Wines for a festive feast
Sax Grüner Veltliner Zwillingslauser, Kamptal, Austria 2019 (£13.50, stonevine.co.uk) There’s a lot going on in the classic Christmas roast dinner. So much, in fact, that it makes the sort of finicky/precise (delete according to temperament) food and wine matching you might try out on a less cacophonous dish all but impossible. I mean, ideally, the wine I’d choose to have with a warm winter’s evening dinner of sprouts fried with bacon would be very different from the one I’d have with a piece of turkey breast, or cauliflower slathered in bread sauce or an umami-rich mushroom-based nut roast. When it comes to choosing wines for what is essentially a buffet, then, I reckon it’s best to go to either end of wine’s structural extremes: something with plenty of acidity to refresh and cut through; or something robust that can stand up to the flavour and textural variety. Fitting the first of those bills: Weingut Sax’s scintillating, finely balanced, citrus tangy, pear-apple fleshy beauty of a dry white.
Domaine Bernard Metrat La Roilette Vieilles Vignes, Fleurie, Beaujolais, 2018 (£16.99, virginwines.co.uk) Other whites that share that nervy, wake-up-call freshness and clarity include steel-backboned Australian rieslings such as Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling, Clare Valley 2019 (£12.50, Marks & Spencer), with its ripple of lime and peach; and silvery Chablis such as the impeccably cool Nathalie & Gilles Fèvre Chablis 2018 (from £16.99, robertsandspeight.co.uk; robertrolls.com). When it comes to refreshing reds, the warmth of the Alentejo in southern Portugal wouldn’t usually be my first port of call, but the explosively fresh but deep, violet-edged berry fruitiness of the unoaked Fitapreta A Touriga Vai Nua 2019 (£14.95, swig.co.uk) would be brilliant at quenching the thirst and refreshing the appetite on Friday. It’s reminiscent in some ways of good honest Beaujolais, a style that also works well with all manner of festive (and everyday) feasting: for a bright and very pretty example, I loved the floral lilt and cherry fruit of Domaine Bernard Metrat’s Fleurie.
Clos Cibonne Tradition Côtes de Provence Cru Classé Tibouren, France 2019 (£29, redsquirrelwine.com) For the richer, more robust white option you could stay with the same grape as chablis, chardonnay, either from the opposite, southern end of Burgundy (the fleshy balanced depths of Domaine de la Croix Senaillat Mâcon-Davayé 2018; from £14.60, vinvm.co.uk; bottleapostle.com) or made with the influence of oak (the luxuriously rich but fine Finca Carbonera 875m Chardonnay Rioja 2019; from £13.99, simplywinesdirect.uk; bgwm.co.uk). Rioja reds, which at their best combine natural power with the mellowness of age, are a popular Christmas Day choice for a reason: Morrisons The Best Marqués de Los Ríos Gran Reserva 2013 (£12) is superb value for such multilayered maturity. Also doing the robust red thing for a song is the liquorice and bramble fruit of Taste the Difference Languedoc Red (£7.50, Sainsbury’s), while the succulence of Clos Cibonne’s Provençal red, with its peppery verve, herbiness and red-fruited prettiness, is simultaneously – if paradoxically – robust and refreshing.