I cover in two separate blogposts
b) guidance on wines to serve with starters, brunch dishes and party food typically eaten at Christmas.
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. The main aim in general should be to match the weight of the dish with the body of the wine. In this blog post I give some suggestions for wines to drink with Christmas Pudding, other Christmas desserts and cheese. Firstly, when pairing desserts & wine …
You might think that drinking a wine that is even sweeter than a dessert would make the dessert seem sickly sweet but that is not the case. It will actually help to avoid creating an acidic or sour taste in the mouth. Of course the sweet wine must have good acidity too as that will also stop the combination seeming OTT; the acidity will cut through the sweetness and make the mouth water.
Ruby Port or Tawny Port is the traditional wine to have with a traditional Christmas pudding. The warm fruitiness of ruby port and the nutty flavours of tawny port both complement the rich fruit & nut flavours of the Christmas pudding. Which of these you choose is a matter of personal preference, whether you prefer the fruity ruby or the nutty tawny. But should you want to try something very different, I can recommend the following:
Vin Doux Naturel – like port, VDNs are fortified with spirit to stop fermentation before all the sugar has converted into alcohol. It’s less sweet than a dessert wine, lighter and less alcoholic than port. They tend to combine fresh and fruity flavours with warm spices, chocolate and raisins which complement Christmas Pudding.
For mince pies and any spicy or nutty cake a tawny port works really well. The combination of the nutty flavours of the port match perfectly with the dried fruits and nuts of mince pies (and Christmas Pudding). The acidity of the port should also help balance the richness of the mincemeat.
Bila-Haut’s Vin Doux Naturel is fresh and fruity but its hints of warm spice, nuts and raisins are the perfect match for mince pies.
Prosecco is the classic partner for this Italian Christmas speciality, ask most Italians! It should be Extra Dry Prosecco which is a bit of a misnomer as Extra Dry is actually slightly sweeter than Brut (which is the normal level of sweetness of most of the Champagne that we drink here in the UK).
However I know some Italians who swear by the afore-mentioned Moscato because it’s slight sweetness is the perfect match with the not-too-sweet panettone.
Trifle and other creamy and fruity desserts will also benefit from a sweet sparkling Moscato d’Asti because whilst the wine is sweet it also has mouth-watering acidity which cuts through the rich cream and custard and complements the fruit.
Tawny port will complement the dried fruit and nuttiness of a trifle laden with sherry, though it must be a prt with good acidity to slice through the cream. And obviously sherry might also do the trick!
But if you really don’t want sweeter wine with your trifle, try something like a Crémant de Bourgogne – this champagne-like sparkling white wine is fruity and creamy and will complement all the cream in the trifle.
People often stick to the red wine they have been drinking with their main course when they get to their dessert but this is in most cases a mistake as they soon find out. Certainly when eating a chocolate dessert, avoid red wine as the tannins found in most red wines can clash with chocolate and make the wine taste very bitter.
So for rich chocolate desserts again my advice would be to try a sparkling Moscato d’Asti – the lightness of this wine and the bubbles will cut through the richness. Ruby port is an alternative as it is fruity enough to provide a foil to all that rich chocolate.
And for something a little different, you could try an ice wine also known as eiswein. These are wines produced from grapes left to freeze on the vines; when the grapes are pressed only the sweet juices that have not frozen are used in the wines. Ice wine should also have good acidity to prevent them being too sweet and to help them pair well with most puddings. Chocolate and ice wine is a particularly good match!
And of course there is always dessert wine like Sauternes which will pair well with most desserts and – perhaps more surprisingly – with blue cheeses like Roquefort (and with foie gras for those with a preference for more savoury dishes).
… if you still have room for cheese …
Matching cheese and wine will be the subject of a whole new blogpost given the vast range of different cheeses so I will keep it simple for this blogpost:
Stilton, well it is Christmas… – it has to be port, either a Tawny Port or a Ruby Port depending on whether you prefer the nutty flavours of the former or the fruity flavours of the latter
Cheddar – again a Tawny or a Ruby port will make a great match but you could carry on with the red wine you’ve been drinking as long as the tannins are soft as in an aged Left Bank Bordeaux. Alternatively it may surprise you to know that an oaked Chardonnay can pair well with some cheeses including Cheddar
You may be surprised that white wines feature prominently in this section but white wine doesn’t have the tannins that clash with the saltiness of many cheeses. And if you have switched back to white after red, you may be surprised how white wine can cleanse the palate.
My Christmas Red mixed case and white mixed case include several of the wines suggested in my Christmas food & wine blogposts. But if you want help putting together a mixed case of your own, please feel free to call me on 0333 772 0301 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Did you know that 50% of my lovely customers prefer the direct approach and order by phone or email rather than via the website?
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?
0333 772 0301
Sign up to my newsletter to receive exclusive offers and learn more about Wines With Attitude