Wines for Christmas
By former Sommelier, Xavier D. Buendia, September 2016
The most memorable thing about Christmas dinners is the food of course. But like in all great plays, secondary characters can make or break it. Such is the case of wine at these dinners. Maybe something overlooked and left aside to the last minute when planning the festive season.
In this article we’ll give you some tips on what to consider and look for when choosing your wines for Christmas either at home or at a restaurant.
What goes with what
Everybody knows the thumb rule of wines: “Red wines for red meats and game, white wines for fish and white meats” when in reality red wines are heavier in body, therefore they go well with rich dishes full of spice or with heavy gravy. White wines will go well with lighter options and gently dressed dishes. Don’t forget about rose wine, this can enhance the fruit of certain dishes.
For the reds…
Red varieties like Merlot, Malbec or even young Tempranillo tend to be a touch lighter which makes them a perfect choice for an evening of nibbles, snacks and conversation. When the evening has a complex and full flavoured set of dishes, then more robust wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Grenache are a better choice. This is not a rule but a piece of advice, at the end it’s all down to your taste.
Want to take a gift?
If you wish to take a bottle of wine as a present to your host but they are not that much into wine, then you have two safe options: Take a bottle of Champagne, or English Sparkling which will always be welcomed or Take a bottle of Pinot Noir, a light, fruity and easy to drink grape variety which makes it a perfect introduction for those new to wine.
If in doubt, ask for advice
Nowadays, the wine offer is extensive with new styles, blends and types being introduced quite regularly by wine merchants. If you’re not sure what to take to a Christmas party, your safest option will be to go to your favourite wine shop and ask for advice on what to buy.
Fancy something light and fruity
Young or Non Vintage wines are not worse than aged, Reservas or Vintage wines.
Simply, they’re just different and you’ll be surprised how much people will actually enjoy them as they tend to be lighter in body, fresher in flavours and fruity in aromas.
You won’t necessarily enjoy an aged wine. And the same applies to a non aged wine.
It is all down to personal tastes and preferences.
Think about the flavours of the Christmas dinner and make your choice accordingly. Perhaps it will be better to choose a younger wine but of better quality.
Offer a local wine
If your host is from a foreign country, why not having the detail of giving him something from its home country? Maybe they won’t open it straight away but they might serve it during the aperitif, during dinner or as an after dinner drink. Maybe they’ll save it for a special occasion and you might even get invited. Whatever they do with it is their choice but that will be a nice touch from you.
Menu in mind
Remember, ask for advice if you’re not sure of what to take to a Christmas dinner and most importantly, choose wisely. Have the menu in mind when choosing a wine and think of your personal taste. Combine all these and you’ll surely find the right wine for a memorable evening.