What to share with your loved ones this Christmas
The window shops are bursting with red decorations, the lights are glimmering with a warm glow and the scents of sweet spices are filling the streets. That could only mean one thing - the Christmas season is here! It’s finally time to unwind, press the pause button and enjoy the long-awaited festivities; and what could beat a more perfect holiday season combination than surrounding yourself with the people you love and some great wine?
You will probably be familiar on how this whole Christmas thing works, but how did this tradition begin?
The origin of Christmas: how did this all come about?
There are many theories stating the origin of this holiday. The most popular belief is that the origin of Christmas dates back to ancient Rome. Pagans celebrated this holiday as the birthday of Sol Invictus (god of the sun) on the 25th of December. When Christianity came to Europe, the day of the birth of the sun was chosen to celebrate the birth of the Son, Jesus Christ. These traditions combined with Christian beliefs to form modern Christmas, as we know it today - a brightly coloured celebration full of warmth and joy.
Modern celebrations today
Even though Christmas Eve, Christmas day and Boxing days are celebrated in many countries, each corner of the world adds its own little spin on the festivities according to their traditions and culture. In the UK, the holidays are associated with a big feast made of roasted turkey, gravy, potatoes, cranberry sauce and, of course, lots of wine.
If you're feeling overwhelmed at the thought of hosting Christmas dinner, take heart – technology has come a long way and now many of us can order a takeaway meal instead to take off that extra pressure.
You can even have a selection of Christmas wines delivered to your doorstep, and The Secret Vine will gladly take care of your wine choices for you to ensure your guests are impressed.
By pairing your food with the right wine, you can bring out the Christmas cheer and make sure everyone has a merry time.
Christmas wine pairings
The beauty of the wine world lies in its diversity. This precious drink has so many variations: from red, white or even orange, bone-dry to irresistibly sweet, still or bubbly, there's sure to be a wine for everyone at the table.
When it comes to wines, nothing says celebration like a bottle of sparkling wine or Champagne for Christmas! Some might argue that it is the best wine for the occasion due to its versatility and ability to pair well with almost everything while adding a sense of cheer and excitement.
You can't do much wrong with sparkling wine this holiday season: it could be a great welcoming drink for the guest accompanied by light vegetarian snacks, or a perfect finishing touch to the Christmas morning when you share good wishes and exchange presents with your family. It truly is the ultimate Christmas wine! But if you're not a big fan of the Christmas sparkles, yet still prefer bubbles on the fruitier side, opting for Prosecco instead is a great solution. It’s also a good choice if you are on a budget but still want to feel festive.
In many European countries, seafood is traditionally served on Christmas eve. If you’re starting your dinner on a high note with fresh seafood, Champagne is a stellar choice. However, don’t underestimate the power of a perfect and lesser-known match between the oysters and Chablis. The minerality with steely notes and a salted undertone combined with high acidity are beautifully balanced out by the umami taste of the oysters. This combination will without a doubt leave your guests ecstatic.
If you’re eating fish for the main course, zesty notes of Pinot Grigio or fragrant aromas of Sauvignon Blanc will go nicely with a fatty seafood dish. But if you’re not much of a white wine drinker or are in the mood for a less conventional pairing, don’t stick with the “white goes with fish and red pairs with red meat” rule, as it’s actually a myth. The secret lies in fine details: if the red wine is light, elegant and has little tannin, it can certainly be served with a roasted fillet of salmon on Christmas eve. So, a nice French Pinot Noir or light Nebbiolo will do the trick. A little tip, wine can even be served slightly chilled, so that the aromas of red berries and wet leaves open up slowly as you enjoy the meal.
Considering the star of the Christmas table, turkey can certainly be accompanied by a glass of chilled white wine. We suggest you start with something light and elegant like Viognier and then gradually expand your choices as you eat, switching to a buttery Chardonnay or even Beaujolais Nouveau if you’re in the mood for a young red wine.
Some prefer to steer further from Christmas traditions and instead of turkey plan on preparing a decadent main course, like a roast goose with apple sauce. In that case note that it will perfectly marry with a crisp bone-dry German or Austrian Riesling, as the minerality and acidity of the wine will nicely cut through the fattiness of the bird meat.
If your Christmas meal consists of roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, pigs in blankets and other delicious meats, white wines may appear flat in contrast to such vibrant flavours. That is why a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley or a rich Italian red, such as Brunello or Barolo, will be a perfect choice for a Christmas red wine.
Wine and Dessert
After a filling dinner filled with laughter and great conversations, there’s still some room left for dessert. Even though some might prefer to switch to tea with milk at this point, we recommend Sauterne as a perfect Christmas pudding wine. Alternatively, a glass of Tawny Port is best enjoyed with some minced pie.
On the third day of celebrations, only the strongest of us all won’t feel stuffed from the neverending feast. That is why if you’re not planning on shopping, stretching your legs and going out for some air makes for a perfect boxing day activity. Some may not arrive further than their local pub, while others might enjoy a nice stroll around the block with a cup of hot cider or mulled wine, reminiscing about the gleeful holiday memories.
The art of food and wine pairing
The general rule of thumb is to understand your ingredients and the intensity of flavours to choose the wine that will not seem flat or overpower the meal, making all your culinary efforts go unnoticed. That is why there are a few basic rules to help you plan your food and wine celebration:
- Try pairing food with more acidic wines
- The wine should be sweeter than the food, so avoid pairing desserts with a dry wine
- Red tannic wines go well with meat and dishes with lots of spices
- Match the wine to the sauce, as it’s often the key flavour of the meal
But ultimately, the best Christmas wine is the one that you can’t wait to enjoy in the company of your loved ones! So, let your taste buds lead the way and pour yourself a glass of something nice. Cheers!