisky to keep it cool, well Kim Crawford and a designer came up with these wine gems and they’ll keep your wine cold for about an extra hour. There’s details on my website where to acquire them. They are really interesting and very popular in the summer. You may not need them so much right now but in the summer. I remember Melissa asked, “Is it okay to put ice in your wine?” … “Not really but you can, you know do whatever you want.”

Leanne: You can use these if you stored them in the freezer.

Matt: Yes, exactly. Yes, store them in the freezer.

Leanne: Very nice.

Matt: Oyster Bay Pinot Noir is another crowd-pleaser.  It is a lighter style red wine. This Cab Sauv is from Washington State.  It is a beautiful wine that’s from just above California and it is  very similar to California wines. Wolf Blass, the Entertainer, is $15.95. This is fun in a bottle, really it is.  Its like the Lindsay Lohan of red wine.  It’s great and it’s called the Entertainer …   Wolf Blass.

Leanne: I would not have known this is Wolf Blass just by the label.

Matt: Yes.

Leanne: Okay, I want to try this one.

Matt: It’s really fruity, it’s balance and it goes well with the kind of foods we’re enjoying now … hardier meals.

Leanne: I bet you know it’s Wolf Blass, you can tell…

Matt: Yes, it has that style.

Leanne: It has that Wolf Blass style to it, very nice okay.

Matt: Here is a super value priced Cabernet Sauvignon. Its tough to find cheap Cabernet Sauvignon. This one is under $12 and it is from Chile. Chile makes really good Cab Sauv and very cost conscious Cab Sauvs.

Leanne: This one is $11.95 for this bottle and keep it in mind if you’re having the one bottle for every two people.

Matt: That’s it.

Leanne: It is a good one to add to the mix, right?

Matt: And that’s a good point if you’re having 20-30 people over…

Leanne: Right.

Matt: … it adds up but if you’re only having 4-5 people over then we might want to splurge on more expensive bottles.

Leanne: Okay then go on if you can do it really really quickly.

Matt: Yes sure so I’ve got some beautiful California wines here. Robert Mondavi this one. They actually come with the ugly sweater. I’m also wearing the big version of it. It’s a very nice wine again all year round. It’s the holiday season and they throw in these few things.

Leanne: Then you have the Beringer family…

Matt: Exactly.

Leanne: You say, “No plastic cups.”

Matt: “No plastic cups.”

Leanne: Go to Ikea and get dollar glasses. Always do it in glassware.

Matt: They are $1 or even cheaper. I got the Ikea flier last night.


Gift Wines to Make Your Holidays Sparkle 2nd Video

Derick: Sparkling wine…Champagne what’s the difference? Outside of price?

Heather: I don’t know.

Derick:  Well we’re going to find out with our next guest because she is a specialist when it comes to wine. We’re joined by Tania Thomas, she’s certified specialist of wine, a wine writer and owner of Run Away Grape, welcome back to the show Tania, great to have you here.

Heather: Welcome back, nice to see you. Thanks a lot!

Tania: Great to be back, thank you.

Derick: So okay, the question people always have when it comes to Sparkling wine is how is it made? It’s obviously made differently than other wines.

Tania: Absolutely.

Derick: What sets it apart from other wines?

Tania: Well there are different ways in making a Sparkling wine, there’s Champagne that comes from the region of Champagne in France and it’s made in a traditional method … traditional method first fermentation is done just like any other still wine. Then you have this high acidity and you have medium alcohol and then what happens is they have another fermentation. It happens in the bottle.

Derick: Okay.

Tania: And this is when bubbles happen and this is where the whole thing changes. This is what makes Sparkling wine.

Derick: Why is it so much better than Sparkling wine? Champagne.

Heather: Yes.

Tania: Well because it’s made in this method that allows you to get this really fine and sophisticated bubbles. They’re very persistent and they’re very very fine. The other methods of making Sparkling wine is in a tank. It is a pressurized tank where everything goes and they induce the carbon dioxide and they bottle it under pressure.

Derick: Right.

Tania: So those bubbles of course cannot be compared to those fine persistent bubbles that are created overtime in a bottles.

Heather: But that’s good too.

Derick: Yes, it’s also good but it is different, right?

Heather: It’s definitely different.

Tania: Champagne is not the only Sparkling wine that’s made in traditional methods. There’s many different Sparkling Wines around the world. They’re made like that and actually we have quite a few here at home as well. I do have few of these with us here today and you’ll be tasting one of them.

Derick: Yes, let’s talk about. Alright we’ll enjoy a little taste of one and maybe you could tell us a little bit about it because this one looks quite unique as well … the bottle.

Heather: Right. It’s pretty.

Tania: Yes, well I have four in here. Two are from Niagara and here in Niagara we have a fabulous wine growing region.

Derick: Yes.

Tania: It’s a limestone based just like Champagne. Its similar grapes just like in Champagne and we have this cool climate as in Champagne as well. So we can make really great Sparkling wine. And we have two perfect examples here. This one here is made in Featherstone Winery it’s actually called Joy Cuvee and it has won 2 gold medals. It’s the best Sparkling wine of the year 2015…

Derick: Nice.

Tania:  … in the All Canadian championship. So this is a great one to start with for sure. The other one is made by one of my favourite wineries in Niagara. It’s actually from Henry of Pelham.

Derick: Okay.

Heather: Right.

Tania: They’re both made in traditional method but when you take the price of Champagne, Champagne in $60-$70 right, this is half of that and it delivers every single bit of the goodness that Champagne would bring.

Derick: Really?

Tania: Yes, for sure.

Heather: Nice.

Tania: So would you like a little taste before we continue?

Derick: Let’s do a little taste.

Heather: Well okay.

Tania: Okay.

Heather: Now we’re talking about good Champagne. There is really no time that isn’t appropriate but we tend to want to have Champagne for a celebration. Can you tell us how did that historically come about?

Tania: Okay, so I just want to give one little here. Did you see how this one was opened?

Derick: Yes.

Heather: Yes, it’s like a therica.

Tania: So this doesn’t happen often, right? This is very easy to serve and you don’t need that popping thing that happens, you just give a little hiss.

Heather: Right.

Derick: That’s right.

Heather: You’re not going to shoot the windows out.

Tania: You can just do a little sigh. I’ll pass it over to you and you can pour it there, how about that?

Heather: The sound…

Derick: Sure yes.

Tania: And I will tell you about the history of Sparkling wine. Sparkling wine was actually made by accident in the Middle Ages but it wasn’t popular until the mid-1700.

Heather: Okay.

Tania: Then London society discovered the very uplifting effect of the Sparkling wine.

Heather: Okay.

Tania: And this is history, literally.

Heather: Okay.

Tania: So this is an amazing thing that you can serve for any celebration. Another great thing about Sparkling wine is that it’s the most versatile of wines. You can have it as an aperitif and  you can have it with your soup.

Heather: Right.

Tania: You can have it with your salad and you can continue throughout the meal. If you have the version that’s a little bit sweeter, you can even continue with your dessert and even a post supper sipper.

Heather: So what kind of meal would you serve a Champagne with?

Tania: This is the most beautiful thing about it.

Heather: Okay.

Tania: You can serve it with cheese; it would go fabulous with this triple cream Brie or Camembert … absolutely delicious.

Heather: Right.

Derick: Yes.

Heather: Yes.

Tania: You can serve it with any kind of fish.

Heather: Okay.

Tania: A little squeeze of lemon juice and a cream sauce works really well with the buttery goodness of Sparkling wine.

Heather: Nice.

Tania: Look…

Derick: Well let’s try this.

Heather: Okay.

Tania:  Yes, let’s indeed.

Derick: I would like it if you try this, okay cheers!

Tania: Cheers to the Holidays! Yes, indeed!

Heather: Yes.

Derick: Yes to the Holidays! Oh my goodness this smells so good.

Heather: Is there a proper way to do Champagne tasting compare to wine tasting?

Tania: How’s that?

Derick: That’s so smooth.

Heather: That’s gorgeous.

Tania:  And there’s one really important thing for the ladies … take your lipstick off. It’s going to kill the bubbles.

Derick: Really?

Tania: Yes.

Heather: Okay.

Derick: Well that’s good to know that’s a great piece of advice.

Heather: Good to know.

Tania: You don’t have to worry about that but, yes.

Heather: Very good to know.

Derick: Tania, obviously you put events together and you do tastings with people…

Tania: Yes.

Derick: How do people get in touch with you for that?

Tania: You can find me in the

Derick: Okay.

Tania: Our tastings are pretty unique because we bring the wine country to you and allow our guests to taste them all at one place…

Derick: Yes.

Tania: … with the locally sourced foods. There are different tastings that you can attend. There’s Flavours of Ontario and there’s Grand Canadian with wines from coast to coast. Especially for the winter season, I have one that’s called Cozy Winter Sipping. It’s all about Canadian Ice wine and chocolate.

Derick: Oh my goodness!

Heather: Okay, when is that? We have to get onto that one.

Derick: There you have Tania, thank you so much for joining us.

Heather: Thank you.

Tania: You’re most welcome.

Derick: Cheers Happy Holidays!

Heather: Okay.

Tania: Thank you, same to you.

Heather: Merry Christmas!

Derick: Merry Christmas to you and your family. We’ll be back with UNICEF … some great gift ideas that give back from UNICEF right after this.


You can also see my favourite holiday wines on Global TV.





Posted with permission of CTV and Rogers TV





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