You know those Tom & Jerry cartoons when Tom has an angel on one shoulder whispering something in one ear and a demon on the other telling him the opposite? That’s how I used to feel about wine and Christmas. Yes, I know it’s the season of peace on earth and good will to all men and all that, but it pained me to see my mother-in-law swigging £60 Barolo like it was lemonade. In fact, I think I remember seeing her add lemonade to it once…
Nowadays, I save my really nice bottles for when there are far fewer bums on seats round the table. For Christmas dinner and other festive occasions, I’ll get in some decent wines that have plenty to say for themselves, but which won’t break the bank. And if I see lemonade being added, it won’t break my heart.
Speaking of fizzy stuff, one of my favourite Cavas of the moment is the Taste the Difference Vintage Cava (£9.99 Sainsbury’s – they have both the crisper 2011 and the more mellow 2010 on shelves at the moment). It’s crisp and lively, rich but zesty, and packed with pear and citrus flavours. I can’t think of too many occasions that wouldn’t be better for a glass or two, whether there’s food involved or not. And it makes a great base for Buck’s Fizz – providing you use some high-grade Orange Juice.
To lubricate Christmas dinner, there’s usually some red wine on our table but personally I tend to stick to white wine. Why? Well, how many different flavours are there on your plate? Savoury turkey, bitter sprouts, smoky bacon wrapped round fatty sausages, tangy cranberry sauce, sweet and savoury chestnut stuffing… Wines from Alsace in northeast France seem to cope with these pretty well, thanks to their gutsy fruit, their bite of acidity to cope with the fatty food and their hints of spice (and often sweetness) to round out the herbiness. The Kuhlmann-Platz Pinot Gris Cuvée Prestige 2012 (£9.99 Majestic, or £8.49 if you buy two) is a cracker, combining flesh and freshness, and with its exotic tropical flavours pepped up by a touch of honey.
For a red, I’ve plumped for the See Saw S&M 2011 from Australia (£9.49 Waitrose). The ‘S’ bit stands for Shiraz from the Hunter Valley. Hunter Shiraz has a more relaxed a friendly nature than some of the South Australian blockbusters, rich in dark berry flavours, but with a soft savoury core. The ‘M’ is for Mourvèdre. It’s only a small part of the blend, but it adds some spicy floral notes, and a touch of smokiness. The result is a wine that wouldn’t be out of place on the big day, but would also be good with Boxing Day leftovers, roast beef, herby baked mushrooms and hard cheeses. But please, please, don’t use it for mulled wine!
(this is a post done in conjunction with the Voucher Codes website)