Over the past three weeks, I have listed at least 18 wines that you could choose from. To re-cap, here are a half dozen without tasting notes. Those you can look up yourself.
The basic food-pairing guide that assists us throughout the year also works when deciding which wines are best suited to Christmas fare.
Select light-bodied wines to pair with lighter-styled food and fuller-bodied wines with heartier, more flavourful dishes. A Pinot Noir works beautifully with salmon because you are matching a lighter food to a light wine.
One of the main considerations when pairing wines with food is to think about how the meal is going to be prepared. Look at whatever sauce is use, any seasonings or what the principal flavour of the dish is.
It is always great to start Christmas day with a bubble, and a perfect choice is the NV Cristalino Rose ($20 PWS) from Spain. Have it with Eggs Benedict for brunch. Mmmmm!!
As friends and relatives start to arrive, there is no wine better suited to welcome your guests than Champagne. Due to its effervescence, the alcohol quickly enters the blood stream, guaranteeing excited, content reactions.
For the main course whether it be Chicken, Goose, Duck or game, the wine needs to match the texture of the meat. Goose, duck and game birds need a wine with substance so look for Cabernets, Shiraz/Syrah or Pinot Noir, depending on the sauce that accompanies the bird. A roast chicken can handle red wine you just need to adjust any seasonings to match the wine, i.e. add some fresh herbs if you serve a Syrah or a rich sauce for a garnish if serving a Cabernet.
I have found that Turkey does not work well with most red wines so I would opt for a Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Pinot Gris or Pinot Blanc. If I pick a red, I would go for something light and fruity like Beaujolais.
If beef or lamb is on the menu, then red wine is de rigueur. For the succulent Standing Rib Roast, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc or a Syrah will work. Lamb and Cotes du Rhone is a match made in heaven and if roast pork is the main event, a dry, crisp Rose works wonders as does a fresh racy Riesling.
For dessert, if Christmas or Figgy pudding is on the list, nothing goes better than a glass of port. Whatever the dessert, just remember that the wine should be sweeter than the dessert. At home, we have planned Candy-Cane Cheesecake, which could provide a bit of a challenge.
When it comes to a cheese course, remember that not all red wines compliment all cheeses. Blue cheese/Stilton certainly works very well with port but it could work equally well with a Sauterne. And goat’s cheese works much better with Sauvignon Blanc than with reds. Soft cheeses like Camembert and Brie should be served with either full flavoured Chardonnays or soft ripe Merlots.
Above all of this, have a very Merry Christmas.
In Vino Veritas
Christmas Dinner Wines:
The 2006 Stags Hollow Block 1 Cabernet Merlot ($32 PWS) is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Loaded with copious amounts of raspberry/blackberry/cassis-like liqueur aromas with licorice, menthol, cedar, forest floor, creamy vanilla and chocolate, the texture is pure pleasure with its black fruit dominated flavours with toast, cocoa and clove spice. The finish has super soft acidity and firm yet supple tannins and a long, long aftertaste. A killer red, this wine can be decanted and enjoyed now or cellared over the next 5 years.
The 1997 Lanson Gold Label Vintage Brut ($75 PWS...reduced from $108) is a harmonious blend of 2 grape varieties, Pinot Noir (53%) and Chardonnay (47%), from the most highly renowned, 100%-rated crus vineyards. This is a finely balanced wine, with aromas of dried fig, apricot and pear and overtones of biscuit. Five years of ageing ensure that this wine will delight the palates of the most demanding connoisseurs for many years to come.
The 2008 Blue Mountain Pinot Noir ($33 PWS) is a velvety, silky-smooth wine displaying ripe raspberry, cherry, strawberry and cassis fruit aromas with hints of sweet licorice, menthol, vanilla and new leather. Delicate notes of red and black fruit, roses, violets, hints of vanilla and smoke balance a lush and rich texture. Velvety soft acidity balanced by the firm tannins on the finish, this could be aged for another 5 years. A generous wine that can stand up to a number of rich foods.
A rich, sturdy wine, the 2007 Sansilvestro Barbaresco ($30 PWS) is brimming with plummy blackberries, black cherry, licorice, cedar, truffles, vanilla and cocoa. An incredible, relatively great value Piedmontese wine, all the components are well proportioned with this wine, never one over-shadowing the other, from the aromas of cedar and cherries to the flavours of ripe fruit and vanilla. The palate is supple, rich and round, making for an extremely full-bodied Barbaresco. Drink now–2020.
Produced from Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2008 Aces Seven Deuces ($23 PWS) is from the tiny Aces Winery on the Naramata Bench. The colour is deep purple with intense, fruit-driven aromas of raspberry, blackberry, black cherry, dark plum, with hints of rose petal and violets. The texture on the palate is seductively silky with lush black and red fruit flavours accompanied by hints of red flowers, licorice, and cinnamon and pepper spice. Decant this wine for an hour to fully appreciate the complexity.
And last but by no means least, the 1999 Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Port ($30/375ml PWS) exhibits intense aromas of figs, toasty dark cassis and blackberry fruit, hints of menthol, smoke, leather and tobacco. Gorgeously rich on the palate, the silky, creamily textured cornucopia of toasty black fruits, soft acidity and ripe, succulent yet still firm tannins make this a delight to drink. There is so much joy to be had from the single quinta Ports.