WINE O’CLOCK: Reds and whites for a sherry little Christmas
Christmas dinner is a hearty meal which would seem to call for a hearty red to accompany it.
But if turkey is the biggest item on your plate, that may not be true. It is quite a bland meat and can easily be overpowered by the heftier reds.
A Beaujolis or Fleurie (Joseph Drouhin Fleurie €19.50, Ardkeen Stores, Waterford); a Pinot Noir (Reserve de Luch, Pinot Noir, €11 at Dunnes) or Shiraz (Wolf Blass Yellow Label Shiraz, SuperValu, Dunnes and Tesco, around €15) all make a good match for the big bird.
And it doesn’t have to be red. A crisp Riesling can make for an excellent white Christmas. Hunawihr Riesling Grand Cru Rosacker (Worldwide Wines, Waterford, €24.99) is exceptional and also works well with most vegetarian dishes.
If spiced beef or roast beef is high on your menu then go for a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or a smooth Chateauneuf-du–Pape (Domaine Roger Perrin, Dunnes, €26.50)
I don’t think Christmas is the time for experimenting with wines. but if you are feeling brave you could try Hungary’s Bull’s Blood. (€12 to €15, independent off-licences). It’s as powerful as it sounds and goes well with red meats.
And after the feast? Try a lovely glass of Berton Botrytis Semillion (€11.99 for half-bottle from Aldi) with the dessert and, later on, a Sherry or Port.
An aged tawny Port goes beautifully with cheese. Maynard’s 40-year-old (€39.99 Aldi) will do the job nicely. For a more traditional drink, go for Tesco Finest Late Bottled Vintage Port 2011. It has nice chocolate flavours and goes well with fruit.
If you disregard my caution about experimenting, you might want to try Croft Pink Port, an unusual rosé port (€19.95, O’Briens).
For a very Sherry Christmas, go for Very Rare Palo Cortado Pemimum (€12 for half bottle from Marks and Spencer). It balances a subtle smooth quality with a nutty, fruity taste.