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for festive celebrations
The festive season presents the perfect opportunity to round up friends, family and loved ones. But when we think of Christmas wines, we so often think of The Big Day. Where I hail from that means smoked Scottish salmon, roast turkey and all the trimmings, followed by a monstrous Christmas pudding and enough cheese to satisfy even Santa’s appetite. For you, that might mean barbecues on the beach in Australia, or vegetarian feasts of nut roasts or mushroom Wellingtons, or roast beef carved at the table. Or you might not celebrate Christmas at all, but who doesn’t love an excuse to gather up one’s friends and have a party? We hope we’ve covered all bases with our festive wine recommendations and that, however you’re celebrating, you’ll be doing so with a bottle or two of something delicious.
Bubbles for drinks parties
Ah, two of our favourite words together: drinks and nibbles! When the food is simple, all you’ll need is plenty of bubbles to keep the crowd happy. The higher acid levels in most sparkling wines also works well with salty and briny snacks such as nuts, crisps and olives. The most straight-forward option would be Italy’s Prosecco, bursting with fresh fruit flavours (many options, starting at €6). But why not try Lambrusco? Our favourites come from Cleto Chiarli, such as their Lambrusco di Sorbara Vecchia Modena Premium (€11, Vinissimus), which is full of wild herbs and raspberries. Go local with a Cava from Penedès. We love Mestres Coquet Gran Reserva (€16, Vinissimus). Or if you’re really pushing the boat out, treat your invitees like VIP’s with André Clouet Grand Réserve. This Grand Cru Champagne made from 100% Pinot Noir has a fantastically creamy texture, with ripe fruit, brioche and earthy notes, and at €33.90 (Bodeboca) it’s an absolute steal for this quality level. Just don’t tell your guests!
Crowd pleasers and oddities for dinner parties
Big, boisterous dinner parties that you’ll remember for a lifetime don’t just happen, they’re made! We believe wine is a great way to bring people together and to discover new styles and tastes. Unusual wines can be great talking points, whether it’s a New World wine that’s hard to get hold of or a grape no-one’s ever heard of. How about Nascetta? This indigenous Piemontese variety produces aromatic whites with floral notes, citrus peel and ripe peaches. Check out Diego Conterno’s (Xtra Wine, €16.40). Georgian orange wines are gaining popularity and definitely worth checking out, but Georgia make wonderful reds too. Try this Saperavi from Château Mukhrani (Vinello, €17.43). Always ensure there are some crowd pleasers on the menu. We’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t love Suavia’s Soave Classico (€12, Vinissimus); the super juicy Marañones Garnacha from Madrid (Decantalo, €16.80); or a bold Argentine Malbec, such as Zuccardi’s Serie A (€19.50, Bodeboca).
Wines worthy of The Big Meal
With rich, celebratory meals, acid in wine is your friend, as it helps to cut through the sensation of fattiness and brings balance to the palate. Aromatic whites made from Riesling work really well to whet the appetite. Dr. Loosen’s Bernkasteler Lay Riesling Kabinett has a touch of sweetness and low alcohol (Lavinia, €15.90), or check out a dry style from further afield. Kilikanoon produce Mort’s Block Watervale Riesling in South Australia’s Clare Valley (€24.95, Bodeboca). For a bolder white style to match oily foods such as smoked salmon and pâtes, Chenin Blanc ticks all the boxes. Marc Brédif’s Vouvray Classic (€16.60, Decantalo) has plenty of bracing acidity, the trademark honey and hay notes, and toastiness from oak maturation. Delicious! For reds, the options are endless, but for us it wouldn’t be Christmas without some luscious Syrah from the St. Joseph AC. Ferraton Saint-Joseph La Source always hits the spot (€20.90, Vinissimus). Look to the New World for fuller-bodied Pinot Noir styles, such as Cristom’s Louise Vineyard Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley (€61.20, Bodeboca), or go for another of our Christmas classics, Vietti Barbera d’Alba Scarrone (€36.55, Vinissimus). With its silky texture and bold red cherry and spice notes, we can guarantee at least one moment of appreciative silence around the dinner table with this open.
Meditation wines to accompany a cheese board, a good book or a board game marathon
While I often think it’s a shame that Port is so closely associated with Christmas in the UK and doesn’t appear much at other times of year, there is therefore something very ritualistic and joyous about opening up a bottle of it to share with family. It accompanies our cheeseboard, our terrible attempts to conduct board games and our loudest conversations. You can pick up the deliciously dense and fruity, unfiltered LBV from Niepoort for €16.85 (Decantalo). For something drier, our ideal ‘meditation wine’ is an oxidative Sherry. Lustau’s Almacenista Oloroso Pata de Gallina hits the spot every time (€21.90, Bodeboca), or for a great value Palo Cortado bag yourself a bottle of Juan Piñero Palo Cortado Great Duke 12 Años (€18.90, Vinissimus). These both work beautifully with harder cow’s cheeses such as Comté and Mahón. For Madeira recommendations, check out this article from Gabriela, our resident Certified Madeira Educator! And remember, it’s only a board game…
We hope these suggestions will help to create unforgettable get-togethers this festive season. Just remember: drink lots of water and enjoy responsibly! While the last two years may have felt less than celebratory for many of us, we’re sure that time with friends, family and whoever else comes along for the ride will more than make up for it. So, enjoy your festivities, relax, open some good wine, and don’t forget to tell us all about it in January! Happy holidays from the WCB team x
N.B. All pricing correct at time of publication. Wine Courses Barcelona are not incentivised in any way to promote these wines or distributors. They are simply some of our festive favourites and online retailers of choice!
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