I’m keeping everything simple for my Christmas wine countdown. If you’re into off-the-wall Christmas Day menus then you won’t find a wine and food matching pair here.
My menu? A glass of fizz. Then into a seafood starter such as a prawn cocktail, or my favourite … flash-fried Thai prawns. Then moving on to turkey and the trimmings, then Christmas pud and cheese.
Then more fizz? Well, why not.
Let’s start at the beginning and prawns. Well, I tell a lie. Because breaking news straight off the shelf this week as the International Wine Challenge awarded medals to supermarket own-brand wines.
Top of the bunch was M&S, which scooped 73 gongs, including five gold medals. A particular judges’ favourite was Marks & Spencer Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico 2013 (£8). You know what? It would be amazing lightly chilled with a Crimbo Day seafood starter.
If you want a sparkle to start your Christmas Day then another Gold medal winner is Tesco Finest Vintage Grand Cru Champagne 2007, (RRP £24.99).
Don’t you worry on the sparkles front, I’ll give you lots more ideas before the Big Day.
Prawns, they’re gentle little things. If they were on a Christmas party dance floor they’d be doing that left to right foot shuffle, but they come into their own with a pizzazz of spice or creamy Marie Rose sauce. Then they raise the level to a bit of a hip wiggle.
On Christmas Day I’ll be sticking to whites so not to overpower their blushing little souls. But if you never touch a white, and it’s a red you want with your prawns, then seek out a fruity Beaujolais or a light pinot noir.
But what’s this? More sparkles? Yes. Any excuse. Why not go for a sparkler with your seafood starter. Pink to make your eyes blink with delight. Coates and Seely Brut Rose NV ( £25, winetrust100.co.uk) scores a whopping 97 out of 100 from the site’s masters of wine. It’s made in the same way as Champagne, but I love, love, love the fact that this English wine is labelled Methode Britannique. Red berries, strawberry ice, dry, gorgeous, and a perfect Christmas treat and flirtatious match to prawns.
If that’s too much for your budget, then Freeman’s Bay Marlborough Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Aldi, £9.99) is exactly what it says on the vin. Sauvignon blanc, and sparkling too. If you love sauv blanc then you’ll love this; a lifting lime-edged sparkle at less than a tenner to go with your prawns. My friends loved it. I know this because they “aaaahed”and then went quiet for a while.
Oh, come on then Janey. What about some other whites then? Well. Varieties I would recommend … a bright and lively vermentino or picpoul de pinet.
As I write, I’m sipping a picpoul from the Co-op, Truly Irresistible Picpoul de Pinet 2013 (£6.99) which is green apple-fresh with an easy squeezy swish of lemon to finish.
Or try a crisp, characterful Chablis .. or a Verdejo … a racy little Spanish number I discovered at a recent tasting is Green Fish Verdejo (www.oddbins.com, £6.75). Zingtastic and worryingly moreish. Good price too.
Staying in Spain, Albariño is one of my favourite favourites. It’s a Spanish grape grown in the north west of the country, near the sea, which is bang-on appropriate for prawns. Tesco finest* Albariño (£7.49) has light subtle creaminess speckled through with pears.
From the Wine Society, a blend of chardonnay and sauvignon spangles in the form of Domaine du Tariquet, Côté Tariquet Chardonnay-Sauvignon (£8.50). Sherbert lemon and hints of stone fruit rise from the glass, mouth-watering citrus and grapefruit.
If your tastebuds need a weary Christmas Day nudge then this vibrant delight would come along and before you know it the prawns would have moved on from a hip wiggle to a full-on jive.
This first appeared in the saturday extra magazine December 6, 2014