BIRMINGHAM WINE WEEKEND
The Ultimate Christmas Wine List
If you’re one of those wonderfully organised people you might already have a menu in mind for Christmas Dinner 2022, but have you thought about your accompanying wine choices? Maybe someone else is in charge of dinner (lucky you!) but you want to bring the perfect bottle to the table.
We caught up with some of our favourite wine connoisseurs around the city to curate the perfect wine list for some popular Christmas dinner dishes. For even more potential pairings, take a look at our 2021 recommendations here
We caught up with Abi Connolly from Arch 13 at Connolly’s for our first recommendation, a glass of something sparkling to kick-start the celebrations.
‘Surely a bottle of fizz (or two, or three) is one of the most important parts of Christmas day? When I was approached for this, I was asked to recommend a “pre-dinner” fizz… but it’s Christmas, and in my household the fizz starts at about 10am with a heap of smoked salmon and eggs. I guess that breakfast does technically count as “pre-dinner”!
Of course, Champagne is the traditional drink of choice and if that’s the way you want to go then pop into the shop and my team and I will happily talk you through all the options. However, there’s a fairly hefty bill involved if you plan on drinking Champagne all day, so why not opt for something a little more budget-friendly but just as delicious. Go for a Cava, made in the same method as Champagne, with similar ageing requirements but different grapes and terroir.’
Perelada Stars Brut Reserva Cava, 2017
‘At the moment, this beautiful “Stars” Brut Reserva from Parelada is hitting all the right buttons. Parelada is one of the most prestigious estates in Catalonia, family-owned and has a history that stretches back to the Middle Ages. It’s a really bright and clean fizz with loads of fruit characteristics and a nice, dry finish.’
So you’ve had your first glass or two of fizz and it’s finally dinner time. This year we’re looking at which wine to pair with a classic starter, a French Onion Soup. We asked our good friend Greg Cunsolo from Vinoteca to share his recommendation.
‘French Onion Soup has a strong, and sweet caramelized onion flavour that can easily overwhelm a delicate wine, so I’ve chosen my pairing with that in mind.’
Bourgogne Pinot Noir ‘Grande Reserve’ 2020, Mauperthuis, Auxerre, France
‘This Pinot Noir has an earthy, mushroom and truffle quality on the nose that makes it a good match with the rustic onion, garlic and herb notes. Strawberry, cherry, and raspberry flavours will compliment the sweetness of the onions too. Plus, the acidity helps to cut through the cheesy, garlicky crouton flavours of this classic French soup.’
When it comes to the main event (your turkey dinner), we wanted to give you two options, one white and one red. For that we sought the expert advice of Paul Creamer from the multi award-winning Loki Wine.
‘Many people lean towards a white wine for this traditional main course, but have a read of Paul’s recommendations below and perhaps you’ll be persuaded to try something different.’
Chateau de Campuget ‘1753’ Viognier – IGP Gard, France, 2021
‘This rich Southern French white is produced from the charming Viognier grape and we think this is just the ticket for the Christmas Turkey. Viognier tends to produce intensely aromatic and full-bodied white wines that should comfortably stand up to the numerous flavours found in the Christmas meal. Whilst not quite as racy as something like a Sauvignon Blanc, we think the rounded texture of this wine will be the perfect foil for the roast potatoes, whilst having enough stone fruit flavour concentration to take on the stuffing and pigs in blankets. The perfect serve would be around 8-10 degrees C.’
Symington Family Estates – Quinta do Ataíde – DOC Douro, Portugal, 2016
‘Here we have a bold and full-bodied red, one our absolute favourites from Portugal and a great example of the stunning value for money to be found here. The wine is a typical blend of the Douro Valley grapes, centering on arguably their top grape; Touriga Nacional. Now, with a few years of bottle age under its belt, the tannins are melted nicely into the wine. Whilst the palate shows ripe black fruit flavours with a hint of baking spice on the finish. This wine has enough power to stand up to the saltiness and bold flavours of a Christmas dinner and might just persuade you to delve deeper into the fantastic red wines of the Douro Valley.’
It’s pudding time next, and for this year’s wine list we asked our friends at Harvey Nichols to recommend a perfect pairing for a Chocolate Yule Log. Stepping up to the plate is Wine Specialist, Tatti Sukamongkol.
Tatti is sending us in the direction of a delightful port for this next course. If you’re a committed Christmas Pudding enthusiast, worry not – you can find our perfect pairing for the traditional pud here
Quinta de la Rosa, Vintage Port, 2004
‘This is a finely structured and elegant port that works perfectly with a Chocolate Yule Log. Made with foot-trodden, Grade A grapes, this wine has both sweetness and nuttiness to match the richness of this festive dessert. Spice and cinnamon accompany the wine, brimming with dark brooding fruit flavours, brambles, black grape skin and hints of dark chocolate with fresh raspberries.’
We wouldn’t dare to tell you in which order to have your courses but we’ll be completing our feast with a selection of cheeses. Now, no doubt you’ll know Arch 13 at Connolly’s for their wine but in addition to being a Sommelier, Abi Connolly is also an Academy of Cheese Member. So it’s over to her for the final course of the day.
‘Now, as a certified cheese and wine nerd I can wax lyrical on how certain wines go with certain cheeses. I’ll make a presumption that your cheese board is going to feature at least one hard cheese, one soft cheese and a blue cheese. If you’ve popped to see your local cheese geeks (that’s us!) then you may have the delight of a washed-rind cheese and a goat’s milk speciality as well. If you’ve been a clever clogs and pre-ordered your Christmas cheese board from shop.arch13bar.co.uk then you’ll be sure to have a fabulous selection! I’ll stop with the shameless plugging now and get to the wine.
Tradition tells us that it has to be port with cheese at Christmas, which is absolutely fine if your cheese board consists of nothing but Stilton. Port and Stilton is an absolute delight, but it can overpower a lot of cheeses. If you insist on port with your cheese board, then go for a vintage, something with some decent age that’ll be softer than a ruby LBV.
However, I’m a huge sherry advocate and I’m really enjoying the Barbadillo Pale Cream with my cheese boards at the moment.’
Barbadillo Pale Cream
‘This sherry is light enough not to overpower the more delicate cheeses. The oak influence will showcase the harder styles well but it also has enough sweetness to make the blues sing.’
Finally, we all know than despite eating our weight in delicious food, we’ll miraculously be reaching for the box of chocolates when we’ve finished snoozing whilst watching a suitably festive movie. So we asked Charlie from Vinoteca to share a recommendation of something to sip whilst nibbling a Quality Street or two!
‘It’s time we talk about Banyuls. A wonderful, Grenache-based fortified wine from Roussillon, one of France’s southernmost regions. It’s simply not shouted about enough.’
Banyuls ‘Galateo’ 2018 — Coume del Mas, Roussillon, France
‘A long-time love of ours is the Banyuls ‘Tradition’ from local producer Coume del Mas. Fruit from ancient mountain bush vines, fermented in barrels with grape spirit added during the process to kick it up to fortified while leaving plenty of the luscious natural sugar. The ‘Traditional’ comes in with the ageing period, much like Tawny Port, that spans years. Some of the blends date back to 2008. Pair with a box of chocolates to compliment the notes of nut, fruit, spice and cocoa. You’ll see what great wine and food matching looks like!’