For many, Mother’s Day will look quite a bit different this year than in years past. Social distancing will likely keep many of us away from our moms on the day they should be showered with attention and affection, and toasting mom outdoors while maintaining the correct distance might require some layers — it’s not exactly patio weather out there yet.
Whether you’re getting together with mom this year or are simply swinging by for contactless delivery of gifts and a card, there are plenty of drink options out there no matter what mom’s palate prefers.
For those whose moms prefer their white wine a touch on the sweeter side, the Charles Smith 2018 Kung Fu Girl Riesling (Washington State, U.S. — $16.99, Liquor Marts and beyond) is a great choice. Aromatically this Riesling packs a pleasant punch of peach, red apple, pear and apricot on the nose. On the off-dry, light-bodied palate it delivers a tasty kick of ripe stone fruit, fresh lemon and red apple, with racy acidity and a chalky note that make this a vibrant winner. It was designed to be paired with Asian fare, which it would do quite nicely, but it certainly drinks well on its own as well — and could even convert those who pooh-pooh Riesling and other sweeter whites. 4/5
For a richer, drier white wine that comes in a beautiful bottle, the Mer Soleil 2017 “Silver” Unoaked Chardonnay (Monterey County, Calif. — $21.99, Liquor Marts and beyond) is a solid choice for mom. This California Chardonnay, which used to come in a grey ceramic-type bottle, offers beautiful floral aromas along with the fresh pear, pineapple, lemon and peach notes. It’s a medium-bodied Chardonnay that, while unoaked, still retains a somewhat creamy texture that brings those fresh fruit notes and a touch of chalkiness before a slightly warm finish. It’s on sale right now (regular $24.99), but mom doesn’t have to know that. 3.5/5
On the red wine side of things the Soplo 2016 Garnacha (Valencia, Spain — around $15, private wine stores) is farmed from bush-vine Grenache (a.k.a. Garnacha) grapes, and has an earthy, almost-funky note on the nose that works well with the cherry, raspberry and iron notes. It’s dry and medium-bodied, with a pretty fruit core bringing raspberry, cherry skin and plum notes with light tannins. The wine is aged in larger French oak barrels for just four months, meaning there’s little woody flavour imparted but some lovely, complex notes of spice and black tea. Mom can enjoy now on its own or with burgers, marinara pizza or ribs. 3/5
If mom prefers bigger, rustic reds, the Famille Perrin 2017 “Les Christins” (Vacqueyras, France — $23.99, Liquor Marts and beyond) is sure to please. Another Grenache-dominant red — this time a 75-25 blend with Syrah — this red wine from the southern Rhône Valley brings deep blackberry, cherry, plum, spice and violet aromas. On the dense, full-bodied palate there’s plenty of guts to the dark berry notes, which work well with the grippy tannins and the slight bit of heat on the finish from the 14 per cent alcohol. It’s an intense, concentrated red that’s showing very well now (with about half an hour breathing in the glass or decanted), but could also age for around five years. 4.5/5
If mom prefers beer over wine, there are some new/new-ish products that bring all manner of outside-the-box flavours. And while it might not be quite warm enough to enjoy a drink on the patio with mom, the Bud Light Strawberry Lemonade ($21.99/12x355ml cans, Liquor Marts and beer vendors) certainly has a bit of spring in every can. It’s pale straw in colour and clear, with a jammy strawberry note on the nose that dominates. And while it’s not exorbitantly sweet, there’s a flavour reminiscent of those red, strawberry shaped/flavoured marshmallows that brings major flashbacks, while the lemonade component kicks in at the end with a splash of acidity. Certainly not earth-shattering, but mom might find it fun. On sale this month (it’s regular $24.49). 2.5/5
On the other end of the spectrum style-wise is the Nonsuch Brewing Co. Capiche Cappuccino Milkshake Stout (Winnipeg — $4.30/473ml cans, brewery, select beer vendors and Liquor Marts). This stout sees coffee beans from Flatland Coffee Roasters added to the mix, as well as lactose. It’s deep dark brown in colour with an off-white head, and aromatically offers chocolate-covered espresso beans and dark-roasted malt; on the medium-bodied palate, meanwhile, there’s a dollop of sweetness which accentuates the “milkshake” component, while the chocolate-covered coffee bean notes are deep and robust. The slightly creamy and subtly bitter notes bring a compelling contrast in texture, while the 5.6 per cent alcohol is nicely integrated and doesn’t bring any noticeable heat. A solid dark beer for mom to enjoy in cooler weather. 4/5
Falling somewhere in between light/fruity and hearty/robust is the Low Life Barrel House Kiss Kiss Peach Brett Saison (Winnipeg — $4.65/473ml cans, brewery and select beer vendors). Pale straw and hazy in appearance, the peach notes on the nose here are subtle, but the vibrant funky yeast notes offer tart lemon and grapefruit notes as well as an herbal component. It’s dry and mouth-wateringly sour, delivering a fresh lemon and grapefruit note with a sour peach candy note and a saline component that keeps things vibrant and energetic. The six per cent alcohol isn’t obtrusive, making this a beer that brings complex flavours but still manages to be a lot of fun. 4.5/5
Literary editor, drinks writer
Ben Sigurdson edits the Free Press books section, and also writes about wine, beer and spirits.
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