Wines to enjoy at Christmas time
Christmas is almost here and if you’re hosting a meal or a party for family or friends, sometimes you can experience a little bit of pressure to make sure that everything feels perfect. So, we are here to take some of the pressure off and help you make some of those important decisions, with our guide to some of the best wines to enjoy over the festive period. Whether you’re cooking for 20 or you’ve been invited along to a special meal that you haven’t had to cook, we’ve got the perfect bottle for every occasion, so that all you have to do is relax and enjoy.
For some people, the festive drinking starts early, with many enjoying a glass or two of Bucks Fizz on Christmas morning as they open their gifts. Traditionally made by mixing Champagne and Orange Juice, you don’t necessarily have to push the boat out and use your best bubbly to make Bucks Fizz, a good Prosecco will suffice. In fact, it actually mixes better with orange juice than Champagne does and it is less acidic so it won’t unsettle your stomach if you’ve had chocolate for breakfast! Prosecco usually contains slightly less alcohol too, so you won’t be too sozzled to put the sprouts on if you’re the one doing the cooking!
Prosecco or Bucks Fizz are also good to serve when people arrive, before dinner is served. Our Bisol Belstar Prosecco NV blends beautifully with orange juice. Or if you are taking some Prosecco along to share at a party, we recommend Della Vite Prosecco Superiore NV, which is available with a stylish gift box.
The best wines to pair with Christmas dinner
You may find that your guests have a preference for red or white wine, even if they don’t always pair so well with what you are serving, so to save you a few hours reading the back of bottles and pondering which to choose, we’ve selected a couple of each to pair with your Christmas roast, whether you are opting for a traditional turkey or goose this year, or you’re taking the vegetarian or vegan option.
Wines that pair well with Christmas roast turkey or goose
If you favour a red with your Christmas roast, we recommend something made from Grenache grapes with flavours of soft raspberry fruit, this will pair well with both turkey or goose and all the trimmings. Something like our Clos Saint-Michel Cotes-Du-Rhone Rouge Mathilde, which has a balanced acidity and elegant structure. Or if you really love your reds, treat yourself to a LE CLOS DU CAILLOUChâteauneuf du Pape Les Quartz 2018. It is a special day, after all.
Prefer a white wine with your main? A fuller-bodied, creamy Chardonnay can help to lift the flavour of roasted meats. A Lebanese Château Ksara Chardonnay Cuvée du Pape 2017, has an edgy lemon-like acidity, and a delicious cashew nut richness, which pairs well with turkey, ham or goose. Alternatively, XANADU Exmoor Chardonnay 2020, has a mouthwatering freshness with ripe citrus and stone fruit and a touch of vanilla. A perfect all-rounder that makes it an ideal choice if you have been invited to dinner and want a bottle to take along to the meal. For a beautifully and richly textured wine with balanced buttery and oak flavours, we highly recommend the Far Niente Estate Bottled Napa Valley Chardonnay 2019.
Wines that pair well with a Christmas nut roast
If you’re serving a nut roast, you may wish to pair your dish with a vegan or vegetarian wine. These are wines where the producer has not used traditional fining agents such as Isinglas (made from fish bladders),gelatine, egg whites or milk protein to give clarity to the wine. Of course, wines served with the latter two ingredients are suitable for vegetarians so make sure that you read the label carefully before serving, depending on your dietary needs. Many wines are now labelled as vegan or you can identify them from the term Unfined or Unfiltered written somewhere on the label. If in doubt, a quick internet search can usually help you to get it right!
If your guests enjoy red, a spicy, herby nut roast balances well with the spicy notes and dark fruit flavours of a good Cabernet Sauvignon. Warwick Estate The First Lady Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 presents a fusion of ripe red berries and delicate French oak and is suitable for vegans. If they prefer white, a French Chardonnay or an oaked Rioja Bianco will pair well. El Coto Rioja Blanco 2020 is dry and fresh on the palate. Fresh and fruity with hints of melon, this zingy and refreshing wine pairs well with most vegetarian options.
Wines to serve with pudding
There are rules when it comes to dessert wines. The wine that you serve should always be sweeter than the pudding. So if you’re taking the traditional route with a Christmas pudding packed with dried fruit, brandy and strong festive flavours then you are going to have to find something very sweet indeed! Luckily there are some great dessert wines out there that fit the bill. Try a 15 Year Old Malmsey Rich NV from Portugal, a full-bodied madeira-like wine with very strong legs. As a dessert wine, serve it at 16ºC. Or if you want something even sweeter, try Yalumba Antique Muscat. A deep-amber wine, luscious in texture but richly flavoured - and incredibly sweet!
Wines to serve with cheese
If you’re planning on serving a cheese course, or perhaps getting the cheeses out later on in the evening, then you can’t go wrong with a good port. There really is nothing better with a piece of stilton, the flavours just seem to encourage each other. It’s also great with mature cheddar but steer clear of brie or soft goats cheeses, they do not pair well with Port. Make sure you have a little Chardonnay left over from the main course if you prefer a more delicately flavoured cheese. A classic Port that goes well with blue cheese is our Sandeman Ruby Port – or if you prefer a lighter, nuttier taste then try pairing Sandeman Tawny Port with some lighter cheeses such as smoked cheddar, Pecorino, or a well-aged Manchego.
If Port is one of your favourite Christmas tipples and you really fancy pushing the boat out this year, ask Father Christmas for a bottle of Churchill’s 2016 Vintage Port. Described by some as the ‘perfect pairing’ this vintage Port tastes wonderful with Stilton, Roquefort or Gorgonzola alongside a little dark chocolate, figs and a few walnuts. Heaven!
We don’t think it would be Christmas without a mention of mulled wine and if you want to know more about which wines to use for mulling and how to make it at home, check out this journal entry.
New Years Fizz
Once Christmas is done and dusted, out attentions turn to New Year, new resolutions and fresh starts. People have been enjoying Champagne on New Year’s Eve since the late 1800s when it was first documented as a popular choice at festive gatherings. Producers picked up on this trend and began to market it as a drink for celebrations and the rest is history! As the industrial revolution gave rise to an emerging middle class, sales of sparkling wine soared from 6 million bottles in 1850 to 28 million by 1900.
Here are three recommendations from our cellar, to suit your New Year’s plans. Whether you are going to go out and splash it all about or stay in and savour it at home.
Described by some as the ‘Champagne-lover’s Champagne’. Jean-Paul Deville Carte d'Or NV is a reasonably priced yet characterful Champagne. The perfect crowd pleaser to take along and share at a party.
If you fancy something slightly different to toast the New Year and ring the changes with, how about a rosé Champagne? Bruno Paillard Rosé Premiere Cuvee NV Champagne is full of flavour, described by Terre de Vins as “Fine, refreshing, direct, delicate, it is the quintessential aperitif Champagne.”
If you’re a champagne lover and you want to really appreciate it, perhaps with a loved one and a view of some fireworks from your window, get yourself a bottle of Piper-Heidsieck Rare Champagne Millésime 2008. Produced by Régis Camus, this rare Vintage Champagne has a signature of significant minerality. “They will speak of this wine in many years to come, it is that good.”
We hope it will make your New Year’s Eve special and memorable too!