Preparing Christmas Day lunch can be a major undertaking, especially if it is for a house full of family and friends. Choosing what wines to have, especially with the turkey, requires some planning, though fortunately not much labour.
Of course there are many suitable bottles on the market that would fit the bill, but here are some suggestions of wines that will go well with the food and lift the occasion.
As Christmas is a festival of sorts, a glass or two of champagne, the wine traditionally associated with celebrations, is a good way to kick things off.
If only the best will do, consider the two star performers below. The latest vintages of each were launched with considerable style in London during October. They would be perfect to drink as an aperitif but will also go very well with turkey.
Christmas Day Champagnes
Krug 2006 (12%; £228 from the champagnecompany.com; £232 from the finestbubble.com in Islington): This esteemed house was founded by Joseph Krug in 1843 and its wines are considered by some to be the finest of all champagnes. This must owe a lot to the meticulous care taken with the grape selection and blending of each of its wines. For this vintage no less than 277 wines made from grapes grown on numerous vineyards were tasted by a committee over a period of months before the final blend was determined. 2006 was a hot year in Champagne and this is reflected in ripe, nutty aromas in the glass, warmth and ripeness on the rounded palate. Still youthful, despite its age, it opens up with time in the glass to show its depth and elegance.
Bruno Paillard Nec Plus Ultra 2004 (12%; £190 from Hedonism Wines, Mayfair): When Bruno P started his own maison in 1981 it was the first new Champagne House in over 100 years. It has become a prestigious operation producing top quality wines. Twelve hectares of the vineyards providing the grapes are in Grand Cru areas. The business is now jointly run by his charming daughter Alice who attended the London launch and spoke eloquently about the wines. This one was aged in previously used barrels and is made from 50/50 chardonnay and pinot noir. The golden colour prefaces a nose with notes of brandy and orange peel. It has subtle, refined flavours of brioche and toast with light bubbles. A very distinguished wine.
white Wines that go well with turkey
Now to still white wines that go well with turkey. Fuller bodied chardonnays and viogniers are a good choice. Here are two excellent, reasonably priced examples:
Domaine Saint Ferréol Viognier 2017 (13%; £14.99 or £12.99 if you mix six at Majestic Wine): This viognier comes from vineyards surrounding a medieval priory in the Languedoc which has been renovated by an English couple. This full bodied, complex wine has apricot and bitter earthy flavours with some oiliness, all of which are characteristic of the viognier grape. A good seam of acidity adds balance. Deservedly it won gold in the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards.
Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay 2017 (14%; £15.99 or £9.99 if you mix six until 2 December, then £13.99, from Majestic Wine): This chardonnay has a full, buttery, smooth palate with melon and tropical notes. Made by a highly rated Californian winery, this stylish wine is a steal for the reduced price.
red wines that go well with turkey
Some care is needed with reds, as some heavier varieties like cabernet sauvignon have a lot of tannins which tend to drown out the subtle flavours of poultry. These two from the Iberian Peninsula will match well with the bird and a cheese course too.
El Piadoso Gran Reserva Rioja 2008 (13.5%; £12.69 from Waitrose till 3 December, then £16.99): Made using Tempranillo, Garnacha and Graciano grapes, this was aged for three years in barrel, one more than the minimum required for gran reservas. A fine nose leads to a medium bodied palate with red fruits, vanilla, acid and oak combining to provide good structure.
Quinta do Crasto Reserva 2016 (14.5%; £22.99 from adnams.co.uk): Portuguese reds deserve more attention in the UK and this impressive example illustrates why. Produced by a 100+ year old family business from vines with an average age of 70 years. They are grown in a spectacular setting on the hills above the Douro River. The age of the grapes is reflected in the dark black/red colour and the deep, concentrated flavours of brambles and dark plums. It is still youthful so decant an hour or two before drinking.
Sparkling wine on a budget
For those with a more modest budget who’d still like to get things underway with some sparkle, here is an affordable Californian:
Schramsburg Blanc de Blanc 2016 (12.3%; £42.99 from butlers-winecellar.co.uk): Made by possibly the best producer of sparkling wine in California. A generous palate reveals apples, green fruit, lemon curd and toast with a crisp finish. A most attractive fizz that will impress your family and friends on the big day.
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