First published in the Irish Times, Saturday 10th December, 2016
I covered Christmas dinner in the Irish Times Winter Food and Drink magazine in November. But for those who may have lost their copy, to reiterate, I would suggest a Pinot Noir, Syrah (from the Northern Rhône) or Shiraz, or Grenache to go with turkey. From Spain, a Rioja Reserva will do nicely, although I would be tempted to try a lighter red from Bierzo. I know many of you will ignore me completely, but a tannic Bordeaux is not the ideal partner for turkey.
Do start the day with something nice – Champagne is great if numbers and budget permit. A Chardonnay of some sort would be the traditional white option, and most work very well with a fishy starter and the turkey, too, if required. But this year, why not experiment a little with a Godello from Galicia in Spain, a Grüner Veltliner from Austria, or a Chenin Blanc from South Africa? All three offer great alternatives. A Soave or Vermentino from Italy would also do very nicely. However, I have a bottle of the Viognier, pictured on the page, stashed away for our Christmas dinner.
Roast beef is popular for post-Christmas get-togethers. A rib roast is a brilliant partner for most reds, Cabernets and Bordeaux in particular. Jus de Vine has the lovely Château d’Angludet 2012 for a very competitive €40. Alternatively, the delicious concentrated tannic Nebbiolo (below) would be fantastic. The wines of Viajra, from the same region are also worth looking out for in independents. Just don’t try them without food. Both Cabernet and Nebbiolo go very nicely with that other seasonal favourite, roast goose. If you are serving something sweet, such as red cabbage or an apple stuffing, then Pinot Noir or Rioja is a better bet. If you only drink white wine, go for a really good Riesling from Alsace or Germany, or a rich Pinot Gris.
Turkey curry is traditional in some households, and here I would go for a Pinot Gris or good Pinot Grigio, a Grüner Veltliner from Austria, or maybe a rich Garnacha from Spain. I like my turkey and stuffing sandwiches accompanied by a light refreshing Beaujolais or a Mencía from Bierzo.
A few last minute buys: Mail order company Wines Direct has two Chardonnays, the excellent Chablis Moreau 2015 (€23.15) and the delicious Maillet Macon-Villages 2014 (€23.25). Whelehan’s has the lovely rich Bierzo Godello Luna Bebride (€19.95) and O’Briens has the very keenly-priced Pouilly-Fumé Domaine de Bel Air for €16.95. I recently came across the very well-priced Fonseca Quinta do Panascal Vintage Port 2001 for €30 from SuperValu. I love the days following Christmas, when I open up random interesting bottles. This will certainly include a German Riesling Trocken and a good bottle of Amontillado Sherry, along with many others.
Pouilly-Fumé 2014 Domaine de Bel-Air
A very attractive well-priced Sauvignon with tangy green fruits and a crisp dry finish.
Langhe Nebbiolo 2014, Produttori del Barbaresco
Delicious firm austere dark fruits; perfect with beef or goose.
Stockists: Select Carry Out; Cinnamon Cottage, Rochestown;
Terroirs, Donnybrook; JJ O’Driscolls; The Corkscrew; Karwig Eines.
Viognier de Rosine 2014, Domaine Ogier,
Vdp des Collines Rhodanniennes
Peaches and pineapples perfectly balanced by a cleansing acidity. Exquisite wine.
Stockists: Jus de Vin; La Touche; Searsons; Bottle Shop, D7; Green Man Wines.; One Pery Square.