Daric Spanier works his magic with treats for visitors to the BC Wine Infomration Centre during the recent open house at it’s new location.                                Mark Brett/Western News                                Daric Spanier works his magic with treats for visitors to the BC Wine Infomration Centre during the recent open house at it’s new location.                                Mark Brett/Western News

Daric Spanier works his magic with treats for visitors to the BC Wine Infomration Centre during the recent open house at it’s new location. Mark Brett/Western News Daric Spanier works his magic with treats for visitors to the BC Wine Infomration Centre during the recent open house at it’s new location. Mark Brett/Western News

Okanagan Taste: Tasteful gift ideas

Allison Markin is the food and libations columnist for the Penticton Western News

Have you started your holiday shopping?

If not, help is at hand so you can enjoy December without crowds in person or websites crashing if you’re ordering online. Many ideas for the “foodie” or burgeoning libations fan on your list, from special bottles to joining a wine club to books and more.

If you have company coming from the Lower Mainland to borrow the guest bedroom, suggest that they stop at Langley’s Well-Seasoned, a gourmet goodie store, for chocolate salami or ready-to-eat cookie dough, the latter because you shouldn’t really eat the dough for your own cookies due to raw eggs — this version is safe.

Can’t decide between wine, cheese, or chocolate? Upper Bench Winery and Creamery has you covered with an upcoming cheese release: blue cheese with cacao nibs, infused with red wine. Also ponder joining their Corks and Curds club for regular shipments of wine and cheese.

A number of wineries are putting together special packages, some with an advent theme: Township 7 and Road 13 are offering wine advent “calendars,” 12 bottles of wine, one to open each day. Road 13 also has a special Platinum Pack as the winner of eight platinum medals in recent years, more than any other Canadian winery.

One of the newest wineries around, but with a rich winemaking lineage in Howard Soon, Vanessa Vineyards in the Simikameen will customize gift packages for you; check with your favourite winery for their options.

If you see Nummers Gourmet at s craft fair, look for ice wine lollipops, sponge toffee and other treats. Same with perennial jam and syrup favourite, Summerland Sweets. And, inevitably, you’ll need some salads after the holidays. Stock up on Wineland Dressings and Oma Goodness, the latter dressing/marinade is a staple for yours truly.

A gift for someone very patient: a mini-barrel at Dubh Glas Distillery. Fill it with the distillery’s Virgin Spirit, then follow the instruction to age your own spirit.

Finally, two excellent books, because who doesn’t love a new book? Icon by prolific wine writer John Schreiner details the flagship wines from B.C.’s best wineries. Pair it with The Okanagan Table Cookbook by Chef Rod Butters, written with the home chef in mind. I’ll be giving the addictive cauliflower soup a shot on my stove.

Save the Date (click on links to find out more)

Fridays, Penticton: Enjoy Three-Course Fridays at Play Estate Winery from 5pm. Three courses for $29.

Friday and Saturday’s until Dec. 23, Penticton: Penticton Wine Information Centre hosts complimentary wine tastings featuring local wineries. Fridays from 2 to 4 p.m. and Saturdays 1 to 4 p.m.

Until March, Oliver: Join Intersection winery’s Vinstitute classes and learn about wine and winemaking. Full schedule online.

Dec. 1 to 3, Keremeos: Wineries in the Similkameen open the doors (some by appointment) for a weekend of holiday wine tasting.

Dec. 2, Summerland: Master the art of Meritage, BC’s Bordeaux-style blend, with Black Sage Vineyards, hosted at Sumac Ridge.

Dec. 2 and 3, Naramata Bench: Visit Maple Leaf Spirits for its annual open house for liqueur tastings and homemade treats.

Dec. 3, West Kelowna: The wineries of the Westside Wine Trail open their doors for Sip into the Season, each winery hosts local artisans and crafters.

Dec. 3, Penticton: Bring your gifts to Monster Vineyards to be wrapped in exchange for a donation to the SPCA.

Dec. 3, Penticton: Santa visits Cannery Brewing, bring the kids and a donation to the South Okanagan Children’s Charity.

Dec. 8, Oliver: Visit Covert Farms Family Estate for a Chocolate and Mint Christmas, an evening of wine tasting and chocolate pairing, plus make your own minty lip balm.

Dec. 9 and 10, Vernon: Take a road trip to celebrate a Victorian Christmas at the Historic O’Keefe Ranch.

Dec. 10, Penticton: Cannery Brewing hosts the Market of Taste by Slow Food Thompson Okanagan, all products locally grown and produced.

Allison Markin is the food and libations columnist for the Penticton Western News. She can be reached at Allison@AllSheWrote.ca and on Twitter @OkanaganTaste.