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.
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