Pairings | Sweet & fortified wine
What to eat with your favourite wines this Christmas
Although we wine writers like to think we might be able to encourage you to be more adventurous in your wine choices this Christmas the truth is you’re probably going to stick to the wines you're familiar with.
But how to get the most out of them?
Of course there’s nothing stopping you drinking Saint-Emilion with the smoked salmon or Sauvignon Blanc with the turkey if you fancy it but your friends and family might be more impressed if you went for a less random pairing.
Here’s what I’d match with some traditional and current Christmas favourites:
Often touted as a favourite Christmas buy but unless it’s an older vintage or a grand cru it’s going to be better with seafood than turkey. Perfect with shellfish like oysters and prawns, poached salmon or a good fish pie. For other suggestions see here
Meursault on the other hand has the weight to handle the turkey and trimmings provided you don’t make your gravy too dark and sticky. Would be lovely with seared scallops or lobster too.
Good party drinking - mostly everyone likes it - and a surprisingly good pairing with smoked salmon. Also a great match with goats cheese if you’re thinking dips or canapés. See here for other ideas .
Another good party option. Lighter than the whites above so might struggle with the turkey. Good when it gets to the 27th and you feel like lighter, fresher food like a tomato, mozzarella and avocado salad or a seafood pasta. Or simply a glass of something cold and refreshing. (Popular Picpoul de Pinet will do a similar job) Check out my other favourite pairings here
Better with roast beef or lamb than turkey IMHO but don’t let that stop you. It certainly has the weight to carry the stuffing and sides. Also good to have inexpensive rioja around to go with hearty stews (especially spicy ones with chorizo) or a big family-sized shepherd’s pie. And it’s a great all-rounder with a cheeseboard. Find other rioja pairings here.
Everyone’s current favourite it seems and yes, you could drink it with The Bird. Why not, although steak or steak and mushroom pie would be better. You’ll find other Malbec pairings here.
Nuits Saint Georges
My initial reaction is don’t - it’s rarely worth the money and even if you have a good one it’ll struggle with the turkey. But red burgundy IS good with other birds like duck, pheasant and partridge so if you’re having Christmas à deux it could be the perfect bottle. Or a cold game pie. Don’t subject it to the Stilton, though.
Modern Saint Emilion is so full-bodied it can easily stand up to the turkey. Ideal for a rib of beef too. (And have you tried it with macaroni cheese/mac and cheese? You should!)
With its handsome packaging, surely the quintessential Christmas wine - perfect with the turkey, roast pork - or even wild boar should you come across one. (But a good Côtes du Rhône like a Vacqueyras will do the same job at a cheaper price.)
Probably everyone’s party favourite but because it’s generally sweeter than other sparkling wines. also very good with light cakes and biscuits. Try it with panettone
Most likely on your shopping list for a festive toast but you can drink it with more than canapés. If it’s a vintage or full-bodied style it would even work with the turkey and would be lovely if you’re having lobster. Less good, it might surprise you, with smoked salmon, oysters and (mock) caviar unless it’s a no- or low-dosage (very dry) style. Brilliant with anything fried - including fish & chips!
The sweet wine that everyone’s familiar with but it’s not ideal with Christmas pudding or a chocolate bûche de Noël (Christmas log). Better with light fruit puddings or a rhubarb trifle. The French would drink it with foie gras and Roquefort over Christmas.
Underrated and just brilliant with traditional Christmas food such as mince pies, Christmas cake and even stollen. And surprisingly good with the Stilton. See here for more sweet sherry pairings.
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