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Festive Wines for Festive Meals

By Julia Jenkins, 10th December 2021

Which wines to drink with festive meals should always be based on the style of wine you like and of course your budget. Bearing this in mind there is a general rule of thumb when it comes to matching wines with food: match the dominant flavours of the food with complimentary ones in wine to drink with it.

Festive fizz is a great place to start with as an aperitif or throughout a meal if you want to! Champagne may be top of the list though there are alternatives many of which are of great quality having been made by the same method and the same grapes – Chardonnay & Pinot Noir. Why not try the delicious Jansz from Tasmania or Cremants from France or English sparkling wines that are winning awards such as those from Langham Estate in Dorset.

Turkey is still the favourite for Christmas lunch served with a mélange of flavours from cranberry sauce, bread sauce, roasted vegetables and stuffing. Try a wine from the Rhone Valley or Rioja where the tannins are less obvious with age and time in oak or a vibrant fruity red wine such as Barbera from Italy. This grape ages well and tastes of vibrant red currants, black cherries and a touch of spice. They are also delicious with beef. Alternatives include Spanish wines made from the Mencia grape produced in Bierzo or modern Pinotage from South Africa. Vegetarian/vegan dishes with full robust spicy flavours are a great match for these wines too.

For white wines Chablis, lightly oaked is ideal with fragrant aromas and ripe rounded fruit with a hint of honey. Other Chardonnays that are minerally and textured from careful oak aging would be great with a great festive meal too like those from Chile or an aromatic stylish Torrontes from Argentina. Chenin Blanc with lightly oaky flavours from South Africa or a rounded fruity Vouvray from the Loire would make a great alternative too. These are also great with vegetarian dishes like mushroom risotto and creamy pasta sauces. Tomato based dishes need a vibrant fruity wine and here a Chilean Pinot Noir with fresh fruit, ripe tannins and light pepper & spice would be a great choice.

Some often forgotten wines, such as those from Alsace, are ideal with the many and varied festive meal flavours such as a rounded Pinot Gris with floral and spice aromas and flavours. Another forgotten region is the Beaujolais where the Gamay grape makes vibrant fruity wines like Fleurie or deeper styles such as Moulin a Vent and velvety Chiroubles.

Most of these will also be great with goose or duck though a riper style of wine like a New Zealand Pinot Noir or a Grenache / Syrah blend from the Rhone can be an easy match. If your favourite festive meat is beef try some classic wines from Bordeaux with a dark blackcurrant, berries and tannic structure or experiment with a wine from the Languedoc such as those from the Terrasses de Larzac or Corbieres would make a delicious match.

Dessert wines are great with puddings & cheeses because of their innate rich unctuous character that is soft and silky and easy on the palate at the end of a meal such as an Aussie Viognier, Hungarian Tokaji   or a classic Sauternes. Though if you are having a chocolate pudding try a red dessert wine from the Rhone, Banyuls or a Pineau des Charentes to match the lovely texture of the pudding. The final piece in the meal’s planning is Port or even Madeira to savour at the end perhaps with cheese……………

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