IT’S ARGUABLY A WASTE to buy wine that is too expensive or too fine for The Big Day, as the typical Christmas table has a lot going on – family, kids, lots of different flavours, textures and intensities – and the subtle nuances of, say, a refined, subtle Burgundy might get lost in a rumbustious setting like this.
That said, obviously it’s enjoyable to push the boat out a bit – there is a place for good wine on Christmas day!
In short – and to generalise – you want fairly ‘big’ wines for Christmas Day. Ideally a young, robust, full-bodied, high-flavour red that isn’t overly endowed with tannins or acidity. Similarly, the white should be ‘round’ (i.e. not terribly acidic), medium-to-full bodied and with good intensity of fruit and spice flavours. The thinking behind all this is that you have wines that are able to ‘stand up to’ the rich, luscious, heavy flavours found in the foods.
As for weddings, parties or any other event where there are lots of different foods and lots of different people, you want a good all-rounder – nothing too hipster, unless you’re having an especially-Bohemian crowd round for dinner.
Suggested Christmas pairings
Brussel Sprouts – One of the few foods that doesn’t really ‘match’ comfortably with any wine. The smell of sprouts in fact mimics a particular wine fault, which doesn’t help. If sprouts are being served, just go with the flow – you’ll live!
Turkey curry – Ah the day after – now we can relax! As always, beer is great with curry. Good wine options include light bodied reds (freshened up nicely if you chill them!) and aromatic, exotic whites like Viognier, Gewurztraminer, Rueda or Albariño.
Desserts – Again, which dessert? But all you really need to know is that a ‘normal’ wine (i.e. dry) will taste thin and sour alongside anything that’s rich and sweet. Coffee or tea is hard to beat with dessert, as we know, but if you’d like to pair a wine with your pudding just make sure it’s good and sweet (the wine should always be at least a bit ‘sweeter’ than the food).
Depending on the particular dessert, take your pick from: sweet wine par excellence Sauternes; gran’s favourite (but trendy again) Cream Sherry; Ruby Port; ‘late-harvest’ this and that; Tuscan ‘holy wine’ Vin Santo (rare and expensive); ‘ice wine’ (invariably from Germany or Canada); and many other variations on this sugary theme.
Don’t get too caught up in it all though – the sky won’t fall down if you drink Prosecco with your roast beef ;)