Christmas Wines by Jane Clare. Part 1 – Wines to enjoy on Christmas Eve and Christmas bubbles

Christmas tables can be loaded down with many flavours and textures so when you’re thinking of matching food and wine flavours a nudge in the right direction can be a help. But where to start?
In Part One of my Christmas wines blog I’ll suggest wine ideas for Christmas Eve and Christmas bubbles.

Wines to enjoy on Christmas Eve:

 A red: If you’re wearing your “preparation hat” on Christmas Eve then have a relaxing light, fruity red on the go such as a beaujolais, which is made in a special way to extract extra fruitiness from the gamay grapes.
Beaujolais Villages, Manoir du Carra ‘Non Filtré’ (£9.95) has been aged in old casks and it displays complexity alongside a tempting jammy nose of cherries, fresh raspberries, a flirt with violets and a charismatic earthiness.
This wine is ideal with an easy supper of breads, cured meats and cheeses as you finish wrapping the presents or peeling the potatoes. If you’re planning a sit-down meal with family then the fruitiness of beaujolais is also great with beef or chicken. You could even save it for the turkey sandwiches and everyone would be happy. Did you know beaujolais is even better slightly chilled? Pop it in the fridge for an hour.

A white: If you want an easy-drinking white before your taste buds go into overdrive on Christmas Day then try something like Alpha Zeta ‘G’ Garganega (£7.50) which is made from garganega, the classic grape in Soave wines. Enjoy its simple, fresh fruitiness while all around you is chaos. Pizza would be perfect or a big bowl of pasta and pesto with chunks of chicken and peppers.
One for Santa: Santa’s sherry (and yours too, but don’t tell the kids) could be Dry Oloroso ‘Pata de Gallina’, Lustau (£19.50, 50cl) which has classic notes of raisins, nuts and dried fruits. Put some out for Santa before you go to bed but hide the bottle, so you have some for your Christmas Day cheeseboard

Bubbles to enjoy on Christmas Day:

 If you’re in need of a pick-me-up then a good glass of Bucks Fizz should get you going before you open the champagne. The simplest way to zizz-azz up your morning is with a lively prosecco such as Prosecco Spumante Extra Dry Vallate (£10.95).Just add fresh orange juice and you’re onto a winner with your croissants.
Then greet your Christmas Day guests with a glass of super-special pink champagne.
 Lallier Grand Cru Rosé (£26) is a blend of pinot noir (80%) and chardonnay. The champagne is aged for 48 months on the lees, which is the dead yeast after fermentation has finished. This contains lots of flavours and textures which mingle into the wine to add a delicious complex edge. A great thing about a pink fizz is you can take it seamlessly to the dining table (I love it with my usual choices of starter – prawns and scallops with a spicy Thai sauce or little parcels of smoked salmon and horseradish cream). The champagne is terrific value for £26; it has a dazzle of soft bubbles and aromas of red fruits, fresh and dried strawberry, brioche and ripe red apples. There’s also hints of pear and a whisper of lychee. It is fine and elegant in the mouth, crisp, gentle and perfectly balanced.
I’ll see you in Part Two for Christmas white & red wines, port and ideas for Boxing Day leftovers.

Jane Clare is a freelance wine columnist, journalist and a member of the Circle of Wine Writers. Find her @onefootinthegrapes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.