Getting her priorities right, Thirsty’s Elodie Cameron suggests basing your Christmas feast around your favourite wines
Can you believe it, it’s that time again… Christmas is just around the corner. We all want to indulge in the things we love best over the festive season – so how about this year we base our menus around the wines we love rather than the other way around? If we put the emphasis on what we enjoy drinking, then we can turn our attention to what to match it with. There are so many decisions at Christmas, let’s keep this one simple and enjoyable – after all, that’s what we really want.
Who can resist the elegance and finesse of Pinot Noir? If you choose a wine that is floral and fruity with dark cherry and red fruit notes, then you have plenty of options. Of course, we know that duck marries beautifully with fruity flavours, particularly cherry. Turkey or capon, whilst being whiter meats, also match well with lighter styles of wine such as Pinot Noir or a St Laurent from Austria – although they have delicate tannins there is still enough structure and power to hold some of the stronger flavours in accompanying stuffing, gravy and side dishes. On the other hand, consider autumnal flavours such as mushrooms and chestnuts when considering Pinot Noir that has more forest floor or farmyard nuances.
Now, if you prefer your wine a little rounder and bigger in structure and tannin, such as a Northern Rhone (these are often Syrah based) or Rioja, you may wish to be a little less traditional and opt for lamb or beef. You can also stick with turkey but consider serving the brown meat and keep the white for slicing on boxing day, then marry richer ingredients in your side dishes: a red wine gravy, use liver in your stuffing and hearty veg such roasted root vegetables and dark greens – oh, and don’t forget plenty of herbs.
On the other hand, you may prefer to drink white wine that you’ll perhaps serve through from starters, rather than opting to change wine and glasses each course. Then a spritely, aromatic and mineral German Riesling will work brilliantly with goose – especially with apple stuffing – the racy acidity cutting through the fat of the goose bringing a lovely balance to the meal (alternatively, I’d go goose if you are partial to a glass or two of Barolo, this would offer up richness in abundance).
And last but not least for the lovers of white Burgundy (or other cool climate Chardonnay) then think turkey or a smaller bird such as a chicken, and be sure to match this with sweet, rich flavours and bread sauce in your accompaniments to really bring out all the luscious richness of these delicious wines.
This is a topic that will run and run, but hopefully these few guiding principals mean that you will enjoy your Christmas roast whatever wine you choose. Don’t forget – if in doubt just ask, your booze shop is there to help.
Merry Christmas from Thirsty
Spätburgunder, Espenhof, £14.80
Pinot Noir from Germany no less… smokey and earthy with delicious savoury notes and red cherries, all coupled with a wonderful velvet mouth-feel. Great value.
Decenio, Las Orcas, Rioja Reserva, £16.40
Bright, fresh black and red fruit with added smoothness and complexity from the oak giving hints of cedar and coconuts. Classic yet with a light, modern touch.
Saint-Véran, Terres Secrètes, Burgundy, £16.20
Fresh and lively with minerality, white flowers and toasted brioche notes. Elegant and balanced.