First published in the Irish Times, 12th December, 2015
Today, wines to match the recipes from our all-star team of chefs. Do not get stressed trying to find the perfect wine to match your Christmas dinner. Almost any wine tastes fine when sharing nicely-cooked food with good friends or family. If the host is hyperventilating, the rest of the table are unlikely to enjoy themselves. That said, it can be fun to try out different combinations, and a good food and wine match will make both taste so much better.
Scallops, brown butter and mandarin
This looks absolutely delicious. Here we need something with nice plump fruit and hopefully a touch of orange zest to match the mandarin. Grüner veltliner sounds brilliant as does a medium-bodied chardonnay, an albariño from Spain or the fiano below.
Suggestions:I am a big fan of Birgit Eichinger’s Hasel grüner veltliner (€19, independents). The Michele Biancardi fiano (€16.95 jnwine.com) has the fruit to match the scallops; those on a budget could look at the Exquisite Collection Rías Baixas from Aldi (€9.49).
Clare Island salmon, crab, pickled vegetables and apple balsamic vinegar
You could stick with the above suggestions here but the sweet/sour pickle should go very nicely with a German riesling. Riesling has floral aromas, which sounds good with cherry blossom, and is also one of the best matches for crab, so that would seal it for me.
Suggestions:The award-winning Penfold’s Koonunga Hill Autumn riesling (€18.99 from O’Briens and independents) or the exotic Wagner-Stempel riesling (€19.95, independents).
Confit duck leg spring roll with pickled red cabbage, yoghurt and cumin
This has a whole lot going on in terms of flavour and spice. Duck goes really well with pinot noir so this is a bit of a no brainer. The spice and mild pickled cabbage (strong vinegar flavours do not go well with any wine) would suggest steering clear of Burgundy and heading to the New World; Chile, Oregon, California or New Zealand are all possibilities. I really enjoyed the Windy Peak pinot noir recently (€15.99 in independents) but it might be a little too light for the duck. If you want to start off with a white, the riesling or the grüner veltliner suggested above should work nicely.
Suggestions: In an ideal world a bottle of Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir (€37), but reality might dictate the Secano Pinot Noir (€14.29), both from M&S.
Turkey with buttered roots
Pinot noir would be an option here again. It goes well with turkey and with the sweet notes of the buttered vegetables. If you fancy something with a bit more power, grenache-based wines from the Rhône or Australia would do nicely too. I include one of my favourites below. However, if you really want to push the boat out, I would go to Italy and the excellent Villa di Capezzana, as it has none of those drying tannins that can clash with turkey.
Suggestions:See below for two main course options. If you are having a large crowd, the Cepa Lebrel rioja reserva 2010 (€8.99) or the lighter unoaked Cepa Lebrel Joven (€6.99), both from Lidl are worth considering.
Poached pear on pain d’épices with vanilla cream
I might try this myself for Christmas day. It looks truly lovely, simple to assemble on the day and light enough after a big meal. It will also go perfectly with some of my favourite dessert wines. I feature three next week, but in the meantime…
Suggestions: You could try out the elegant Baumard Coteaux du Layon (€13.50, independents) or the delicious Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Auslese Dr H Thanisch (a bargain €20 from Jus de Vin, Portmarnock).
BOTTLES OF THE WEEK
Pazo de Señorans 2013, Rías Baixas, 12.5%, €22.99
Delightful succulent pear fruits cut through with refreshing citrus, finishing long and dry. Perfect with scallops and other seafood.
Ch. Pesquie Les Terrasses 2012, Ventoux, 14.5%, €18.95
Delicious, warming, supple wine packed with strawberry fruits and light spice.
Stockists: Jus de Vine, Portmarnock; 64wine, Glenageary; La Touche, Greystones; Donnybrook Fair; One Pery Square, Limerick.
Villa di Capezzana 2011, Carmignano, 15%, €34.99
Seductive soft ripe cherry fruits with a savoury, spicy touch. A lovely combination of elegance and richness.
Stockists: 64wine; Jus de Vine; Green Man Wines; Fallon & Byrne; Redmond’s; Searsons; Michael’s Wines.