Gift Guide

From trinkets to treasures, make this season meaningful with gorgeous gifts from artisans, artists, makers, and designers from around the country…

1. HANDCRAFTED SOAPS Organic, sustainable, and handcrafted in small batches using ingredients local to Vancouver Island, there’s nothing we don’t love about Tofino Soap Company’s delicate soaps, candles, and accessories. (Starting at $13) tofinosoapcompany.com

2. COUNTERTOP COMPOST BIN Stylish, discreet, and available exclusively at Toronto retailer Hopson Grace, this handsomely hand-crafted Ontario walnut compost bin, with removable stainless steel insert, is perfect for that special someone who has it all. ($150) hopsongrace.com

3. CHOCOLATE BONBONS Named one of the top 10 chocolatiers in North America, Sweet Lollapalooza, based in Edmonton, hand-crafts chocolate confections using some of the rarest cocoa beans on earth. The popular assortment of 36 memorable morsels includes flavours like Burnt Butter Caramel, Iceberg Mint, and Raspberry Noir. ($80) sweetlollapalooza.com

4. FINE ART Specializing in eclectic Canadian art-work, the Auburn Gallery’s collection includes paintings, photography, ceramics, sculpture, bronzes, fibre art, and handcrafted jewellry. Though located in Gravenhurst, the heart of Muskoka, featured artists range from coast to coast. (prices vary) auburngalleryoffineart.ca

5. NECKLACE Thoughtfully designed and sustainably produced, the effortlessly elegant Hera necklace features a single freshwater pearl perched in an organic oval pendant. Allison Asis, the artist behind Cadette Jewelry, crafts each piece by hand in her Toronto studio. ($790) cadettejewelry.com

6. RAINCOAT Every strong woman needs a strong raincoat. Designed with meticulous attention to detail and quality in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Mernini’s flattering A-line raincoat – available in caramel or grey and sizes XS-XXL – is built to withstand any storm. ($279) mernini.com

7. BIRCH SYRUP So named for its location in northern Quebec, Escuminac is an award-winning producer of maple syrup. But for the foodie on your list, try their rare Birch Syrup. It takes 160 litres of sap to produce just one litre of the stuff. Smooth and strong, it’s a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness, not unlike a quality balsamic vinegar. ($64.95) escuminac.com

8. HANDBAGS The CAP collection by Karen Wilson Handbags is inspired by her grandfather’s time in WWII when soldiers travelled overseas each carrying a canvas bag with handwritten names, numbers, and markings that told their individual stories. Karen’s vintage inspired bags are designed and handcrafted in Rockwood, Ontario, from elegant textiles, hand-waxed canvas, leather, and recycled fur. ($360) karenwilson.ca

9. PLATTER SET The Art Gallery of Ontario has a treasure trove of gifts. Like this set of Namwayut Recycled Glass Platters made by Kwakwaka’wakw-Tlingit artist Corrine Hunt, who designed the 2010 Olympic medals. Practical and beautiful, the lightweight serveware features Northwest Native forms and are great for everyday entertaining. ($94) ago.ca

10. MUKLUKS The stunning Metis Mukluk, with its signature beaded floral pattern, is made to carry you through winter in warmth and style. Based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Indigenous-owned Manitobah Mukluks, brings you the original winter boot of Canada ($359.99) manitobah.ca

Holiday Wine & Cheese Pairings

To take you through the season in style

Nothing is easier (and smarter) than serving a delicious wine with a fabulous cheese. It’s effortlessly chic and makes holiday entertaining a breeze. To set you up for success, here are five brilliant wine and cheese pairings to add panache to classic holiday gatherings…

Holiday Open House

WOODED CHARDONNAY AND GRUYERE2017 Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay, California

Toasty and refined with creamy-crisp flavours of lemon meringue pie, toasted coconut and vanilla.

Available at LCBO | $19.95

One seriously compelling pairing is oaked Chardonnay and Gruyere, a hard cheese from Switzerland. The combination will dazzle your guests. Simple yet oh-so-good. Set a big wedge on a cheeseboard with crackers. Grate some onto thin toast points and broil it. Or bake some Gruyere, onion, mushroom tarts. Any way you slice it, you can’t go wrong.

traditional-grana-padano-cheese-cutting-board-with-grapes-and-walnuts

Office Party

SAUVIGNON BLANC AND FRESH GOAT CHEESE2018 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

A juicy attack of guava dappled with orange, lemon and lime, as well as coriander and parsley.

Available at LCBO | $17.95

The crisp, gently herbaceous flavour of Sauvignon Blanc tastes like it was made to serve with fresh goat cheese. Spread it on crackers, crumble and broil on flatbread, or bake it in thumbprint-sized phylo cups with chives sprinkled on top, and all you need is a bottle of the wine to bring finesse to the office party.

Hanukkah

MANISCHEWITZ WINE AND CREAM CHEESENV Manischewitz Blackberry, New York

Blackberry jam in a glass—but liquefied and gourmet—with a firm alcoholic backbone sustaining the vinosity.

Available at LCBO Vintages | $9.00

When observing Hanukkah, you can lift the festivities with Manischewitz wine and cream cheese treats. The combination of the sweet, jam-jar goodness of the wine works very well with cream cheese. Whether it’s rolled in nuts, cheese-ball style, baked into latkes, or just spread on toasted bites of challah—the pairing is downright delicious.

 

Christmas Day

BAROLO AND TRUFFLED PECORINO2014 Marchesi di Barolo La Tradizione Barolo, Piedmont, Italy

Allusions of tar and roses underpin bright fruit—dusty cherries and plum purée—with hints of coffee, earth and chocolate.

Available at LCBO Vintages | $42.95

For a real treat at Christmas, pair Barolo, one of Piedmont’s most revered wine styles, with truffled Pecorino— otherwise known as pecorino al tartufo. The earthy elegance of Barolo pairs famously with the gamey goodness of truffles, especially when the truffles imbue hard, salty Pecorino. It’s a hedonistic combination. Truffled Pecorino needs no embellishment, so serve it simply with crackers or toasts and pour the wine.

 

New Year’s Eve

CHAMPAGNE AND GRANA PADANONV Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne, France

Baked apple, white flowers and toast edged with warm vanilla and nuts. Delicate and elegant.

Available at LCBO | $74.25

New Year’s Eve calls for bubbles. And nothing is quite as celebratory as Champagne, with its hallmark cooked apple, brioche, and lemon curd character. But you can step up your game by serving it with Grana Padano—Northern Italy’s famous hard, crumbly cheese rich in umami. A large wedge of this honourable cheese really needs no embellishment—so serve as is, with fizz.

 

Story by CAROLYN EVANS HAMMOND

Muskoka’s Top Drops

At the lake, drinking Ontario wine feels like the right thing to do for any occasion. And local wineries can —and do—spin out some very fine juice. You just need to know which bottles to buy. With that in mind, I tasted high and low to find six hidden gems that pair perfectly with quintessential cottage moments.

ON THE DOCK
2017 Redstone
Limestone Vineyards
South Block Riesling,
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara
Score: 96 | $19.15
Available at redstone.com Kick back in the sun with a glass of this sunlit Riesling. Its refreshing scent of fresh salted lime and saturated, sorbet-like attack will have you at hello. The beam-like entry tastes bright and pure, quickly unspooling with coy suggestions of white peach, lemon-lime and mango before leaving an attractive wet stone and sea salt finish. This is a stylishly complex wine with a light kiss of sweetness, mouthwatering acidity, and a sensibly low 10.5 per cent alcohol.

AROUND THE BONFIRE
2016 Tawse Winery
David’s Block Cabernet Franc,
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara
Score: 96 | $50.15
Available at tawsewinery.ca Bonding around the bonfire with friends is priceless—especially over a superb bottle of red such as this. It teems with aromas and flavours of black cherries dunked in dark chocolate, while the rich centre is intriguingly scored with elements of minerality—graphite and granite as well as a toasted nuttiness. And yes, actually, it pairs with stick-roasted hotdogs, too. Ticks all the boxes while demonstrating why connoisseurs are calling Cabernet Franc Ontario’s flagship grape variety.

AS THE SUN SETS
2017 Westcott
Rosé Pinot Noir,
VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara
Score: 92 | $22.95
Available at westcottvineyards.com Pour a glass of this dry wine that drinks like a Provencal rosé and watch the sun set. All easy elegance, it shines pale coral and exudes ethereal aromas of struck steel and crushed redcurrants. The attack is silky-crisp and restrained, with wispy notes of cool linen and homemade strawberryrhubarb pie, followed by a faint but resonant twist of citrus zest on the finish. Just 400 cases of this delicate rosé were produced though, so snap it up before it’s gone.

WITH GRILLED STEAK
2017 Henry of Pelham
Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir,
VQA Ontario
Score: 94 | $24.95
Available at LCBO Vintages or henryofpelham.com Baco Noir has a cult-like following in Ontario, and this particularly profound expression tastes like it was made to pair with grilled steak. Made from 35 year old vines, it’s inky dark in colour and delivers robust aromas of macerated berries, smoky tobacco and roasted coffee. Then, a cashmere crush of dark cherry and plum, cigar box and espresso fill the mouth and stay a while. Outstanding value from a top-notch Baco Noir producer.

WITH GRILLED FISH
2017 Stratus
Weather Report Chardonnay,
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake
Score: 93 | $28.00
Available at stratuswines.com Grilled fish is a summertime staple. And it comes to life with this sophisticated white from one of Ontario’s terroir-driven producers. It offers all the concentration and weight needed to stand up to grill marks, while maintaining delicacy and elegance. Quiet scents of nougat and praline lead to a smooth entry that quietly unfolds with full-bodied flavour. Chantilly cream, sweet corn, and nuts infuse the bright citrus core, and a crème brûlée finish with a touch of grapefruit pith lend lingering appeal. A connoisseur’s wine.

IN GOOD COMPANY
2016 Leaning Post
Clone 96 Chardonnay,
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, ON
Score: 97+ | $45.00
Available at leaningpostwines.com This impressive wooded Chardonnay drinks like fine white Burgundy at a fraction of the price. Wonderfully heady aromas of smoky lime, fresh butter and cool stone draw you toward a creamy-weighty palate shot through with bright acidity. Each satiny sip unfurls with lemon curd, toasted meringue, and freshly rolled pastry with underpinnings of chalk, marzipan and honey. Polished,poised, and worth every cent. Winner of the gold medal at the Ontario Wine Awards and Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines in 2018.

Story by CAROLYN EVANS HAMMOND