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Christmas isn’t Christmas without a traditional turkey dinner, and when it comes to wine you could opt for a red or a white, or both (to please the masses). Choose something finely textured that won’t overpower the delicate flavours of the bird but can also stands up to the trimmings. Try a full-bodied Chardonnay such as the Waitrose Chablis or a supple and fruity Californian Zinfandel to pair with cranberry sauce.
Turkey isn’t everyone’s first choice when it comes to Christmas dinner, and there are various joints of meat that are often enjoyed instead… although all are topped with gravy, stuffing, vegetables and a traditional Christmas cracker!
If you’re pushing the boat out with red meat, you might want something richer than Pinot Noir, so try a red from Rioja or Bordeaux with your roast lamb, beef or game; Château Moulin la Bergère is a fantastic Claret and comes with a structure that helps balance out all the rich and intense flavours and textures.
The Christmas party season is upon us and finding wines to pair with your party spread can be quite tricky, purely down to the number of dishes and therefore flavours to contend with. Fortunately, fizz is up to the task and adds a touch of glamour to the occasion. The richness of Champagne works well with seafood and also holds its own with meat and cheese. Alternatively, Prosecco is brilliant at balancing out spicy flavours with its subtle sweetness and soft bubbles.
Italian wines are wonderfully versatile with food too, so a good Pinot Grigio should cover a lot of bases. For reds, try ripe fruited examples of Carmenère or Grenache.
Wines to match fish can be a lot more varied than you might think; different tastes and textures provide you with an exciting range of options for delicious pairings. One such pairing is salmon matched with a rich, oaked white, especially if there’s a creamy sauce, or you’re serving it with buttery potatoes. A great example would be the Rustenberg Chardonnay, or for a truly elegant choice try a delicious white Burgundy.
If the dish has more herbs and a lighter touch, it’s worth moving to a lighter style of wine. Italian whites are often brilliant with herbs, such as the St Michael Eppan Pinot Grigio.
As you move to dessert, it’s really worth picking up a sweet wine. The main principle here is that the wine should be sweeter than the food, or both might taste a bit odd.
When you’re looking for the sweetest of sweet, look out for the classic wines of Tokaji, a real treat would be the Disznókö Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos. For chocolate there’s the fortified Rutherglen Muscat from Australia, which is ideal with richer desserts, or even the slightly unusual, sweet red, Waitrose Seriously Plummy Maury. Fortified wines often have the depth and richness that work so well here – so don’t forget about sherry, madeira and port as fantastic matches for desserts with dried fruits, coffee or chocolate.
There are a lot of different flavours and textures on a cheese board making it difficult to match the complete experience instead of one cheese in particular. With gentle tannin alongside sweetness, port has the best chance of coping with the diverse flavours, and it also doubles up as a digestif after a big meal – try the Quinta do Noval 10-Year-Old Tawny as a glorious example.
When it comes to matching wines and cheese specifically, there are some divine matches! Sauternes is wonderful paired with blue cheese, Sauvignon Blanc is ideal with goat’s cheese and white Burgandy (or a very mellow red) can be brilliant with soft cheeses.