Christmas dinner wine ideas to go with your starter

Christmas dinner wine … what to choose?  To make this a genuine Scientific Experiment, I rustled up two of my favourite Christmas Day starters to help you with suggestions for wine to drink as you first gather round the table.

My first was a smoked salmon terrine with a filling of creme fraiche and horseradish cream; the other, flash-fried prawns drizzled with finely chopped chilli, lemon and coriander.

I opted for white and rosé wines but as ever the choice is yours. The best wine match is always going to be the wine you enjoy the most. A red low in tannins, such as a pinot noir or a beaujolais will do if it’s reds that float your boat. But before we eat, some sparkles to celebrate the day.

A good value Champers is Bouche Pere et Fils 2000, Grande Reserve Brut Champagne (£25 at www.cellarviewines.com). Flighty bubbles tumble toasty, sweet-baked smells of oven fresh brioche. To taste, apples and pears with a shake of almonds.

Back to the scientific experiment.

Rosé is a perfect companion to prawns or salmon, and as it’s Christmas, make them sparkling too. Yellowglen Pink Sparkling Rosé (£10.99 www.ocado.com, Waitrose) is light pink with a whisper of strawberries on the nose.

The fizz is good and dried strawberries blend playfully with the smoky sweetness of the salmon, with enough backbone to counter-balance the feisty horseradish and chillies.

Cono Sur Sparkling Rosé (£9.50 www.slurp.co.uk and independents) pop-a-pops cherry and fresh red fruit bubbles into a little fizz cloud as you sip. It is juicy, refreshing and terrific with the chilli prawns.

Petit Chablis is the baby brother in Burgundy’s Chablis family.

Côtes de Gascogne Noisette Domaine de Pajot , Christmas dinner wines

It is 100% chardonnay and grows in soils scrunched with fossilised oysters – what better beginnings for a wine pairing with fish. Christophe et Fils Petit Chablis 2012, (www.nakedwines.com, £13.99 or £10.49 if you’re an investing Angel) had tart crunchy green apples with an off-the-tree bite. It was at home untouched by heat of horseradish or chilli, but it didn’t back off from either.

Riesling Tradition, Kuentz-Bas, 2011 (£8.95, www.thewinesociety.com) Riesling and Alsace. You can’t go wrong if you have a wine which combines the two. Stone fruits and lemon on the nose and to taste with a lift of good acidity. There’s a moreish twist with a sip of the dry wine and a succulent chilli- dabbed prawn.

The star of my little experiment? Côtes de Gascogne Noisette Domaine de Pajot (£7.95 www.vintageroots.co.uk). Made from gros manseng, it is light honey from oak aging, but to taste is fruity fresh. It has a complex nose with sweet apples and pears but there’s hints of honey too. To taste, sugar and spice and all things nice – including ginger. It is a medium sweet wine and would do just as well served with a pud. Its ginger tingles and spice specks were sublime with the seafood and dressings.

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Published in the saturday extra magazine December 7, 2013

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