Wine > Christmas complements

Get the wine right and your festive lunch will taste even better

As a food and wine lover, you are probably very choosy about the quality of what you eat and drink. But how much importance do you place on getting the two to match?

We all know that white wines go well with fish and white meats, red wines with red meats and sweet wines with desserts. But the choice of varietal, the type of grape from which the wine is made, is also crucial. A carefully chosen wine not only brings out the best in the meal it accompanies, it also reveals its own qualities better when enjoyed with the most complementary food.

This Christmas you could take your seasonal spread to a whole new level by carefully pairing each dish with its own wine, and to discover amazing new flavours within dishes you thought you were familiar with. As you would expect, learning how to carefully pair food and wine is fun, but it can be tricky getting started. So try these suggested pairings.

Roast turkey is many people’s choice for a traditional Christmas lunch and accompanied by cranberry sauce it is even more succulent. This year, try matching this with a Cru Bourgeois Claret, the ultimate in perfect pairing. The subtle red fruit and gentle vanilla flavours that result are a perfect match for the tender turkey meat and piquant sauce. Or try a Cypriot full-bodied red of grape varietal similar to Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet franc) or Shiraz. Tuscany’s Sangiovese goes well with turkey as well as Riojas Tempranillo. The New World suggestions are the same as on the northern hemisphere, limited to the classic Bordeaux varietals.

If you are planning an intimate dinner for two on Christmas Day, a roast duck stuffed with sweet juicy oranges is a fine choice. Again you may pair the richness of the duck with claret from older vintages. White wines may partner roast duck as well, Australian Chardonnay or a German Pfalz Auslese.

Among traditional Christmas dishes, roast gammon is too often overlooked. Layered with oranges before serving, it’s an excellent feast served hot or cold on Boxing Day. Few wines match roast gammon as well as a Californian Pinot Noir, or the fruitiness of Gamay grape in a Beaujolais Villages bottle. A white Bordeaux, serve at room temperature to maximise its flavours, it works brilliantly with ham. It is also worth trying with Xynisteri blends (Semillon).

Christmas pudding, flambed with brandy and served with a brandy-butter sauce, deserves a superb sweet wine that will enhance the fruity sweetness of the pudding without overwhelming your palate. The answer is Moscato d’Asti, fragrant, effervescent and with its lemon-sherbety tang it will also offer relief from the Christmas flavoured food assault on the taste buds. Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without mince pies, the quintessential Yuletide treat. Perfect to pass round when friends and family pay a visit, you ideally want to accompany them with a glass that’s warming and fruity without being too alcoholic, but that will still add a sense of occasion to a gathering and make those mince pies taste more seasonal than ever. Asti is still the answer.

Christmas is synonymous with port and stilton. Try a vintage or an old tawny port and with the traditional Christmas cake, our local Cyprus Commandaria is the perfect accompaniment.

Wine of the week > 1999 Methy, Cabernet sauvignon, K&K Vasilikon Winery, Kathikas, Paphos region, Cyprus. Alcohol Volume 13%
Matured for two years in brand new French oak and for further two more years in the bottle, this Cabernet varietal displays a rich red colour, with red fruits. Lots of peppermint aromas and caper against a background of oak waft from the nose of this beauty. This is a full bodied, round, with a soft tannic wine and the silky vanilla softening the ripe palate of cherry and cassis presence. Keep for a couple of years, it is worth it. Served at 18 degr C, this wine is superb with your roast turkey. Limited production.