Christmas Future at Present

I know it’s early to mention this but Christmas preparation comes early for expats.

To help make sure customers are aware of the values around the world for this years upcoming Christmas Dinner (and the like), here’s a little guide to just that.

What you eat in a Christmas meal tends to be very flavoursome. Many wines can’t really compete with the variety of flavours of roast Christmas dinnermeats, gravy, sage and onion stuffing etc. Pick out the strongest of the flavours in the main dish and go with matching a wine (or two) with that. There is a tendency to sit an overly powerful, high alcohol wine as the foil to the feast. That’s a little counter-productive if the meal is already heavy. See our short guide to food and wine pairing.

All the value right now is firstly in Argentina, Chile and Spain: then Italy, followed by Australia. All the below information is about reds.

  • Spain ages the wines for you in the cellar as part of their system of quality control (thank you very much). That adds value at no extra cost.
  • Argentina tends to be softer: Jammier; not requiring food, easier to get on with than some.
  • Chile tends to have the very cheapest options and many of them: with often less ripeness at value levels and greener tinges to reds that can be hard without food.
  • Spain tends to have lots of very food friendly acid.
  • Ditto Italy with a 1000 more grape varieties to choose from (or get bogged down in).
  • Australia tends to list the grape on the front label and makes selection easier.

Here is an article all about Festivity based parties and lists of appropriate wines. There are two other articles in the ‘Party wines’ series. They, of course, represent great value as the guesswork and legwork is done.

Special Wines

Champagne or Sparkling Cava and Prosecco are almost obligatory at parties and they need not be exhorbitant. See here.

Barolo, if you are tempted to pop it, is VERY vintage dependent. It can last for up to 50 years and may not be ready to try if under 10YO: all needs a bit of research, really. The internet can be a great source of advice about when to pop. Our Serafino Barolos are made and released ready to drink, but will improve further with age. Barbaresco offers an earlier drinking version of the Nebbiolo grape. Both with nice acidity and a lighter weight, better suited to afternoon and early evening mealtimes.

The top wines from South America are much better value than French, and on a level with medium priced stuff from say, Rioja (a Riojan Crianza has 6 months oak & is always pleasing with meat dishes). Chianti Classico, likewise, but with cherrier leanings.

Inside Europe, hop outside Piedmont, Tuscany and Rioja for lower prices but greater risks of flopping. Portugal and when we are talking about ‘values’, I ignore Bordeaux and Burgundy like the plague, though I am looking seriously at spending 3 to 4 weeks there next summer, near Provence/Alpes or Langedoc.

Tonight I enjoyed a Barrel fermented Chenin Blanc from S.Africa after first opening an off bottle of Spanish Jumilla White (badly stored, over the hill, cooked, or all 3). Tip: Always have a back up.

That said, if we are talking Christmas, are you talking Turkey? Chicken? Goose? a Roast Beef or Half a Suckling Pig? Sharp, French Chablis is traditional though it often struggles next to a Roast bird with the strong flavours of stuffing and gravy etc, so I am not sure how it became so popular. I’d go for that Barrel fermented Chenin Blanc I spoke of. Other options include lighter reds from Barbera, Grenache, even lighter styles of Aussie or Argentinian Shiraz. Consider serving Barolo and other big flavoured reds and Ports after the main dish and before the pudding, or with strong cheeses, if your courses go to 3 or more. Yum Yum.

Here are a couple of our Christmas Party influenced mixed cases including the wines listed in the articles linked to this post.

Festive 12

Festive 18

And that’s the Christmas Wine World according to The Wine Man.

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