I do wonder how many of us will be considering what drink to enjoy – throughout the day. Because of course, we are officially allowed to start on the old giggle juice from when the kids wake up right?
Well, I think it’s always worth taking the time to open a bottle (or indeed bottles) of something extra magical, extra rascal and extra wow. This year though, I’d go as far to say that there should be a code of conduct to follow that states “you must allow only the greatest and most enjoyable glass of giggle juice on this day”.
So, the ‘greatest’ – what does that mean then? Well I am one that is a firm believer in that wine, and indeed pop culture in general, should be far more inclusive and less exclusive you see. With wine, there is still a bit of the latter. The greatest for me means a wine that makes you feel awesome and is as enjoyable as it is special, regardless of the price you paid for it. For the most part, winemakers make this stuff because of the love of doing it. The reality is, too much of the wine world has become commoditised and thus made it a bit unattainable. With some decent advice and a bit of savvy thinking, you can bag yourself some ‘bargains that bang’ this Christmas.
Oh and guess what, I am here to help with that. If you’re struggling to sort out the boozy element of your Christmas, I got you. If you want some tips on some naughty gift ideas, I got you. So, leverage your beverage and let’s get stuck in shall we.
Right, for the big day itself. Now, a ‘traditional’ Christmas Day feast is so packed to the rafters with flavours, textures and smells, it’s nigh on impossible to take a one wine fits all approach. In an ideal world, we’d have a selection of mini bottles of different styles, to see us through the range of the aforementioned elements of the big meal. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and I could never be bothered with such a faff anyway, so, here’s what you could do:
- Push the Pinot – Pinot Noir is the ‘safe bet’ here, simply because it’s one of the most food friendly of red wines that is readily available anywhere you shop. It’s light enough to enjoy all the way through your meal, it can be sturdy enough to stand up to the bish bash boshness of the array of texture and flavours of the meal and, most people know it, so there’s nothing to be worried about. Easy right? If you fancy playing safe, then my advice would be to opt for a Pinot Noir from a cooler climate. Pinot Noir from places such as Burgundy in France and Central Otago in New Zealand offer up some mega flavours that will slice and dice right through the richness of your Christmas lunch. A forkful of turkey, spud, stuffing and eye roll inducing gravy, can be toned right down and made sublime, with a slurp of Pinot Noir. The tartness of the cranberry and sour cherry flavours of the wine, WILL work a treat here.
- Champion the Chardy – Yes, Chardonnay. I meet lovers and haters on a weekly basis. It’s a funny old one Chardonnay isn’t it? It’s a grape variety that grows on all corners of the planet and as a consequence, can produce all different styles from bone dry to opulently sweet. So why do we poo poo it so much? Typically, it’s because of one single bad experience of a Chardonnay in the past that has sealed its fate. The majority of us are creatures of habit where one mediocre taste of anything will normally put us off for good. Well, you need to consider Chardonnay this Christmas. Look for the words Macon Village on a label and you’ll be golden. Chardonnays from this region in the south of Burgundy tend to be light enough for a cheeky pre lunch snifter but also, like the Pinot Noir, hardy enough to be enjoyed with your Christmas Day feast. Also, look for examples from Robertson in South Africa (tip: try to see ones that have the world ‘un-oaked’ or ‘unwooded’ on the label). This will ensure that your cake-hole is not bombarded with too much vanilla, spice, smoke and bark from any oak ageing.
- Go Off Piste – Ok, for a less ‘safe’ bet but ultimately a more enjoyable one, you could always go ahead and do this: Go and grab a bottle of Salice Salentino (beautiful drop of red juice from Puglia in Italy) with its deep blackcurrant and black cherry flavours) https://www.waitrose.com/ecom/products/borgodei-trulli-salice-salentino/778080-669065-669066 and also this from Majestic https://www.majestic.co.uk/wines/freestyle-organic-blanc-10371 This absolute banger of a white is as old as the hills, yet largely untouched at this time of year. But the outright pace, flavour behaviour and richness will be a pure delight with turkey, and all the trimmings.
- Get Fizzical – Ok, so I doubt any of us will be getting physical with Joe Wicks on Christmas Day, so let’s get fizzical instead huh? Right, listen up DON’T BUY CHAMPAGNE. Yep you read that correctly, I’ll repeat DON’T BUY CHAMPAGNE. Whilst its delicious and lovely and special yada yada yada, its been done before and so why do it again is what I say. There are so many other styles of sparkling wines, most of which by the way, are made using the exact same method as Champagne anyway, out there for you to pop open. I used to pop the Champers during breakfast because it was ‘the thing to do’. I then realised very quickly that I was following the crowd, and I am not a follower. Innovate don’t imitate is a motto I constantly live by. So, I will be enjoying some English Sparkling Wine this Christmas, as well as plenty of Cava and a barnburner of a fizz from Carcassone, called Blanquette di Limoux. This one is particularly awesome – https://www.waitrose.com/ecom/products/cuvee-royale-brut-cremant-de-limoux/083926-42628-42629
- Sweets for my Sweets – Well after all that savoury richness, its time to loosen the top button of the trousers, recline with some more wine and then start thinking about pud. Lost of us often opt for the Port and cheese at this point – I’ll join you! But before that and to get the palate reset for the evening of Stilton and Camembert, might I suggest a little something shamelessly decadent? Muscat Beaumes de Venise. This is a sweet drop from The Rhone in France. Sweet without being overwhelming, sticky and mighty. Fresh enough (tip: you have to chill this bad boy to very cold) to make your lips pucker and your heart surrender to the pure joy of this unicorn juice. If you happen to have some fudge lying around – ooh, you naughty thing you. That said, whatever is left in the tin of Quality Street will all of a sudden taste that much better with a slurp of this stuff. Domaine de Coyeux 2007 Muscat de Beaumes de Venise
Ok, so now that you’ve got the lowdown on how you could level up your Christmas Day bevvies, how about some gift tips? The gift of wine is one that is met with joy, most of the time. But, there are those instances where you are handed a gift bag, you take out the contents and it’s a bottle that you’ve either seen in the bargain bin at a local shop or one that you can clearly see was one that they had got given to them last Christmas. A conclusion deduced by the level of dust build up on the top of the bottle. Who’s had this before then? Yep, me too. So, to save that from happening, give the gift of wine this year to a loved one. A wine gift that won’t hang around long enough for that dust to settle:
- Ok, who doesn’t love Nostalgia? This is awesome and would make a great gift. I have genuinely ordered one this year (just for myself) – Labyrinth movie Ludo inspired wine bottle
- Level up your label game with these. Good fun and memorable – Buy 2 Wine Labels get 1 Free – Wine Bottle Stickers (Unique Wine Gift Ideas, Funny Wine Labels, Unusual Wine Lover Presents)
- Wine subscription services can be somewhat ‘same old same old’ and also quite pricey. Theres plenty out there, but these peeps at Savage Wines provide a really decent set of wines from all over the world, direct to your door. Best of all, is that they only work with small, independently owned wineries. Most of which are Organic and some that are also Biodynamic. So not only do you get bang for buck, but also, no hangovers. Whoop!
- How about an online course where you can learn all about the basics of wine. The Wines+Bites+Beats E-Learning Course has loads of video content and other mixed media to help you get well aquatinted with wine and to build your confidence when buying and drinking this beautiful gear. This has nothing to do with the person writing this course by the way, honest!). WINES+BITES+BEATS E-LEARNING COURSE
Hope this will help your enjoyment this Christmas. Leverage your beverage and let the good times roll.
Written by Scott Malyon