You forgot to order the turkey, the presents still need wrapping, and you don’t have the patience to find which damn fairy light has blown… Through all the stress and the hassle of Christmas, the last thing you have time for is arranging what drinks you’re going to serve with your favourite holiday foods. Allow me to help take the edge off this festive season with this list of vin-spiration!
As it’s the season of extravagance, why not go all out with a French 75? This classic Champagne cocktail is bound to get any party started. Just add a measure of gin to your Champagne flute, drop a sugar cube in, add a dash of lemon juice and then top up with your Champagne of choice.
Canapés and party food can be quite a varied bunch, and tricky to pair with wine as a result. Enter the Winemakers’ Selection by Sainsbury’s Languedoc Rose 2012 (£6.99). While rose is often strictly thought of as a summer drink, its versatile nature makes it the perfect partner for festive nibbles.
If you’re splashing out on Christmas morning with smoked salmon and caviar, then the traditional pairing of Champagne works best. But this year why not keep it local instead with the Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2009 (£29.99, Waitrose). This English sparkling wine is practically a Champagne but from this side of the channel with its flavours of citrus, toast and apple.
Turkey with all the trimmings
Turkey is always a tricky meat to pair with wine as it’s renowned for not having much flavour. Bung the trimmings on the side though, and it suddenly becomes a dish with attitude. The best match by far is – surprisingly – not a red. A White Burgundy, such as this Puligny-Montrachet 2011 Jean-Louis Chavy (£32.00 Majestic) exudes a buttery, oaky richness to stand up to the trimmings, but enough elegance not to over-power the turkey itself. If you’re resolute on red though, this fruity Mount Difficulty Roaring Meg Pinot Noir 2012 (£23.00, Majestic) from New Zealand would be equally delicious.
The Alternative Bird
Goose is a much richer, more flavoursome alternative to the classic Christmas turkey. As such you might be tempted to pair it with a rich wine too, but in fact what works better is something which cuts through all that richness. The Leitz Rosengarten Riesling Kabinett 2012 (£13.99, Waitrose) works a treat with refreshing flavours of lime and a touch of sweetness.
Glazed Christmas ham
Your clove-studded ham is crying out for a big, red wine and the Noster Nobilis Priorat 2007 (£8.75, Asda) fits the bill perfectly. With Grenache dominating the blend it has flavours of dried fruits which perfectly complement the spices in the ham.
Rib of beef
If you’re heading down the roast beef route then you need a substantial wine to stand up to this large joint of meat. Here the old classic never fails to please, and a red Bordeaux such as Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference St Emilion (£10.00) with its smoky, dark fruit character would be more than a match for the beef.
Forget Pinot Grigio, leap out of your comfort zone with Tesco’s Finest Picpoul de Pinet 2011 (£7.99). Hailing from the south of France it is the perfect foil to a salmon dish. With crisp, fresh flavours of pineapple and lots of citrus, pairing your fish with this wine is the equivalent to squeezing a wedge of lemon over the top of it.
Bubble & Squeak
Boxing Day isn’t complete without bubble and squeak. Jazz up your leftovers this year with this juicy ARC du Rhône, Côte du Rhône Villages 2011 (£8.69, Waitrose). Its medium body and soft, black fruit and spice will help to refresh what’s left of your roast.
If you’re having a Vegetarian Christmas and serving a nut roast, then the Fleurie Labourie-Roi 2011 (£9.99 or two for £7.99, Majestic) is just the vegan-friendly wine to serve alongside it. While Beaujolais is often associated with the bubblegum flavours of the nouveau boom in the 80s, this wine is the complete opposite. It is elegant with earthy flavours and some red fruit too.
The Mince Pie
Dried fruits, sweet spices, candied peel and lots of booze; the mince pie is quintessential Christmas fare. If you want an extravagant alternative to mulled wine then try the Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009, Graham’s (£13.50, Tesco) which gives a kick to this little seasonal pie.
A Classic Cheeseboard
A great alternative to the traditional Port, is the Croix Milhas Rivesaltes Ambre (£7.49, 37.5cl, Tesco) from the South of France. Imagine a spiced Christmas chutney with nuts and caramel thrown in for good measure, and you have this Rivesaltes Ambre. Its sweetness and flavour profile allow it to complement a variety of cheeses and chutneys too.