My mother taught me to never show up for a party empty handed. It’s a lesson that’s stuck with me for last three decades and offered up plenty of opportunities to share my love of Ontario’s plethora of amazing VQA wines with friends and family alike.
During the holiday season though, I like to step up my gift giving game a little bit. Sure, it’s a way of showing my generous friends I care, but let’s be real. When there’s turkeys and cookies and cocktails to be had, it’s all about getting that invite back.
Here’s six gifts (and a matching bottle, naturally) you’ll be equally happy to give as you are to get this season.
THE HOST : The food-obsessed adventurer, always on the hunt for the latest and greatest new thing.
THE GIFT : Like many food lovers in Toronto, we’re currently obsessed with the cheese program at Sanagan’s Meat Locker. They’re bringing some seriously hard to find, delicious local cheeses on the a weekly basis, including oddities like the 3 month old Mattagami Chevre from Fromagerie Kapuskoise in Northern Ontario. This earthy cheese deserves a special night and a special wine.
THE BOTTLE : When picking out a special bottle for a special friend, especially a wine-lover, we often find ourselves heading for a Big Head red. The 2016 is complex, gamey and drinking well right now.
THE HOST : The ‘More-The-Merrier’ Potlucker
THE GIFT : Hosting a horde of hungry people is hard work, even if they each bring a dish. Give the promise of relaxation with some Guelph-made beer soap by Serenity Soaps, available at With The Grain bakery. We love the Stout + Orange scent.
THE BOTTLE : Stay on theme and pair your soapy treat with a sixer of Tropic Thunder from Brother Brewing Co, also in Guelph. This hops-forward IPA is bursting with pineapple, stone-fruit and citrus and sports some pretty rad label art to boot.
THE HOST : The always prepared pre-gamer
THE GIFT : Making a good cheeseboard is a fine art – and one can never have enough good crackers on hand for cocktail hour. Show up with a selection of beautiful Evelyn’s Crispies and win extra brownie points.
THE BOTTLE : Like crackers, there can never be too many bubbles… especially if they’re pink. We’re loving the first-ever rose sparkling from Redstone Winery, made with %100 estate pinot noir and your host will too!
THE HOST : We all have that friend. The one who insists you bring absolutely nothing and wants to take care of everything themselves.
THE GIFT : Opt for a decadent BIG Cherry Bomb from SOMA Chocolatiers in Toronto. This golf ball sized treat consists of a boozy, kirsch-soaked cherry wrapped in cacao nibs, chocolate, coconut and roasted pecans.
THE BOTTLE : Skip the wine and head straight for a luxurious, barrel-aged something. It will feel more like a gift for them than for the table. We’re currently obsessed with Kinsip Brandy, made from Prince Edward County grapes aged in charred French Oak casks. Flavours of Medjool dates, vanilla, orange peel and white pepper.