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Christmas In The Kitchen: Pairing Wine & Festive Foods


Rebecca Silburn | 07 December 2015

Christmas is a time to indulge surrounded by family and friends and often this includes a glass or two of wine. But with so many flavours over the Christmas period and such a wide variety of wines to choose from it can be difficult to know which wines will work best with different festive foods. With expert advice from The Wine Company in Colchester we’ve put together this blog to offer some guidance on how to match your Christmas foods and wines.

The obvious starting point when it comes to foods over the festive period is Christmas dinner itself. Before sitting down for the main event, a glass of perfectly chilled crisp white wine or champagne will help to awaken the palette, preparing it for the flavours in your meal. If you are serving canapes then the crispness of champagne will work beautifully with any pre-dinner nibbles. Regardless of whether a glass of champagne complements your chosen canapes, Christmas is reason enough to justify a glass of good quality fizz.

When it comes to the main course, many people think that it’s best to match your wine to the meat; be it goose, turkey, beef or a vegetarian alternative. However, in reality the meat tends to be a fairly subtle flavour in the meal. Often the gravy or stuffing has a stronger flavour than the meat, therefore it’s best to match your wine to those strong flavours on the plate. Assuming that the most powerful flavour comes from the gravy, as it so often does, a Pinot Noir from Burgundy or California is a good choice. If you prefer a heavier red then a wine from the Bordeaux or Rhone regions of France are good options, as is a North Italian red.

Traditional Christmas pudding will be the dessert of choice for many after the main course. Considered to be the wine equivalent of Christmas pudding, the rich and fruity flavours of a Rutherglen Muscat is the perfect match for the classic Christmas pud. A lighter dessert wine will be lost alongside Christmas pudding; there needs to be a strong balance which a lighter wine will not achieve. Remember, your dessert wine needs to be sweeter than your dessert otherwise it will taste overly acidic as the sugar in the pudding overwhelms the palate.

As an extra indulgence, a cheese board is very popular throughout the festive period, especially to follow Christmas dinner. Whilst often assumed that port is the best accompaniment for a cheese board this is not always the case. Whilst stilton pairs beautifully with port, other popular cheeses on the board, such as brie, cheddar or camembert are in fact better paired with a powerful red, or indeed your preferred wine. A cheese board is often best served with your favourite wine because there is no ideal match due to the diverse flavours of the cheeses.

Just after Christmas cold meats are a popular choice for meals, as there’s little preparation needed. Whether it’s gammon, beef or the more traditional turkey or goose almost all of us will enjoy some cold meats in the days between Christmas and New Year. The subtlety of these flavours requires a medium red such as a New Zealand Pinot Noir or Beaujolais from France. Considering the length of the festive period lighter reds are ideal for the days following on from Christmas day itself as these are more enjoyable over a long period than constant heavy reds. If you prefer white wine then a nice selection of medium whites, such as a good unoaked Chardonnay, will carry you through the festivities.

There are many different views on how best to pair your wine with Christmas foods. The advice offered here are mere guidelines leaving you to simply eat, drink and be merry! If you require further advice or would like to purchase some wines for your own Christmas celebrations please contact The Wine Company.
www.thewinecompany.co.uk | 01206 713560

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