Just because the weather is getting colder does not mean that people stop entertaining guests and enjoying wine. In fact, you may find yourself staying home more often, and inviting friends over for home cooking and a game of Scrabble. With the holiday season moving into a higher gear, a few good pals, a simple menu, and some good-value wine might be just the thing to remind yourself of what is worth celebrating. Keeping a tasty drop on hand for impromptu fondue parties is a solid plan, and not going broke in the process of stocking the cellar is even better. The wines below all currently sell for less than $13 in Ontario.
Chenin Blanc often flies under the radar, which is a shame, because it has lots to offer. Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc from South Africa hits all the right notes from both a taste and a cost perspective. While lots of Chenin Blanc is grown in South Africa, the majority has historically been used to make brandy. That has changed, and if this wine is any indication, it is going in the right direction. The Forrester version of Chenin Blanc smells like lemon, orange, lanolin, cilantro, and pear. It is fresh and lively, with flavours of lemon peel, beeswax, pear, slate, and unripe pineapple. Perfect as an apéritif, with soft cheese such as Brie, or served with grilled seafood and fish.
If red is more what you’re looking for, there is a new entry to the market called Crush Midnight Cab VQA. A blend of Cabernet Franc and Baco Noir, this wine is not oaked, and has aromas of blackberry, plum, baking spices, green pepper, celery salt, and cranberry. It’s dry, with medium tannins, and tastes like blackberry, black pepper, red plum, sage, and cranberry. It would match well with sausages, gourmet pizza, and ratatouille.
Another South African wine to consider is Nederburg Cabernet Sauvignon. This robust red features smells and flavours of smoke, black currant, tobacco, blackberry, earth, and black olives. Pair it with strongly flavoured dishes such as meatloaf with chili sauce, braised short ribs, or lamb stew. You could even put a parka and boots by the back deck, and BBQ some sirloin and Portobello mushrooms.