Fiona Beckett is an award-winning journalist and blogger and writes for the Guardian about wine and other drinks.
For other suggestions, check it out her own website matchingfoodandwine.com.
There’s so much to think about at Christmas, worrying about what wine to drink might seem way down your list of priorities but it can definitely add to your and your guests’ enjoyment of the day. Don’t be afraid to break with tradition though – food and wine matches are not set in stone.
Here are some wines you might not have considered:
Turkey (or chicken)
Most people would think of red wine with turkey and of course that works but you might be surprised that a rich white wine like a chardonnay can be equally good especially with a fruity apricot stuffing or a light gravy. In terms of red wine I’d pick a good hearty Côtes du Rhône or Languedoc red that will cope with the stuffing and sides. Or even an Aussie shiraz.
You might feel you should splash out on an expensive bottle of Bordeaux but you know what? You don’t have to. Almost any full-bodied red will go with a good piece of beef. Most people adore Malbec these days so that’s a safe bet but a good cabernet sauvignon or cabernet blend from the southern hemisphee would also hit the spot. Look out for wines from South Africa’s Stellenbosch or Australia’s Margaret River regions
Pork is another meat that can take white or red. Chenin blanc or viognier are reliable white wine choices though a dry riesling can also be delicious, especially with pork belly. Try a modern Spanish red like a Mencia if you fancy a red.
One of my best matches this year was The Meat Merchant’s bacon ribs with parsley sauce and a Meursault but a smoky southern Italian red* with an intriguing hint of cloves was a close runner up. (Cloves and roast ham being a well-honed combination.) And never mind wine – cider and bacon are absolutely cracking together!
One of the simplest pairings to remember. Pinot noir loves duck, duck loves pinot noir. Doesn’t have to be burgundy. You find great value pinots from Chile and New Zealand these days.
Always associated with champagne (or, these days, prosecco) but actually delicious with many still wines too. Try it with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or – if you’re a sherry fan – a chilled glass of fino or manzanilla sherry. It’s lovely with a light malt whisky too. Try it with a tot of Bushmills!
Depending on your recipe (EVERYONE thinks their mum’s is the best) it can be light and fruity or dark, dense and sticky but either way it’s still pretty rich especially once you add some boozy cream! Look out for an orangey Spanish moscatel like Moscatel de Valencia – one of the best value dessert wines out there.
Who puts out a glass of sherry for Santa to drink with his mince pies? Well, it’s a good choice! Cream sherry, though much maligned, is delicious with mince pies but so are other fortified wines. Try a sweet madeira for a change.
Light elegant dessert wines like Sauternes can be overwhelmed by the richness of chocolate desserts so go for a sweet red instead. A young ruby port (usually labelled vintage character or reserve) or a Maury from the south of France are two good choices.
Port is the classic choice, of course, but why not try a nutty 10 (or even 20) year old tawny rather than a late bottled vintage or vintage? Or – and this is brilliant I promise you – a wee glass of sloe gin!
* a blend of nero d’avola and nerello mascalese for those of you who like to know these things