Christmas Food and Wine Matching
Deciding on wines for Christmas lunch does not need to be difficult, in fact it should be a fun activity! I would encourage you to think about what wines you like, and what would go well with your lunch. Remember, the most important thing is for you to have something that you are going to enjoy. That said, there are some wines that may work better than others. So I’ve listed my recommendations and reasons below, which can be found at different price points. Enjoy!
I don’t know about you, but wine drinking for starts at breakfast on Christmas. And there are two things that are traditional: breakfast is scrambled eggs with smoked salmon on toasted english muffins, and the wine is sparkling. I’ve got three options for you here:
Bucks Fizz: if you want to start the day slowly this is the one – bubbles with orange juice, not too boozy but great with brekkie
Cremant de Loire: Traditional method sparkling wine from the Loire Valley. Think Champagne style without the price tag. May not have the same complexity but will certainly hit the spot.
Champagne: If you really want to go for decadence, this is of course where you will end up. Blanc de blancs tends be my favourite for breakfast situations, but any style will do.
While starter will vary, the main aim is the same, to get you ready for that main course. So often you will looking at something light, fresh, with a bit of acidity to get your mouth watering. And so the wine match should be the same:
White - typically a fresh white wine with a good concentration of flavour and a fresh streak of acidity. Such as Picpoul de Pinet, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, or Sancerre.
Red option - Beaujolais: For the starter you want a red wine that is light and will freshen your palate. Beaujolais is the perfect option. Light in tannin and body, with fresh red fruit flavours, this is one of the few red wines that can be served with fish and can also be served chilled if you wish.
Sparkling: Also on option, see above (although preferably not the bucks fizz at this point. Asti is a good option for your nan).
The main event:
Number one tip for this is: go with a wine that makes you happy! If you’ve got a bottle you’ve been saving, or a style you enjoy above all others, then this is the time. Aside from that, it depends what you are eating. Thoughts below:
White – Chardonnay – preferably oaked. Think Chilean at lower end at Meursault at the top end with everything in between. It should have intensity, complexity, body and a fair does of acidity. With roasted foods flavours are often intensified. It is this along with all the accompaniments (gravy, stuffing, roast potates, pigs in blankets etc) that you want to match to. Pinot Gris is good for those that don’t like oak.
Red – Pinot Noir – preferably New World. Many people would recommend a French Pinot, but personally I think New World is best, purely for the aforementioned intensity. Unless you’ve got the budget for a Vosnee Romanee I would argue that something from Central Otago would be much better suited to your meal. Turkey being a white meat, it better suited to something not too high in tannins. Bottle aged red are also a good way to go (e.g. Rioja Gran Reserva, aged Bordeaux)
If you prefer a bit of beef or something a bit gamey, you can go for wine that are a little different.
White – I’m going for something a little more left field here – but an Hungarian dry Furmint would be my top match. Unoaked yet spicy, this is full of flavour, body and character. When you go for wines to match with red meats, they need to have substance to stand up to it, which this certainly does. Again Chardonnay would work, or a ripe Viognier.
Reds – much more traditional with this – Bordeaux, or a lovely Italian or Spanish red. Old world works much better for me as I don’t want to be overpowered by a fruit bomb of a wine. Particularly with beef, where all the protein is just going to melt any tannins in the wine you can for something bold and hearty.
I’m not going to forget the veggies and vegans out there! If you’re going for a nut roast the options I would recommend are:
White – something oaky. Many oaked whites have a lovely roasted hazelnut or almond flavour to them, which would match to the flavour of the dish. Plus you need something with body and intensity, so maybe stick to New World, a South African Chenin Blanc would be perfect.
Reds – I would stick to something fruity but not too tannic. If you like New World a Malbec or Shiraz would fit in perfectly here, or if you prefer something more traditional a Spanish Rioja Reserva would be lovely.
Whether you are having a Christmas pudding, Yule Log, Trifle or anything else, if you are having a dessert, the only wine to match with it is a sweet one. Here’s a few of my favourites:
Sauternes – French dessert wine, marmalade, apricots and honey, great with fruity desserts
Port – Black fruit and spicy, perfect with your pudding. Great with cheese too.
PX Sherry – Thick, viscous, dried fruit and intensely sweet, I’d have this with anything!
If you've got any space left for food later in the day, you probably want to stick with a lighter wine, a Sauvignon Blanc again or Pinot Noir will do. Or you could move on to a lovely refreshing Gin and Tonic, which is certainly what I will be doing!
I hope that has given you a few ideas, it’s certainly made me hungry! If you have any questions or specific foods you would like recommendations for, feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.