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A Holiday Feast
By Angela Aiello
The holiday season is one of my favourite times of the year - and I’m sure many feel the same way. Every gathering is an opportunity to enjoy life’s most wonderful and simple pleasures, and appreciate the company of family and friends. Together, we laugh and celebrate along with delicious canapés, bottles of bubbly, fireside conversations and glasses of red wine.We sip and savour the little moments and reflect on a year well lived. While I enjoy cooking cozy, reliable dishes and pouring my favourite wines, at this time of year, I also love a little bit of adventure and discovery.
I still recall when I was introduced to the flavour of duck, locally sourced and fresh from Ontario’s own King Cole Farms. After just one taste I was hooked. Duck, considered a dark meat, has a rich, earthy, and savoury taste. It offers gamier flavours than chicken or pork, and to me, tastes like a cross between rare steak and chicken. It makes a great appetizer, and for a main course, duck is a memorable twist on the traditional holiday feast - and sure to make you a fabulous host!
As people enter into your home this season, serve a duck and mushroom crostini or pear and pepper-smoked duck paired perfectly with wine.These warm and savoury flavours go well with white wines, such as an Ontario Sparkling Riesling, French Pinot Gris or lightly oaked Chardonnay. If you’re a red fan, serve up a light bodied wine like Pinot or Gamay Noir or an old world rustic wine from Spain or Italy for a truly wonderful pairing. Personally, I love selecting two wines that pair with the dish, so that guests can have a taste-and-try culinary experience. Serve the whites chilled, and the reds just slightly under room temperature. Serving red wines a little cooler than you’d expect is the ideal way to bring out their best characteristics. Don't forget to also have fun with beautiful glassware!
For your special holiday meal, think outside of the box and serve up a boneless duck breast or a whole duck for friends and family to enjoy. This unique and truly delicious option will surprise and delight everyone’s taste buds. With this tasty main course, you’ll want to serve a wine that can handle the more robust and hearty flavours in the food. For simple food and wine pairing, try to match elements that will complement each aste profile. Don’t forget to use the wine you’re serving in your cooking. If you are serving a main course duck that is roasted or grilled with hearty sides, I would recommend serving a red wine such as an Italian Chianti or Spanish Cabernet blend that is rustic, modern and full-bodied. or a white wine option, open an Ontario Chardonnay that has been barrel fermented or barrel aged. Serve both in large glasses so that the wine has air to breathe while it is swirled and sipped.
After dinner, it’s always nice to complete the meal with a glass of something sweet and special, like Port or icewine. My favourites are a 10 year old Tawny and Vidal Icewine.
I wish you a wonderful and happy holiday season. May your days and nights be filled with culinary duck and wine adventures. I always love receiving questions or comments, so please feel free to send me a note or connect on social media.
Angela Aiello is a Wine Expert and Founder of iYellow Wine Club, home to over 20,000 members. You can follow her Wine Adventures on instagram @SuperWineGirl and join the club @iYellowWineClub on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. She is also the Wine, Drinks & Cuisine Editor, Chloe Magazine. www.iYellowWineClub.com