With Bonfire Night out of the way, it’s time to look ahead towards Christmas. And that includes what to eat, what to wear and what to drink. Tis the season for people to enjoy their favourites, whether that’s a glass of fizz with Christmas Day breakfast or a rose with dinner. But it’s also a good idea to think about what will really complement your Christmas dinner.
For many people, it just wouldn’t be Christmas dinner without a turkey. It’s a tradition that stretches as far back as the 16th century in the UK, although it was Queen Victoria who made it a staple at the festival dinner table a bit later on.
The main characteristics of turkey are the delicate, low fat white meat. There is no powerful flavour and it must be cooked carefully to retain its juices. For this reason, a great choice to go with your bird is a full-bodied white wine. Choose one with relatively high acidity and low to medium tannin.
Why tannin is the enemy
Tannin doesn’t work with a traditional Christmas dinner because a lack of fat in the meat gives nothing to soften it. This is why the wine can easily taste harsh and accentuated. The saltiness of the food can also increase the bitterness of the tannin flavour.
Of course, you’re not just matching your wine with the meat. You also need to consider the complex accompaniments that generally go with Christmas dinner. These range from the bitterness of dark greens and brussel sprouts to the sweetness of cranberry sauce and saltiness of bacon.
Choose white for Christmas dinner
Many people ignore whites when it comes to Christmas dinner. But a full-bodied Chardonnay can be a real delight. It works particularly well with a well-cooked turkey and traditional side dishes, such as bread sauce. An oaky richness gives off notes of sweet spice, and the creaminess of the acid helps drier meat taste better.
Look for a decent Chardonnay from the same regions you’d find a good Pinot Noir. For example, White Burgundy from the Cote de Beaune region tends to please everyone.
You’re looking for high levels of acidity and minerality to help cleanse your palate, which will help people enjoy the richness of the meal more. Other great examples can be found in New Zealand. Try the Kumeu River Chardonnays which are from an area near Auckland for a delicious white.
Remember that it’s never too early to stock up in time for Christmas. And if you find yourself burdened with a few too many bottles, you can always enjoy them in the run-up to the festive period!