Christmas lunch is the big one and we all, whatever we’re eating, want to get it right. For most, it’s still the traditional turkey but for many others the big bird holds little appeal and culinary contentment comes instead from smaller fowl, roasting joints or vegetarian dishes.
Every year in the shop, as people search for their Christmas wines, I’m privy to all their plans for the big day and get to hear of mouth-watering feasts, amazingly inventive ideas and indulgence on a grand scale. It’s tough work but someone’s got to do it!
This year, the festive frontrunners are turkey and goose followed closely by rib of beef, loin of pork and vegetarian wellington. So, in a bold attempt to disprove the theory that you can’t please everyone, I’ve come up with my favourite wine pairings for all of the main Christmas contenders.
Turkey can be successfully paired with white or red wine so long as the whites are fullbodied and the reds not too tannic. Personally, despite encouraging adventurous drinking, I have to confess to picking the same white wine to go with my turkey year in and year out. Hailing from a tiny appellation in the Northern Rhône Valley in France, the Domaine du Monteillet Condrieu 'Les Grandes Chaillées' 2010 &35 is the absolute essence of the Viognier grape variety and possesses a beguiling elegance, delicately perfumed notes and layers and layers of toasted, honeyed complexity.
And, unlike many lesser Viogniers, it just gets better and better with age.
Roast goose, stronger flavoured than turkey, needs wines with a pronounced acidity to cut through its fattier meat. For whites, try top quality Rieslings or Gewürztraminers from Germany or Alsace. Reds that work really well include Pinot Noir, especially fuller bodied New World offerings, and Rioja Gran Reservas. However, if you’re looking for something really special - and wallet bursting - it’s got to be the Barbaresco Camp Gros, Marchesi di Gresy 2006 &72.50. This iconic wine is only produced in the best vintages and has attractive floral and fragrant aromas and a palate of warm, dried fruits with sweet tobacco and liquorice notes.
Rib of Beef:
Were cows created purely to show off red wine? Probably not but it’s hard to think of many reds that don’t go with beef. Bordeaux red wines (clarets) are the classic accompaniment to beef but eschewing tradition is surely part of the pleasure of beef eating on Christmas Day. So, with that in mind, I’d recommend the Benvenuto de la Serna 2010 &14 from Mendoza in Argentina. Malbec is considered the best pairing for beef and this big berried, spicy and traditional wine is just the ticket.
Loin of Pork:
Usually I suggest softer red wines such as Beaujolais or Valpolicella with pork loin but fuller whites also work really well and none more so than the defiantly different Ma’d Dry Furmint 2012 &13.50 from the Tokaji region of Hungary. The region is more famous for its rich dessert wines but this slightly off-dry, apricot, peach and warm, ginger, spice flavoured wine is guaranteed to perk up any pig!
This show-stopping alternative to Beef Wellington was a new one to me until lots of my veggie customers mentioned they were cooking it for Christmas. The ‘meatiness’ in the dish is provided by brown cap mushrooms and the wine that’s most in harmony with its earthy flavours is Chianti Rufina, Fattoria Selvapiana 2011 &13.99
Whites with turkey:
Macon Solutre, Denuziller &11.99
The Tea Leaf Chenin Blanc &12.50
Reds with turkey:
Main Divide Pinot Noir &17
Felton Road Pinot Noir &30
The Prospector Syrah, Jordan &13.50
Haut Medoc Chateau Fontesteau &18.50
Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz, Dandelion Vineyards &12.50
Manoir du Carra Fleurie &12.99
Clarry’s GSM, Kalleske &20.50
Isole et Olena Chianti Classico &22.99