Christmas Day > Battling The Thirst

Posted On October 29, 2006

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We have just what you need to get through Christmas Day with a smile on your face!

Christmas, if you are in the wine trade, is not a joyous time of year, it is a time of seeing little daylight, working hours that make junior doctors look like loafers and trying, often without success, to get your much loved customers, who normally are happy to take your advice, to listen to you as you tell for the thirteenth year running that claret goes with turkey in the same way that sawdust goes with ice cream. It does not.

Let me explain. If you did a survey of one hundred Christmas-lunchers and asked them what they thought of turkey, which one adjective would best describe it, I would lay one magnum of Billecart Salmon Rose that ninety nine people out of that sample (there’s always one isn’t there?!) would say ‘dry’. So what do we do? We take one of the driest, leanest, most tannic and generally most unsuited wines that you can find to go with it and then you wonder why it feels like you have been desiccated by the end of the meal!

Please allow me to offer some more enlivening suggestions!

Turkey, for the most part is a white meat, so getting back to first principles, let us start on white wines, white meat, white wine, it’s a good plan. Now if I have had some rare white wine treats of late, two Rieslings which would be stunningly good with turkey, the first being the Hugel Jubilee 1998 and the Bott Gieyl 2001. These wines are bone dry, with wonderful acidity, masses of apple, peach and pear fruit that will help even the most under-basted of birds.

For those of you who have yet to see the light and know that Riesling is the greatest grape there is, then how about the Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Semillion. Interesting winery Cape Mentelle, it was owned and founded by the same guy who started cult-wine Cloudy Bay. This is a wonderfully clean, fresh wine with plenty of power, weight, fruit and concentration and best of all you aren’t going to have to have to scour the globe for a bottle and pay a pointless large sum for a third rate Sancerre-a-like.

Rose. Why not? You need something with fruit and acidity and you want something with a bit more guts, then crack open a rose. Last year I had a bottle of the Muga Rosado and it was wonderful, lightening the dark meat and freshening the white, ah, it’s all so good!

Red wines. Well, if you must. What you need here is something that is fruity, edium bodied and tangy. Open the claret an hour before you sit down, set it down carefully on the sideboard and then forget about it until after the cheese has been served. Instead with your main meal why not try the Mount Adam Cabernet Merlot which has all the over-extracted fruit, spices and exuberance that you expect from Australian wine and will happily take on the rigours of the big day lunch. Alternatively why not try the much maligned, but really rather wonderful, Moulin a Vent from Georges de Boeuf. Beaujolais has had a bad press over the years, largely thanks to the horrors of nouveau, but this is one occasion that it is really perfectly suited. It offers a colossal amount of cherry, raspberry and damson fruit, interspersed with traces of spices, mint and vanilla. So good, so underrated.

Well you’ll be pleased, appalled, disinterested to know that I will be giving you a list of affordable sparkling wines for New Year, so for now at least, cheerio. More soon!

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