A very merry Christmas: a short guide to wine-pairing this yuletide

By Sofia Gymer | 20 Dec 2019 | Indulge

Surprising pairings to delight your guests this season

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After a whole year of being oh-so-good, the month of December is decidedly for unabashed decadence. ‘Tis the season to swap yoga for yule-logs, Pilates for parties, spin for shopping, presents and getting merry with family and friends. With the big day on the horizon, if you’re hosting this year the pressure is on to curate an ultimately indulgent Christmas dinner menu, and of course, to choose fabulous wines to pair it with. With this in mind, we’ve put together a short guide to wine pairing to help with the task, along with some of our favourite dish recommendations for inspiration.

STARTER

Whether you’re opting for smoked-salmon blinis laced with caviar, prawn marie-rose, oysters or lobster ravioli, it’s wonderful to have a light, yet luxurious seafood starter to begin the meal. This not only sets the meal off on an elegant tone, but leaves space for the meaty main, while still feeling indulgent. 

We recommend pairing these types of dishes with a lively blanc de blancs champagne, or a smooth and sure Chablis. If you’re vegetarian, opt for goats’ cheese based treats to start (think melty filo pastry and figs), which will also complement these white wines perfectly. You’ll notice that many regions famous for goats’ cheese are also famed for white wines, such as the Loire Valley and Provence.

Champagne Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne 2007
Available from Berry Bros & Rudd
Pairing: Caramelised sea scallops, with a celeriac, sage and truffle sauce (try this at Brasserie of Light, Selfridges)

Comtes de Champagne is a glorious, golden elixir made from 100% chardonnay grapes from the Côte Des Blancs, renowned for producing some of Champagne’s most exceptional chardonnay based wines. One of Champagne Taittinger’s most special creations, the 2007 vintage oozes vitality and sophistication. The wonderful complexity will stand up to richer flavours such as truffle, and the style – blanc de blancs – has zingy citrus notes and good acidity, that not only compliment any seafood starter but act as a great mood-lifter to get the conversation flowing. >>

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MAIN COURSE

There is no doubt that poultry is King during Christmas. Whether traditional turkey, goose or duck, presenting a golden, roasted bird to the table is a momentous occasion made only more joyous by revealing a special bottle or magnum of the good-stuff.

If you’re a red drinker, something light to medium bodied should work well as long as it’s fruity with a good level of acidity. Pinot Noir is a classic choice, either from Burgundy or look to California’s cooler climes, such as the vineyards of Oregon. You should also consider styles from the Italian hills of Piedmont such as Barbera d’Asti, or even a bottle aged Barolo. 

Pommard Les Epenots Joseph Voillot 2015 or Barolo Monprivato Mascarello 1989
Available from Hedonism Wine

Pairing: A golden, roasted goose with all the trimmingsRosé champagne is another great choice, with the black grapes (Munier or Pinot Noir) providing more structure and body. Look for styles heavy on red fruit aromas such as raspberry and strawberry, and hints of nuts such as hazelnuts. Our choice would be Philipponnat Royale Reserve Brut Rose (which also pairs incredibly well with Truffled Brillat Savarin cheese from Normandy for those who are interested!).

For a Christmas ham, you should also look to Barolo or a Zinfandel from Lodi in California will also work well. White wine lovers should consider something with good acidity to cut through the richness, but a little sweetness to compliment delicious brown-sugar glazes, such as an off-dry Riesling. Those favouring beef cuts such as rib should choose a classic red Bordeaux with good tannins, or New World Cabernet Sauvignon. 

DESSERT

From brandy butter to champagne cream, sherry-soaked trifles or baileys ice-cream, booze has a magnificent way of infiltrating festive puds. It will stealthily sneak into pretty much everything, which can make this course a challenge to pair with wine. In truth, you have two options. The first is to take a little break and perk up with a cup of tea or coffee, and the second is to crack out a bottle or two of slightly chilled Tawny Port for the table… we’d recommend the latter.

The Last Drop Centenario Colheita Tawny Port Set
Available from Hedonism Wines, lastdropdistillers.com

Pairing: Christmas pudding, brandy sauce, organic vanilla ice-cream, dark chocolate shavingsThe Last Drop distillers are known for seeking out the world’s finest, rarest and most exclusive spirits.  The founders between them created some of the world’s most well-known and best loved spirits brands: Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Chivas Regal 18 Year Old, The Classic Malts, and with Malibu and Baileys Irish Cream, just to name a few. 

Stepping away from the whiskey they are famed for, they have taken a step into wine and released a box comprising of two extraordinary and very old Tawny Ports, from 1870 and 1970. One hundred years apart, both bottles are from the same 18th century family estate of the van Zeller family, in the Baixo Corgo, across the river from Quinta Santa Julia.

A very special way to end the night.

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