Itâ€™s that time of year again. The table groans under the weight of the feast, and a meal thatâ€™s been weeks in the planning is about to be demolished in minutes. Whatever youâ€™ll be cooking this year, itâ€™s definitely worth giving a bit of thought to the wines youâ€™ll be serving with it. Here are a few pointers to get you on your way.
Smoked Salmon starter
In my house this has always been a tradition, and it calls for a really crisp, white wine thatâ€™s got plenty of flavour and high acidity. Sancerre or Pouilly-FumÃ© are the classics, but a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand would work just as well. And if youâ€™re feeling like splashing out, itâ€™s silly season for Champagne right now with some great bargains to be found, and thatâ€™s a brilliant match with salmon.
Turkey and all the trimmings
The perfect pairing with this most splendid of roasts is a good red Burgundy from somewhere like Nuits-St-Georges or Gevrey-Chambertin. But a good oneâ€™s likely to set you back Â£25 or more a pop – an extravagance too far for most. Red Burgundy is made from the Pinot Noir grape, which is grown all over the world. So my advice would be to look out for a good quality Pinot from somewhere like Central Otago in New Zealand, or Carneros in California. They have lovely, soft cherry and cranberry flavours which go really well with turkey, but also have enough weight to be able to stand up to the other bold foods that accompany it.
If youâ€™re looking for a white equivalent then Iâ€™d go for quite a rich style of Chardonnay. Chardonnayâ€™s a grape variety in need of a PR makeover! Lots of people are put off buying it because they think itâ€™s going to be sickly and over oaked. But itâ€™s a real shame as good quality Chardonnay is one of the best white wines in the world and a great match with poultry. Again, Burgundy is the classic region to go to, but there are world class Chardonnays grown just about everywhere.
Easy. Rutherglen Muscat, one of Australiaâ€™s great gifts to the world. This is a lusciously sweet, fortified wine aged for many years in the baking hot climate of north-east Victoria. Itâ€™s like Christmas cake in a glass. Another option would be to go for a sweet sherry. Sherry can be a bit daunting to buy as there are so many different types available, but if itâ€™s got Pedro Ximenez on the label, youâ€™ve got the right one.
If youâ€™re lucky enough to have a mature bottle of Vintage Port gathering dust in the rack, then nowâ€™s the time to crack it open! If not then Iâ€™d have a look for a Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) style, it has an appealing fruitiness that will complement most cheeses pretty well. Itâ€™s always worth sticking it in a decanter for a bit first to let the wine open up – you donâ€™t need anything fancy, it just needs to be glass and clean!
A very Happy Christmas to you all! I hope your festive period is filled with fabulous wine, and if youâ€™re stuck for a Christmas gift for the wine lover in your life, check out our range of Christmas Gift Experiences and vouchers at www.lothianwineschool.com.