Derbyshire Venues & Accommodation For Every Occasion

Christmas Cheers Ideas


Great wines to accompany great festive foods guaranteed to satisfy any palette!



Christmas Cheers Ideas

 

   

 

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:

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.

 

Goose:

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!

 

Vegetarian Wellington:

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

Goose:-

The Prospector Syrah, Jordan &13.50

Beef:

Haut Medoc Chateau Fontesteau &18.50
Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz, Dandelion Vineyards &12.50

Pork:

Manoir du Carra Fleurie &12.99
Clarry’s GSM, Kalleske &20.50

Vegetarian Wellington:
Isole et Olena Chianti Classico &22.99

 



Festive Drinking

 

With less than 3 days to go, it’s time to share my list of essential Christmas drinking wines. 

Mince pies: These days, Madeira is perhaps best known as the birthplace of hair gel enthusiast Cristiano Ronaldo, but the incredible fortified wines from the island really shouldn’t be overlooked.

There are four major styles – Sercial, Verdelho, Boal and Malvasia – named after the grape varieties used to make the wines. All are worth seeking out but it’s the second sweetest of the styles, Boal, that I enjoy the most with mince pies. Especially, the Barbeito Boal Reserve 5 year old &12.50.

  


CHRISTMAS EVE

Roast Chestnuts: Cast aside any thoughts of vicars or maiden aunts sipping sweet Sherry – that’s not what real Sherry is all about at all. The real stuff is dry, delicious and, thanks to top chefs, such as Heston Blumenthal, increasingly popular. Pair roast chestnuts, or walnuts, with Classic Amontillado, Fernando de Castilla &13.75 and surprise yourself. 

Pork Loin: Not really a Christmas classic but with the gastronomic overload of Christmas Day to follow, we keep things simple on Christmas Eve with roast pork loin in cobs. Pork loin is best paired with delicate red wines, from Beaujolais, in France, or Veneto, in Italy. For me, it’s France all the way and I usually open up a couple of bottles of the juicy, herbaceous Manoir du Carra Fleurie &12.99 from Beaujolais.

Panettone: Dessert comes courtesy of our favourite Italian wine producers, who sends us a hamper of goodies every Christmas. Panettone is best paired with the sweet, sparkling Volpi Moscato &9.75 from the Piedmont region. And at only 5.5%, you’ll have no problem playing Father Christmas to the sleeping kids later on!

 

CHRISTMAS MORNING

Smoked Salmon: Our Christmas Day breakfast is smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and an accompanying glass of Champagne. Blanc de Blancs Champagne (Champagne made entirely from Chardonnay grapes) pairs beautifully with salmon and my absolute favourite is Champagne Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru &35.

  


CHRISTMAS LUNCH

Christmas Pudding: I’ve recommended the Antique Pedro Ximinez, Fernando de Castilla &28.25 many times before but there really isn’t anything else that comes close to its heady magnificence.
It’s a dazzling concoction of coffee, liquorice, sweet tobacco, prunes, figs, raisins, and tea and, for real decadence, can even be poured on your Christmas pudding.

Stilton: We all know that Port and Stilton is a classic combination but which port to choose? The traditional match is a late bottled vintage or vintage port but I’m far more partial to a tawny port. I’m happy with most but my favourite is the Niepoort Senior &19.99 which offers amazing aromas of orange and lemon peel, with hints of toffee, caramel and honey. On the palate, it’s full bodied and luscious, with lots of sweet fruit and a long subtle finish that goes on and on.

 


BOXING DAY

Turkey Curry:

When the inevitable turkey curry appears, it’s best to stick to whites such as Riesling, Gerwürztraminer and Pinot Gris that have the necessary flamboyance to cope with the curry’s exotic nature. Try Christmas Cake: There are times when it’s hard to beat a cup of tea and a slice of Christmas cake. 

Post walk on Boxing Day isn’t one of them. Then, tired and mellow, only a glass of Stanton & Killen’s Rutherglen Muscat &13.75 from Victoria, Australia, will do.

 

NEW YEAR’S EVE

Moules Marinière: Mussels are in season whenever there’s an ‘R’ in the month and making moules marinière on New Year’s Eve has become a bit of a family tradition in recent years. It doesn’t get much better than a big pan of moules marinière, a baguette and a well-chilled glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and we’ve plenty to choose from.

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

 





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