CHRISTMAS TIPPLES TO GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE DAY

I love Christmas. I still get excited about it – what’s not to love about all-day feasting, hanging out with the family and, of course, PRESENTS. In recent years, I’ve added another component to the excitement, and that’s choosing some special wines to celebrate the day with. I see it as a time to splash out and let it all hang out, so I have no problem with pairing wines with every part of the day, starting with present-opening to slouching on the couching for the big post-cheeseboard movie. Here are my suggestions for the big day – dip in and out of them or enjoy them all!

Let’s start at the beginning: Christmas morning. Time for pressies! If there is anything that pairs with pressies, it’s Champagne. As sparkly as gift-wrap and as bubbly as the excitement in your stomach, a glass of the fizzy stuff is a fabulous way to start the day. Of all of the Champagnes I tried this year, the Drappier Champagne Pére Pinot stood out to me as something timeless and a little bit vintage in style, suiting Christmas vibes to a tee. A unique blend of four Pinots (Noir, Blanc, Gris and Meunier), it’s golden in colour with a fine, creamy mousse. It’s crisp but with a toasty and mellow finish – and with only 1200 produced, it is something really special. If you can’t get your hands on this one, I rate their entire range highly – I’m sure any one of them would pair perfectly with with my ideal Christmas breakfast of Eggs Royale.

Drappier Champagne Pére Pinot

After breakfast, it’s probably time to start preparing lunch. You might already be feeling a little bit merry, so a refreshing livener will get you in the mood to peel some sprouts. For that, I’d recommend a G&T. For this year’s zippy perk-me-up, I thought I’d try Skinny Tonic with my juniper juice – every calorie saved is one more spent on goose fat potatoes, right? Skinny Tonic is a zero-calorie, zero-sugar tonic water that uses all natural ingredients. I like the Light Citrus flavour of The Blue One for a Mediterranean edge.

Skinny Tonic

At this point, I’d add that you don’t have to be a boozehound at Christmas – you can totally enjoy the day and join in the bubbly bunch with some low or no alcohol tipples. If your experience of low or no alcohol wine thus far is sugary fruity fizz or bitter odd-tasting wine, I’ll point you in the direction of Wild Life Botanicals. Available in two styles, Nude and Blush, these 0.5% ABV sparkling wines look special in their foil-topped Champagne-shaped bottles and taste really, really good. They are dry and crisp, laced with natural fruitiness, plus they are made using plant power and are actually brimming with vitamins, minerals and botanicals. Sparkling wine that is good for you… who’d have thunk it? I was really impressed by these and even for drinkers, they are a nice change at times when you want to slow down the pace or level out the units.

Wild Life Botanicals

If you ARE a boozehound and want something to go with your pre-lunch nibbles, I’d say let’s get out the rosé. I drank a lot of great rosés in the sunshine this year and I’m not waiting until April to get them out again. Provence rosé is actually a great wine to have as as aperitif because it’s light and unintrusive; it’s not going to break your palate before the hors d’oeuvres. My rosé of choice for Christmas is Château Saint-Maur, Côtes de Provence 2018. Floral and peachy on the nose, it smacks of freshness. More mineral than fruity, it will prime your tastebuds wonderfully for the feast to follow.

Château Saint-Maur, Côtes de Provence

Right, it’s time for lunch. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had a prawn cocktail for starters – it’s a tradition I can’t change! (Luckily prawn cocktail is also one of my favourite things to eat – retro awesomeness in a martini glass). What is a fail-safe wine to drink with seafood and makes a change from Champagne? Vinho Verde. It’s a mistake to box in this friendly Portuguese wine with summertime – it’s a seafood white for all year round and I’ve yet to find any complaints when I pop open a bottle to pair with scallops, crab or juicy prawn. The off-dryness of Loureiro’s Single Varietal Vinho Verde is ideal with sweeter seafood and its gentle petillance refreshes the mouth and keeps things nice and light.

Loureiro’s Single Varietal Vinho Verde

Now, what o’ what to have with the turkey?! OK, it’s poultry, so you might go white, which is fair. But I always feel more medieval when I drink red – and a huge, massive turkey, legs and all, really belongs on a medieval feasting table. It’s your call, but I just like red with my Christmas Dinner. I’ve chosen a very drinkable Bordeaux – Château Thieuley Rouge 2015. A Merlot-dominant blend, it’s velvety, it’s juicy, there are no astrigent tannins to mellow out; it’s a Bordeaux that really is a people-pleaser. It will go really well with the other stuff on your plate too, like the cranberry sauce, the sausage and herb stuffing and those salty pigs-in-blankets. PLUS, if you’re having none of the above and are opting for a nut roast with meat-free trimmings, this wine is certified vegan.

Château Thieuley Rouge 2015

Now, what to finish with? We need something sweet and sticky for the pud, the cheeses and the melting into the sofa part. I’ve always been a port girl rather than a Bailey’s girl, but I go weak at the knees for a Canadian ice wine. Followed by a syrupy Tokaji Eszencia. Hang on, what about a Pedro Ximénez? We’ve got to have some sherry in there – and this one you can pour over your ice cream if you wish. Too. Many. Choices. Let me know what to finish my Christmas Day with in the comments below!

The drinks, in summary:

THE BUBBLY: Champagne Drappier, Champagne Pére Pinot

THE G&T: With Skinny Tonic

THE LOW ALCOHOL ONE: Wild Life Botanicals, Nude or Blush

THE ROSÉ: L’Excellence, Château Saint-Maur, Côtes de Provence, 2018

THE WHITE: Loureiro, Single Varietal Vinho Verde

THE RED: Château Thieuley Rouge, Bordeaux 2015

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