I love Christmas and selecting those special wines that you wouldn’t drink every night of the week. Every family has different traditions, but based on classic holiday dishes here are my favourite wine pairings.
Smoked Salmon. With something oily like smoked salmon you need some acidity to cleanse the palate, which is exactly why a squeeze of lemon over the dish works so well. A lightly oaked Chardonnay or Champagne are perfect, as they are both medium bodied, high in acidity and provide just enough brightness to cut through the oil and fat of the fish.
Shell Fish. If oysters or prawns are more your thing, I’d opt for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to match the freshness of the shellfish.
Foi Gras & Paté. For foie gras or paté you need something with a little more richness. A New Zealand Pinot Gris or Riesling would be perfect as these wines are rounder in the palate. New World pinot gris pairs sensationally with the texture of foie gras.
The Main Event
When it comes to the main course, there is so much to consider. It's not just the turkey or ham or goose, but all the accompaniments, cranberry sauce, gravy or bread sauce, stuffing/dressing, mashed potatoes...there's a lot going on.
With turkey, the best options are aged red wines with silky smooth tannins—tannins soften over time. Personally, I love Grenache blends or a powerful Pinot Noir. However, if you follow the white meat/white wine rule, then it has to Chenin Blanc and preferably old vine Chenin to give a little more palate weight and complexity.
With duck or goose you need a high-tannin, acidic red to balance the oiliness of the meat. Merlot, Nebbilolo (the grape of Barolo), Syrah or Montepulciano would be ideal.
If you opt for beef filet or roast, I’d reach for a top quality new world Cabernet Sauvignon these fruit-forward younger styles with some tannin balance the textures and flavours of most beef cuts.
Room for More?
For your Christmas pud (dessert to those in America) and after dinner cheese plate, a late harvest Semillon, with its distinguishable honey aroma and pleasant fruity and floral aftertaste is my go-to tipple. Give it a try!
See more of Emma's recommendations...and find out how she brokers a peace agreement between Alison's instance on Chardonnay and Paige's refusal to sip it, on The Feeder Live!