Whilst I love wines from all around the globe, I tend to veer towards the old world, i.e. those from Europe. Apart from anything else, they have fantastic food and wine matching abilities and, pretty much, produce most styles of wines.
So, happily, Christmas for me is an excellent excuse to stick to the classic wine areas. I think we are all craving for a bit of the ‘old world’ in its broadest sense at the moment! With that confession off my chest, it is time to start my favourite planning session of the year – what to drink during the festive period.
Luckily for all of us, wine shops appear to be on the ‘essential’ list for retail during the current lockdown (hurrah for that), so you can pop into your local independent store or contact them online to ask for suggestions, depending on what you are cooking on the big day – they will always be the best place for one to one advice.
I’ve asked some fantastic local retailers for their wine matching tips with a traditional Christmas dinner, not that I’m being lazy (well, maybe just a little) and they have come up with some great suggestions.
For me, Christmas must involve fizz – something echoed by Paula at Portland wine. Champagne is the classic choice, but for those on a budget, a Cava or Crémant would be more than OK. She has suggested a lovely demi-sec Champagne from Henriot, which is off-dry. Saying this “eases her into the day”, this is also a lovely food-friendly option, maybe with a starter of smoked salmon. If only we could come round to yours this year, Paula!
Champagne Henriot Demi-Sec. Available from Portland Wine in Hale (£29.95)
With the main course, the trick is matching the wine to all the elements on the plate. For example, most would think of a white wine with Turkey, but add in the roasties, gravy and pigs in blankets and you are definitely in red territory. Nic from Reserve Wines has suggested a stand-out red from Burgundy which is made from Pinot Noir. He says Domaine Belleville Santenay Les Hâtes 2018 is “so beautiful with ripe raspberries and the heady aromas of forest floor and cured meats”. Santenay is a classy wine area, situated in the ‘hallowed’ Côte de Beaune area of France. This would pair equally well with a robust vegetarian dish and anything involving mushrooms.
Domaine Belleville Santenay Les Hâtes 2018. Available from at Reserve Wines in Altrincham and Timperley (£32.50)
Versatile enough to pair well with both the Christmas pudding and cheese, Victoria Anderson, the head wine buyer at Booths Supermarkets, suggests their Booths 20 Year Old Tawny Port made by family-run Quinta de la Rosa. “It has lots of figgy, raisiny and nutty flavours and is equally perfect for those people who would just like a glass of something delicious after dinner,” says Victoria. She suggests serving slightly chilled.
Booths 20 Year Old Tawny Port. Available from Booths in Hale Barns (£21.50 for 50cl)
Whilst I would regard these wines as a serious treat, particularly in terms of price, there are great alternatives to suit to suit your budget and to match with whatever you are eating. Do ask at your local store and they will be more than happy to suggest something to suit.
I hope Santa (or Netflix) delivers on some ‘classic’ viewing this Christmas too – an escape from reality with a glass of the good stuff is at the very top of my Christmas list!
Janet Harrison runs Cracking Wine based in South Manchester, providing fun and informal wine tastings and events, and is the founder of the People’s Choice Wine Awards.