Jon gives his advice on wine for that all important meal….
“A couple of years ago I was at wine tasting where Hugh Johnson was giving a talk. He was charming, witty and knowledgeable, telling stories about his time as a journalist in the world of wine. He mentioned that, years ago as junior writer, he first addressed the question that inevitably arises at this time of year; what wine to drink with turkey. He went on to explain that he had written the same article no fewer than eighteen times over his career.
So, although there is nothing new under the sun, the question does remain. What wine should one drink with turkey? It’s not such a daft question either. Christmas is a time for bringing out the best, but the problem is that many “best” red wines are just too hefty for delicate turkey. Turkey’s light flavour and general leanness suggest a lighter red, certainly not too tannic or full bodied. Pinot Noir is a classic suggestion, or something Grenache based like a Cotes du Rhone, a Lirac or a Gigondas. Similarly Beaujolais would work, as would Bardolino or Valpolicella.
Of course, it is possible to avoid the question altogether by eating something else. I’ve served salmon on Christmas day, on that occasion with a delicious Soave. Many serve goose – as on our own Christmas menu here at Scarlet Wines – an altogether oilier and more flavoursome bird, and one that might work better with a good Bordeaux or a Rioja.
Another option is to make Christmas lunch into Christmas dinner. This avoids the Queen’s speech, the afternoon slumped in front of the TV and the disagreeable onset of early evening hangover. At this time of day roast beef or lamb might work well and these are eminently suitable for hearty, hefty, well oaked reds. Some examples would be Barolo, something from Tuscany, Australian Cabernet, a Priorat or Zinfandel from the USA. There are many options that would work.
Lastly it is worth considering that many of you will simply prefer something white to drink, even if it is with a meaty meal. Personally I would avoid light, lean and crisp on such a celebratory day and opt for something richer. A Pinot Blanc from Alsace? An off-dry Vouvray? Something aromatic from Southern Italy or a Jurancon from southern France? All of these are delicious and just that bit more full of flavour.
Whatever you decide, just make sure you open the first bottle early. Perhaps an English Sparkling wine? That will make all the subsequent decisions so much easier.
This month I have, of course, suggested a wine that I think would be perfect with turkey. Chateauneuf du Pape is a famous, and frequently over-rated style of wine. But, it is a crowd pleaser, and when good can be deliciously, voluptuously fruity, warming and soft. There are many versions but this is a classic: Closerie de Vaudieu, expect to pay around £22 a bottle.
And please remember to shop with your local wine merchant this Christmas!
Enjoy your wine and Merry Christmas!”