This is the time of year where the days are shorter and the nights are colder. So what do we do? The same thing we’ve done for centuries – socialize! We live in a very special place, where there are bountiful harvests in the autumn and delectable seafood and locally raised beef year-round. So why not harmonize the food with the wine?

When it comes to food and wine pairing, there are some standard guidelines to follow. It doesn’t need to be a conundrum. If one becomes too serious with the subject, there’s no fun left. Besides, everyone has their own likes and dislikes and who am I to tell someone else that what they’re eating or what they’re drinking with their food is wrong?
For the holiday issue, I had a chance to savour the selections of At Home Chef Gilles Godin and make some suggestions to accompany his holiday recipes.

Seafood chowder is something that I could eat at least three times a week all year, but I definitely enjoy a piping hot bowl of chowder in the colder months of the year. It’s a great one-pot meal that, prepared ahead of a party, can be hassle-free when spending time with friends and loved ones.

One of the principles to consider when deciding a wine to go with the chowder is the richness of the dish. Our chowder starts with a roux, so the chowder is going to be full-bodied. We’ll need to match body with the body of a wine. The Gaspereau Vineyards L’Acadie Blanc is a perfect local choice because, as a wine, it is rich enough to stand up to the chowder, but also displays acidity to cleanse your palate between spoonfuls. L’Acadie, as a grape varietal, is found only in the Maritimes but it really produces a wine in the same style as that of Chardonnay. Dry, with refined aromatics of crisp apple and ripe pear with a note of lemon and enough character to stand up to the chowder, this is a great wine to enjoy with chowder. As an alternative to L’Acadie, Nova Scotia is producing some fine Chardonnay right now. Try the Blomidon Estates Unoaked Chardonnay 2014 for a creamy wine with loads of peach, apple and citrus notes.

Chef Godin’s favorite, tourtiere, is a wonderful blend of ground meat with savoury spices. Jost Vineyards produces a lovely Leon Millot which is one of those unique varieties grown in Nova Scotia, but actually originates in France. Its name comes from a grape grower in France who worked the land at the turn of the twentieth century. The Leon Millot grape makes a wine that is light and fruity with low tannins and is similar in style to a fresh fruity Beaujolais. If you don’t enjoy a red wine because you find the tannins too strong or astringent, then Leon Millot may be your “cup of tea,” no pun intended. You’ll find the fruitiness of the wine will balance perfectly with the savoury components of the tourtiere. Similarly, Avondale Sky Winery makes a red well suited to this dish as well. Try the Avondale Sky Montavista 2013, a blend of a few varietals with notes of dark fruit and spice, but smooth tannins.

As for the prime rib au jus with Yorkshire pudding, if you like a big, bold style of red with lots of oak and dark fruit, you could try Luckett’s Black Cab with notes of spice, cedar, black cherry and oak. The thing to consider with reds and meat, though, is how one enjoys the temperature of their meat. If you like it juicy and pink, a heartier red is great. However, if you like your meat medium-well to well-done, go for a fruitier, less tannic red. Another great red to pair with the meat would be Gaspereau Vineyards Gina’s Blend. This wine blends four separate grapes with some French oak ageing and takes on some dark cherry notes interlaced with aromas of chocolate and a hint of licorice. Both of these wines can be enjoyed with the honey-roasted red potatoes as a side.

I’ll recommend two different styles of dessert wine for the chocolate raspberry cake. The first is the Premium Tawny by Devonian Coast Wineries (this is the name of the company that operates both Jost and Gaspereau labels; consider wines under this label as being a collaborative effort between the labels). This is a fortified port-style wine with the sweetness level appropriate to the cake. The rule of thumb for matching dessert with wine is, always allow the wine to be a touch sweeter than the food. This tawny shows decadent aromas of figs, coffee, prunes and spice and is a perfect accompaniment to chocolate. However, if you don’t like a port-style wine and want something with a fruitier edge to it, try Luckett’s Amelia, which is a blackberry liquour that can be well suited to this type of dessert.