Christmas Day Lunch – the big one! Although this is a big day the cook, or cooks, also carry a fair degree of responsibility to put on a good spread whilst also trying to relax and enjoy the day themselves. So, hopefully these options will help to make the day that little bit easier:
Where else to begin? And we start with a twist. Good quality, free range turkey can be mildly gamey (like Guinea Fowl) and depending on how it has been cooked, it can work surprisingly well with a light bodied red or fuller bodied rosé, as with – the more obvious choice – a dry white wine.
And don’t forget that the “trimmings” often come with a salty and tangy edge to them (sausage, bacon, stuffing). If you are doing traditional bread sauce (with clove studied onion) then you are also adding dairy and soft spice notes. In general, for white avoid anything that is heavily oaked as this conflicts with these flavours. What you want is a white wine which has some weight, punch, and fruit.
Regarding red wine, opt for a lighter bodied red, which is fruity but not too tannic. Serve it cool (15 minutes in the fridge) as this lifts the whole profile if the wine with the food. Any crisp, dry, unoaked white which you normally enjoy will work, but, if you want to be a little different…
Crowd Pleaser – unoaked fruity white: Côte de Gascogne Duffour Père et Fils Southwest France
Outstanding value for money, dry, with bold citrus fruit and a fine texture, unoaked
Try Something Different – light red: Valpolicella Allegrini Veneto Italy
Perfect texture and weight, light tannins, and juicy cherry fruit
Treat – classic white, Burgundy: Chablis Premier Dru Beauroy Burgundy France
Dry, but not too rich with red apple, stone fruit and mineral notes – elegant and refined!
Many people opt for this British classic and it is also great cold in evening sandwiches, or on Boxing Day with salad and roast potatoes. With its savoury richness, fibrous texture, and infused fat it will come as no surprise that a dry, fuller bodied, more tannic red wine is a strong recommendation.
Don’t worry if you are not usually a fan of this style, because the drier tannins merge perfectly with the fatty richness and protein texture, to elevate the pure savoury character of the beef – whilst in reverse the soft fruity character of the wine is also elevated by the absorption of the tannins.
Result – a perfect marriage.
Crowd Pleaser: Kaiken Clásico Mendoza Malbec Argentina
Dry, plump with ripe blackberry fruit, moderate tannins, and a touch of spice
Try Something Different: Bodegas Garzón Tannat Reserve Uruguay
Dry, quite rich with plum fruit, soft spice and quite juicy
Plush, full bodied and refined. Cherry liqueur, leaf tea and herbal notes with silky tannins and oak
Game (Goose, Duck, Pheasant, Venison) and Lamb
We can approach game similarly to beef, but game is often more fibrous, and although sometimes fatty to start with (classically goose and duck) this rapidly drains away and does not quite infuse into the meat as with beef and lamb for example. Good game is also nicely textural and very savoury. Do try the trimmings, like classic bread sauce, redcurrant jelly, and game chips.
Also, it is a myth to think that all game must be, or has been, hung for long periods – please do not be put off as most hasn’t and doesn’t need to be! Full bodied, savoury, and rich red wines work well with game in general. All those mentioned in the Beef section will work, but with game, New World reds can come into their own.
Lamb, duck, and lighter game birds, such as Guinea Fowl, Quail and Partridge, also work very well with Pinot Noir.
- Crowd Pleaser: The Liberator Syrah Stellenbosch South Africa
Medium bodied with blackberry fruit and nicely peppery
- Try something different: Talò Malvasia Nera San Marzano Puglia Italy
Supple, smooth dark fruits and a touch of spice from this southern Italian indigenous grape
Dry, savoury and long with black plum, vanilla touch of chocolate and a vanilla dusting
Ham on the bone
This is an old and often forgotten classic – and a real seasonal treat. It’s a great way to enjoy Christmas Eve, along with some good soup and a cheeseboard. There will always be an element of salt, but it should not be “salty” if that makes sense.
Good, cured ham should be moist and (maybe surprisingly) taste of pork. It is one of those dishes which can be served with a white or red wine, but the red must be light bodied and have good acidity (and again serve cool as mentioned before). Rosé is also an option here. White wines that work best with ham are unoaked, with plenty of acidity, which cuts through the salt. Any white wine with a “tangy” note to it works well.
- Crowd Pleaser: Lawson’s Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough New Zealand
Dry, zesty, citric with notes of passion fruit
Crisp, mix of citrus and stone fruit, light bodied, unoaked
Dry, crisp, bold red berries and moreish