As the Christmas meal comes to a close, finish off with the classic Christmas Pudding (what else!) and perhaps a delicious cheeseboard – before it is time to deservedly put your feet up! WineTrust is here to help round off the perfect Christmas…
For the Classic Pud, with all its richness and savoury character, the following wines would all go perfectly, whatever your budget will allow.
First off is a new addition to the WineTrust selection – the Australian classic Rutherglen Muscat from Chambers, now in its 6th generation. Christmas in a bottle with notes of dried fig, caramelised orange and sweet caramel – made to have with Christmas Pudding. At £12.95, this wine is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians – so versatile, just make sure it is well chilled before serving!
Also strongly recommended is the Domaine de la Rectorie Banyuls 2012, a dark, delicious dessert wine with bold fig, jam and chocolate flavours. At £20, a fantastic pudding treat.
Worth the extra mile is the Ben Ryé Donnafugata 2011, at £32 – a real luxury! Stone fruit and marmalade flavours will work wonders, whilst the high acidity will add real freshness and cleanse the palate.
Looking for something a little different?
On the off chance you have some left over, these also double up nicely with mince pies and Christmas cake. They are real multitaskers, being bold enough to work with chocolate desserts – a wonderful and very versatile selection for you to sample at your pleasure. Please note that sweet wines go a long way when shared and also age for longer in the fridge once opened, so they offer oustanding good value for money.
For other sweet sweets – and especially if they are caramelised (eg tarte tatin) then either the excellent Château Laville Sauternes, or the truly hedonistic, world class, South African dessert wine Vin de Constance.
The intensely sweet and sticky Pedro Ximénez San Emilio from Lustau doesn’t just make a perfect pudding accompaniment, pour (neat) onto vanilla ice cream for a brilliant, no effort pudding; alternatively, serve with sticky toffee pudding – we’d also be tempted to add to the list of Christmas Pudding partners!
For lighter less sweet dishes and cakes, go for the Andrew Quady Essensia Orange Muscat or the completely frivolous, but utterly delicious, Innocent Bystander gently sparkling Pink Moscato. Even a simple bowl of fresh fruit and a glass of the Italian classic Moscato d’Asti from G.D. Vajra will be a pleasant surprise (and only 5.5% alcohol!).
Another must have for Christmas! And is there anything more appealing than a great spread of cheese, on a board, on Christmas or Boxing Day? Sadly the great Turkish fig season is over now, but look out for Fenland winter (white) celery – a classic savoury accompaniment – also quince paste or jelly is a fine partner.
The paradox of cheese is that for all its dairy richness the product itself is very acidic, as souring the milk to start the whole process of production is essential to allow the milk to coagulate. Do not be deceived by the moorish richness – there lurks behind an acid grip!
Therefore, you may be pleasantly surprised that a fuller bodied more weighty white wine actually works rather well – especially with nutty cheeses like Comté. A good example of this would be the Cigalus from Gérard Bertrand, or the Sequillo White from Eben Sadie.
Otherwise trusted old favourites such as port and sweeter reds – the lovely Domaine de la Rectorie Banyuls would be the obvious choice!
For a good, rich port I would recommend the Fonseca LBV Unfiltered Port 2008 or the more indulgent Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas Vintage Port 2001. I happen to live not that far away from the superb Stilton dairy of Colston Bassett – my personal favourite combination, classic but still works!
They nearly always say when you buy directly from the dairy – and to paraphrase: “this cheese has been made and matured at the dairy and is ready to be enjoyed right now”
Also old cheese tends to produce ammonia, especially blue and soft cheese, you can just smell its acrid notes in an instant and it is a complete killer for any wine. Also cheeses such as Roquefort are positively aged in salt, so beware no territory for any red wine – but wonderful with sweet whites (classically, the sumptuous Château Laville Sauternes).
WineTrust’s featured food writer Kerstin Rogers provides her own comprehensive guide on cheese in this fantastic blog she produced for us last year.
The French refer to after-dinner drinks as contemplative wines, we agree! Something to sip and savour in front of the fire, reading a good book, watching your favourite film or chatting with friends and family – something always to look forward to at the end of the day!
What comes to mind is the rich, smooth and very savoury Amarone from the Allegrini family. Made from dried grapes, this wine has bundles of red and black cherry fruit, with a creamy, mildly jammy fruit complexity. Also made from dried grapes, Lustau’s Pedro Ximénez San Emilio is pure hedonism, toffeed, sticky and very sweet – serve well chilled to fully appreciate its intense flavours.
Finally, put away any prejudice and try the Henriques and Henriques 10 Year Old Madeira – silky, smooth, sweet but tangy – perfect with a slice of christmas cake or mince pies.
Missing anything for the big meal? Explore our blog on the Christmas meal and wine pairings