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Here's to the spirits of the holiday season

The holidays season is upon us! Time to resurrect time honoured traditions, including cookie recipes, meal preparations, festive socializing and gift giving. In the wine and spirits business, it’s our busiest time of year.
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The holidays season is upon us!  Time to resurrect time honoured traditions, including cookie recipes, meal preparations, festive socializing and gift giving.

In the wine and spirits business, it’s our busiest time of year. We bring in all kinds of specialty seasonal items to satisfy different gift giving opportunities. From little mini rums, whiskies, and liqueurs for stocking stuffers, to iconic vintage wines or special brand scotches, rums and tequilas – plus kosher wines for Hanukkah – there’s something for everyone. Making a Christmas cake?  We have a rum for that! Here are some other ideas ...

If it’s cream liqueurs in your coffee you like to enjoy on Christmas morning, Bailey’s or Molly’s is the go-to, but why not try some Moose Milk from Canada, or Amarula Cream from South Africa?

Bottles of port wine make wonderful gifts during the holiday season.  It pairs so well with chocolate, or fruit cake and Stilton cheese (my favourite pairing!). Depending on whether it’s a ruby, tawny, aged or vintage, there’s a range of prices to suit all budgets and tastes.

This year, we are the exclusive Edmonton retailer for the wine advent calendars called Vinebox.  Choose from two selections of 12 glasses of wines called either Naughty or Nice.  If you aren’t sure, pick up one of each for a full 24 evenings of enjoying a different world class wine each night before Christmas.

Mulled wine (called glühwein) is a traditional winter beverage popular throughout colder parts Europe during the Christmas market season. Delicious after skiing, skating or walking the dog on Candy Cane Lane on a cold December night, it will warm you right through.

Here’s my favourite mulled wine recipe I’ll share with you:

A bottle of inexpensive red wine.

Oranges or clementines, sliced, and feel free to add lemons or limes for colour.

Cinnamon (I love the look of sticks, but you could whisk in some ground cinnamon if that’s what you have on hand.)

Other spices (these vary from country to country, but cloves and star anise are my favourites, plus occasionally a few pods of cardamom.)

Sweetener. (Feel free to add your favourite sweetener to taste.  Sugar is classic, but a few tablespoons of maple syrup or honey work well too.)

Kick it up a notch with a bit of brandy – about ¼ cup.

Put everything in a pot. Simmer on the stove. It’s also easy to make in the slow cooker or even Instant Pot, if you prefer.  The only rule of mulled wine is just to be sure that it does not boil!

Simmer for at least 15 minutes, or up to 3 or 4 hours on low heat, so that all of those delicious flavours  come together.  Then strain out the spices, and serve warm in a favourite mug.  Mmmmmm!  An added bonus, your house will smell divine!

And don’t forget New Year’s bubbles!  Whether it’s Italian prosecco, Spanish cava, or real French Champagne, a beautiful glass filled with something bubbly is always celebratory to toast in the new year at midnight.

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas, happy holiday season and a new year filled with peace, love, good health and prosperity. Cheers!

We extend a warm invitation for you to join us at the store on Tuesday Dec. 3, between 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm for our annual holiday open house.  You will have a chance to sample some wines and other seasonal beverages and enjoy light appetizers. Please register on our website at www.aligrawineandspirits.com/events

Alison Phillips is co owner of Aligra Wine & Spirits at West Edmonton Mall, located at Entrance 58 Lower level below Simons and Scotiabank Theatre. Mention you read this article and receive 10% off your purchase.