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Wine pairing for Christmas. Part 1 – Appetisers and Main Courses

03/12/2019 Pairings

Sparking wines are the perfect match for any celebration during the year, but they are particularly good at this time of year. With a wide range to choose from, they will sit happily alongside anything from appetisers to desserts.

But let’s take this opportunity to find some other great matches, to take some of the limelight away from bubbles, get people talking, and make sure you end this year and start the next in style, with the perfect drink in hand.

Maridaje de vinos Navidad

1 – A good starter: appetisers

Appetisers are the ones that cause that little hunger pang that stimulates our appetite.

Fiona Beckett, expert in food and drink pairing, has the following tips for us:

If you’re getting together with family and friends remember that they know and love you, so there’s no need to try and impress them. What you could do is find a wine that you have shared together before that will bring back good memories.

If you’re looking to impress, you could start with a fresh Champagne from a small producer, a Muscadet if you have oysters on the table or an elegant unaged French Chardonnay that will be the perfect welcome for your guests.

For sophisticated wine lovers, you can’t beat surprising them with a refreshing Albariño, an elegant Riesling or an interesting Manzanilla. Jerez wines are capable of enhancing the flavours of the best foods. What better way to start the evening!

Rosé wines have a hard time getting a place at the table, but those with body and intense colours go very well with sausages and those that are softer and fresher, in a French Provence style, are the perfect pairing for raw or steamed dishes or foods with the same colour, like salmon and crustaceans. They also go very well with goats cheese. Rosé wines can sit alongside rice and oriental foods like curry if they have a semi sweet and fruity touch.

If you prefer red, young Rioja wines as well as those that have been aged slightly are ideal for pairing with tapas. You could also try Mencías from Bierzo or Ribeira Sacra, which are wonderful with Iberian ham, beef jerky or any kind of pork.

When it comes to appetisers, try not to serve white or red wines with too much body or aging. Save the power for later.

2 – Main dishes

Roast turkey is the traditional dish in many places, which goes really well with red wine from the Rhone area, like Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

If duck is the main course, you can count on Pinot Noir red wines for a good pairing.

German Rieslings are fruity, floral, refreshing, and also slightly oily, which makes them perfect companions for smoked fish like trout or eel. With salmon, it’s best to serve a Champagne or a Sauvignon Blanc, something from the Pouilly Fumé area, in the Loire for example.

However, if the salmon is served grilled or roasted, surprise your guests with a Pinot Noir, or even with an elegant Gamay variety wine.

Lamb is a perfect match for medium bodied red wines. Red wine from La Rioja would be the perfect choice.

When the main course is a chicken with a creamy sauce, Chardonnay wines are great, but try to avoid those that have aged for a long time in wood.

The traditional English Roast Beef pairs perfectly with a Cabernet Sauvignon wine, with the elegance of a Bordeaux. And for the Christmas ham you could choose a French Morgon or even red wines that are juicy and full of ripe fruit rather than too tannic or alcoholic like some Red Garnacha or Syrah wines.

If it’s goose on the menu rather than turkey, this will go well with Barolo or Barbaresco wines. Both have the right structure and acidity to sit alongside the meat’s rich flavour. For those who prefer white over red and who are planning to serve the goose with stuffing containing apples or plums, a Spätlese Riesling would be the perfect partner. And if the stuffing is lightly spiced, with nuts or ginger, you can surprise everyone with an intense Alsace gewürztraminer.

For a pasta dish with a Bolognese sauce, you will find a great partner in Sangiovese wines, a Rosso di Montalcino or a Barbera.

Depending on the ingredients, rice dishes give you great flexibility when it comes to choosing a wine to serve with them. Here is a link where you can find information on pairing wines with rice dishes.

Traditional Catalan-style cannelloni for Boxing Day are usually paired with a sparkling wine. Renowned Spanish sommelier Javier Campo recommends trying a rosé, like Llopart Microcosmos, which is structured and elegant with an intense and beautiful colour.

For a French-inspired dinner, foie gras is a must, and it has some great, fail-safe pairings: a good Champagne or a Sauternes wine. You could also choose something slightly sweet like an Alsace wine made with the Gewürztraminer or Riesling varieties.

A Portuguese style cod (bacalhau com natas) goes beautifully with a slightly aged Duoro white wine, a Vinho Verde or even a white Rioja. The traditional Pil Pil Cod from the Basque Country sits perfectly alongside fresh and acidic white wines like Txakolí.

Are you keen to experiment with a new dish, but you don’t know which wine to pair with it? Here’s a tip for you. Regional pairings are usually a safe bet, so look for a wine that comes from the same region as the dish you want to make and it will almost always work.

So that’s part one of the post on wine pairing for Christmas. Don’t miss the next part to find out how to pair desserts as well as other wine pairing surprises we can’t wait to share with you.