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The perfect wines to drink with Christmas dinner

The perfect wines for Christmas dinner by Wines With Attitude

You’ve bought the turkey, made the cranberry sauce and peeled the brussel sprouts but what are you going to drink with your Christmas meal? Let’s take a look some suggestions for wines that complement typical Christmas dishes that feature as a main course for Christmas dinner in homes across the UK – and at wines that won’t match so well.

See my separate blog post covering Christmas desserts and wine.


Firstly, Christmas is about having fun and meeting up with family and friends. It’s not about stressing out about which wine or wines to have with dinner. If you just want the easy option and stick to your favourite wine, then no-one is going to turn up their noses and say that the wine you have chosen is absolutely the wrong choice to go with turkey or whatever you have chosen to cook.What you chose to drink should be based on your personal tastes so that you can relax and enjoy yourself.

In any case, you’ll be relieved to hear, there can be no hard and fast rules for wine at this time of year. 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. 

However there are a few basic tips as laid out in my Food & Wine Matching Guidelines that might help you find wines that won’t be overwhelmed by all the food’s flavours and that might even enhance the meal.


My absolute number one tip for any meal, not just for Christmas dinner is worth remembering.

The main aim in any food & wine pairing should be to match the weight of the meal with the body of the wine.

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

Christmas dinner wines by Wines With Attitude


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.
Another thing to consider is that turkey has a tendency to dry out and you therefore need quite a juicy wine.
Therefore I would suggest:
Cranberry sauce for Christmas dinner by Wines With A

White wines that are quite full-bodied and that are aromatic will work perfectly such as

If you prefer red wine with your turkey or chicken there is also plenty of choice of weightier wines but make sure that they do not have too many tannins. A wine that is quite tannic can seem quite harsh because these white meats have very little fat to help soften the tannins. So try one of the following:

  • claret with a bit of age (a red Bordeaux) – age should have softened the tannins or
  • a silky New World Pinot Noir which generally has soft tannins or
  • if you are a traditionalist, a smooth Rhône wine would also fit the bill.

Bear in mind that if you enjoy your turkey with fruit sauces such as cranberry sauce, younger, fruity wines will work well and they provide the juiciness if the turkey has dried out a little. So you could try a soft Cru Beaujolais.

And if these are too many suggestions, a premium Sangiovese with a few years under its belt like this Rosso di Montalcino should balance the fresh fruit flavours you need with some savoury notes from ageing and be a real treat.


Making a comeback, goose makes a very tasty alternative to the traditional turkey and is much less likely to go dry. Goose meat is oily and that greasiness 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 meat seem less rich.

White wine might not be the obvious choice with goose but a relatively full-bodied white with aromatics and juicy fruit flavours would fit the bill like

  • a pure Semillon which has good body and a nice nuttiness which will also complement the goose or
  • Semillon Sauvignon blend where the Sauvignon will increase the mouth-watering acidity of the wine to help cut through the fat.

Red is perhaps more traditional for goose and it should be a fruity wine that has some tannins and acidity so try


Traditionalists may look for the heaviest claret to go with beef but the best wine match will depend on the fattiness of the beef:


It is always best to avoid drinking highly tannic wines with salty meat like ham or gammon 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 well to choose a wine with juicy fruit flavours and low tannins.
For red wine with ham, fruity reds are the best option. For example,

White wine can also work well with ham so don’t discount it as an option but make sure it is fruity like


One of my favourites during the festive season, on a day when you can’t face another heavy meal, is whole poached salmon and it is great for family gatherings. The accompanying wine for poached salmon traditionally should be
  • an oaked Chardonnay from Burgundy, a classic combination


I realise that nut roast may be a bit of a cliché these days when there are so many great vegetarian and vegan dishes available but it does still seem to be a popular Christmas option. However bear in mind that nut roast can be quite rich so it needs:


Although there seem to be a lot of options for the perfect wines to drink with Christmas dinner, it really depends what your main course is going to be. Whatever it is, my general rule would be as per my number one tip – 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
Christmas wine from Wines With Attitude


I am passionate about good quality wine and set up Wines With Attitude to share that passion with other wine lovers. If you’re feeling sociable why not follow me on social media or share my blog with others?

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