Best wines to serve with Christmas meats
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. But is your wine cellar suitably stocked with the quality wines that will complement your Christmas dinner – and blow your guests away in the process? Whatever you’re having for the main event this year, the tipple you choose for the table is as important as the meal itself – and settling for the first bottle you reach for is simply not an option.
Christmas dinner isn’t the only time during the festive season you’re likely to indulge in a meal based around a bird or a good-sized cut of meat, either, and the right wine pairing can really accentuate the great flavours of both – so it pays to do your research and stock up on a great selection of fine luxury wines to ensure you have a bottle for every eventually to see you through the holidays.
Christmas Dinner preparation requires a great amount of time and effort, and the same approach should be taken to your wines; after all, if you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen for half the day or have spent a hefty amount on hiring a private chef, then you’ll want to show the meal off to its best advantage.
The wine selection you make can be either a match made in heaven or hell, so it’s important to make sure it is remembered for all the right reasons. Allow the wine to be swamped by the flavours in the food or vice versa, and the meal might not be quite the success you’d hoped.
Christmas is the time to push the boat out and pop open those wines you’ve been saving ‘for a special occasion’- or failing that, hunt down some gems from your favourite wine merchant. We sat down with the experts at Rude Wines to find out which bottles should be gracing your table this festive period – no matter what type of meat it is that you’re planning to serve up.
Turkey has long been the classic choice for Christmas dinner, but it’s not the most flavoursome. Even so, the side dishes that are usually served alongside it more than make up for – think brussels sprouts with bacon, pigs in blankets and cranberry sauce.
This mixed bag of flavours can pose a problem when looking for a wine match, but a lightly oaked dry white – which will have a bit of body and will stand up to all the strong flavours on the plate – can make for a clever choice that will enhance your meal no end. An Australian Semillon blend should do nicely – try Barton Jones Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon 2016 Geographe, Australia (£19.99) from Rude Wines, which is a versatile wine with a good weight of citrus fruit thanks to the 37-year-old vines that produce the Semillon.
When it comes to choosing the best red wine for turkey, you can’t beat the classic Pinot Noir grape and Burgundy in France is the true heartland of this grape. Don’t hold back when it comes to quality, something to bear in mind as these wines are only produced in relatively small quantities. We love Albert Bichot Savigny-les Beaune 1er Cru Aux Gravains 2012, France (£28.50). This has lovely aromas of Morello cherries and blackcurrants, while the palate is soft and silky with light vanilla overtones.
Goose and Duck
If you’re plumping for goose this year in the hopes of a juicier and more flavourful alternative to turkey, you’ll need a wine with good acidity to cut through the fattier meat.
Chablis is a classically festive choice, so give it centre stage and choose a Premier Cru one such as Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaillons 2015, France (£27.50). It’s arguably one of the best whites for goose and duck, with its perfect balance of precise acidity and fullness from the Chardonnay grape.
Italian reds are known for their trademark high acidity and this is perfect for cutting through the fattiness of goose. Go for a classic Italian red such as a Barolo which is made from Nebbiolo grapes, traditionally left to ripen on the vines well into late Autumn. Their thick skins make a full-bodied, age-worthy wine. Fratelli Ponte Barolo 2012 (Italy) (on offer at £24.20) certainly won’t disappoint; this decadent Barolo is aged for two years in oak barrels to produce a richly fruited wine, with benchmark Barolo aromas of roses and sweet tobacco.
The roast duck will also need a red with bright acidity, such as a Beaujolais or New Zealand Pinot Noir. Rude Wines sell a great Fleurie made by Jean Loron – a real steal at £12.69. A medium bodied, fruit-driven red that would match duck with a fruity sauce, New Zealand’s cool climate ensures grapes retain their refreshing acidity, and Blank Canvas Pinot Noir (on offer at £23.95) from the Marlborough region is no exception. It’s packed with flavour and has an impressively lengthy finish.
Full-bodied reds with plenty of tannins are a perfect match for high protein meats like beef. The tannins help to break down the protein in the meat and the protein in the meat makes any tannin taste silky-smooth. Big, gutsy wines such as Argentinian Malbec are perfect as they have plenty of fruit that can stand up well to any flavours in the sauce or jus. A masterful balance between power and mineral savouriness, Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Reserve 2014, Uco Valley, Mendoza (£32.50) will set any beef dish off nicely.
If you’re more of an Old-World aficionado, go for Classic Claret from the left bank in Bordeaux. Château Citran 2005, Haut-Médoc (£24.95) is astonishing quality at a really affordable price. Spoil yourself and do your beef justice with this Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend, which is full of blackcurrant flavours, smooth and rounded with a toasty spiciness.
Unlike red meats, pork is best complemented by a red that isn’t too tannic. Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned grape that produces suitably light bodied wines that won’t swamp the flavours of the pork. As it’s Christmas, Burgundy is the go-to region for decadent wines. Silky smooth with a slight savoury kick, Albert Bichot Santenay 1er Cru Clos Rousseau 2015 (on offer at £26.90) is a great choice.
If you are glazing the pork with a sweet glaze such as Cola, aromatic whites with a touch of sweetness are a tried and tested match. Head to Austria where winemakers do the balance of sweetness and acidity perfectly especially with the Riesling grape. Allram Riesling Gaisberg (£26.50) from the Kamptal region is a zinger of a wine with a powerful, juicy palate.