Christmas Day. A day full of fun, jollity, decorations, hearty meals, gifts that need to be unwrapped, and most importantly, the consumption of alcohol. In this case, the consumption of wine. The following is a recommendation as to how the day could be paired perfectly with wine and food to bring about a full holiday wine sensation.
Of course I’m going to tip my hat towards a slightly more Italian experience. After all they did invent Christmas didn’t they? Don’t answer this unless you have been to Piazza Navonna in December!
The morning. What to have for breakfast? It’s Christmas Day! Only one option…. Cake, well Panettone. Originally from Milan, this sweet light loaf contains festive flavours and candied fruit. Cut yourself a wedge and pair it with the perfect drink, Moscato d’Asti. It’s a sparkling white wine from Northern Italy, near to Milan. It’s low in alcohol so it can be drunk with a slice without causing damage to the cooking abilities of the main chef.
It is also quite sweet and when combined with the bread will give you the sugar kick you’ll need to start your day well. Remember the day is a marathon not a sprint, and this will make you feel far less stressed and more at one with the world.
Mid-day Christmas Wine Drink
Eventually guests will start to arrive and you may wish to serve bubbles as they arrive. There are huge amounts of bubbly wine on the market, so naturally my advice, this year only, is advice for Italian bubbles.
If you prefer bubbles that will remind you of the bubbles made in a certain region of France that begins with C, then you need to be looking out for Franciacorta. Made in exactly the same way, just in Italy. There are also sparkling Chardonnays made in Italy, Frizzante will have bubbles in the bottle. However, the most renowned sparkling Italian wine will be called Prosecco. Prosecco comes from North East Italy and has a range of price points.
There are nine areas that can produce Prosecco with a DOC label on the bottle. This means it has been judged as good quality and follows the rules of necessary production. If you can find a bottle with the label DOCG on it then this is from the sweet spot of prosecco production.
Between the two towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene the Glera grape in Prosecco production finds it’s best expression. Keep your eyes peeled and see if you can spot the DOCG stripe on the bottle, it will be worth it.
Dinner is served. Starters are usually light and delicate. Go white wine and not too strong in alcohol and acidity. Look for a good Pinot Grigio. I know that PG is getting a bit of a bad name, but that isn’t it’s fault. Over the year the UK market has put pressure on producers to produce more and cheaper PG. Now we in the UK are very used to a fairly tasteless experience at cheap prices.
A good Italian one will be fresh and fruity. My palate picks up pineapple and ripe citrus fruits. PG is grown all over the wine world but seriously avoid a really cheap one as it will have very little going for it. Don’t think though you have to go over the top on price, just buy one from Fruili-Venezia Guilia in Italy as that is possible the sweet spot.
On to the main meal, death by turkey! There is a fantastic red wine that will match perfectly with a full UK turkey dinner and it is a Californian Zinfandel. NOT the rose or the blush, but the full on zingy red.
Hang on I hear whoever is still reading this, I thought you said Italian. I did, well spotted reader. What Italian wine you want to look for is a Primitivo. It’s big zingy full of dark red fruit flavours and peppers. Really will go with that Turkey. Primitivo, keep your eyes open.
The Finishing Wines
As you approach the dessert course you’ll need something lighter again. Marsala. It used to be popular in the UK years back, but is a fine alternative to final ports and sherries.
Finally, the day endeth and time is set in for meditation and reflection. The Italians have very kindly a branch of their wines that they refer to as ‘meditative’. This is your real treat at the end of the day for achieving such a great and successful day for all.
Treat yourself to a bottle of Barolo. Buy the oldest one you can afford. If you can stretch to at least ten years in the bottle all well and good. Under ten years it will be a bit feisty!
It is the king of wines and the wine for Kings. So take off yours shoes, sit, relax and reflect on a job well done.
Happy Christmas from The Sommelier UK, and don’t forget to treat yourself to a wine course in 2019. You’re worth it.
The Sommelier is having specialised wine courses starting February 2019. For more details please visit herewww.thesommelier.uk.