Christmas Wines: the Ultimate Guide
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” they say and, as a real food & wine appreciator, I could not agree more with that. The last part of the Autumn season is always very exciting because it leads on to the festive period and we start to adapt our daily routine to the colder weather. We start changing our habits in terms of hobbies, clothing, sleeping, eating. In addition, we obviously also start looking for proper Christmas wines!
We eat heavier food and look for wines that will warm us up. That rules out the appetisingly crisp white wines that taste so refreshing in summer. Winter demands weighty, rich wines.
Therefore, our ultimate festive wine selection has everything you might need for Christmas. From sumptuous Chateauneuf du Pape, to artisan Prosecco.
To make things simpler, in each category you will find 3 different types of wine:
– Party Wine: wines below £14 that represent a best value for money and that are, most importantly, extremely versatile to meet the different tastes of people during family gatherings;
– Foodie Wine: wines with more character and complexity, and that represent best matchings for our Christmas dinner favourites;
– Wine Gift: wines more difficult to find on the market; therefore, the perfect gift to impress your loved ones.
Well, we can definitely say that most important occasions (good moods, fine times and happy experiences) tend to be associated with Champagne and Sparkling Wines. Sparkling wines are more than just wine, they represent a state of mind and a description of particular good time occasions… this is why they are indeed the perfect Christmas Wines!
However, sparkling wines can have completely different tasting characteristics (more or less dry, more or less complex) and prices; therefore, for the success of our festive event, it is necessary to make very informed choices.
Party Wine: La Piotta, “MilleBolle” Organic Pinot Noir Brut (Italy, £13.99)
Straw yellow in colour, with a fine and persistent mousse. Fragrant bouquet, with pleasant notes of fruit. The mellow yet crisp taste is a result of its very well-balanced acidity. Produced only in the best years, is made with the grapes that comes from the cru “Riva dei Ghiaioni”, which particular soil has always been perfect to give grapes with good acidity and intense aroma precursors.
Foodie Wine: Spagnol, Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore “Rive di Solighetto” Brut (Italy, £15.99)
Bouquet of mature and exotic fruit, slightly balsamic. Intense and balanced flavour. Minerals and flavour are intense. The Rive Proseccos are produced exclusively from grapes that come from a single village/vineyard. In the Valdobbiadene DOCG zone there are only 43 Rive and, therefore, this wine is widely considered Spagnol’s absolute Cru.
Gift Wine: Champagne Fleury, Blanc de Noirs Brut NV (France, £32.99)
A real Champagne for connoisseurs. Warm, rich nose with honey aromas and a nutty character. The palate is broad with an herby, creamy richness. Very low dosage. A dry, yet extremely well-balanced, Champagne.
As much as many of us enjoy warming reds at this time of year, we continue to drink more white wine than red. Although most people think that rich food should be paired only with a hearty red, a glass of crisp white wine can actually enhance and add liveliness to heavy, wintry dishes.
With so many grape varieties and styles available for our festive purchases, it is very important that we keep a good balance between easy-drinking whites for informal gatherings/aperitifs, and also richer whites with more complexity for important occasions.
Party Wine: Angoris, Villa Locatelli Pinot Grigio (Italy, £11.99)
This wine has a deep yellow colour, almost golden. Floral notes mix with rich fruit aromas of apricot, melon and peach; slight chalkiness. To the palate, it is soft; light-to-medium in body; mineral. Incredibly versatile and easy-drinking.
Foodie Wine: Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand, £17.99)
A potent medley of honeydew and rock melon, with notes of blackcurrant and additional layers of delicate citrus blossom and a smoky, dill-like, complexity. A classic Marlborough vintage showing an exotic salsa-like combination of succulent tropical fruit flavours and that hallmark herbal infusion, finishing with a zesty citrus tang.
Wine Gift: Bachelder, Oregon Chardonnay (USA, £35.99)
A superb Chardonnay from Oregon. Bright lemon yellow in colour with gold tints. On the nose, intense aromas of apricot, peach and ripe lemon walk together with a mineral, sea-salt tang. Furthermore, an amazing balance thanks to a wonderful acidity and a great structure.
Imagine this scenario: a cold day of December, a glass of a red wine and you, just relaxing after a busy day of Christmas shopping. I am sure that many of us can find themselves quite familiar with this scenario, since a glass of red wine in front of the fireplace it is one of the most used images of the festive season.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Nebbiolo are just five of the most popular grape varieties during the Christmas period. So, what kind of (red) Christmas Wines should we be looking for in the coming weeks?
Party Wine: Echeverria, Gran Réserva Cabernet Sauvignon (CHILE, £12.99)
Intense aromas of red cherries and black pepper with a smoky, earthy background. In the mouth this is a wine with good structure and mellow, fresh tannins. Lingering notes of eucalyptus, with a delicious and persistent finish.
Foodie Wine: Podere Pradarolo, “Velius” Rosso Asciutto Barbera (ITALY, £19.99)
It is ruby red with a touch of violet. Intense aromas of ripe red cherries, blackberries and blueberries. Full in body, with ample ripe, red and black fruit flavours, and soft, elegant tannins. This wine comes from organic grapes and long skin macerations (more than 90 days). No addition of sulphites and use of natural yeast only.
Wine Gift: Domaine de la Solitude, Chateauneuf du Pape (FRANCE, £32.99)
A rich and opulent wine with ripe Morello cherries and sweet black fruits; in addition, also spice, leather and also refined smoky notes. Full bodied but with a soft texture, this wine retains the estate’s characteristic elegance, whilst embracing a modern style of winemaking.
Dessert and Fortified Christmas Wines
For many, it is not Christmas unless there is a bottle of Port sitting on the mantelpiece and one of Sherry in the fridge, and I must say that there is a solid logic behind that thought. Those are the wines we normally keep in the cellar, since we never know when or if it is the right moment to open them. Well, let me say that this is indeed the perfect period of the year to indulge in the richness of flavours and aromas of this kind of wines.
Due to this, our holiday wine stocks cannot be completed without a proper selection of dessert and fortified Christmas Wines!
Party Wine: Zuccardi, Tardio Torrontes 50cl (ARGENTINA, £10.99)
Intense aromas of over-matured fruits, honey and dried fruits like pears, apricots and peaches, orange skin and roses. Sweet, unctuous in the mouth, silky, with balanced acidity.
Foodie Wine: Mas Amiel, Maury Vintage Rouge 75cl (FRANCE, £24.99)
Ruby with violet tints. The nose eloquently expresses frambóise, cherry and crème-de-cassis. It is smooth in the mouth, with red fruits, bitter chocolate and finally intense spicy notes. This fleshy, yet refreshing, fruity wine is a perfect match for red fruit or chocolate desserts. It is a seductive, pure Grenache varietal that also pairs well with sweet and sour dishes.
Wine Gift: Croft, Quinta da Roeda 2002 Vintage Port (PORTUGAL, £22.99)
Deep ruby with purple edge. Attractive cassis nose. Powerful, intense fruit aromas. Fresh, rich, firm, full fruit flavours dark berries and also chocolate. A wine with exceptional body, structure and length.
A final word of advice: experiment!
Furthermore, do not be afraid to try your own ideas out in the wine shop. Talk to your local wine merchant about what you are cooking and what you had in mind in terms of Christmas Wines. Wine professionals can often give you useful feedbacks and put you on the right path when you need to. Do not be afraid to fail, be creative.
In fact, even for professional Sommeliers, it might be very difficult to pick a perfect food & wine matching but, when you put your own ideas, experiments and passion into it, it will always be something special for you and your guests.
Christmas Wines: the Ultimate Guide – Hay Wines Blog
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