Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. But is your wine cellar bursting with wine to drink with your lovely plump goose (or duck, or turkey)?
Christmas is the time to push the boat out and serve those wines you’ve been saving ‘for a special occasion’ or failing that hunt down some gems from your favourite wine merchant. Online wine retailer Rude Wines have a selection of fine wines that won’t disappoint.
As well as Christmas Dinner don’t forget there will be other times over the festive season where you will be having a meal based around a bird or a good-sized cut of meat. You can really accentuate the great flavours of that free range or organic meat by matching it with particular wines and after all, it deserves to be drunk with the best wine you can find.
Given the amount of time and effort that is put into making the Christmas Dinner such a special meal, it is definitely worth selecting the wines according to what you are eating. The wine selection can either create culinary heaven or culinary hell. You want the wines to be memorable and not to be swamped by the flavours in the food and vice versa.
Turkey is the classic choice for Christmas Dinner nowadays, but you may have noticed Turkey doesn’t always have a lot of flavour! Happily, the side dishes usually served with Turkey all have plenty of flavours. Think brussels sprouts with bacon, pigs in blankets and cranberry sauce.
This mixed bag of flavours can pose a problem when looking for a wine match. I’ve found it’s best to go for a lightly oaked dry white which will have a bit of body and will stand up to all the strong flavours on the plate. An Australian Semillon blend should do nicely. We love Barton Jones Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon 2016 Geographe, Australia (£19.99) from Rude Wines. It’s a versatile wine with a good weight of citrus fruit thanks to the 37-year-old vines that produce the Semillon.
When it comes to choosing the best red wine for turkey, you can’t beat the classic Pinot Noir grape and Burgundy in France is the true heartland of this grape. Don’t hold back when it comes to quality, something to bear in mind as these wines are only produced in relatively small quantities. We love Albert Bichot Savigny-les Beaune 1er Cru Aux Gravains 2012, France (£28.50). This has lovely aromas of Morello cherries and blackcurrants, while the palate is soft and silky with light vanilla overtones.
Goose and Duck
If you’re going for goose this year, which well you might as it has much more flavour and is juicier than turkey, you’ll need a wine with good acidity to cut through the fattier meat.
Chablis always screams Christmas to me, so put it centre stage and choose a Premier Cru one such as Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaillons 2015, France (£27.50). We think this is one of the best whites for goose and duck, with its perfect balance of precise acidity and fullness from the Chardonnay grape.
Italian reds are known for their trademark high acidity and this is perfect for cutting through the fattiness of goose. Go for a classic Italian red such as a Barolo which is made from Nebbiolo grapes, traditionally left to ripen on the vines well into late Autumn. Their thick skins make a full-bodied, age-worthy wine. We love Fratelli Ponte Barolo 2012 (Italy) (on offer at £24.20). This decadent Barolo is aged for two years in oak barrels to produce a richly fruited wine, with benchmark Barolo aromas of roses and sweet tobacco.
The roast duck will also need a red with bright acidity, such as a Beaujolais or New Zealand Pinot Noir. Rude Wines sell a great Fleurie made by Jean Loron, a real steal at £12.69. It’s a medium bodied, fruit-driven red that would match duck with a fruity sauce. New Zealand’s cool climate ensures grapes retain their refreshing acidity, and Blank Canvas Pinot Noir (on offer at £23.95) from the Marlborough region is no exception. It’s packed with flavour and has an impressively lengthy finish.
Full-bodied reds with plenty of tannins are a perfect match for high protein meats like beef. The tannins help to break down the protein in the meat and the protein in the meat makes any tannin taste silky-smooth. Big, gutsy wines such as Argentinian Malbec are perfect as they have plenty of fruit that can stand up well to any flavours in the sauce or jus. A masterful balance between power and mineral savouriness, Altos Las Hormigas Malbec Reserve 2014, Uco Valley, Mendoza (£32.50) will set any beef dish off nicely. If you’re more of an Old-World aficionado, go for Classic Claret from the left bank in Bordeaux. Château Citran 2005, Haut-Médoc (£24.95) is astonishing quality at a really affordable price. Spoil yourself and do your beef justice with this Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend which is full of blackcurrant flavours, smooth and rounded with a toasty spiciness.
Unlike red meats, pork requires a red that isn’t too tannic. Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned grape that produces suitably light bodied wines that won’t swamp the flavours of the pork. As it’s Christmas, Burgundy is the go-to region for decadent wines. Silky smooth with a slight savoury kick, we love Albert Bichot Santenay 1er Cru Clos Rousseau 2015 (on offer at £26.90). If you are glazing the pork with a sweet glaze such as Cola, aromatic whites with a touch of sweetness are a tried and tested match. Head to Austria where winemakers do the balance of sweetness and acidity perfectly especially with the Riesling grape. Allram Riesling Gaisberg (£26.50) from the Kamptal region is a zinger of a wine with a powerful, juicy palate.