Turkey and trimmings
There’ll probably be as many flavours jostling on the plate as people with different tastes at the table at Christmas dinner, so don’t get strung-out over finding the perfect wine. Go for crowd-pleasing styles that won’t fight with the food – a good rule of thumb is to go for whites with some richness but not too much oak, and medium-bodied reds that aren’t too tannic.
Domaine les Pallieres Ggigondas les Racines 2013 (£29.95, bbr.com, £28, Harvey Nichols)
Rhône wines are hard to resist at Christmas as their peppery spice is great with wintery food. Push the boat out with this fine example. Decant it into a jug then return it to the bottle using a funnel to get the full ‘wow’ factor.
Domaine de la Pinte Arbois Chardonnay 2014 (£16, M&S)
If you do want to go slightly off-piste, try this chardonnay with a difference. Made biodynamically in the Jura region of north-east France, it’s rich but savoury with really satisfying texture and length. It’s very distinctive but won’t frighten the horses.
Meantime Yakima Red (£20.49/12 x 300ml, meantimebrewing.com)
The roasted malts in Meantime’s ever popular Yakima Red will work well with crisp, caramelised skin, but a decent whack of five varieties of fruity US hops keeps it light enough not to overpower the meat.
Chianti Classico Fontodi Magnum (£34, thewinesociety.com)
Magnums always lend a sense of occasion, so what could be more fitting for the festive feast? This is a brilliant wine from one of Tuscany’s most revered estates, full of ripe, satisfying fruit.
Champagne with smoked salmon is a classic Christmas combo. Famous brands fly off the shelves at this time of year but grower champagnes (those made by makers who grow their own grapes) often offer better value for money and more interest in the glass. A heavy smoke on the salmon can be a bit brutal with wine, so choose a lightly smoked fish to let its flavour, and the wine’s, shine through.
Laherte Frères Champagne AC NV Brut, Ultradition (£28.95, The Whisky Exchange)
Yeasty but with lemony freshness, this elegant fizz is top-quality for the price and would hit the spot any time you want to pop a cork over Christmas and New Year.
Jim Barry The Lodge Hill Riesling 2016 (£9.99, Co-op, £13.99, Majestic or £9.99 as a mix six)
A whisper of tropical fruit succulence with a clean and lip-smacking finish, this affordable and versatile crowd-pleaser would be good to have in the fridge throughout the festive season.
Wild Beer Co Epic Saison (£2.30/330ml, wildbeerco.com)
Wheat beer is a classic pairing with seafood and smoked salmon is no exception. The spices and zesty notes of this Belgian beer with American hops will play well against the fish and won’t jar against the smoke.
Cold ham suits light and fruity reds but if you’re serving it hot with a sweetish glaze, choose a wine with more body to carry that off. If you want to drink white, try a weighty Burgundy or an Australian semillon.
Lambrusco Reggiano Secco (£9, M&S)
This is a bit of a leftfield choice but is bound to raise a smile (as well as some eyebrows). Served chilled, its gentle bubbles will lift palates jaded from the previous day’s excesses, while its brambly fruit and dry finish makes it very food-friendly and great for lunchtime drinking.
Pilton 2014 Classic (7.50/75cl, piltoncider.com)
Pork and apple were made for each other, so cider with the Christmas ham is a no-brainer. Pilton makes for something a bit more special. The 2014 vintage is a complex medium-dry cider that uses the traditional keeving method and comes in 75cl champagne-style bottles that you won’t mind having on the table.
The Society’s Exhibition Côte de Brouilly 2015 (£9.50, thewinesociety.com)
This lovely succulent beaujolais has bright red berries and delicate freshness alongside a pleasing mineral lick. Smear a bit of cranberry sauce on your cold ham and you’ve got a match made in heaven.
This is the one time of year we tend to splash out on sweet and fortified wines to drink with puddings and cheese. Aim for a range that covers a variety of styles and levels of sweetness.
Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha Port 2002 (£30.99, Waitrose)
Vintage port is the classic match for stilton but it’s also really good with hard-to-pair chocolate desserts. For the traditionalists at the table, with its gripping complexity and velvety fruit and at the special offer price of £23.23 (from 7 December) it’s really good value for money.
Morrison’s Pedro Ximenez (£6/37.5cl, morrisons.com)
Syrupy pedro ximenez snuggles up nicely against Christmas pudding and mince pies but is also wonderful slugged over good vanilla ice cream to create an instant pudding.
Barbeito Single Harvest 2004 Tinta Negra Maderia (£24.70, theatreofwine.com; £21.99, uncorked.co.uk)
This medium-dry madeira is superb by itself or with nuts and cheese (try it with the goat’s cheese and figs on p59). It’ll keep for months once opened in the unlikely event you don’t finish it.
Mena Dhu stout (£29/12 x 500ml, St Austell Brewery)
Complex flavours of smoked oak, coffee, chocolate and a hint of liquorice to sweeten make this deceptively light Cornish stout a great match with Christmas pud or mince pies.
Domaine Jones Muscat 2015 (£15.99, nakedwines.com)
Full of fragrant, honeysuckle sweetness, this muscat is made by an English woman in the Languedoc and would be lovely with the trifle on p30.