The perfect wines to drink with Christmas dinner

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Tips for matching Christmas main courses with wine

In this blogpost I look at the typical Christmas dishes that feature as a main course for Christmas dinner in UK homes and make suggestions about wines that can complement them - and about wines that won't match so well. See my separate blog posts covering a) Christmas desserts and wine and b) wine for Christmas starters, brunch dishes and party food.

There are no hard and fast rules for wine at this time of year as we tend to eat such a wide range of foods that it is difficult to find wines to complement all of the different flavours; think of a typical Christmas dinner with the lean turkey, fatty sausages, the accompanying fruity cranberry sauce and the contrasting rich milk-based bread sauce.  Nor do we want to dictate what you should be drinking as this should be based on your personal tastes so that you can relax and enjoy yourself.

However remember the basics as laid out in my Food & Wine Matching Guidelines and you should find that the food is enhanced by serving complementary wines. 

The main aim in food & wine pairing should be to....

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Below I list some typical Christmas main courses and give some suggestions for wines that will enhance rather than clash with the food.

Wines for Turkey

Turkey (or chicken) is a relatively light meat but all the accompaniments that we tend to have with it make the typical UK Christmas dinner quite a rich affair so wines need to have some weight to match the meal. Therefore I would suggest

Bear in mind that if you enjoy your turkey with fruit sauces such as cranberry sauce, younger, fruity wines will work better so try a soft Cru Beaujolais or this fruity, Chianti-style wine.

Wines for Goose

Gaining in popularity goose makes a tasty alternative to the traditional turkey. Its meat is oily though and so needs to be balanced by wines that are relatively high in acidity, fruit and/ or tannins, all of which help cut through the fat and make the meal seem less rich

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You can't beat the classic pairing of duck with Pinot Noir. The mouth-watering acidity of Pinot will cut through any fattiness in the meat but you could get this effect also from a Cru Beaujolais. And if you prefer a more "gutsy" wine with your meal, this Oregon Pinot Noir has the body to cope with any richness.

Wines for Roast Beef

The best wine match will depend on the fattiness of the beef

Wines for Roast Ham or Gammon

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It is best always to avoid highly tannic wines with salty meat as the clashing salt and tannins make for a harsh, even bitter sensation. Sweet glazes on the meat can counter this effect a little but you would do much better by sticking to

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Wines for Poached Salmon

It has to be an oaked Chardonnay from Burgundy, another classic combination but if you are not a Chardonnay person then go for another classic like Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé.

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A popular Christmas vegetarian option, nut roast can be quite rich so it needs:

I realise that this is a bit of a stereotypical vegetarian Christmas dinner; these days there is so much more choice of interesting vegan and vegetarian food. My general rule would be as per my number one rule - match the weight of the dish with the body of the wine.

Still can't make your mind up? Try one of my Christmas cases to make life easy for yourself. Many of the wines featured in this blogpost are included in them.

I focus on foods typically eaten at this time of year; if there is something that I have not covered and you are struggling to find a good match, please feel free to call me on 0333 772 0301 or email


© Wines With Attitude Limited,

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Lindsay Cornelissen DipWSET is passionate about good quality wine and set up Wines With Attitude to share that passion with other wine lovers.

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