When it comes to food and Christmas, we can struggle to find the perfect wine pairing. Balancing the abundance of different tastes, textures and flavours with the characteristics of a wine is understandably overwhelming – especially with the wide variety on the market.
So to help with this, we spoke to Lukasz Kolodziejczyk, head of fine wine at Cult Wines who provides his suggestions for the right wine pairings to complement your dining experience this yuletide.
The Christmas dinner classic- turkey. This poultry meat is medium weight, modestly flavoured and low in fat. However, we do need to consider the rich sauces and sides that accompany our turkey dinner. Due to this, opting for a Sauvignon Blanc will bring out the herby tones in the turkey whilst complimenting the classic Christmas dinner sides. If you prefer a red wine, consider Beaujolais or Tempranillo wines.
Duck and goose
If you choose to opt for a fattier poultry like duck or goose, it demands a more acidic and tannic wine. To complement the savory taste, fruity flavours pair well with the innate gaminess of the meat. If you are choosing a white wine, it should be acidic and medium sweet like a Riesling or Pinot Gris. A Burgundy or a Right Bank Claret will also work nicely.
Generally speaking, white wine should not be paired with red meat, as it cannot stand up against the big and bold flavours of it. Instead, choose red wines that will complement the beef such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Barolo. If you’re adamant to pair a white with red meat, go for a full throttle white Burgundy.
Ham is an extra savory meat with a sweet-and-salty richness to it. Therefore, it is recommended that you pair ham (even the honeyed variety) with a sweet white like an Alsatian Riesling. Wines like this tend to bring a bit more body to the table than its German counterparts, however if you are prefer a red wine, try a lighter offering such as a Beaujolais or Pinot Noir.
Fish and seafood
Unsurprisingly, white wines pair perfectly with fish and seafood. Of course, deciding exactly which one will depend on the dish in question. Fish varieties with more flesh like turbot or salmon calls for solid but elegant wines, such as a Chablish or white Burgundy, whereas the saltiness of a seafood cocktail would pair quite nicely with a Riesling. Typically, reds do not go best with fish and seafood, but they are not entirely off limit. As long as there are no buttery accompaniments, salmon can be served with a light Pinot Noir.
Be sure that vegetarian and vegans aren’t simply lumped with the carnivore’s choice of wine. Nut roasts are a nice meat alternative for vegetarians and pair nicely with fruity reds such as a Chilean Merlot. For vegans, opt for a dish with a mushroom focus and pair it with a well-met mature red Burgundy.
Cheese and pudding
Often we are too concerned with thinking about the wine for the main event that we forget to consider the right wine for the final course. Port is a classic when it comes to cheese, but it is when pudding is involved that things get more complicated. Prosecco is the best pairing for Panettone, Riesling with Stollen and Muscat with Christmas pudding. If you have a luscious cake with mocha flavours, opt for a concentrated red wine such as a Cabernet sauvignon. Alternatively, you can just put the whole business of wine pairings to one side and open a bottle of Champagne – you’ll never go wrong with that.