Sip with supper: Guest columnists Jackie and Bianca share their favourite party wines
It's always great to have a fresh voice on the site and few are better qualified than Jackie Dyer and Bianca Ford to talk about matching food and wine. Having both worked in the wine trade they've decided to put their expertise to good use in a joint venture called Sip with Supper (@sipwithsupper on Twitter) which will be hosting events and making videos about food and wine pairing.
I managed to persuade them to fit in this guest post on the sort of wines they like to serve at Christmas parties. Here are their top tips:
"Less than two weeks to go until the holiday season starts properly but the partying is already underway. We've been turning our thoughts to the wine-matching options for those festive, canapé-laden gatherings where reasonably priced crowd-pleasers will be the order of the day.
Bianca will be back home in Holland for Christmas and Jackie's heading over to France for the New Year celebrations, so we need some very versatile wines with backbone to match a diverse, international range of appetizers.
For our perfect party fizz, we're looking for a well-priced alternative to Champagne and a change from Prosecco, but something with an easy-drinking style. This year, we've been enjoying regional Crémants from Limoux, the Loire and Burgundy.
On a recent trip to Crémant de Bourgogne country, we asked the knowledgeable team at La Maison des Vins de la Côte Chalonnaise for their advice on a fizz for Christmas parties. Their recommendation was a Crémant from white grapes only, a Blanc de Blancs, for preference, but any of the regional fizzes mentioned would handle a good spread of food types with smoked fish, cheese-based amuse-bouches like gougères, and the Burgundian favourite for New Year’s Eve – oysters – being perhaps the best accompaniments.
For still whites we're going for some crisp refreshers from Northern Spain that will be distinctive and not out of place with a mixture of flavours - look for Godello, Verdejo or the lesser-known Treixadura on the label. (Treixadura, or Trajadura as it’s called in Portugal is a grape grown in the Rias Biaxas and Ribiero regions of Galicia which is where Albarino comes from.)
Any of these Spanish whites will go great guns with seafood and olive-based nibbles but will cut through heavier, spicier flavours too. And so would a minerally Pecorino wine from central Italy, usually easy to spot on the shelves because of the logo portraying the local sheep, pecorina in Italian, that as legend has it would eat the grapes as they grazed nearby.
Finally for reds our bet is to go for something fruity and light to medium bodied that can be drunk on its own or alongside a whole host of finger food. Some of our favourite options are red Saumur, Chilean Pinot Noir, or a Sicilian Frappato, the latter perhaps blended with another local grape, Nero d'Avola. Whether your cocktail sausages are on sticks or in pastry, these wines will not let you down!
In Holland, festive gatherings will often feature bitterballen (deep-fried and crumbed balls filled with a creamy meat ragu), devilled eggs and platters of cheese or charcuterie. These too will be happy partners for our red selections.
We're getting in stocks of some of these wines for partying this Christmas while hoping that there will be a few odd bottles left over for the New Year. We’ve given a few recommendations below. In the meantime, may we wish you all the best for a successful season of festive food and wine matching!
Normally £13.99 but on offer at £10.99 until 04/01/15
MAJESTIC Montenovo Godello 2013, Valdesil, Valdeorras
£12.49 or £9.36 when you buy two bottles as part of the current Mix and Match offer
TESCO Tesco Finest Frappato 2013
Currently 25% off at £5.99 a bottle
RED SQUIRREL WINES Orsogna Autoctoni Pecorino 2013
£9.99 with 10% off if you buy six bottles or 15% if you buy twelve
For Bianca's bitterballen recipe see here.
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