Love wine but don’t know your Riesling from your Sauternes? We asked award-winning wine expert Jane Parkinson to help us out.
Here, she sorts out your Christmas food and wine pairings for you. You never need look foolish at a festive dinner party again.
Canapés: Sauvignon Blanc
Not only is Sauvignon Blanc a grape that makes crowd-pleaser dry whites, but it’s actually really versatile with food. It can work with fish, white meat, salty food, tomatoes and is the perfect match with common canapé ingredients like goat’s cheese and feta. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are the subtle versions of Sauv Blanc, South African ones are a little richer and New Zealand or Chile are the most full-on.
Alternative: Dry rosé. Like with Sauvignon Blanc, dry rosé is very easy to match with different dishes, and even meat when there’s only a mouthful of it in a canapé.
Smoked salmon: Chardonnay
Smoked salmon loves a Chardonnay so you can go ultra-classic with this and choose a Chablis, or go sparkling with a Blanc de Blancs Champagne, which is made entirely from Chardonnay. A bit more off-piste, but still a delicious choice would be one from New Zealand, which makes seriously good dry white Chardonnays these days.
Alternative: English fizz. England has never made so many delicious high-quality sparkling wines and they’re delicious with seafood.
Christmas turkey: Pinot Noir
Even though turkey is mostly white meat, the best option with Christmas turkey is actually a lighter red wine. With all the other rich flavours on the plate – gravy, pigs in blankets, stuffing with pungent herbs, sausage meat, brussel sprouts with bacon and chestnuts – red wine is the answer, so pick up a bottle of Pinot Noir, put it in the fridge and bring it out of the bridge 30 mins before you sit down at the table because this is will enhance its freshness in the glass.
Alternative: Etna Rosso. This is a little bit harder to find, but usually worth it when you do. It’s a delicious aromatic red made on the slopes of Mount Etna from local grapes like Nerello Mascalese.
Goose and apple: Dry Riesling
Goose is known for being quite a fatty meat so a white wine famous for its acidity is the best option to cut through the rich meat. That means Riesling. And probably German Riesling at that, which can be some of the most exquisite wine wines in the world and whose fruity character is great with cooked apples too.
Alternative: Barolo. Without the apple on the goose, the earthy Italian red wine Barolo always has a natural affinity with the earthy flavour of a goose.
Blue cheese: Sauternes
Despite what people think, the pungent flavour of Stilton and Roquefort can actually stop a red wine dead in its tracks. The seamless match is actually a sticky sweet white wine like the one from Bordeaux called Sauternes. Its tangy marmalade and honey flavours are the perfect foil for the richness of the cheese.
Alternative: A dessert wine made with the grapes Sauvignon Blanc and/or Semillon from the southern hemisphere.
Mince pies, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding: Rutherglen Muscat
this is a melt-in-the-mouth Australian dessert wine, made with Muscat grapes. It’s a winning combination with mincemeat and dried fruit puddings because it tastes of dried fruits itself, but it also has luscious flavours of caramel, toffee and honey. It’s a gorgeous way to end a meal.
Alternative: Mulled wine. It’s a classic choice but it also really works, because the spices in the wine pair perfectly with the spices in the mincemeat and cake.