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Published on October 30, 2018 | by Alastair Gilmour

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The Christmas wine conundrum

With Christmas fast approaching (faster than we’d like) pubs across the region will be finalising their Christmas menus and tailoring wine lists to match. While the traditional Christmas dinner of roast turkey and all the trimmings is still the firm favourite, it’s no longer the only option – so where do we start when picking which wines to drink with the year’s biggest meal?

We turned to Lanchester Wines’ Ian Richardson for tips on what wine goes best with what festive foods:

Christmas dinner is probably the biggest family event of the year for many of us. Indeed, most of us will have more than one Christmas dinner, perhaps with work, friends and then the big day itself with family. Given that more of us than ever are planning to dine out this Christmas Day, the pressure really is on to make this a meal to remember. 

While planning and preparing for Christmas will likely have started months ago for your favourite pubs, we as customers have the final say over which wine we want to pair with our food – and this really can make a difference (think about how orange juice tastes after brushing teeth!!). 

But, where to start? Here’s our top five golden rules for matching wine and food (for any occasion): 

• Match the weight of both the food and wine, so full-bodied wines complement heavy, rich foods while lighter bites require a lighter drink

• Think about food pairings you’re familiar with and translate this to wine. For example, lemon is great with salmon or any fish, so think about matching with citrusy wines such as Sauvignon Blanc

• Salt is not found in wine but does clash with tannic wines (usually big, bold reds), so avoid this pairing 

• However, the more texture a food has (fatty food like goose, chewy like steak) the more tannin the wine should have

• Always remember to serve a wine with greater sweetness than the food as sweetness in wine also acts as a foil to rich foods – dessert wine with cake is a great example

The Christmas Menu

We’ve created a sample Christmas Day menu with our suggestions of wines to match. Our key advice is the most powerful flavours are usually found in the accompaniments, so these also need to be considered when choosing wine

Turkey with all the trimmings (traditional) 

Turkey is not a powerful white meat and has a low fat content – the reason why it can dry out if not cooked carefully. With this in mind, your wine matches should ideally be either a full-bodied white wine, or a medium bodied red, with low to medium tannin and relatively high acidity

• MWC Pinot Noir A medium bodied wine with enticing aromas of intense plum, cherry and strawberry fruit with a hint of spicy oak

• MWC Pinot Gris, this has a complex, textural and slightly savoury flavour with aromas of pears, lychees and exotic spice.

Roast beef with all the trimmings 

This is fast becoming the Christmas alternative for those customers who simply don’t want, or don’t like, turkey. Beef demands red wines to match its flavours, but the type of red wine depends on the cut: low-fat cuts like fillet need low-tannin wines while a rib of beef demands a more tannic wine 

• Moonstruck Shiraz Tempranillo – these big rich flavours which will stand up to the beef but soft and smooth enough to not overpower everything else

• Sunburnt Chardonnay a wine with enough oomph to complement traditional accompaniments such as pigs in blankets and bread sauce

Caramelised onion and lentil Wellington (vegan)

A deceptively grand looking vegetarian pie with a tang of lemon which will make any accompanying wine taste sweeter

• Three Thieves Cabernet Sauvignon (vegan) with deep cherry and berry flavours is rich on the palate, leading the way for a powerful, full finish.

• Vallee Longo Branco is something a little different from Portugal which has a dry, round and smooth palate with well-balanced acidity and an elegant finish.

The wines included within this article are available through Lanchester Wines, ask your local bar staff for more details or visit www.lanchesterwines.co.uk


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Alastair Gilmour



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