If you want wines to please everybody, that will also match just about any Christmas Day food or snack then you’ll need to get in at least three bottles of wine – a light red, a fruity white and a flavourful red that can double as an after-dinner port.
Trying to find wines that will suit all palates (from the wine connoiseur to the occasional drinker) is tricky enough without adding to fact that that they must also match a wide range of foods – from salmon starters, to roast meat mains, sticky puddings and the salted snacks munched during The Queen’s speech. So where to start?
Light and fruity reds, like French Beaujolais or Claret, rather than hefty reds like aged Spanish Rioja or Cabernet Sauvignon, are your best bet. Lighter reds not only match white meats as well as more hearty roast beef joints, but they also have the additional advantage of having just enough flavour to be enjoyable without offending anybody.
If that makes them sound boring and tasteless then think again – wines like Tesco Claret (£4.15) or the Chilean version of Beaujolais, Pais (Majestic £8.99), have enough earthy cherry flavours mixed in with the more usual plum and strawberry to give even a slightly well-roasted bird a run for its money.
But some people just don’t like red wine. So this is where an additional bottle or two of well-known white grape variety wines are useful (Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc) plus something with a more traditional Germanic tang for the occasional drinker (Riesling, or the now fashionable Picpoul de Pinet which is light enough to act as an aperitif).
Of course you may have someone in your party that only drinks hearty reds – to please them why not get in a hearty Spanish or Italian red – these can then also double as an after-dinner substitute to Port and have the added bonus of being a talking point with the wine connoiseur who always seems to be around somewhere…
Top Ten Wines for Christmas Day
Tesco Claret 2015
Not sweet as many cheaper Clarets can be – plus it’s a named vintage too.
Trapiche Malkina Argentinean Malbec 2015
£5.99 Co-op (down from £6.99 until January 3)
Malbec isn’t what you’d normally think of as a light red, but this version from the Co-op tastes of smooth plum and strawberry with a hint of tobacco and rosemary. A very interesting wine that changes within minutes of opening.
Baciato dal Sole Italian Primitivo 2014
£8.99 Virgin Wines
A lighter style of red with flavours of blackberry and damson plus sharper notes of coffee. Match to lighter meats and tomato dishes.
Morandé One to One Chilean Pais 2015
The Chilean version of Beaujolais.
Truly Irresistible Explorers Sauvignon Blanc 2015, New Zealand
Co-op own-label wine with smooth melon and gooseberry flavours. A really nice wine.
Ormarine French Picpoul de Pinet 2015
A light and crisp white with flavours of apple. Good as an aperitif.
Coorong Sounds Australian Reserve Chardonnay 2016
£8.99 Virgin Wines
Fresh fruity flavours of pineapple, pear and apple with a slight creaminess.
Domaine Ferandiere French Riesling 2015
Peach, lemon and honey flavours. Could be used as a dessert wine.
Convey Spanish Priorat 2013
A full-flavoured red that is great matched with mince pies or hearty meat dishes.
Masi Campofiorin 2012, Italy
£12.99 Majestic, Waitrose
The massively heavy bottle and solid cork provide the drama while the wine inside provides the intense flavours you’d expect from a port at three times the price. Made with semi-dried grapes, this wine is very similar to another Italian wine called Amarone – and both have the potential to be aged in your cellar (do you have one?) for 15-20 years. But open now for the mix of cocoa, raspberry and raisin flavours. Fab stuff.
Tweet me a wine question @huxelrebe
© Paula Goddard 2016 www.paulagoddard.com