Well here we are again. With just weeks to go until Santa Claus does the rounds, (and Mrs. Claus saves the day, thanks M&S) it’s probably time to start considering the dreaded supermarket shop of cocktail sausages, sprouts, seven tins of Celebrations and copious amount of booze. If you haven’t yet decided what you’ll be gorging on this year then it may be time to start. From turkeys to trifle and salmon to stuffing there is one thing in common that requires careful consideration, wine!
Your Christmas Day wine is one of the most important wines of the year, not just because we want show off to our in-laws, but because it’s an excuse! You’ve been saving that wine for weeks, months, even years, so go on and open it! If you haven’t got one in mind then treat yourself, ‘it’s Christmas’!
Here’s a brief run down of what you’re looking for with a few matches thrown in for argument.
The mother of Christmas Day birds. It’s important to bear in mind that although the bird is the star of the show, there are so many sauces and stuffing’s to consider as well. A good Chateauneuf-du-Pape would be the lavish choice. If you want the ultimate showpiece then this takes the mince pie. With its embossed bottle and fancy labels, they really do scream fabulous. Be careful though, they can sometimes not match their opulent exteriors. However, stay in the Rhône Valley because some of the more inexpensive, early drinking style options are actually a better match due to their ripeness and fruit forward approach.
The other notorious options hail from humble Burgundy. A Pinot Noir from one of the powerhouses is the traditional choice. However you don’t want it to be too light as all your table accompaniments can overpower the delicate flavours. Something like a Gevrey-Chambertin is perfect as it has the complex aromas to keep your nose interested and subtle well-crafted tannins and fresh red berries to compliment the meat and stand up to the trimmings.
Alternatively head to the new world. A New Zealand Pinot Noir is a wonderful choice. Often with notes of raspberry and clove it is a perfect fruity yet structured style wine to go with turkey. They often tend to have a bit of clout to them as well ranging up to 14%.
However, those of you who prefer white wine you’re in luck. Get your hands on a white burgundy or a Chardonnay from Sonoma County and you will not be disappointed. It works especially well with trimmings such as stuffing and bread sauce and the creamy acidity can really help if your meat is slightly on the dry side.
Whether it’s a joint of sirloin or a prime fillet you need to have a great wine to match all those wonderful flavours. If you’re having fillet, then a fabulous Italian will go beautifully. You want a certain level of acidity with fresh, fruit-forward approach with lashings of black fruit and hints of spice. Alternatively, a classical silky Pinot Noir to really bring out the flavour profile of the meat. However if you’re after something a bit richer, with oodles of flavour and tonnes of black fruit flavour, then there is no doubt that a gutsy Australian Shiraz matches brilliantly with beef.
The fleshy salmon demands an elegant wine that’s rich enough to compliment the flavours of the salmon and acidic enough to cut through the oily texture. A premium Chablis works perfectly with this as it holds the vibrant acidity and exciting flavours to match. If you’re not as keen on white wine on your Christmas table, fear not, a delicate Pinot Noir is also a perfect option. If you go for a Pinot Noir, try and avoid a buttery sauce over the salmon as this can clash and make for an unpleasant experience.
For all the veggies out there, you guys have all the fun. The flavours that you can obtain from interesting vegetarian dishes are part of some of the most exciting dishes to try and match. If you’ve gone for a Nut Roast on the table this dish tends to be fairly filling and quite substantial so you want something that’s going to compliment the flavours and not be too heavy. A Chilean Merlot works really well and its smooth, easy drinking, full of fruit and won’t break the bank!
Fish and Chips
For those of us who prefer the simple option, you can’t beat fish and chips. The best thing about this humble dish is that there is only one drink to have with it – Champagne! Absolutely true, they match perfectly. You’ve got the delicate flavour of the fish that matches perfectly with the buttery creaminess of a champagne and all that zingy acidity to cut through all the grease.
Hopefully that will make things a little clearer as you begin to start planning the Christmas Day feast!
Quick Look Guide
- Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2012, Beaucastel - Incredible example of a brilliant CNDP. Beautiful layers with fantastic concentration of black fruit and fine tannins.
- Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2015 - Opulent and aromatic with a vibrant core of red fruits and notes of mushrooms and smoky spice.
- Pouilly Fuissé 2015, Louis Latour - A beautifully elegant wine, with fresh hazelnut, honey and almond with a touch of vanilla.
- Hamilton Russell Pinot Noir 2015, Western Cape - Gorgeous, with a silky, persistent and racy structure. Damson, plum and singed wood spice notes
- Domaine Vire-Clesse 2013, Chanson - Fresh aromas of lemon and white fruit with a hint of vanilla. Well-crafted acidity giving a refreshing finish with lingering minerality.
- Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2015, Louis Latour - Delightfully fruity offering a soft and silky palate with soft tannins.
- Clockwork Raven Merlot 2014, Central Valley - Smooth and approachable with classic dark plummy Merlot fruit.
Fish and Chips
- Krug, Champagne - Beautiful, intense golden colour that begins to reveal the year with aromas of caramel, nougat, hazelnut and freshly baked pastries fresh from the oven.