The tinsel and fairy lights are strung up, baubles adorn the fir tree and presents are hidden away in every crevice of the house. Now is the time to start preparing for the main event at Christmas: the food.
No matter what your traditions or preferred festive activities, we can all agree that everyone looks forward to indulging in a Christmas Day meal. Of course, no feast is complete without some accompanying wine – to toast the season, to share with loved ones, or to simply help wash down all that food! Whatever you might be tucking into this year, we have composed a helpful go-to guide of top wine pairing recommendations to ensure you tick every box.
Let’s face it, there is no rush to get into the kitchen for breakfast, and whilst you don’t want to fill up and spoil your dinner, some sustenance is probably needed to get you through the day. Croissants, smoked salmon, eggs benedict – however you choose to start your day, a glass of fizz should be in your hand!
Seeing as it’s Christmas, we would advocate that you push the boat out and celebrate the day with Champagne (especially if there are presents involved at this point, too) – select a bottle of Champagne JM Labruyère Prologue for a Pinot Noir-dominant Champagne that tantalises your taste buds with generous fruit – soft red berries and apple pie interlaced with brioche and biscuit notes.
For a Champagne alternative, try our very own Corney & Barrow Sparkling Blanc de Blancs – made in the same way as Champagne for a fraction of the cost, this festive fizz displays crisp citrus and apple fruit encased in toasted brioche and complemented by subtle floral notes. To make a longer drink, or if you don’t want to begin sipping alcohol too early in the day (especially important for those on cooking duty), top your glass up with one part of orange juice and enjoy a seasonally appropriate Bucks Fizz.
If you prefer the fruity allure of a Prosecco, our choice is Pianer Prosecco DOCG Valdobbiadene, Le Colture Extra Dry – delicate white blossom aromas are followed by beautifully pure fruit on the palate and a sumptuously creamy mousse. Top up with orange juice to make a Mimosa.
Top Tip: the Prosecco is also available in magnum (the equivalent of two bottles), making for a great way to top up glasses throughout the day or quench the thirst of many guests!
You’re about to indulge in some rich and hearty dishes, so perhaps it is wise to start your meal with something light and delicious. We aren’t suggesting an extra course is needed, but it does at least give you scope to try different wine styles throughout the day…
Seared scallops are beautifully delicate, so you don’t want to overpower them with your drink of choice. ‘Moulin de la Justice’, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Domaine Julien Braud 2020 is the perfect seafood white – rich but not overwhelmingly so; it offers citrus fruit combined with distinct mineral layers and spiced quince, all finished off with a saline note.
If you are looking to enjoy the very British classic that is Prawn Cocktail (served in a 70s wine glass is optional), then Fetele Fetească Regală 2021 from Cramele Recaş should be on your table. The flagship white grape variety of Romania, Fetească Regală, roughly translates as ‘princess’ – this particular example is evocative and textured, boasting yellow plums and spiced pears. It’s rich enough to match a Marie Rose sauce but light enough not to drown the prawns.
Is anyone for dressed crab? Although aromatic whites such as Viognier are a classic match, our suggestion is to enjoy this dish beside a bottle of François Carillon’s Cap au Sud Chardonnay 2021. From the renowned Puligny-Montrachet producer, this Mediterranean iteration of Chardonnay encompasses a rich perfume and joyful stone fruit but retains the classic toasty oak notes typical of Puligny.
The Main Event
Christmas dinner wouldn’t be the same without wine on the table… No matter what your meal of choice is, it’s sure to be a feast in need of libations!
Let’s start with the obvious – what should you pair to roast turkey and all the trimmings? As it is almost impossible to find a wine that will pair perfectly with the array of side dishes on your Christmas Day table, it’s best to focus on matching the main element instead – in this instance, the turkey. You can’t go wrong with a classic, so our suggestion is Mâcon-Villages Domaine de la Jobeline 2019 – an elegant and restrained white that offers ripe white peach and pastry aromas complemented by succulent pear and creamy citrus fruit.
If your traditional meal includes glazed ham as your centrepiece, Fraser Gallop Estate’s Cabernet Merlot 2020 is the wine for you! Crushed cranberries, juicy cherries and ripe plums muddle together with a sprinkling of sweet baking spices and crumbling of chocolate to offer an effortlessly drinkable red.
Beef/ Mushroom Wellington
For a Beef or Mushroom Wellington, be sure to select a rich and spicy red filled with savoury nuances – Crozes-Hermitage Rouge Esquisse Domaine des Hauts-Châssis 2021 has enveloping blueberry fruit combined with bright brambly berries, meddling with notes of dark chocolate, violet and sweet spices. This is expressive, supple and harmonious with silky tannins and a distinctive mineral length, perfect with rich and savoury dishes.
A Nut Roast cries out for Château Barrail du Blanc Grand Cru St-Émilion 2018, a fabulous Merlot-dominant red from one of the world’s most renowned producers, without breaking the bank. Plummy notes are entwined with a red and black fruit medley layered with spices and tobacco hints. Better still, this is also available in magnums – the perfect table centrepiece to keep the wine flowing!
Finally, we couldn’t not mention sprouts. A necessary evil for some and an intriguing staple for others – these little green veggies are the ‘marmite dish’ of Christmas Day. Perhaps pairing them with wine will help wash them down or complete a culinary delight for you! Try Sauvignon Blanc, Eradus 2022, a vibrant and aromatic white from New Zealand that combines ripe citrus fruit with a herbaceous and mineral twist
With many sweet treats available at this time of year, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking to indulge after dinner or sneakily tuck in throughout the day; we can help you enhance these festive delights with a splash of wine.
Mince pies should come accompanied by carol singing and Corney & Barrow 20-year-old Tawny Port. Filled with flavours of orange rind, almonds and nutmeg, our aged Tawny Port is the perfect partner for many Christmas food staples!
If you can stretch your stomach enough to enjoy Christmas pudding, reach for Corney & Barrow Sauternes 2018 to complete the experience. Poised, sensual and rather elegant, you do not want to miss out on tasting this! Luxuriant and ripe flavours of quince and crème brûlée are offset by bright acidity to keep this Bordeaux classic fresh. It is also great for cutting through the brandy sauce poured over your pudding…
For our Scottish colleagues, Dundee Cake is sure to make an appearance during the holiday season. Forget sipping a cup of tea and swap for a small glass of Chenin Blanc Noble Late Harvest Joostenberg Estate 2021 instead. Boasting honeycomb and luscious pineapple combined with salinity and freshness – an ideal match to the dried fruit and almonds within the cake.
Chocolate Yule Log
Chocolate lovers will undoubtedly be enjoying some Yule Log throughout the season, but for a wine to match up to this richly sweet dessert requires a partner with equal oomph. Look no further than Corney & Barrow Ruby Finest Reserve Port NV – skillfully created by the husband-and-wife team at Wine & Soul in the Pinão Valley of Portugal, this sumptuous port offers moreish blackcurrant fruit laced with peppery spice.
If that is a little heavy for you and you’re seeking a light and fluffy option, pair Panettone with Moscato d’Asti DOCG Fratelli Antonio e Raimondo 2022. Sweet, fruity and refreshing, this delights the palate with acacia flowers, honeyed undertones and grapey flavours. Better still, this is just 5% abv making for a light way to finish your Christmas feast.
We couldn’t miss out on giving a mention to Pavlova. The creamy yet crunchy meringue filled with as many fruits as humanly possible always looks as impressive as it tastes but is notoriously tricky to match to wine. Our pick is Saint Albert, Pacherenc du Vic Bilh 2016 – a southern French gem teeming with rich and concentrated flavours that include marmalade, caramel-topped tropical fruits and refreshing citrus notes.
Not technically sweet, but Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a cheeseboard. Matching a selection of cheese could perhaps be an article in its own right – there are classic pairings like Goat’s cheese with Sancerre or Port with Stilton but a catch-all wine to go with the various cheesy offerings? Sweet or fortified wine is always the answer!
You could honestly pair with whichever wine takes your fancy from the above list, but we have to confess a deep affection for our own-label range; therefore, we would always recommend our nutty Tawny Port,our voluptuous Ruby Port or our honeyed Sauternes to be your perfect table companion.
For more festive inspiration and shopping, visit our Christmas Hub.