CHOOSING WINES FOR XMAS DAY
Supermarket chains like Supervalu and Dunne’s have good solid wine selections and many branches have staff on who can advise. Aldi and Lidl have some excellent wines too, but you’ll need to know what you want, as they don’t have anyone on the spot to help you choose. O’Brien’s is always a solid option. They have a great range and the staff know their stuff.
Don’t be afraid to ask your local wine merchant for recommendations. If you tell them your budget and what you have in mind, they’ll be happy to make suggestions. Be firm about your budget though – it is easy to let their enthusiasm sway you into spending more!
Christmas dinner is a mix of pretty strong and often barely compatible tastes, which makes it tricky to find matching wines. The best wine matches for turkey are full-bodied whites such as Chardonnay or a red from Burgundy. A mediumbodied red with low to medium tannin also works well: think Beaujolais, Zinfandel or Shiraz. A Chardonnay worth seeking out is the Domaine Begude Etoile 2014. It’s vegan and organic; O’Brien’s sell it for €17.95. For something a little cheaper try the Laurent Miquel in Dunnes for €14.00 per bottle.
Reisling works great with ham. German, Austrian, Alsace or New World varieties are all good options. SuperValu stocks the Lone Kauri Riesling from New Zealand. Look out for specials, as you can often pick this one up for around a tenner.
If you’re having the turkey and ham together, a decent Beaujolais is your best bet. O’Brien’s stocks Vincent Julienas La Conseillere 2014 at €16.95 per bottle.
No Christmas dinner would be complete without a bit of fizz. Champagne is pricey and the popularity of Prosecco means the shops are often full of mediocre bottles. A cava is a smart choice. Aldi do a great one — Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura – at just €10.99.
To end the meal, you’ll need a good dessert wine. These can be pricey too. O’Brien’s has the wonderful Gérard Bertrand Rivesaltes 1989 and 2002, for €23.95. This is a complex tawny wine with aromas of hazelnut, figs and dates. It’s also ideal if you are ending the meal with cheese such as Stilton or St Agur.
A Late Bottled Vintage Port is another potential option. Or look out for either Essencia or the relatively low alcohol Elysium Black Muscat, both from Andrew Quady in California. Elysium ain’t cheap – €16.95 a half bottle – but small quantities are okay and it has a lovely mix of black cherry, blackberry and lychee on the palate.