Christmas wine matches: a guide

Simon Blish

Writing, drawing, editing - Simon loves it all.
Simon Blish

Christmas dinner is often one of the most important meals of the year. Huge amounts of money are spent on the perfect roast, the perfect drink and the perfect Christmas crackers. The task can be ominous.

So we’ve teamed up with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) to offer you this inspired guide for food and wine pairings this Christmas. This guide can also give you some good pointers on wines to match various dishes beyond Christmas too (e.g., sweet or salty dishes, fish dishes or even cheeses).

salmon and bubbly

Traditional Christmas Dinner

Smoked salmon starter

White: Start with a pop and go with Champagne. Prosecco will also do, or even a nice cava – light and mouth-watering, with bubbles to cut through the oil of the fish.

Red: If you insist on something darker, head to New Zealand and try a light Pinot Noir – this is delicate enough to match and not mask the fish’s flavour.

Roast turkey with all the trimmings

White: An oaky chardonnay from somewhere like California will bring out the creaminess of the bird, whilst standing up to the bolder flavours on the table.

Red: Splash out on a red burgundy to complement the cranberry accents of the feast, with just the right amount of acidity to pleasingly cut through the fattier meat and potatoes.

Nut roast

White: A slightly oaked chardonnay is a great option here – good news if there’s a mix of nut roast and turkey on your table.

Red: A fruity red like Chilean merlot will work a treat with this substantial savoury dish.

Christmas pudding

Fortified: A Pedro Ximénez Sherry is a great match for a spicy Christmas pudding. This sherry has fruit flavours and treacly characteristics that complement this traditional dessert.

CultivarSauvignonBlancwithSalumiCheeseandApple_IMG_0071

Treats during the day

Chocolates in front of the telly

Fortified: Chocolate is notoriously difficult to match with wine, but if you’d like a small glass of something indulgent with your telly-side treats, try a fabulously festive aged tawny port.

Cheese board with crackers

White: Sauvignon blanc is a good choice if goat’s cheese is your favourite.

Fortified: A vintage Port is the perfect foil for a stinky stilton.

Terry’s Chocolate Orange

White: The underlying citrus flavours of a sticky moscatel dessert wine will pleasingly mimic the orange tang of this festive favourite.

Dr-L-Riesling

Boxing Day buffet

Turkey Curry

White: Gewürztraminer or Riesling have a little bit of sweetness, so are a refreshing choice with this spicy dish.

Beer: Avoid anything heavy with chilli spice. You could try a Boxing Day beer, though, instead of wine.

Ham and cranberry sandwiches

White: This salty sandwich would be perfect with a medium weight white – try a chablis.

Red: The fresh red fruit flavours of Beaujolais will compliment the meat and match the cranberry sauce. This wine made with the Gamay grape is also just the thing for gammon dishes.

Sherry trifle

Fortified: The clue’s in the name – it has to be a sweet Oloroso Sherry.

For more information about the WSET, qualifications and where to study please visit WSETglobal.com. As well as qualifications, the WSET’s London Wine & Spirit School offers events for the enthusiast.

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