WINE O’CLOCK: Time to talk turkey – not to mention spiced beef
When planning Christmas dinner I always start with the best of good intentions. Quality before quantity, don’t go mad on the sauces, remember the vegetarians in our midst.
Then I add a bit of this, because it was a big hit last year, a bit of that because my grandchildren love it, and a load of something else because it was on offer at Dunnes. I end up with a dinner menu that looks like I picked it from a food store’s catalogue while wearing a blindfold. And it’s great.
Picking wine to match this seasonal smörgåsbord is difficult. There are flavours on the table that will overpower light whites. Ham and roasted vegetables will stand up well to hearty reds but fish and shellfish will not, nor will turkey.
You can’t please everyone, but I will do my best with five wines for the table: two with the first course, two with the main course and a dessert wine. I’ll write about dessert wines next week.
These are my big four.
Comte de Senneval Champagne Brut (€19.66, Lidl)
In Ireland we tend to think of Champagne as a stand-alone drink, or aperitif, rather than an accompaniment for food. but this zesty sparkler, with a distinct citrus tang, makes a lovely match for shellfish, white fish, or any light dish involving, say, paté or cream cheese.
Wildflower Pinot Grigio (€9, O’Briens)
Romanian wines have become popular. I tried this one recently and enjoyed it more than some of the rather bland Pinot Grigio we get from Italy. Nothing bland about this. There’s pear and apple flavours and a floral aroma that lives up to its name. O’Briens have it on offer, reduced from €13.73.
La Boussole Pinot Noir ‘Les Grandes Côtes’ Pays d’Oc (€14.45, Le Caveau, Kilkenny)
Pinot Noir is a traditional partner for turkey because it is gentle enough not to overpower the light meat while still holding its own against the many other flavours of a Christmas dinner. This one, from the Languedoc, complements the fruity flavours you expect from a Pinot Noir with a slightly smoky after-taste. Its relatively low alcohol lefvel (12.5%) may be a bonus on Christmas Day.
Macon-Lugny Duboeuf Chardonnay (€14.76 SuperValu).
A good Chardonnay will match well with most of your Christmas mains, although I’d draw the line at spiced beef, or any sort of beef for that matter. The Duboeuf name is particularly associated with Beaujolais, which could very happily be substituted for the Pinot Noir. This a nice , crisp, medium-bodied white made entirely from Chardonnay grapes. On offer at the moment, reduced from €17.21.