Top pairings | What's the best wine to drink with Christmas pudding?

Top pairings

What's the best wine to drink with Christmas pudding?

There is an argument that you don't need anything to drink with the classic Christmas pudding*, especially if you've sloshed brandy all over it but if you're pairing other courses of the Christmas meal you might fancy a small glass of something sweet.

Which type depends on your pudding. Some are much darker and stickier than others. Basically you’ve got a choice of serving something equally intense or going for a lighter, fresher contrast.

Both options have some potential drawbacks. If you serve a rich sweet wine like a liqueur muscat or a sweet sherry you can make an already rich pudding overwhelmingly rich. On the other hand a lighter dessert wine such as a Sauternes or a sparkling wine like Moscato, can get lost amidst all the rich spicy fruit.

In my view the type of wine that works best is a dessert wine with a touch of orange or apricot. Inexpensive options would be a Spanish Moscatel de Valencia (one of the best value dessert wines around), a Muscat de St Jean de Minervois from Southern France or an orange muscat such as Andrew Quady’s Essencia.

Better still but slightly pricier and harder-to-find would be a Passito di Pantelleria, a glorious marmaladey dessert wine from an island just off Sicily or a Hungarian Tokaji (the latter is also a particularly good match for Stilton and other blue cheeses).

All these will work better if you serve your pudding with whipped cream rather than brandy butter which has a strong alcoholic flavour of its own.

If you can't resist the brandy butter try a 10 or 20 year old tawny port which is slightly less sweet than a ruby port like a Late Bottled Vintage and I think the nutty, treacley flavours work better than brambley ones. Serve it as they do in Portugal, lightly chilled.

If you’re a beer fan you could also put a bottle of barley wine (an extra-strong ale) on the table. A classic example is J W Lees Harvest Ale. Or serve your pud with a small well-chilled glass of Grand Marnier or other orange-flavoured liqueur.

*For those of you unfamiliar with a British Christmas pudding it's a steamed pudding full of dried fruits like raisins, currants and figs, often with some citrus peel added.

© evgenyb -

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Comments: 5 (Add)

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Willem van Helden on December 24 2016 at 09:12

Wouldn't Madeira suit puddings like these? Like a fine Malmsey? They always keep their acidity, while being sweet an rich.

Stefano on December 25 2014 at 23:12

I can suggest Passito Pantelleria Ben Rye by Donnafugata ... wonderful!!!!

Theresa on December 14 2014 at 12:04

Hi Fiona!:)
I could really use your suggestion here
I'm gonna buy a bottle of 10/20 year tawny port to my dear frd and I have no idea whether to serve with the traditional christmas pudding's(with sherry, sparkling in it) better or a intensly fruity christmas pudding(with brandy, port in it), do I also need to get brandy butter? Pls give me some advise. Thx a lot!!!

Fiona Beckett on December 4 2012 at 09:30

That's another great idea. Delicious wine!

Lynne @josordoni on December 4 2012 at 09:18

We will be having my beloved Maculan Dindarello . Assuming I don't drink all of it between now and then...

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