Whether you’re cooking for two or setting the stage for an extravagant self-date, a bottle of something nice brings a sense of occasion to any dinner. Here are some worldly, low-intervention wines that not only pair perfectly with a cozy night in: they just happen to be cute and Canadian.
Therianthropy “Le Negotiant” Cabernet Franc 2018
Ontario produces world-class Cabernet Franc, and this fuller style from Therianthopy in Niagara’s Twenty Mile Bench region is no exception. Their commitment to organic fruit and a long elevage—the process of “raising” raw fruit into bottled wine—bring complexity and even a touch of romance. Bright, red and black fruits are accompanied by cocoa, earth and signature vegetal, green pepper notes. Rested in neutral barriques for 18 months, this Cab Franc is bone-dry, but riper in fruit character. Oregano, anise and clove all factor into this sophisticated wine, ideal for gamey meats like lamb and bison. $38, therianthropy.wine and archive909.com
Recipe: Pair this with our Glazed Rack of Lamb with Shallot Gravy and Baby Potatoes.
The L’Imparfait Negociant Famille Pinot
A collaboration between Hinterland in Prince Edward County and Dave McMillan of Joe Beef in Montreal, L’Imparfait is a micro-label focused on nothing-added, nothing-taken-away natural wines. This gregarious blend of equal parts Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Gris and Gewürtraminer is a surprisingly pale garnet that’s lean and mean, all high-toned florals with sour cherries, fine tannins and a long finish. The slightly volatile acid lifts this light-bodied red into heavenly terroir, especially when chilled. Pork pairs well with white, red or in this case, both! $30, hinterlandwine.com
Recipe: Pair this with our Mediterranean Pork Chops.
Pearl Morissette’s Chardonnay 2018
Gorgeous, cool climate Chardonnay from the vignerons of Niagara’s Pearl Morisette. Fermented in old and new oak for 20 months, the nose leads with flint and orchard fruit, followed by a buttery palate of soft florals, citrus-driven acid and a precise, saline finish. A tropical, pineapple note alongside creamy vanilla [leads one to piña colada in Raf Simons-era Jil Sander] is harmonious and almost contradictory. An opulent complement to buttered seafood. $35, pearlmorissette.com and burdockbrewery.com.
Recipe: Pair this with our Creamy Lobster Fettuccine.
ibi Wine’s Skin-Contact Vidal 2019
Revel Cider’s wine-focused project, ibi, uses winemaking techniques in craft cider with poetic results: think piquettes, vermouth sodas, and ciders with offbeat spices like sumac and hyssop. Their canned Skin Contact Vidal wine-cider hybrid uses Vidal grapes from Beamsville, Ontario (typically used in sweet wines), with a splash of tangerine cider added at the end. The result is crisp, tropical and temperate; bone-dry with whiffs of yuzu and satsuma wrapped in honeysuckle. It’s the perfect foil for salty meats like prosciutto, which love orange. Plus, the low ABV (10.5%) and single-serving format is perfect for a weekday night in. $7.50, revelcider.ca and 4th-and-7.com
Recipe: Pair this with our Chicken Saltimbocca With Fresh Pasta.
A Sunday in August, Cabernet Merlot 2020
From the Similkameen Valley, A Sunday in August has become synonymous with natural wine from the Okanagan. Perhaps best known for their Instagram-friendly skin-contact Pinot Gris, this organic, Merlot-dominant blend is an approachable take on the Big Steak Wine. Overripe blackberries and currants with a touch of earthiness precede a juicy palate of herbaceous aromatics and bright, citric acidity. Slight tannins give the wine some heft, while a savoury edge begs for rich, umami-laden proteins. Seven months in oak bring warmth and complexity. This wine is unfined, unfiltered, very drinkable and a great transition between seasons. $37, asundayinaugust.com and mahogany.5vines.com.
Recipe: Pair this with our Steak with Garlic-Herb Butter and Roasted Caulilini.