Match your Christmas lunch and wine
Muddy is no stranger to the joys of a good bottle of wine, and the more I meet independent wine producers the more I fall in love with their ethos. I know you can buy Chianti for a fiver in Tescos or whatever, but the indie merchants really know their stuff (I mean, really). They can advise you better and most importantly, if you’re watching your pennies they’re surprisingly competitive on price when it comes to quality, because they’ve learned the hard way that they have to compete with the supermarkets to survive.
So I asked Andrew Kinnersley of The Grape and the Good in Wells, winner of Best Independant Wine Shop in the Muddy Stiletto Awards, for some advice on matching wines for Christmas Day lunch. It was massively helpful and unless you’re a secret Master of Wine, I hope you it helpful too!
ANDREW’S TIPS FOR MATCHING FOOD AND WINE THIS CRIMBO
Christmas isn’t complete with something fizzy. Impress your friends with our house champagne Pierre Mignon Premier Cru (it’s already baffled the experts who confused it in comparative tastings with some of the big names). It’s creamy-textured, elegant and sophisticated and has an amazing price tag (£23.95). One of the best value sparkling wines around is Vilarnau Brut Reserva, Cava Three grape varieties are fermented separately before blending and then bottle aged for 2 years. It tastes appley with a great balance between ripeness and acidity, with hints of pastry and almonds. Fine bubbles and a long, refreshing finish (that is, you can taste it for a long while afterwards; this is a good thing). It’s got a gorgeous Gaudi-inspired sleeve, too (£10.50).
Go for something fresh and clean to counteract the oily smokiness of simply served smoked fish. Pouilly Fumé is beautifully dry with a distinct minerality and a touch of gooseberry (£13.95). Taltarni Tache Brut 2011 is a lovely example of ‘traditional method’ (read Champagne) sparkling wine from Australia. The three classic Champagne grapes are bottle fermented and then ‘stained’ with a dash of Pinot Noir when the sediment is removed. Rich, yeasty and creamy with a touch of strawberry and rose petal. Fresh and very enjoyable (£13.95).
I’m suggesting Burgundy for turkey. Morgon, Louis Jadot has a scent of cherry and blueberry with a slight smokiness. Medium bodied and fresh, this will compliment rather than dominate turkey and will also stand up well to trimmings and cranberry sauce. Delicious on Boxing Day with cold meats too. (£12.95). Chateau London, Macon-Ige is a stunning wine from one of the finest young wine makers in the region. Aromatic and fairly full-bodied with peach and citrus intermingled with delicate vanilla. Very smooth and pleasurable (£19.50).
To counteract any fattiness or richness of the meat, try Cotes de Nuits Villages ‘Le Vaucrain’ 2011, a single vineyard Cotes de Nuits which is perfect for drinking right now. Medium-bodied with the flavours and aromas of raspberry, cherries and other red fruits will compliment the sometimes slightly sweet nature of game birds (£21.95). Smoked herbs and meaty aromas with a medium to full body, Cairanne, Les Cotes Sauvage, Rhone Valley would be a very enjoyable, smooth and rounded partner to roast game. Intense dark red fruit, smokiness and touches of sweet spice. The perfect winter wine! (£10.95).
My two picks for beef are Chateau Lestrille Cap Martin, Bordeaux 2010, medium-bodied with concentrated fruit and woody notes. Fresh, balanced, velvety and powerful with enough tannin to handle any fattier cuts such as rib (£12.95). Middle of Everywhere Shiraz, Western Australia is not your typical Aussie Shiraz blockbuster but a far more balanced and refined example from a top wine maker. Aromas of blueberries, gentle spice and white pepper with soft berry fruit and nuances of aromatic spices of cinnamon and nutmeg flavours (£13.95).
Vegetarian main course
The wine you choose will very much depend on any sauces and the level of acidity in the ingredients (tomatoes for example) and also the use of pastry which can dumb down some flavours and emphasise tannins. But how about trying these two. For nut-rich or mushroom dishes, Circle of Life White, South Africa is a beautiful blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and a touch of Chardonnay from certified Biodynamic farm Waterkloof in Somerset West, it’s got a lick of spice, a hint of vanilla – and oak (£13.95). For rich pasta-based dishes, try Valpolicella, Allegrini, a fine Valpolicella for arguably the top producer in the region. Bright red in colour with hints of morello cherry and aromatic herbs and a touch of liquorice (£11.95).
You can smell and taste raisins and dried fruit in Chambers Rosewood Rutherglen Muscat. It’s rich yet also has sweet spicy cinnamon and a zesty orange liqueur (£12.95).Lovely with fruity desserts and heavenly with blue cheese such as Roquefort, Domaine Grange Nueve, Monbazillac is a sweet and luscious dessert wine. It smells of marmalade and ripe nectarine followed by honey and toffee and bitter orange zest – mmmmm (£9.95).
Blue cheese goes particularly well with sweet wines. Ginestet Sauternes would be lovely match (£10.95/50cl) as would The Noble by highly respected Australian producer d’Arenberg (£11.50/50cl). Hard cheeses such as Cheddar and Gouda marry perfectly with a late bottled vintage port, like Quinta Infantado 2011 (£15.95).
So there you go, peeps. Hope you’ve found that useful. Pop in and see Andrew if you want some advice, and he can put a lovely selection together for you, totally based on your budget. Happy *hic* Christmas all!
The Grape and the Good, 2 Priory Road, Wells BA5 1SY. Tel 01749 938180. thegrapeandthegood.com