I love all the planning for Christmas (I am one of those weird creatures who loves to plan) and the food and wines are my domain. I have lots of fun thinking of options, selecting the best ones. But lots of pressure, will I get it right this year?
Being Christmas I don’t have complete freedom of choice since we have lots of family traditions which I must keep to or face either family puzzlement (why did you change this?) to condemnation (why did you change this!).
Fortunately most of our traditions are around food, starting with a traditional Norwegian Christmas Eve with slow roasted pork, red cabbage and roast vegetables right through to a massive party on Boxing Day to eat up all the leftover food, think refried vegetables, reheated stuffing, cold turkey, ham and pork, lashings of cranberry sauce and mayonnaise accompaniment. So my freedom comes in selecting the wines for the festive season and this is where I can have real fun.
But, with the wine training I have undertaken over the last two years, family expectations are high (and getting higher each year). Nothing short of expert selections will do. No pressure then!
How2 Top Tip!
Have a story for the wines you select. Even if people don’t like them they will love the story.
What have I picked? and why?
My starting point has been that most of the meals will be rich with intense flavours. Therefore in selecting my wines I have looked for wines which are also rich and intense to match the food. That way the wines won’t get “lost”.
I have gone for two wonderfully intense reds, Californian (old vine) Zinfandel to have with our Christmas Eve meal of roast pork and then Italian Amarone della Valpolicella for Christmas Day’s roast turkey.
Our Boxing day eat-all-the-leftovers party will involve drinking whatever is left of the Zinfandel and Amarone.
In case there isn’t any left! I have a wild-card wine to try.
It’s English, from a Suffolk vineyard called Gifford Hall, their “winter” red called St Edmundsbury.
This is high risk as I haven’t even tasted this wine.
But I am banking on having a “story” to get me out of any trouble.
My story? We visited the winery ourselves to select the wine etc etc.
Bold and sassy is what you need from whites if they are to hold their own with Christmas meals.
White Burgundy and White Rioja are my choices.
The white Burgundy is from the Montagny area, but I am tempted to get a bottle of the bigger and bolder flavoured Mâcon Village or even a Pouilly-Fuissé if I can find a good deal somewhere.
I haven’t bought the White Rioja yet, better get my skates on!
This is when the fun really starts. For aperitifs you can’t beat a bit of fizz. It is also my “when things get too much” tipple of choice.
Our sparkles won’t be coming from Champagne this year, instead Crémant and Prosecco will be making us fizz.
Crémant has become a passion so not surprise it is on my Christmas wine list. You can now get Crémant in the UK, brilliant.
Prosecco is much loved by certain members of the family, they particularly love a “frizzante” variety as it is less fizzy. Not sure I quite understand that one, for me sparkling wine means fizz, and lots of it. But each to their own.
Being half Scottish I have that quintessential Scottish trait, a sweet tooth.
Not a thing I indulge in the rest of the year but at Christmas the meal has to be rounded off by a deliciously sweet wine.
My last wine exam included blind tasting two wines. I was so nervous about it as I had failed the mock exam (badly). But the white wine in the test was a sweet one. I relaxed immediately, had fun assessing it and I passed. Wine should be fun.
I hope all my wine selections are given the thumbs up by my family and friends this Christmas.
I’ll let you know!