Christmas corkers

From festive fizz to top tipples for turkey Leslie Williams serves up must-have holiday drinks.

IF YOUR house is anything like mine the first order of business at Christmas is opening presents and the wine that matches that best is Champagne (or any fizz).

Fizz also works well with a fried breakfast as the bubbles cut right through the fat in the sausages and if you add a little fresh squeezed orange juice you have the perfect breakfast drink: Buck’s Fizz. For Christmas dinner drink wine that you love, and if you are not sure what you love, then read on.

For smoked salmon or seafood I find that Champagne, Cava or Prosecco all work well, especially as bubbles whet the appetite. If you want a still wine I would suggest a Clare Valley Riesling (Wakefield, Knappstein), a Riesling or Pinot Gris from Alsace or perhaps a light un-oaked Macon Villages.

If you are having soup, most white wines work well, but if you are feeling adventurous I recommend a dry Oloroso or Amontillado sherry (eg Lustau).

Turkey and trimmings is one of the more difficult meals to match given the huge array of competing flavours — there simply isn’t a wine that pairs equally well with turkey, ham, sprouts, herb stuffing and cranberry sauce. A rich fruity southern Rhone wine such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Vacqueyras has a reasonable chance of shining through, as does a peppery Australian shiraz or a Zinfandel from California.

Turkey or pheasant will pair with any red wine, but both have a particular affinity with pinot noir. I would stay away from high end Burgundy and perhaps seek out a village wine such as a Rully (eg Joseph Drouhin) or a perhaps a Savigny-les-Beaune (Simon Bize).

New World pinot noir from New Zealand or California also work well as will a bottle of decent Bordeaux. If Brussels sprouts are your passion, you need something equally strong tasting and I suggest a New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

Pudding calls for port — either a 10-year-old tawny (eg Warres Otima), or a decent late bottled vintage or better. Once opened port will keep for a couple of weeks and is the perfect drink to have while slumped in front of the telly so I suggest you buy two bottles.

My final piece of advice is not to open the treasured bottle of red wine you have been saving for 10 years on Christmas day, save that for opening with a simple steak or a roast of beef on a quieter day when it will be more appreciated.

Aperitif / Starter Wines

Gosset Brut Excellence NV €44.99

Stockists: Independents, O’Donovans, Galvins, Carry-Out, Next Door.

Gosset is the oldest Champagne house (1584) and deserves to be better known. Aromas of almonds and lime peel, soft on the palate with lingering flavours of green apples and citrus.

Hoya de Cadenas Cava Brut Nature NV €15.99

Stockists: Macs Off Licence, Limerick; Nolans Clontarf, Higgins Closnkeagh, Vintry Rathgar.

Lively aromas of fresh lemons with a yeasty backdrop. Lovely lemon-fresh taste with touches of pear and white peaches and a fine mousse.

Macon Villages Chardonnay 2010 — €6.99

Stockist: Aldi

Citrus and green fruit aromas with soft light fruity palate tasting, well above its price.

Main Course Wines

Hunters Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2008 — €19.99

Stockists: Matsons Bandon, Sheehans Killarney, Superquinn.

Aromatic and juicy Pinot Noir with elegance and structure and a lingering hint of blackberry.

Ch. La Tour du Pin Figeac St Emilion Grand Cru Classé — €19.99

Stockist: Lidl

A bit of a coup for Lidl to have a wine of this status. Classic Bordeaux aromas of cedar and blackcurrants, complex fleshy black fruit on the palate. Delicious but needs food.


Warres Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port — €19.9924.99

Stockists: Superquinn,

World Wide Wines Waterford, SuperValu, ArdKeen Stores Waterford, Independents. Aromas of damsons and blueberries mixed with cinnamon. Rich and spicy but beautifully balanced.


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