Ask the expert: Wines for festive feasting
Let our resident wine expert and Master of Wine, Nick Adams help you get more enjoyment from our wine collection in the Deli and Wine Bar. Here Nick recommends some of the best wines to have with your festive feast.
Select the right wine to go with your food and you could elevate your whole dining experience. Nick has highlighted three different options to have with popular festive foods. Each are under the general banners of (i) good all-rounder and crowd pleaser (ii) “off-piste” – try something different and (iii) treat yourself – something indulgent.
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 is a strong recommendation. And please 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!
Malbec Pulenta La Flor, Mendoza Argentina
Primitivo di Manduria Burnilde de Menzione, Puglia Italy
Château La Tour Figeac St. Émilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux France
Game (can include Lamb here)
Approach game not unlike with 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. And do go for the trimmings, like classic bread sauce, redcurrant jelly, 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 reds work well 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.
Shiraz “The Black Craft”, Barossa Valley Australia
Pinot Noir “Boya” Amayna, Leyda Valley Chile
£13.50 with lighter game dishes
Zinfandel “Live Oak” Cline Cellars, California USA
(a must for Vension and chocolate!)
Rioja Reserva Marqués de Murrieta, Rioja Spain
Ham on the bone
This is an old and often forgotten classic – and a real seasonal treat. 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. Whites which work best are unoaked, with plenty of acidity (this really cuts through the salt). Any white wine with a “tangy” note to it works well – again probably no surprise to you.
Picpoul de Pinet l’Ormarine Duc de Morny, Languedoc France
Grüner Veltliner Sepp Moser, Kremstal Austria
Miraval Rosé Famille Perrin, Côtes de Provence France
Easy to forget that many fish and shellfish are in plentiful supply (and at their best) in the winter with the following particularly good examples:
Wild Sea Bass (though rightly restricted catches)
Farmed Sea Trout – the ones sourced off the Norfolk coast farms are excellent
Gilt Head Bream
Plus as ever – smoked salmon!
I remember a friend saying that for a change they did an oven baked wild Sea Bass for Christmas day one year and it was a revelation – and slightly surreal with the crackers!
I think the recommendations are quite straight forward – always white wine and unoaked and crisp for plainly cooked fish; richer, maybe oaked Chardonnay based wines (as a substitute to list below) with fish with butter based sauce (beurre blanc/noir, hollandaise).
Vinho Verde Casa de Villa Nova, Portugal
£8.50 (especially good with shellfish, delicate white fish)
Chardonnay option St. Véran Domaine Jaffelin, Burgundy France
Riesling “Rocky Gully” Frankland Estate, Western Australia
Sauvignon Blanc Cloudy Bay, Marlborough New Zealand
I think vegetarian dishes allow for a broad cavass of wines to choose from – including sparkling - hence the longer note! In general, though, I would avoid really dry and big, tannic red wines – they tend to sit aside a bit from many vegetarian dishes.
I often think the key to this is does it include tomato? If so, the naturally high acid in tomatoes requires a high acid wine to compliment – which could be red as well as white. For example, a homemade pizza, with a rich tomato base - and maybe roasted vegetable and mozzarella topping – could work well with an Italian red – if not too tannic; the same principle also applies with a good ratatouille.
If you like some spice – such as a curried vegetable samosa for example – then a lightly oaked white can also work, along with spicier white grapes such as Gewürztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Grüner Veltliner.
If you char grill vegetables (winter root vegetables are a delight at this time of year) then you can be bolder with the wine – due to their “toasty” character - to include rosés for example. A lot also depends if you are using pastry and/or eggs – eg making a tart – as this means you can serve a richer and fuller bodied white – such as a gently oaked Chardonnay. This is especially so if you have a gratin (cheese) element such as with an onion and cheese flan. The stronger the cheese element the bolder the wine choice can be.
Peruvian asparagus is good currently and works well with most Sauvignon Blancs for example – including if done classically with Hollandaise sauce. One of my favourite dishes is risotto with wild mushrooms and a vegetable stock (with Parmesan/Parmignano shavings). This works very well with Pinot Noirs – whether Europe or the New World
With salads (and crudités) a lot depends on the intensity of the leaves and vegetables, plus the dressing combination. At the blander end of the scale, for example, is iceberg lettuce, maybe at the other endives such as radicchio, or frissé. Then there is onion – the minute this enters the fray the whole salad “warms” up. Add water cress, or rocket, and the peppery levels increases; just a few coriander leaves add citric notes. I think it very difficult to be at all definitive here other than to say that white wines invariably work better – and again unoaked.
Nothing beats a mixed plate of blanched, crunchy vegetables – crudités - and I think especially when served with Mayonnaise, or even better Aioli! If you use these richer sauce accompaniments, then you can indulge in more medium bodied and even lightly oaked white wines.
A final note on the ever-popular beetroot. With its firm earthy notes and fleshy texture, it is difficult, but not impossible! Lighter Grenache based reds and rosés from the south of France work well here.
Organic Prosecco Campo di Fiori, Veneto Italy
Malbec Rosé “Zappa” Bodegas Los Horaldos, Mendoza Argentina
Pinot Noir Signature Series Robert Oatley, Yarra Valley Australia
Chardonnay Russian River Ramey Vineyards, California USA
All wines are available from the Deli and Wine Bar
(Images for illustration purposes only)
Nick is one of only 369 Masters of Wine in the world and has over 30 years’ experience in the world of wine, during which time he has visited many of the world’s famous wine regions and worked with some of the most renowned names and producers.
Nick officially joins Jarrold in the New Year to give you a greater level of service and information in our Deli and Wine Bar.