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.
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