Two things that happened to me last weekend made me want to write this post:
- Someone sent me this picture.
- 2 people ordered a box of “whatever you advise for Christmas”
Now two remarks:
- Obviously, organic wines are a great choice at Christmas because it is such a time of over indulgence. Organic or not, wine still has alcohol but you can minimize the bad hangovers by making sure that alcohol is the only “poison” in it. In organic wines, there aren’t any chemicals.
- Advising people on what wines to have at Christmas is actually quite a difficult task because, apart from the Christmas meal itself (with its wide range of interpretations), people don’t normally know in advance what they will be eating. And in food and wine pairing, there are some basic rules but I would rather see them as guidelines. Everyone’s taste buds are different and if you want to enjoy your Oysters with St Chinian then that’s up to you. I wouldn’t do it and there are many theoretical reasons why this would not be a good pairing but I do respect my customers’ choices.
Now, going back to that Advent calendar…
To be honest, I don’t have time to write about 28 wines today but will definitely think of it for next year.
So I thought I would advise a normal wine-drinker who is after suitable wines to entertain at Christmas time, not a complete food and wine boffin. So the best thing to do in my opinion is to work on the basis that, as well as the festive food itself, there will be loads of what I would call convivial food. Things that are rustled up when you have visitors.
Let’s start with the whites.
- Sauvignon Blanc: in France we have a lot of seafood and Sauvignon Blanc is a great match with lightly seasoned fish and seafood. And is also a great match with goat cheese .
- Chardonnay: to have with pasta carbonara or with a creamier dish of salmon.
- A viognier. It is aromatic, it is low in acidity. It is quite fashionable and would be the kind of thing you drink whilst having a catch up standing up in the kitchen and it will go with slightly curried dishes . And it’s a great match for Christmas parsnips so you can have it on your Christmas dinner table for the white wine lovers.
As for the reds:
- Rioja : It’s not necessarily the best match with Turkey but when you get loads of people together, you need something that’s a bit of a crowd pleaser.
- Pinot Noir: ok, you won’t be surprised to see it in my list. I love Pinot Noir. And it goes very well with Turkey and also with ham. For some reason there’s always a lot of ham involved at Christmas. And for non-ham eaters like me, it’s perfect with a mushroom risotto. It can also go with “meaty” fish such as tuna or even roast salmon. But then again, I would drink Pinot Noir with almost anything.
- Malbec : That will be nice with beef but it will also make the roasted vegetable and corn mince lasagne a little more interesting when you have to cater for meat eaters and vegetarians at the same time.
- Merlot : another crowd pleaser. This one is an easy drinking one. Open it when you have people turning up and you end up ordering a pizza. It’s very versatile.
- A Costières de Nîmes. A Rhône red that has body a bit of spice. I hear it’s great with a bacon joint or with lamb. I love it with nut roasts or with roasted vegetables.
And don’t forget:
- Rosé : Rosé isn’t made for ageing and people rarely see rosés as Christmas wines but you should always have a bottle of rosé at hand because there seems to be more people who will only drink rosé than people who will decide to snub it. And it will also go with that ubiquitous ham, with tuna pasta bake and with many vegetarian dishes.
- A bottle of something cheap and fruity to use as a base so you can add some mulled wine spices. There’s no point using a lovely bottle for this, it’s the spices that matter in mulled wine.
I have saved the best for last. Because although French and by nature Republican, I do believe in Royalty, when wines are concerned. Not all wines are created equal.
To me the Queen of wines would be Champagne and the King (if not the Emperor) would be Barolo.
- Champagne: Queen of wines. You might make do with Prosecco the rest of the year but on New Year ’s Eve it’s got to be Champagne. And it goes with nearly everything from posh canapes to fish and chips!
- Barolo: King of wines. Silky, surprising and seductive. Ok, it’s never going to be cheap but Christmas is a time to treat those you love, including yourself. Barolo definitely has his aficionados but, in my opinion, a Barolo is something every wine drinker has to experience at least once in their life! It is a good match for truffles and porcini mushrooms and also game and roast goose. Personally, even though I keep telling people that I drink wine with food, I like to give my full attention to a Barolo and therefore, at Christmas, I would drink it on its own. The other reason is I can’t afford truffles.
And yes, you ll also need some fortified Christmas wines but my shop licence doesn’t enable me to sell them so they don’t count in my 12 Organic Wines of Christmas.
Joyeuses préparations de Noël !