Holiday Wines and Spirits Plus Hosting Tips (Video)

As the holidays approach, we look forward to entertaining friends and family. On CTV’s Your Morning we chat about terrific wines and spirits for the holidays.


Welcome Natalie.


What’s a good drink to serve to guests when they arrive?


Sparkling wine is the drink of celebration, especially at this time of year. I’d recommend two from Nova Scotia:





Avondale Sky Winery Benediction Sparkling Wine
Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada










Blomidon Crémant
Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, Canada





Both are zesty and refreshing with notes of green apple and freshly baked bread. The bonus that these are both low in alcohol at 10-11% and they’ll pair well with any nibbles you have, from cheese to charcuterie.




When we’re planning the drinks for a holiday gathering, how do we know how much to buy and what to buy?


Count on one drink per guest per hour, and up to two drinks per hour if guests are staying overnight or have pre-arranged transportation home. Some people also tend to drink more during sit-down dinners.


However, you will want to be conservative with your estimates so that you have an adequate supply rather than run short. One alcoholic drink is equivalent to one bottle of beer, five ounces of wine or two ounces of hard liquor or liqueurs.


When it comes to wine, I recommend what I call switch-hitter wines. They’re not too heavy or light, yet they’re packed with flavour such as:







Icellars Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc
Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario V.Q.A.










Sea Sun Pinot Noir 2019
California, United States






The bonus here is that these will both pair beautifully with turkey dinner as well as most hors d’oeuvres.





These wines also are a great “house pour,” the drink you offer to those who don’t have a preference. You will want to stock about twice as much of this drink as the others. With beer, stock an equal mix of domestic, imported and light.


What about for guests who do want something more full-bodied?


Then I’d suggest:





Clos de los Siete 2018
Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina










Slow Press Cabernet Sauvignon
California, United States






What about liqueurs and spirits?







Remy Martin VSOP Heritage Limited Edition Champagne Cognac
Cognac A.O.C., France










Wayne Gretzky Estates Salted Caramel Cream
Ontario, Canada








What about those not drinking alcohol?

Offer a non-alcoholic punch and soft drinks as well as juice and milk for the children.

For those drinking nonalcoholic beverages, count on two drinks per guest per hour, taking into account the drink preferences of your guests, including children.

Even those drinking alcohol will want to pace themselves with some non-alcoholic beverages such as sparkling water and fruit juice.

Offering a fruit punch or mulled cider before the meal to mix with alcohol will also cost less than a full bar and will stretch the alcohol further. Plus it makes you a responsible host who cares about guests getting home safely.



How can you personalize the drinks you offer?

The right drinks can personalize your celebration. If you are commemorating a holiday, such as your first married Christmas or Hanukkah, you can feature popular drinks from that year.

Serving wines from one country or vintage can also give your party a more festive theme. At large gatherings, a magnum of wine is visually dramatic on the holiday table because at 1.5 litres they’re twice the size of the standard 750 ml bottle.

Magnums also make a holiday toasts feel more communal with everyone taking a glass from the same bottle.


Which cocktails would you offer?

With a full bar, offer such retro favourites as martinis, manhattans, cosmopolitans and sidecars. You’ll need the “speed rail” essentials, the most popular spirits that professional bartenders keep out front, which are gin, rum, rye, scotch and vodka.

The standard 1.14 litre bottle of each will usually suffice, except for larger parties or those where the majority of guests are drinking spirits.


What about garnishes?

Allow one pound (500 g) of ice per person drinking for drinks and to fill coolers.

Garnishes: maraschino cherries, olives, celery sticks, cocktail onions and sliced lemons, limes and oranges

Flavourings (two bottles of each should suffice for all but the largest of events): worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, horseradish sauce, bitters

Spices (one bottle of each): nutmeg, cinnamon

Bar Tools

A great reason to hire bartenders or caterers is that they will come with this equipment. Your reception facilities should also stock these items.

Equipment: Pairing knives, spoons, coolers, spatula, cutting board, measuring spoons and cups, corkscrew, bottle and can openers, ice tongs, muddler (small bat to mash and blend spices and herbs smooth in the bottom of the glass without scratching it), mixing glasses, citrus reamer to extract juice, long-handled spoons, bar strainer, ice bucket, glass pitchers, decanters, a heavy-duty blender to crush ice and blend drinks, two stainless steel flat-bottomed cones for shaking martinis (you could probably use the blender but you miss the opportunity for pageantry in preparing the drink)

Glassware: champagne flutes, wineglasses, all-purpose highball glasses, tumblers, brandy snifters and martini, old-fashioned and shot glasses

Serving Aids: straws, swizzle sticks, mini umbrellas, toothpicks, cocktail

Mixers: soda water, Coke, Sprite, ginger ale and other soft drinks, both

regular and diet. One can or bottle equals one drink.

Juices: cranberry, orange, lime, lemon, mango, papaya and other guest


Water: sparkling, flavoured and still, plus milk

Non-alcoholic beer and wine







Posted with permission from CTV.







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