Christmas dinner is probably the biggest event of the year for many families. Such a special occasion deserves special wines: good recommendations as well as individual tastes need to be considered when it comes to choosing what to serve.
So what are the most popular Christmas starters?
Smoked salmon, scallops, oysters, prawns and other rich shellfish; simple cheese and crackers or more complicated hors d’oeuvres. Something fresh and light will work best with Christmas starters. Let’s start with Champagne! Champagne also works as an aperitif to accompany a pre-dinner course. A bottle of 2002 Veuve Clicquot is the best and shows how superbly special the 2002 vintage is in the world of Champagne. 2002 was the best vintage since 1996. If you’re on a budget, the best alternative to Champagne is sparkling wine, and the best value sparkling wine is Crémant d’Alsace from France’s northern Alsace region.
Main Christmas dinner dishes depend on your nationality, culture and traditions.
Beef flavours are more robust than other meats so you need a fuller bodied red to match the flavours. Malbec, Mendoza Argentina is one of the country’s most exciting reds, or the Shiraz, South Australia, which has masses of black fruits, redcurrants and spices on the nose.
Lamb is the most wine-friendly meat. It pairs beautifully with Cabernets, Red Bordeaux, Pinot Noir and Rhône reds, commonly known by the acronym GSM (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre). The most notable application of the GSM blend in France is in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The GSM blend is also used widely in Australia and South Africa where Syrah is known as Shiraz.
Turkey and chicken.
Turkey is usually served with sweet cranberry sauce, vegetables, potatoes and gravy. You can be flexible and pair it with white (Viognier Reserva, Chile; white wine from Côtes du Rhône), red (Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand) or even a nice American Zinfandel Rosé.
Duck and goose
Duck is a fatty meat and has a rich, gamey flavour, so it’s best to look for a white wine with good acidity. Grüner Veltliner, Kampta, Austria has great mineral tones. The Grüner Veltliner is the signature grape of Austria.
The perfect pairing wine will depend on the type of fish you’re eating. You don’t have to stick to white, so why not try a Beaujolais, Sancerre Rouge or a light Pinot Noir as a great alternative, also delightful served lightly chilled.
Fruit based desserts are not very sweet compared to other desserts and quite high in acid; the same characteristics can be found in German Riesling Spätlese, Auslese and Beerenauslese. Chocolate based desserts: the favourite but most difficult to match. Wines need to be ultra-sweet and full of flavour to match the chocolate. Aged Tawny Port is the best choice ever!!! But don’t forget to serve these drinks chilled.
These are a few of the many wines that will pair beautifully with your Christmas dinner.
Enjoy the perfect food and wine pairing this Christmas!
— Jolanta Ulys, SocialCooking’s chef, food and wine expert