Christmas Wine Pairings

Christmas Wine Pairings

Elevate Your Christmas with Perfect Wine Pairings

Sharing my favourites, secrets, and best tips for the perfect union between festive Christmas foods and exceptional wines.

In our home, we mark not one but two Christmases, blending Swedish traditions on the 24th of December with a dash of English heritage on the 25th.
This special time of year brings together diverse culinary styles, and when looking at all the lovely ingredients I often wonder as a wine enthusiast, what on earth it would be best to serve.

The Swedish challenge
Food for Swedish Christmas includes things like pickled herring, boiled eggs with anchovies, ham, meatballs, sausages and a very special potato dish with anchovies too. When I look at this collection of lovely ingredients I often wonder as a wine enthusiast, what on earth it would be best to serve.
In Sweden of course there are some very fine beers as well as spirits called ‘Snapps’ and those tend to be served because they happily compliment the traditional foods. Finding matching wines is more of a challenge and without getting into huge detail, things that are pickled, eggs and anchovies are not a recipe for success when it comes to most wines. Interestingly with quite a few years of practise under my belt, I have narrowed down the solution to wines from Alsace. These can include Pinot Blanc, Riesling and of course Gewurtztraminer. The reason this works is that those grape varieties are incredibly resilient to a broad range of food flavours which would send most wines into orbit.
British Christmas Day

While British Christmas food is much easier to contemplate on the wine front, there are still some important tips.

Champagne and Smoked Salmon
This is the perfect pair. This year I am reducing my carbon footprint by serving Nyetimber Classic Cuvee, MV, Product of England

Traditional Starters
For starters, white Burgundy is my favourite. Finding one which does not break the bank is increasingly problematical and I am completely in love with Kumeu River from New Zealand - extraordinary value for money and very classy.
I also did recently com across a really drinkable Montagny, Les Coeres 2022 Domaine Berthenet

Main Event - Turkey or Beef?
Once on to the main event there is the debate as to whether Turkey or beef is served. Turkey is the most traditional and it genuinely deserves pinot noir. Inexpensive red Burgundy is an oxymoron but we do stock a few of them and I also do like the freshness of some New Zealand Pinots which do not break the bank. The other simple solution to Turkey is a good Chianti Classico. There we are in very good shape with the wines we import from a small boutique producer called La Casa di Bricciano. Outstanding quality and genuinely good value for money.
We have for many years opted for a huge rib of beef - it works on the day, and I also prefer cold beef to cold turkey… Beef as a rich, dark red meat, pairs well with Cabernet Sauvignon for me preferably from Bordeaux but I do not mind admitting that a South African Stellenbosch has sneaked in on a few occasions...
The veggie way
‘The Marriage of Food & Wine’ is a sort of way of life but it does not mean certain foods are vetoed. For example, sprouts, red cabbage, parsnips, and other root vegetables are wonderful companions to meat and potatoes but have warning signs all over them when it comes to red wine. The secret is to avoid reds being challenged by natural vegetable sugars. Since the plate would look decidedly sparse without them, the secret is not to drink your wine directly after the vegetable but to contemplate a piece of meat or potato before each sip… Might not be a practical suggestion but the words of caution are: if you pick up your glass of red wine and it tastes filthy, try eating just potato or meat, before handing the glass to a grateful neighbour.

Christmas Pudding
Assuming you've successfully navigated your wine pairings until pudding arrives, I can assure you that the deserts’ ability to challenge red wines makes vegetables look tame. This is the moment for a soothing glass of Port or Madeira (see our port blog). I am a huge fan of Tawny port and our Warre’s Otima, 10 year old Tawny is a heavenly example. Graham’s 2017 Late Bottled Vintage Port, in half bottles, is a very sneaky and pleasant addition to the table but I would also wholeheartedly recommend, Blandy’s 10-year-old Malmsey Madeira.

All ingredients mentioned will lend themselves to allowing for an afternoon snooze in front of the fire while contemplating new year resolutions which can so often include the terms moderation or even abstention….