First published in the Irish Times, Saturday 14th December, 2019
What to drink with turkey? It is not too difficult, really. If you are a white-wine drinker, go for a fairly rich, full-bodied oaked Chardonnay or similar style of wine, either from its home territory, in Burgundy, or possibly from New Zealand or Australia.
I tasted the lightly oaked Muga Blanco Rioja (€13.99-€14.99, below) a few weeks ago and couldn’t believe how good it was; wines of this quality usually cost more than €20. This would also go very nicely with smoked salmon and other richer seafood dishes. For an alternative, try a Godello from Valdeorras, or a rich Chenin Blanc from South Africa.
If your budget is generous, start proceedings with a glass of Champagne. Otherwise, Marks & Spencer Cava Brut NV (€10.50) or Tuffeau Blanc de Blancs Nature (independents, about €20) will certainly help kick-start the celebrations. To go with fishy starters, serve a Rías Baixas from Spain (O’Briens has the succulent Lagar de Costa Albariño for €16.96, currently down from €19.95).
If you prefer red wine with your turkey, a fruity Beaujolais, a Pinot Noir (including Burgundy) or a mature Bordeaux would all do nicely. If you enjoy Spanish wines, you could try a Rioja crianza, reserva or gran reserva, or, if you are feeling adventurous, a Garnacha from DO Madrid, or a Mencía, from northwest Spain.
If your preferences run to fuller-bodied wines, a southern Rhône (including Châteauneuf-du-Pape) or a rich Barossa Valley Shiraz will go well with turkey as well as with any rich stuffings.
Over the past few years I have ended up serving a good red Burgundy. Pinot Noir goes really well with turkey, goose and ham provided you steer clear of the cranberry sauce, which is not kind to any sort of wine. I have also enjoyed some pure Syrah from the northern Rhône.
This year I may well try either the Greywacke Pinot Noir or the excellent Chemin des Fonts, both of which feature below. In fact, the same producer’s Zephyr would do very nicely as a white wine if you wanted to try something different.
If you are entertaining a crowd, Aldi Exquisite Collection Pinot Noir (€9.99) or Aldi Côtes du Rhône Signargues (€8.99) will put a smile on everyone’s face. Also, Molloy’s Liquor Stores have a good selection of inexpensive Côtes du Rhônes on offer at the moment.
Alternatively, watch out for the keenly priced Cune Rioja Crianza (€11.50 from SuperValu, Dunnes Stores and Tesco), which is great with turkey, beef or goose.
With the Christmas pudding, offer a modest serving of tawny port; even those who profess to dislike port may suddenly change their mind.
Whatever wines you choose, make sure you have decent wine glasses, plenty of water to hand, and an alcohol-free option for those driving.
Muga Rioja Blanco 2018, Bodegas Muga, 13%, €13.99-€14.99
Lively apple and nectarine fruits with light toasty notes, refreshing citrus acidity and a crisp, dry finish.
From Donnybrook Fair, donnybrookfair.ie; Morton’s, Dublin 6, mortons.ie; Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4, baggotstreetwines.com; Kilcavan Stores, Gorey, Co Wexford
Chemin des Fonts 2018, Les Deux Cols, Côtes du Rhône, 14.5%, €28.50
A very refined glass of wine, with lifted aromas of spice, dark fruits and liquorice; the palate is silky-smooth, with plum fruits, black olives and a lingering finish. An excellent all-rounder that would be perfect with turkey, beef or duck.
From Jus de Vine, Portmarnock, Co Dublin, jusdevine.ie; Searsons, Monkstown, Co Dublin, searsons.com; Deveney’s, Dundrum, Dublin 16; Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin, ely64.com; siyps.com; Avoca, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, and Rathcoole, Co Dublin, avoca.com; Green Man Wines, Dublin 6, greenmanwines.ie; Drinkstore, Dublin 7, drinkstore.ie
Château Perron 2016, Lalande-de-Pomerol, 13%, €28.95
A finely balanced, refined Bordeaux with clean damson fruits, a touch of dark chocolate and light tannins on the finish. One to serve with a roast of beef or goose.
From Mitchell & Son, Dublin 1, Sandycove, Co Dublin, and Avoca, Kilmacanogue, Co Wicklow, and Dunboyne, Co Meath, mitchellandson.com; Worldwide Wines, Waterford, worldwidewines.ie
Greywacke Pinot Noir 2016, Marlborough, 13.5%, €42.99
A medium-bodied wine with concentrated, ripe sweet-sour dark-cherry fruits, subtle spices and herbs. This will happily partner turkey, duck or goose.
From Ely 64, Glasthule, Co Dublin, ely64.com; the Corkscrew, Dublin 2, thecorkscrew.ie; Ely Wine Store, Maynooth, Co Kildare, elywinebar.ie; Fresh branches, freshthegoodfoodmarket.ie; Martin’s Off Licence, Dublin 3, martinsofflicence.ie; wineonline.ie