Stress-free holiday-worthy app and wine pairings

Stress-free holiday-worthy app and wine pairings

This holiday season should be all about creating fabulous moments with loved ones. It’s time to slow down, be fully present and uncork an elevated food-and-wine experience for everyone to enjoy. Make sure you revel in your own festivities by choosing simple recipes that can be prepared just before guests arrive. Plan early and beat the holiday rush to save yourself some stress.  

Josh Cellars was founded in 2005 by Joseph Carr as a tribute to his late father, who went by the nickname Josh. Raised by hardworking, modest parents, Carr has instilled his father’s values of hard work, gratitude and family in his company. Josh Cellars’s award-winning wines make the perfect addition to your holiday gatherings.

For appetizers, the Cheese Boutique in Bloor West Village is the ultimate place to source the ideal bleu for beef and blue cheese brochettes, or a brie wheel for an indulgent baked brie. Head to Cumbrae’s in Leaside or Sanagan’s Meat Locker in Kensington for the perfect cut of beef. At St. Lawrence Market, find produce for a veggie tart and fresh seafood for a seasoned shrimp recipe. Don’t forget to elevate your combinations with premium California wines from Josh Cellars, available at the LCBO and select grocery stores.

Try these palate-pleasing wine-and-appetizer pairings this holiday season. 

Josh Cellars Chardonnay and Chili-coconut shrimp

Josh Chardonnay is fruit-forward and rich, balancing out the weight and earthiness of this dish. The tropical and citrus notes complement the mild spice and delicate shrimp flavour. Josh Chardonnay is grown in soil composed of volcanic ash, old seabed, sand and river-run gravel, making seafood a natural choice as a pairing.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 12 servings

340 g frozen raw jumbo shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup cornstarch, or all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 cup unsweetened medium dessicated coconut, toasted


  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with oil. Thaw shrimp following package directions. Pat dry with paper towels. Stir cornstarch with salt and pepper in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, stir 1/2 cup chili sauce with vinegar. In another shallow dish, spread out coconut. Toss shrimp in cornstarch mixture. Then, shaking off excess starch, dip each in chili-sauce mixture and coat with coconut. Place shrimp on foil.
  2. Bake in centre of oven until shrimp is cooked through, about 10 min. Serve remaining sweet chili sauce alongside as a dipping sauce.

Josh Cellars Prosecco and Caramelized-onion tart with asparagus

The decadent and refreshing qualities of this match will surprise and delight your palate. Nothing says celebration quite like a bottle of prosecco; the texture of the caramelized onion and the earthiness of the asparagus contrast nicely with the fresh acidity and effervescent bubbles of this sparkling wine.

*Limited time offering, holiday 2021 only, may not be available in all LCBO or grocery locations.

Prep Time: 20 min
Total Time: 55 min
Makes: 12 servings

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 397-g pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg
1/2 bunch asparagus, about 250 g, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1 cup grated fontina or mozzarella


  1. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium. Add 1 tbsp oil, then onion. Sprinkle with sugar and 1/8 tsp salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramel coloured, about 12 min. Stir in vinegar.
  2. Position oven rack in lower third of oven. Preheat to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 14×10-in. rectangle. Pastry will be thin, and edges will be uneven. Transfer to lined baking sheet. Beat egg with 1 tbsp water in a small bowl. Lightly brush pastry with egg wash. Set aside.
  3. Drizzle asparagus with remaining oil and sprinkle with remaining salt. Season with fresh pepper. Toss to coat.
  4. Scatter caramelized onion and olives over pastry. Sprinkle with 1/2 of cheese. Arrange asparagus spears in 2 parallel rows on cheese. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake in lower third of oven until pastry has puff ed up and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 min. Cut into bite-sized rectangles and serve immediately.

Josh Cellars Prosecco Rosé and Cranberry-almond baked brie

Made from glera and pinot noir grapes, Josh Prosecco DOC Rosé has wild berry and blackberry aromas and refreshing acidity on the finish. The acidity of the Prosecco Rosé cuts through the creamy brie in this warm and exciting pairing. This appetizer is easy to prep beforehand and is best served warm just out of the oven. The crisp Prosecco Rosé is a great choice for welcoming guests and setting a celebratory mood.

*Limited time offering, holiday 2021 only, exclusively available at the LCBO (may not be available in all locations).

Prep Time: 5 min
Total Time: 25 min
Makes: 10 servings

230-g pkg brie
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 tsp butter
1 sprig thyme or rosemary
1 cinnamon stick
2-in. strip orange peel
1/4 cup roasted unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
3 tbsp dried cranberries


  1. Preheat oven t0 350F. Place brie in an oven-safe pan, such as a small cast-iron skillet or parchment paper-lined metal pie plate. Bake until the tip of a paring knife inserted into the centre of brie comes out warm, 15 to 25 min. Let cool in pan 5 min.
  2. Heat maple syrup, sugar, butter, rosemary, cinnamon and orange peel in a small saucepan over medium-high until it starts to boil. Stir in almonds and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 min. Remove from heat and stir in cranberries. Pour nut mixture over warm brie and serve with crackers, fresh fruit or crusty bread.

Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon and Beef and blue cheese brochettes

A tantalizing, party-starting appetizer, these sirloin skewers with blue cheese and balsamic are simple to prepare the night before. Recently awarded a 91-point rating and named Editor’s Choice from Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Josh Cellars’s full-bodied cabernet sauvignon bursts with aromas of intense dark fruits like black cherries and blackberries. With notes of vanilla and spice, it finishes with subtle oak and soft tannins on the palate. The unique flavour combination of the beef, blue cheese and the tannins of the wine will impress your guests; make sure you prepare enough so you don’t run out.

Prep Time: 50 min
Total Time: 1 hr
Makes: 32 servings

32 mini skewers
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
2-Jan large red, green and yellow bell peppers, cut into 32 pieces
340 g beef sirloin, cut into 3/4-in. cubes
90 g Canadian blue cheese, sliced or crumbled


  1. Soak mini-skewers in warm water 10 min. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Cut pepper halves into 32 pieces.
  3. Combine parsley with oil, vinegar and salt in a large resealable bag. Add peppers and beef cubes to parsley mixture. Squeeze out as much air as possible from bag, and then reseal. Massage bag to coat vegetables and meat. Let stand at room temperature at least 30 min., or refrigerate overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 450°F. Thread each skewer with a pepper square and a beef cube. Season with fresh pepper.
  5. Arrange brochettes on a prepared sheet. Bake in centre of oven 3 min. Flip brochettes and top with cheese. Continue baking until medium-rare, 2 to 3 more min. Serve warm.