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Perhaps the best advice of all comes from wine writer Victoria Moore: 

“Christmas dinner is like the big box of decorations in the cupboard under the steps, filled with gaudy baubles, tasteful baubles, ugly baubles, matching baubles and clashing baubles: a big hotch-potch of family tradition, colour and whim.

“When you sit down at the Christmas table, the first duty of the wine is not actually to go with the food but to go with your mood: it must be festive and celebratory. The best advice is therefore to drink the wine you quite fancy at the time. Maybe it’s classic, reassuring claret, or maybe it’s a sturdy, hairy Chilean carmenère. Who can say fairer than that?”

Who can say fairer than that indeed? Take port for example. It’s the one time in the year when drinking the stuff at 3pm is not only perfectly acceptable, but to be encouraged, for after port we become mellow, everything hunky dory with the world. “I’ll have another one of those Cadbury’s selection please.” (Some port even tastes of chocolate anyway, so no harm done.) As bonus, port won’t kill your cheese, especially those salty Roqueforts or Gorgonzolas. 

I’m still trying to decide which port I want this Christmas. Either Niepoort 2000 or Fonseca 1997. I expect both to be very good. The Niepoort will be fruity, the Fonseca more austere. If you don’t want to blow your budget on Vintage Port, it won’t matter a damn as port comes in so many styles and guises that even a ten- or twelve-pound bottle of Ruby or Late vintage port will be more than adequate.

There’s so many out there you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Champagne is another must-have for Christmas. Someone gave me a magnum of the stuff years ago, ironically for buying and delivering a magnum of Champagne to a doctor in Gibraltar. It’s a magnum of Veuve Clicquot, yellow label, and that’s going to be opened this Christmas. According to the produce’s website, the wine is an ideal pairing for sea food, fish tartare, blinis, salmon, Parmesan, pasta and crackers – presumably the ones you don’t pull, though thinking about it, a couple of glasses of bubbly may be the perfect pairing for the carboard ones, making the crappy jokes inside bearable. (Why did the chicken cross the road?) If you prefer Cava to Champagne, there’s so many out there you’ll be spoilt for choice. The same goes for Prosecco.

There are several whites I’d like to taste this Christmas. Bodegas Allende 2016 white Rioja is a super wine. Old fashioned, lanolin and glycerine as it should be. Muga white Rioja 2019 an acceptable alternative at a fraction of the price. Wonderful as these white Riojas are, I’ll still have a bottle or two of white Burgundy at the ready. A Meursault or St Aubin; one rich the other leaner than a ballet dancer on hunger strike.

“Better a poor bottle amongst friends than the finest of fine wines in dubious company.” 

For reds I have some Riojas which I am looking forward to tasting. Tondonia 1989 should be interesting assuming it’s survived all this time. Viña Ardanza 2010 won’t be shabby either.

As a wise fellow once said, “Better a poor bottle amongst friends than the finest of fine wines in dubious company.” 

Whatever your poison this Christmas, have a nice one. 

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