There is one meal into which we put more effort than any other.
Thank goodness it only happens once a year but Christmas dinner
must be made special. We buy way too much food for it, cook things we know most of the family don't actually like and stuff ourselves silly so a nap is vital to reach equilibrium.
When it comes to wine
then, it can be a bit of a mine field. Here I'll go over some fundamentals of food and wine matching
to make things a little easier this year.
Whilst guests arrive or the family settles down and catches up it's always nice to have a glass of something to start things off. If you drink something with high acidity it sets off your saliva glands, that mouthwatering feeling and that sends a message to the brain to make you hungry. It's why we drink something like dry sherry or Champagne
as an aperitif because they have fresh, zesty acidity and so physically make us hungry. I would highly recommend Benedicte Jonchere Grande Reserve NV
as an ideal start to the festivities. It's fresh without being sharp and has a wonderfully smooth, biscuity character. It is elegance in a glass and exclusive to The Perfect Cellar in the U.K. Why not stock up for the New Year
too and save money. At the moment 6 bottles of Benedicte Jonchere NV
have 25% off including free delivery. Get some olives and cheesy twists and set yourself up for the biggest meal of the year.
Having asked around the office to see what starters people usually have at Christmas there are three that seem the most popular; paté and toasts, Parma ham and melon and the good out throw back to the 70's, prawn cocktail. Rather than suggest 3 different wines to match each individually I've decided on one wine that is versatile enough to cover all bases. Falanghina Rami, Di Majo Norante, Molise 2010
is an absolute gem of a wine and is so versatile. Not often seen in the U.K. Falanghina is a native grape to Italy and this one is grown in the Molise region, on the east coast about two thirds down the country. Golden in colour with sparkling green highlights, followed on the nose by an engrossing bouquet of fresh cut limes, greengages, blossom honey and a sun-baked straw. In the mouth it is full and expressive, mingling an interesting flinty minerality with bitter almond notes, peach skin fragrance and even a nuance of sea salt. All the interesting notes in the wine make it suitable to match the rich paté, the salty-sweet ham and melon and the fresh, crisp prawn cocktail, it is a truly engaging wine and a must if you haven't tried it already.
Whether your main of choice is turkey
, goose or nut roast these two wines from Domaine Parigot are simply delicious and a must at your Christmas table. There is a temptation to plump for a big-boned Bordeaux to match your meal but from experience I've found something a little lighter and less gutsy actually works better. When food matching rather than pairing the wine to the main element of the dish it is better to consider the strongest flavours on the plate. In this case the cranberries, stuffing, parsnips and even the gravy are the dominant flavours so we need a wine that has savoury, fruity, sweet, sharp and earthy flavours. That pretty much sums up Burgundian Pinot Noir and this Savigny-Les-Beaune
is absolutely typical of the area.
If it's a white you're after though Domaine Parigot also produce an amazing Meursault
. It is the Chardonnay grape that has been matured in French oak barrels giving it a lovely soft, smokey character. It works well with the roasted flavours of the dish, the richness of the stuffing and is robust enough to balance the savoury gravy.
I know there are many delicious choices for pudding at Christmas but I'm afraid I'm a bit of a pureist. Christmas pudding
is the pudding of choice for me and with its wonderfully rich, sticky, oozey, boozey fruitiness there is only one wine that will do the trick. Mas Amiel
is a sweet red dessert wine from Maury in the southern region of Roussillon in France. It is a rich, dense black cherry delight and is a great match to very rich or chocolatey desserts. Or my favourite way to enjoy this wine is to pour it into half melted ice cream, re freeze then enjoy atop any fruity dessert or a mince pie.