CHOOS­ING WINES FOR XMAS DAY

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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.

En­joy your­self!

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