You may well know what you’re going to drink with the turkey by now but here are some ideas for what to match with your Christmas starters, paired with recipes from some of Britain’s favourite chefs and cookery writers.
Roasted pumpkin and thyme soup with gruyère
Butternut squash is generally a good match for oak-aged Chardonnay and this delectable soup from Rick Stein should be no exception. With the added cream and gruyère I’d make it a more classic European style Chardonnay rather than an exuberantly fruity one.
A salad of pear, stilton and pomegranate
This delicious-sounding recipe from Nigel Slater is exactly the sort of fresh-tasting starter I feel like over the Christmas period. Despite the blue cheese I wouldn’t be going for a sweet wine. A glass of rosé Champagne or sparkling wine would be lovely and pick up on the pomegranate.
Hazelnut butter-grilled scallops with salad
Scallops have a sweet, nutty flavour of their own so I love James Martin’s idea of accentuating that with hazelnut butter, a combination that would be fabulous with an two to four year old Chassagne-Montrachet or other good white burgundy or subtly oaked Chardonnay.
Rabbit and rosemary terrine with chutney
If I have time this Christmas I’ll definitely make this delicious-sounding terrine from French charcutier Stephane Reynaud though I’ll probably serve a bought in - and slightly more wine-friendly - chutney. The suggested pairing is Gewürztraminer but I love good Beaujolais with charcuterie like this. A Morgon would be perfect.
Crab, avocado and grapefruit cocktail
A fresh tasting starter from Gary Rhodes that would be a great way to kick off the Christmas meal. The combination of fruit and seafood can be a tricky one for wine. My solution - always good with crab - would be a dry or off-dry German Riesling.
Chestnut and sweet onion soup with trompette mushrooms
There are some powerful ingredients in this rich soup which comes from Anthony Demetre’s new book, Today’s Special - garlic, rosemary, chestnuts and trompette mushrooms but the key so far as the pairing is concerned is the substantial amount of Madeira that’s been added which would overwhelm any accompanying white wine. I’d drink a dry Madeira or (slightly easier to obtain) a nutty sherry like a palo cortado with it too.
Chèvre and quince paste crostini
You could pair goats’ cheese’s classic partner Sauvignon Blanc with this unusual starter from chef James Martin but given the quince paste I think I’d go for a less aromatic white such as an Albariño or an Italian Vermentino.
Beef Carpaccio salad
Sometimes you really fancy a change from the usual Christmas repertoire and Arthur Potts Dawson, chef at Acorn, has the perfect solution - a fresh-tasting carpaccio of beef salad. Raw beef is surprisingly good with Champagne or similar sparkling wines so that would be my preferred pairing.
A French classic for Christmas and the réveillon (New Year) feast. You can’t go wrong with a young Chablis though Muscadet and Picpoul de Pinet would be thrifty credit crunch alternatives.
A slightly less successful match with Champagne than people think, particularly if the smoke is strong. Try a crisp dry German Riesling or an Australian Verdelho for a change.