In Part One of our Christmas wines blog Jane Clare suggested wine ideas for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day fizz . Here in Part Two she looks at red and white wines, puddings and cheese (and Boxing Day leftovers).
The thing I always say about wine is that you know what you like, you know what you enjoy, you know what floats your boat. Who am I to come along and say you must drink this or that at Christmas? Well, a little planning can make all the difference to your food and wine sensations.
White wines to enjoy on Christmas Day
I could write a book (ah, that’s an idea) on the many styles of white wine but I’ll keep things simple as you’re worrying enough about what to buy cousin Bertie. Here’s a couple of styles you could open with your starter and pour happily throughout the meal.
Bourgogne Blanc Domaine Bachey-Legros (£15) is a classic Burgundy wine made from chardonnay grapes, many of which are grown on old vines which are the wise things of the vineyard. They don’t produce lots of grapes, but the ones which are harvested have a special, concentrated, quality. On the nose the wine has vanilla, honey, butter, dried and fresh apples and touches of stone fruit. It has a creamy note which makes it ideal to pair with a crab mousse or that classic starter prawn cocktail. It will carry on happily with the turkey and trimmings but it might have cross words with the acidic cranberry sauce (all wines do).
Botanica ‘Mary Delany’ Collection Semillon (£21) Semillon shares similar characteristics to sauvignon blanc and in Bordeaux the two are often blended. That should give you an indication of the style of this South African white with its punchy citrus vibe. It is a pale straw colour, with lime, lemon peel, floral notes and grapefruit on the nose, then to taste it zips with citrus and good acidity, all nicely in balance and long-lasting.
But what of your Christmas table? Well it will be fab with my spicy-style prawns, or try a fresh beef tartare or salmon carpaccio. Then roll onto the turkey. Last Christmas my niece had a Thai feast for Christmas dinner and this wine would be a great match with that curveball festive fare!
Delicious red wine choices for Christmas lunch
I often opt for a pinot noir to drink on Christmas Day because it has light tannins, is fruity and has an earthiness to go with my favourite veggie side dishes (am I the only one who loves sprouts? More for me!!) Sometimes I enjoy a rich fruity red, or even an Italian red to match my favourite turkey stuffing of pancetta, ciabatta, mushrooms and herbs. You see – even I can’t make my mind up which wine to drink on Christmas Day!
Here’s some thoughts.
Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Pinot Noir (£16) is an excellent wine from Marlborough in New Zealand. As I write, the glass is across from me and the aromas are floating over, tempting, tempting, tempting. You know you want me, they are saying.
Fresh red berries rise from the glass, together with a lick of vanilla, and raspberries are saying hey, we’re here!! There’s just a hint of savoury too. This wine will nestle on your tastebuds with your turkey and sprouts but if you’re having duck or goose it will add a good fruity dimension.
Casas del Bosque Syrah Gran Reserva (£13.95) is another amazing red, bright with ripe blackberries and a good dash of pepper. Yes it’s a syrah but it isn’t going to knock your Christmas plate sideways; the Chilean wine is from a cool climate region, so it isn’t jammy and powerful. The aromas are fruity with slaps of vanilla and spice from a little aging in new oak barrels. The acidity is good which will cleanse your palate between the mingle of festive flavours. This is another wine which will sit happily with turkey, duck or goose.
Let’s not forget our vegetarian and vegan friends, so how about Farnese Fantini Sangiovese IGT Terre di Chiet 2016 (£9.25) The sangiovese grapes for this wine come from vineyards based in the northern part of the Abruzzo region in Italy. It is zippy with cherries and dusty herbs, with a sweet fruit-pot finish which dangles with acidity. It has a simple rustic-style which would be ideal with Christmas dinner vegetarian options. Don’t forget – a wine is for sharing! The Farnese ticks the veggie box by the way it has been made, but all your Christmas Day guests can enjoy a glass too.
Christmas Day wines for cheese and pudding
There’s that moment after you’ve pinched the last roastie and you just KNOW you have to find room for pudding. Which is as it should be. There’s nothing wrong with drinking the same wines all the way through your Christmas dinner but if you want to finish the meal with a wine flourish it really is worth looking for something special.
Fonseca 10 Year Old Tawny Port (£18, for 50cl) is one of my favourite ports for cheese, nuts and slithers of Christmas cake. It is an absolute wow with chocolate which boxes off all your Christmas dessert choices. The people who create Fonseca once told me that if you pop the tawny in the fridge as you first sit down to dinner it will be the perfect temperature by the cheese and pudding. Tawny port has been aged in oak and is rich and warm with notes of fig tumbled in butterscotch with a seam of dried fruits. Oh, and tuck the idea of this port behind your ears as it is a perfect summer sip.
Other joys for your Christmas puddings and cheese could be Chambers Rutherglen Rosewood Vineyard Liqueur Muscat NV (£12.95, 37.5cl) which is an amazing fortified wine made in Australia. Rutherglens are luscious and unctuous and rich with notes of dried fig, orange, caramel and raisins. It is one of my favourite dessert wines and, to be frank, I love them all. This wine is also a good vegan option.
Let’s return to the port theme with Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port 2002 (£28). The name Vargellas represents the single vineyard from which all of the grapes are sourced. It is a fabulous port, with black fruit, plums, liquorice and soft spice. If you need to throw yourself in an armchair after your Christmas dinner feast, take this port with you.
A couple of wines for Boxing Day leftovers
I always have leftover turkey and I guess there’s millions of us! Every year I’ll create a platter with the turkey, little pork pies, cheeses and hunks of bread plus lots of pickles. I slowly cook a ham in coca-cola on the hob and later oven-bake it with marmalade smeared over the top. With some more turkey I create a coconut-based curry dish – a kind of a mix between a korma and a Thai green curry. I make it up as I go along! That’s our Boxing Day feast and it keeps us grazing most of the day.
Here’s two wines which can pair with my creations … and you know what, they’d also be bang on as extra wine choices for your Christmas Day lunch.
Château Lestrille-Capmartin, Bordeaux Superiore (£15.50) In this wine, the fruity, soft tones of merlot are king, with cabernet sauvignon making up just 19 per cent of the blend. Merlot shines through here, with fruit taking the lead; it is plummy with notes of white pepper spice and wood splinters. The tannins aren’t overpowering and it has a nice finish. My pork pies and cheese will like this.
I can’t wait for my curry and white wine pairing with the amazing Rolly Gassmann Pinot Gris (£17.50) This wine from Alsace, in France, has a golden hue and is rich with aromas of tropical fruit, stone fruit and a fleck of spice, perfect with gently spiced Asian dishes (so I’m thinking about my turkey curry!) The grapes are late harvested, when they’re really ripe and then they’re partly fermented in oak. This fruity-rich wine has a hint of a sweet kick which is offset by a good freshness of acidity. I love it.
Have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas.
Jane Clare is a freelance wine columnist and journalist and a member of the Circle of Wine Writers. She is One Foot in the Grapes online, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.x