When you’re hosting a party or a big gathering for friends and family, you want to get the food and drink just right. And there’s no bigger celebratory meal than Christmas dinner.
How do you pick the perfect wine for your Christmas dinner or festive parties? As usual, we say there are no hard and fast rules, but we do have some top tips to help you make a decision.
Rich Red Wine
The weather outside is frosty, so you need something to warm you up. With medium body and sweetness, it’s an easy drinker. Or why not try some forest fruits, cocoa and vanilla in the Mañoso Reserva, 2014, which we worked with family producer Ruiz de Vinaspre on. Soft and spicy flavours are the order of the day in the Clavis Orea Saint- Emilion Grand Cru, 2018, or try the super trendy wine bottle of Niepoort Drink Me Tinto, Douro, 2019, a rich red wine from the Douro region of Portugal that's bursting with plum and damson flavours. Overall you need flavour, but less heavy tannins, as the Christmas period can be a bit boozy, and red tannins often make the hangover hit hard. Red goes brilliantly with the cheese board, and also can handle the powerful sweetness of a Christmas cake or pudding.
What to drink with turkey
The traditional Christmas dinner is of course turkey with all the trimmings. While white wine is not a prerequisite for white meat, there are some fantastic wines to bring out the flavours. Bourgogne Chardonnay 'Les Charmes', Domaine Thibault Liger-Belair, 2017 is an absolutely brilliant wine packed with apple, pear, peach and chalky flavours, and can handle the flavours of roast potatoes and bread sauce as well as the sweetness of roast parsnips. The oaky Blockhead, 2020 Chenin Blanc is made of grapes that are grown on fifty year old vines, giving a robustness to the palate. Chenin Blanc can also handle fruit, so it even works with some Christmas pud!
What to drink with other meats at Christmas
With rich food such as roast ham the red Motta del Lupo, Paolo Petrilli, 2019 is delicious. Cherries, fruits and wild herbs abound, and it’s perfect for the deep and warming flavours that come with Christmas. Glazed ham’s sweet and saltiness can also handle something with medium sweetness and lots of acidity, so you could even consider a rose like Sassara - Chiaretto Ciaro, 2020. The colour will also look fab on your dining table when surrounded by all the decorations. Or if you prefer beef, you need to think hearty and deep, to handle the depth of the meat. You might want to check out something like Cabernet which is a bit of an all-round crowd pleaser.
For vegetarian and vegan Christmas dinners
Of course not everyone eats meat. We’ve seen some fabulous cranberry, mushroom and lentil bakes, or beetroot and sweet potato wellington for a vegan meal, and of course you can’t go wrong with a classic cheese tart for vegetarians. Parsnip and Wensleydale are a great combination that are a big win around here. There’s no reason you can’t serve the same wines for everyone, but if you want something light enough for vegetarian and vegan Christmas dinners that also packs a punch flavour wise, a classic Pinot Noir like the Spanish Alta Pavina - Citius, 2016 is great.
The perfect wine for canapés
White wine is also perfect for fancy canapés. An ideal partner for all things seafood, the organically farmed New Zealand Te Whare Ra, Anna & Jason Flowerday, 2019 is fresh and light, so ideally placed to accompany some smoked salmon. Tropical, fresh and citrusy, it’s subtle and suits a range of palates. Sauvignon Blanc is usually light enough to lift enough flavours without overpowering them, and for a super great value option we recommend the La Barbe - Mr Barbe, 2019. Cold maceration concentrates the tannins and tastes, and brings out a straw colour that almost sparkles in the Christmas lights.
Toast in celebration
There’s no better time of the year to raise a glass than Christmas. Champagne is obviously the classic, and for a toasty brioche flavour and rich biscuit Champagne Bara Brut Réserve, Champagne Paul Bara, NV is a classy drink. For all day drinking (no judgement here) you want something easy and light, and the refreshing Spanish Babot Cava, NV is perfect for a fancy brunch to kickstart your celebrations. Fresh and dry Prosecco is all the rage these days, and this Sorelle Bronca Modi, Prosecco, NV from Treviso in Italy is a great apéritif.
Port to round things off
At the end of an epic meal you need a good digestif. Why not bring out a nice bottle of port? Rich, deep and complex, it’s ideal with cheese, biscuits, nuts and fruit cake. Full of dark fruits and warm spices with a sweet, luscious finish, the Niepoort 10 Year Old Tawny is perfect to round off the festivities.
People get super stressed about making sure that their wine and food match perfectly. But Christmas, or indeed any celebration, should be about enjoyment. The best wine for any party is one that everyone can appreciate, whether they are a casual fan or real aficionado. As long as the wine is tasty and the conversation flowing, the perfect party will be yours. Raise a glass and enjoy!