When the holidays roll around and the dinner party invitations start stacking up, a bottle of something nice is always one of the best foodie gift ideas. Even if your host isn't an oenophile or a spirits connoisseur, they may just appreciate having another bottle around to serve their guests. And for those that fancy themselves mixology maestros or sommeliers in the making, they'll love a new bottle to try or a classic to savour.
The only tricky part is knowing what to pick. With dozens of sections at the LCBO (and staff that are likely preoccupied with the rush of the holidays), choosing a bottle can be a challenge. That's why we've curated a list of holiday wines and spirits that will wow the host or anyone on your list.
Of course, if you just want to update your holiday bar cart and gift one of these bottles to yourself, we wouldn't blame you. Our list of whiskies, gin and vodka all go great in festive cocktails and winter warmers, and the wines will pair exceptionally well with your Christmas recipes. How about a compromise? Buy one, gift one. Holidays, solved.
7 bottles of wine and spirits perfect for holiday gifting
Bearface's limited-edition Canadian whisky is here for a good time, not a long time. Be sure to stock up on this seven-year-old expression, matured in ex-bourbon American oak and finished in Hungarian oak for notes of vanilla, dried fruit and spice. Canadian whisky-making rules are much looser than its Scottish and American counterparts, so Bearface has fun with unique techniques like Elemental Ageing, which exposes their whisky to the Canadian elements by maturing hand-selected oak casks in repurposed shipping containers. It also uses the best single-grain Canadian corn spirit, transforming it into a complex and delicious whisky worth savouring.
California's Paso Robles region might have moved past up-and-coming status, but Liberty School certainly had something to do with its transformation into a wine wonderland. Since 1975, three generations of families have been working diligently to create some truly fabulous wines under the Liberty School label. Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon is a warm, ruby red wine with dark fruit aromas that give way to earthy notes and pops of peppercorn on the palate. Priced under the $25 mark, this medium-bodied red with dusty tannins should be enjoyed with good food and even better friends.
We can't get enough of Canadian whisky right now, and this award-winning expression from Alberta is up there with the best. Named after George H. Reifel, the distilling heavyweight who pioneered Alberta Distillers 75 years ago, the whisky taps into the spirit of adventure with oodles of character in every glass. Reifel Rye is made with over 90 per cent rye grain and is 100 per cent pot distilled, resulting in a richer, more flavoursome spirit. It's aged in new charred oak barrels and ex-bourbon barrels for a complex whisky with notes of toffee, poached pear, crème brûlée and chocolate.
Don't let the aggressively oaky chardonnays of the world put you off from enjoying one of the world's most popular grapes. When done right, like this Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay 2021, it can be a delicious explosion of stone fruit and ripe flavours. Mission Hill, located in B.C.'s stunning Okanagan Valley, expresses hand-selected blocks of grapes and employs special viticultural practices and longer time in the barrel for its Reserve portfolio of wine. The result in this bottle is a silky smooth, subtly aged chardonnay with notes of fig, melon and vanilla. It pairs well with chicken, pasta and oh-so-many holiday sides.
Gin is a dreamy cocktail base, but you've got to start with the best if you want to create something delicious. The intense juniper and pear notes in this London Dry style gin from Dillon's Small Batch Distillers will make everything from a martini to a festive G&T sing this season. The Niagara spirit producer makes this clean and classic gin from 100 per cent Ontario rye grain through the process of vapour distilling — and we're not surprised that it's a bestseller. Plus, if you need a bit of hand-holding in the bar department, let Dillon's provide the assist with one of their many cocktail kits.
Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is the kind of wine you need to buy two of — one to gift to the host, coworker or bestie on your list, and one to keep in reserve for you and you alone. This intense cabernet sauvignon comes from California's longest continually operating winery, whose wine consistently scores above 90 among professional critics. Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is a vibrant red with notes of prune, liquorice and tobacco. If you can bear to, age it for three to five years in a cellar, or decant and dive into it one chilly, winter knight (get it?).
They say that diamonds are created under pressure: You can now add White Claw Premium Vodka to the list. This premium liquor from the iconic seltzer brand is "Triple Wave Filtered" under enormous force through activated carbon from charred coconut shells. It's made from 100 per cent grain, which is distilled a whopping five times. All of this careful work results in an impeccably smooth spirit with subtle citrus notes, a rich mouthfeel and a squeaky-clean finish that's bound to excite the vodka-lover on your list. White Claw Premium Vodka is an excellent addition to your holiday party punch or can be used to stir up a refreshing, fruit-flavoured soda water mixed drink.