Colin Burbidge, of Lancashire Wine School, writes about finding the perfect fizz and wine for Christmas Day.
I read many wine articles, but one in particular sticks in my mind.
Michael Broadbent, once Christies’ chief wine auctioneer, and the first ever Master of Wine, once described his morning routine with his wife, opening an expensive champagne as his wife prepared the orange juice for their Bucks Fizz by squeezing fresh oranges.
Unless you’ve had a particularly good year, you might not go to these lengths on Christmas morning, but starting the day with a little Bucks Fizz is always a decadent treat, whether it’s home-made or ready to pour from the bottle.
Do you have a Christmas wine routine? Later in the day, of course, you may well drink something sparkling. We normally enjoy a spot of champagne while preparing dinner, but this year English sparkling is on our menu.
When it comes to choosing wine with Christmas dinner I’m always taken back to a discussion with my tutor when I was studying for my WSET Educator
Approval. She expertly built up a picture that went a little like this... Turkey is a fairly bland white meat, so you immediately think of a light white wine, but this turkey is roasted, which adds flavour, so you will need something with more body and flavour... a Chardonnay with a bit of oak that gives it more body.
But wait... the turkey comes with stuffing, so it’s spicy and we have gravy which adds more protein and body to the meal. Protein usually calls for tannins, so now we’re talking red wine.
The vegetables are usually pretty flavoursome, too, with their own savoury qualities whether boiled or steamed.
Finally, there’ll be some cranberry sauce adding fruitiness.
So what would go with a meal that is full of protein, fairly intensely flavoured with good body, slightly spicy and fruity?
Amazingly, if you replace the word protein in this last statement with tannin you almost have the perfect
description of a good bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This particularly wonderful pairing has become our Christmas tradition, but this year we’re rebelling.
I have a love of aged Rioja while my other half loves a drop of Aussie Shiraz, so this year we’re indulging in a fine Marques de Riscal Gran Reserva 2011 and a fine Barossa Shiraz.
If red wine isn’t your thing, then try to get a white wine with more body.
Fetzer Bonterra Vineyards Californian Chardonnay, available from Booths, is a real treat of a wine.
Fetzer are proud of their organic status, right down to the wine label. With delicious notes of green apple, pear and citrus, hints of honey and toasted almond this is a favourite at the wine school.
If Chardonnay’s not your thing, try the Bellingham Bernard Series oaked Chenin Blanc from South Africa, available from Tesco at £13.
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a quality wine with a flavour that lasts. Relax, sip and enjoy the flavours as they wash over your palate.