At this time of the year the letter ‘O’ in the wine alphabet can only stand for ‘O Come All Ye Faithful wine lovers’.
Or maybe it might mean ‘Oh dear! What to have with the turkey?’
Turkey in itself is an easy match for most red and white wines, but I haven’t met anyone who sits down with a glass of red and just a few slices of turkey or any other meat on the plate.
The problem (or challenge if your glass is half full) is all those different flavours that go with it.
Sprouts, carrots, red cabbage, parsnips, chipolatas wrapped in bacon, sage or other stuffing, gravy.
Then there are the sauces you get with some Xmas dishes. Fairly acidic horseradish and too-sweet cranberry would be willing wine wreckers left to their own devices.
Glass of water anyone? Well no. You can still enjoy your favourite wine with this meal, but just recognise it is likely to be compromise. If you have bought a really good wine (say a claret or white burgundy over £15) I would leave out the cranberry sauce.
My taste buds tell me the best match for these multi-flavours is the tang of a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
One of the wines I have tasted this year that would be a good match is one from just down the road at Albourne Estate, just off the A23 a few miles south of Burgess Hill.
The Bacchus 2013 from the award-winning estate tastes to me like very good Sauvignon Blanc. The colour is very pale but that is the only pale thing about this zesty but not over-powering wine. If anything it’s slightly off dry, which some might find attractive.
Pretty near as good a match would be the same estate’s unusual white Pinor Noir, from a grape usually associated with fine red wine from Burgundy and other parts of the world. It has plenty of body, crisp and with a keen but not overwhelming acidity. It has hints of soft lime, and I think it would fit very nicely with a vegetarian choice too.
The estate’s wines are a credit to wine maker Alison Nightingale, who is also co-owner. If you are thinking of a gift they have lovely labels too with birds. Both wines sell at £12.95, good value for such excellent wines. Local stockists are South Downs Wine Cellar, Hurstpierpoint and Lindfield, and Grape and Grain at Haywards Heath.
Sauvignon Blanc blended with Semillon features in two other wines from Bergerac in France that would fit in at the Christmas table at a reasonable price. The Tesco Finest Bergerac Blanc at just £5.99, and for people who don’t like their pudding wines as sweet as Sauternes, a delicious but lighter Montbazillac 2012 from Waitrose at £9.99.
If fizz is your fancy something like mouthwatering Piccini Prosecco DOC available from Tesco at half price £7.49 to December 28 would handle those flavours pretty well.
Dodging the issue about turkey I am having beef wellington and the best wine for that in my view is a Beaujolais Cru such as Moulin a Vent from the Gamay grape at the quality level of Louis Jadot Moulin a Vent 2010 (£15.99 Sainsburys) or perhaps an Australian Shiraz.
A Rioja might be a good second wine, something like the silky yet complex Cune Reserva 2009 (£14.99 Waitrose Majestic and others).
Whatever you drink at Christmas, I hope it will taste all the better for sharing it with good company.