When it comes to picking wine for the Christmas meal, many people either select their favourite or one that looks good based on a general idea; white wine for white meal, red wine for red meat. But ask any wine connoisseur and there is much more to it. So if you want to wow your guests with your perfect wine picks for the Christmas Day Meal, here are a few top tips.
Turkey is a relatively easy meat to pair up with wine so the attention really goes on whatever the turkey is being served with. For example, herb stuffing, rich sauces and savoury side dishes all alter the flavour of the meal. A good all-purpose white is a Sauvignon Blanc as it works well with all of the most popular accompaniments. Viognier and Rieslings will also work well. For the reds, pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Shiraz or a Beaujolais Nouveau will do the job nicely.
Like turkey, beef is relatively simple to match up with wine – head for a good red. However the method of cooking can have further influence upon the choice, as does any sauce or gravy being served with it. For example, if the gravy has wine or similar flavours to it, then a Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon is a good choice while a classic Bordeaux or Rioja works excellently with a gravy. If you plan to make fresh horseradish sauce to accompany the meal, then consider switching to a Douro red or a Malbec as the flavour will affect the wine.
While not the traditional choice of meats on Christmas Day, baked, smoked or honeyed hams are beginning to get a following. When it comes to picking the right wine to go with them, the advice is to side with something a little sweet. German Riesling is a perfect match due to its food-friendly acid levels and being lower in alcohol. Alsatian Rieslings are fuller in body, with less sugar and richer in flavour but will still do a good job with ham, or any other pork related meat.
For the red wine fans, lighter body wines are the best advice; Beaujolais, Pinot Noir (from Burgundy or Russian River Valley in California are good examples) or a nice Spanish Tempranillo.
The key element in picking a wine to go with duck is the fattiness that is a given with the meat. French wines have long been paired with duck such as Burgundy, Bordeaux and the reds from the Rhone Valley, all working well with roasted, braised on smoked duck. For duck served with fruit based sauces, then white is a better bet with wines such as Sauternes, Gewurztraminer and Rieslings being a great match.
No matter whether you go with your favourites or try to follow advice to the ‘correct’ pairing of wine and food, there are also a number of excellent local wine producers in the county to consider a visit to. Sharpham Vineyard in Totnes is one of the foremost wine producers in England and offer a self-guided tour that sounds too tasty to miss. For fans of sparkling wines, check out Eastcott Vineyard and Winery in Okehampton who specialise in English Sparkling Wines and also offer a tour of the site.