Wines For Life, Not Just For Christmas
I don’t know exactly what makes a Christmas wine. Is it the ability to pair with Turkey? Does it HAVE to be food-friendly? Or does it maybe have to impress your father-in-law who only drinks the most expensive French labels? Surely, if there was a concrete answer wouldn’t we be drinking the same thing every year?
I guess it’s just about finding a nice wine that you can enjoy in good company and with good food. I mean, isn’t that what all wines are about?
That’s why I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite versatile wines that I drink all year round that will also work for the festive season. I hope you enjoy!
Wine for: Posh nibbles with the girls
Apart from having quite a funny name that makes for a few giggles, this 100% Chenin from the Western Cape has deliciously ripe tropical fruit flavours along with a sharp citrus note, crisp apple and tingly acidity. A perfect wine for any smoked salmon, avocado, goat’s cheese or fresh seafood entréé.
Wine for: A smelly Cheeseboard
This Chilean Gewurztraminer from Colchagua Valley is one of my absolute favourites for a cheeseboard. Aromatic yet dry with tons of rose, orange blossom, candied citrus and lychee, the sweeter aromatics pair extremely well with the stinkier cheeses that are quite hard to match.
Wine for: The mother-in-law
This is a classic, fresh and minerally organic Muscadet that has a delicious weight from the lees contact, a slight citrus pith tang and a long, tingly saline finish. A great wine with fish, particularly in a creamy or buttery sauce or even chicken in a lighter sauce. I’ve had this with Quicke’s Goat Cheddar from Ty Caws and I must say it was such a great match! Otherwise, just drink as an apéritif or offer it to your mother-in-law as a Sauvignon alternative. Trust me, she’ll love it.
Wine for: A take-away.
Austrian wines rarely get the attention they deserve so I thought I’d throw this number into the mix. Made from 100% Gruner Veltliner grapes, this beaut is a glass of citrus, green apple and stone fruits mixed with green herbs ending with a peppery aftertaste. The green, herbaceous notes compliment green vegetables like asparagus while the acidity and gentle spice can work well with moderately spicy Asian foods like vietnamese noodles.
Wine for: A bit of everything
White Bordeauxs are my jam at the moment. I love how a Sauvignon and Sémillon blend together to create a fresh, dry and citrusy wine that is also full-bodied with honeyed overtones. The Département has lime and honeysuckle on the nose that follow through onto a wonderfully textured palate, with refreshing acidity and a driven mineral finish. The fruit and minerality in this wine makes it very versatile. It would go with a nice bit of fish as well as with lighter meat dishes or game.
Wine for: Boxing Day dinner
I’m obsessed with this organic producer and stock pretty much all of their wines. This one in particular has been a hit in all of our tastings and often sells out so I have to buy in bulk!
The black cherry and intense fruity notes of blackcurrant and strawberries give way to a light touch of black pepper, tobacco leaf and chocolate. It’s a stupidly smooth wine with lush tannins and velvety vanilla. This is my go-to steak with peppercorn sauce wine that I’m certain would go well with any pepper crust or spiced meat.
Wine for: A gift/Christmas dinner
I often recommend this wine as a gift as it’s such a sexy wine that never disappoints. Deep, rich red in colour, this 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot is full-bodied with bold black fruits, dark cherry, beautifully mixed tannins and has a gentle spice to balance out the rich fruit. It goes with anything from Beef cassoulet, mushrooms, confit duck & roast lamb to roast pork, mild blue cheese and Turkey. Plus it’s my mum’s favourite and there’s no higher praise.
Wine for: Christmas Turkey
With wild strawberry and cranberry, sweet spices, a touch of pepper and a tangy acidity, this Sicilian beauty is the most perfect turkey wine I’ve ever tasted. Even non-red wine drinkers have taken to it, which I think speaks to its freshness and vibrancy. You could also drink this while getting dinner ready without getting that “red wine tired brain”.
Wine for: Parties and catch ups
I’ve not met anyone who doesn’t like this wine yet! Made with 100% Primitivo grapes, it’s an intense, fruity number full of jammy plum fruit and savoury spice. Smooth textured with a lick of vanilla on the finish, this is a wine that will go with most hearty, homemade meals. This is why I usually take a bottle to a friend’s house when I have no idea what they’re cooking!
Wine for: Statement piece
With 95% Grenache and 5% barrel fermented white Grenache, this is a perfumed wine with lots of red fruits and some spice from oak. Tannins are soft and the acidity refreshing but it’s surprisingly complex as well as juicy and drinkable. Crack this bad boy open with your Christmas dinner leftovers if you want another posh meal. It’s also wax sealed, which is a pain to open but looks impressive.
Wine for: Christmas morning
I find many Champagnes to be overpriced and (dare I say it) overrated, which is why I’d much rather spend my money on a traditional method sparkling from literally anywhere else. This South African blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir ticks all my boxes with peach, hints of citrus and a slight toasted nutty character and creamy biscuit flavour that compliments the fruit. A fizz for all occasions, this is what I want to be drinking on Christmas morning.
Wine for: Impressing your friends
It would be silly of me not to include a Welsh wine on the list so here is one of my favourites from West Wales. This is a grapey, aromatic and intense wine, all nettles and grapefruit zest with a crisp, refreshing finish. Great with fresh and salty cheeses or small pastries.
Wine for: A celebration.
A dry, pink sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir and Seyval Blanc from a Welsh vineyard in Monmouthshire. Spending just under 2 years on the lees has added finesse and complexity to the delicate red fruit aromas, creating a gorgeously versatile wine. This makes for a stunning aperitif for celebratory occasions.
Dessert / Fortified
Wine for: Fruity desserts
If you like a rich dessert wine then this South African Muscat is the one for you. Aromas of ripe apricot, melon, almond and apple make for the perfect pairing with fruit based desserts, especially if it includes marzipan.
Wine for: Chocolate & cake
Christmas just isn’t Christmas for me without a bowl of vanilla ice cream drenched in a syrupy Pedro Ximenez. The Intense aromas of raisins, liquorice and coffee also go wonderfully with dark chocolate and blue cheeses and I would even say that it would add a nice kick to your Christmas pudding!
Wine for: The big cheeseboard
Last year I managed to get my hands on a small amount of limited and unique Welsh fortified wine from White Castle Vineyard! Only 530 bottles of this LBV port-style wine have been made, making it the perfect fortified wine for a special occasion or a unique gift. Intense blackberry and bramble flavours and a rich, soft, lingering palate make this a perfect accompaniment to an impressive cheese board.