For most of us, choosing wine for dinner is usually a matter of preference. However, when the guests are finished, you’ll want to satisfy their palates as well as yours.
Sparkling wine is always a safe bet. They work with a wide variety of flavors and are often less divisive than white wines. No doubt you have friends and colleagues who don’t like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. Of course, not all Chardonnay wines (or any other wines with a variety of ratings) are made the same way. There is a huge variety of styles and characters to discover. However, I’d stay away from choosing something that might alienate someone at your table.
During the summer, lighter wine styles are usually more enjoyable than rich, strong red wines, especially if you’re dining out. July and August are considered the height of rose season by many wine lovers and are a solid choice for entertaining. I’ve identified three dry, balanced, and flavorful versions, three traits that make them perfect dinner party picks in my books.
For any heavy dishes such as grilled steak or ribs, choose the richer or richer whites and reds. Balance is the key to their success. This week’s recommendations are structured, with a good intensity of flavour, making them convenient dining companions.
As for the suggested reds and whites, some – namely Chardonnay, Cote de Rhone and Crienza – will please traditional palate while others are more mystical. South African chenin blanc offers rich, fruity flavors with a creamy texture, an unexpected sensation for beginners. Likewise, the combination of bright, ripe Australian pomegranate is sure to surprise anyone who hasn’t purchased a wine from Down Under without a cartoon creature on its label.
Pick your own adventure, choose accordingly and remember to buy more bottles than you think you need to ensure you don’t run out.
Angels & Cowboys Rosé 2021 (USA), $24.95
A blend of pomegranate with syrah and carignan, the Sonoma County rose is made in a dry, catchy style. It has an elegant pale onion skin tone, with a refreshing character that features raspberry and cherry notes with citrusy citrus and some herbal touches. There’s some heft to balance the palate-cleansing nature of making an appetizer or an attractive rose to bring to the dinner table. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $23.55 in Quebec.
Cloudsley Twenty Mile Bench Chardonnay 2018 (Canada), $34.95
Cloudsley is a boutique winery based in Vinland, Ont. , specializes in pinot noir and chardonnay. This fermented barrel of Chardonnay from 2018 is produced with Chardonnay grapes grown on various vineyards, including Cuesta and the neighboring estates, Wismer Wingfield and Wismer Foxcroft. The style is rich and rewarding, with a creamy texture that carries a fresh finish. Drink it now until 2026. Available in Ontario.
Delas Saint-Esprit Côtes du Rhône 2020 (France), $18.95
Saint-Esprit is a rare red Côtes du Rhône that uses more syrah than grenache in its mixing. The result is a wine that offers more depth and complexity than the sweet and charming fruit character found in most of the Côte de Rhône. The bright fruity heart gains interest from floral and salty notes, making it a fun red for all seasons. Drink it now until 2025. Available in Ontario at the above price, $23.99 in British Columbia, $21.99 in Manitoba.
Donnafugata Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Sicilia 2021 (Italy), $47.95
The collaboration between Sicilian winery Donnafugata and fashion label Dolce & Gabbana has resulted in this fresh and subtle dry rose. Made with a blend of nerello mascalese and nocera grape varieties, it offers a bold floral and floral scent and a mellow blend of citrus, peach and red berry flavors. It’s an expensive pink bottle, with an eye-catching label and character. Drink now. Available at the above price in Ontario online at lcbo.com, $48 in Quebec, and various prices in British Columbia and Alberta.
Mullineux Kloof Street Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2021 (South Africa), $19.95
Wineries Andrea and Chris Molyneux are responsible for a growing range of wines made in South Africa, including the consistently trusted value brand Kloof Street. The 2021 edition is made with chenin blanc coming from a variety of vineyards located in Swartland. The blend is a combination of tank and barrel fermented to produce a rich and refreshing white wine that is a great introduction to one of South Africa’s best wineries. The drink is now through 2025. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta and Manitoba, $22.30 in Quebec.
Ruffino Aqua di Venus Rosé 2021 (Italy), $25.95
This elegant and delicious dry rose features an innovative blend of syrah, sangiovese and pinot grigio grown in Maremma along the coast in Tuscany. It is a serious and fun rose that makes the most of its fruity charm and refreshing character. A great way to enjoy a meal. Drink it now until 2024. Available at the above price in Ontario, $29.99 in Nova Scotia.
Tantalus Rosé 2021 (Canada), $23.48
Tantalus sticks to its traditional blend of pinot noir and pinot meunier to produce the latest version of the popular salmon-colored rose. Pressed juice is fermented in old oak casks to build the weight and texture of the wine without adding any cedar, vanilla, or smoky notes. On the palate, this shows off the richer flavors of rhubarb and berries that are rounded off by delicious flavors and a clean, refreshing finish. The drink is now through 2024. Available direct, tantalus.ca, at various prices in British Columbia and Alberta.
Torbreck Old Vines Grenache/Shiraz/Mourvèdre 2018 (Australia), $24.95
Torbreck helped create the strong style of Barossa red wine made from old vines, but it’s great to see the evolution under the direction of winemaker Ian Hongell and the team to wines with more structure and elegance. This delicious and complex red wine shows the personality of each group featured in the mix. There is beautiful structure and harmony here, with the flavors of ripe and vibrant fruit gaining complexity from spicy and salty notes. The drink is now through 2026. Available in Ontario at the above price, $28.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $29.99 in New Brunswick.
Vina Real Crianza 2018 (Spain), $16.95
A solid red from Rioja, this tempranillo-based blend shows gentle balance and concentration in a wine with a concentrated essence of cherry and plum fruit flavors. The judicious aging of oak barrels contributes some cedar and spice notes to a friendly, easy-to-appreciate red wine. Drink now through 2027. Available in Ontario at the above price, $22.99 in BC ($20.99 through July 30), various prices in Alberta, $16.45 in Quebec.
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