If you’re reading this then it’s likely you have some interest in buying a nice bottle of wine or two for the Christmas holidays. As the years go by we cherish more and more the time we can spend with family, friends and loved ones. This is matched ever increasingly by the pleasure a glass of the good stuff can provide, particularly when your visitors stay for longer than expected.
Vineyards around the world supply into the UK so we’re fortunate to have available something to suit most palates, pockets or pairings. On this basis I offer the following suggestions for novice neckers or qualified quaffers to consider for their Christmas table this year.
White Wine - VOUVRAY
I have all year to select a suitably chic Christmas hat. Instead, I think about appropriate festive crowd pleasers. Vouvray (“voo-vray”) is made from Chenin Blanc grapes grown in the Loire valley, France, and there’s one to suit everybody from dry to sweet. Off-dry, meaning just a little sweetness, gives an aromatic and very fruity white wine that can complement the tapestry of big flavours on a Christmas lunch plate. Pear, honeysuckle, quince and ginger are all likely tastes in a classic which should cost in the region of £15-20. Serve really cold, sit back, and love the hat you’re in.
Red Wine? - PINOT NOIR
Classic lunch on the big day is turkey, but there are so many meat, veggie and vegan choices eaten throughout the UK it’s a tough ask for a single red wine to suit everybody. From Flint Vineyards in Norfolk comes a Pinot Noir satisfying this demand. Beautifully fresh, fruity and smooth but with enough tannin to complement a huge range of punchy food flavours. Pinot Noir is a brilliant go-to recommendation when you’re unsure what to serve with a meal - it tends to go with anything! This bottle is £25 and won’t disappoint.
Sweet Wine - ?TOKAJI
Not on everyone’s radar a sweet wine for the Christmas meal; it’s one of my great pleasures to have a dessert wine ready for the after lunch come-down. Pinny off and tins towering in the sink this is the moment to let the morning’s efforts be rewarded with a small glass of grapey nectar. Hungarian Tokaji is a magical liquid. Expect honeyed aromas of fruits like fig, plum and apricot and maybe baking spices and vanilla. High in sweetness and acidity Tokaji can be transformational when you drink it alongside blue cheeses, fruity puddings or dark chocolate. Usually in 500ml bottles costing £15-25.
Myself and my friend Matt Taylor are currently about 40-something episodes in to presenting a light hearted series about wines, Two Men In A Bottle, on local station South Norfolk Radio. Will a TV producer somewhere hear a fragment of our entertainment gold and offer us a paid trip to explore the wines of earth? Almost certainly not. Are we likely to enjoy drinking some wine over the Christmas holidays and cherish how lucky we are? Yeppa.
For advice on wine pairings visit Chris at Reno Refills, 15-17 Market St. Two Men in a Bottle airs on SNR fortnightly on Tuesday from 8-10pm. Follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/twomeninabottle.