Christmas is just around the corner, and for many families Christmas dinner is the most important meal of the year. We plan out every meticulous detail about the potatoes, the ham, the turkey, the goose and whatever else may be considered traditional in your household, but very often we leave the wine as something of an afterthought. This is a shame, because a good wine (or a few good wines) can really contribute something very special to a meal such as this. Don’t worry, though, because we’ve got you covered. Everyone does Christmas dinner differently, sure, but we’re going to assume that you’re following a basic meal format of an appetiser, starter (or entrée), main course and dessert. Feel free to adjust accordingly!
Your guests begin to arrive, it’s nice to be able to present them with something special. Little nibbles or appetisers can really set the tone for the meal to come: Smoked salmon on brown bread or other canapés, paté on French toast, perhaps even some oysters. Whatever you go with, it will surely be improved with a flute of crisp sparkling wine. Bubbles are perfect for a cocktail, and are incredibly versatile with many types of food.
On a budget: Freixenet Brut Barroco
Something special: Louis Roederer Brut Premier
Something extra special: Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2004
Again this dish will vary from household to household, but usually your guests have been seated and this will be a more substantial plate than the appetiser. Generally it will be lighter than what follows, too. Some people serve lobster, crab or another meaty seafood dish. Others go with a soup. We like to suggest a white wine here, something medium- to full-bodied. Our favourite is a barrel-aged Chardonnay, full on creamy flavour and well-matched with your more decadent Christmas dinner starters.
On a budget: Torres Atrium Chardonnay 2010
Something special: Lake’s Folly Chardonnay 2001
Something extra special: Enate Uno Chardonnay 2011
Turkey or goose? Ham? How glazed? There are many decisions that you as the Christmas dinner chef will have to make. When making your wine selection, however, we can help out. Some people will invariably want to stick with white wine, and that’s fine: Your barrel-aged Chardonnay from earlier will fit the bill nicely for just about anything that will come out of the kitchen. You’ll need a red wine too, though. This could be a fine Bordeaux, a robust Priorat or an aged Rioja. These are all great choices, and you and your guests will not be disappointed. Keeping in mind that it is often the accompaniments that most stand out at Christmas dinner – think of the Cranberry sauce – we recommend experimenting with a Pinot Noir or Beaujolais Cru instead. These are versatile wines, with complementary flavours and beloved of sommeliers worldwide for their versatility. Guests may initially grumble that such a “light” wine is served, but they will soon be pleasantly surprised!
On a budget: Enrique Mendoza Pinot Noir 2013
Something special: Marcel Lapierre Morgon 2015
Something extra special: Dalwhinnie Moonambel Pinot Noir 2004
The sort of dessert that you serve at Christmas is going to vary, for sure, but we can expect flavours that are rich, creamy, sweet and decadent. Such flavours cry out for a sweet wine such as a sweet Sherry or a luscious Sauternes.
On a budget: Alvear Pedro Ximenez 1927
Something special: Château Suduiraut 2004
Something extra special: Château d’Yquem 2006