The Most Wonderful Time of the Year surely calls for a really special wine. There wasn’t too much to celebrate this time last year, with various stages of lockdown already in place – or imminent. This Christmas, however, should thankfully be different. Parties are back, and friends and family are once again allowed to mingle. So, there’s really no time to lose in terms of assembling your liquid refreshments.
There’s much more to Christmas wine than the mulled variety. The traditional festive lunch calls for big bold reds – as does the obligatory cheeseboard. But there’s plenty of scope for divine dry whites and, of course, plenty of fabulous fizz. Read on to discover a selection of product manager Luke’s festive faves, plus some wine cabinet recommendations to ensure everything is served at the optimum temperature:
Classic Christmas Wine: Reds
Let’s talk turkey. Unless you’re vegan or vegetarian, it’s what most Brits consider to be the de rigueur Christmas dish. It is however prone to dryness. So, I would recommend a medium-bodied red that won’t overpower it, but will add a little vibrancy to the proceedings. The key is to avoid anything too tart or high in tannins. Pinot Noir would be my first pick – it works brilliantly with fruity stuffing and cranberry sauce.
Look out for Louis Guntrum Pinot Noir (usually £14.99 but currently on offer at Waitrose for a bargainous £11.99). Hailing from Rheinhessen, in Germany, this medium-bodied wine is bursting with juicy cherry and raspberry flavours. The oak is gentle, and well-integrated. A classic of its genre – and it happens to be vegan, too.
Ideally, Pinot Noir should be served slightly cooler than room temperature. This is a grape variety that really doesn’t benefit from being too cold or too warm. Individual wines will vary of course, but the ideal storage temperature for Pinot Noir is around 12-14°C. So, get rid of the guesswork with a dedicated wine cabinet. Our WC6401 In-Column Single Zone model, from our Classic collection, would fit the bill perfectly. It features a single temperature zone with a range of 5°C to 18°C to accommodate red, white or sparkling wine.
It incorporates no-frost compressor cooling technology and an energy-efficient glass door. This stainless steel-framed appliance incorporates no-frost compressor cooling technology, so your wine will retain all its flavour, and an energy-efficient glass door. It will also look the part in a super-stylish kitchen and it’s extra quiet with a sound level of just 39dB making this the perfect choice for an open-plan kitchen.
Pairing with Roast Beef
If you’re giving turkey the swerve and plan to serve up red meat instead, your accompanying alcohol choice can be bigger and bolder. The Wine Society’s Exhibition Victoria Shiraz 2019 (£14.50 for 750ml) is more than a match for a joint of roast beef. Extra ripe and full-bodied, this vintage wine ticks all the boxes for lovers of big, generous reds. It features cassis, cocoa and spice on the nose, and explodes (in a good way!) with flavour.
I’d store a special wine like this in our Sense Premium Wi6150 Undercounter Dual Zone Cabinet. This eco-friendly, professional-style appliance features four programme functions, including a special setting, which turns the lights out when it’s not in use. An intelligent mode also adds to its environmentally-aware credentials, as this adjusts the speed of the fan, which is dependent on the ambient temperature. Capacity-wise, it can store up to 44 Bordeaux-style bottles – which should be enough for almost any Christmas lunch!
Wonderful Christmas wine: whites
Plenty of Christmas dishes pair better with white wine and fish is the most obvious. Oily, “meaty” fish can handle bolder whites, but choose something lighter for, say, lemon sole. Smoked salmon is an enduringly popular Christmas Day starter (and also works well with scrambled eggs for that special breakfast!) To go with it, choose something crisp and citrusy,
such as Sancerre, to cut through the fat. Its gorgeous texture and refreshing acidity really is the perfect pairing. Aldi wines deliver plenty of bang for your buck, and the Specially Selected collection has some real quality picks. I recommend the Specially Selected Sancerre (£11.99 for 750ml). This delicious dry white works well with poultry and seafood too. Serve at 8°C-10°C.
If you don’t drink a lot of wine – or only have a compact kitchen – why not consider our Classic Wi157 Undercounter Single Zone Cabinet, which will be available as an updated version, the Wi159, from February. Featuring one temperature zone, this can store either reds or whites. With a width of just 145mm, this high-performance appliance really does fit into the smallest spaces, proving you don’t need a huge wine cellar to ensure the perfect pour. Our Sense Wi156 – also due to be updated to the Wi158 in February – is a similar sized alternative.
In praise of pink
Most people associate rosé wine with summer. It’s delicious, undemanding, and something most of us order automatically while on holiday. But apparently, supermarkets are reporting that rosé sales are holding up well throughout autumn and winter, too. So do consider introducing some to your Christmas wine list.
I like Chateau Bauduc Rosé (£12.50 a bottle). This crisp, pale pink has been the house rosé for Rick Stein for many years: think St Tropez meets Padstow. This dry, easy drinking one is made from equal parts of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. It works well with everything from canapés to Thai green curry.
If your kitchen has the space to accommodate a freestanding wine cabinet, why not ask Santa for an ‘advance’ present and treat yourself to our Sense WF1553 model. We’ve chosen stylish beech shelves with seven wine label holders for a professional finish for this appliance. This model features three temperature zones and can accommodate Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne-style bottles, with a total net capacity of 404 litres.
Many people consider Champagne to be the quintessential Christmas drink. No Christmas party is complete without that unmistakeable celebratory ‘pop’. In fact, the only downside to Christmas wine, in terms of Champagne, is the price point. It’s easy to spend big, especially if you’re buying a lot, but if you’re prepared to shop around there are some quality bargains to be had.
If you’re insistent on vintage, The Co-Op’s Les Pionniers Vintage Champagne is hard to beat. Priced at £26.99 for 750ml, it was apparently used to toast the departure of chef James Martin on Saturday Kitchen. This award-winning Champagne regularly out-tastes many a top grand marque, so it’s worth splashing out on.
If you’re counting the pennies, try Lidl’s Comte de Senneval Champagne Brut (£13.99 for 750ml) instead. It features a blend of citrus and biscuity flavours, leading to a clean, dry finish that tastes far more expensive than it actually is.
If you’ve cash to splash on your wine storage, I’d recommend investing in our luxury Sense Premium WC1800 In-Column Triple Zone Wine Cabinet. It’s furniture-clad, which means you can frame it to match your kitchen cabinetry, so the aesthetics are amazing.
In terms of functionality, your wine will benefit from three independently controlled temperature zones with three charcoal filters, which help to purify the air. Four light functions can help you determine the level of brightness you require and an energy-efficient eco-setting switches off internal lighting when not required. This top-of-the-range wine cabinet is quiet too, operating at only 43dB, which makes it ideal for open-plan living.
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