Red is one of the great colours of Christmas.
Particularly when it comes to wine, or wine-wyse!
Santa’s costume, holly berries, even Rudolph’s nose, all are red. So, when it comes to your Christmas wines, red fits in extremely well.
There are no set rules when it comes to wine and food matching, but there are certain dishes that cry out for a good bottle of red. So here are a few suggestions to help you through the weeks ahead.
Certain wines and wine regions seem to rise above the changes of favour and fashion, possessing an inherent quality unrivalled throughout the world. Such are the wines from the classic areas of Bordeaux and Burgundy, which, although embracing modernity, remain esoteric, against which their peers from around the world are compared. There is nothing quite like a good glass of claret to accompany your rare rib of beef or roast game. Chateau Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac 2012, is not a name that trips easily off the tongue, but a wine that certainly is very pleasant on the tongue. A Saint Emilion Grand Cru, it comes from the wonderful Dourthe stable, made with impeccable care by the leaders in Bordeaux wine-making. Deep coloured, full-bodied, ripe, soft and velvety. Great value at £23 from Sainsbury’s.
However,if you fall into the ‘other camp’ and are a Burgundy fan, another classic is Louis Jadot Cotes de Beaune Villages 2014 (Majestic £19). Makers of fine Burgundy since 1859, Jadot know how to get the best from Pinot Noir. Deep, soft, subtle yet complex. For your game dishes and full-flavoured cheese, it is also excellent with roast lamb.
Two other reds are both Italian, which match so many different flavours at this time of year. A classic non-classic from The Wine Society, is their Exhibition Barolo. (2014 vintage £25). Made from the Nebbiolo grape in these Northern Italian vineyards, this is a harmonious, silky, fragrant Barolo, underpinned by velvety tannins. The pale colour belies its depth of flavour and powerful tannins, with earthiness and cherry flavours. Pair it with slow roast pork or beef cheek ragu and even spicier cured meats.
The other Italian comes from the renowned London Wine merchant, Corney & Barrow. Insoglio di Cinghiale 2016 is a Bordeaux look-alike from Maremma in Tuscany, but distinctly Italian. Silky, smooth Cabernet-Merlot from one of my favourite parts of Italy. Deep coloured, smoky, cedar and dark fruits – a red to linger over with roast haunch of venison, game pie or pot-roasted pheasant (£21.50 from the London store or online).
Finally, with a nod to the New World, is Wirra Wirra Church Block 2016 from McLaren Vale in Australia (Waitrose and Ocado £13.49). Church Block was the first wine the late Greg Trott produced under the Wirra Wirra label back in 1972. He took the name from one of the original vineyards, which runs next to the small Bethany Church, across the road from Wirra Wirra’s century old ironstone cellars. Over four decades, the Church Block label has become an Australian favourite, offering a smooth, soft red wine that balances the complexity sought by aficionados with the approachability desired by those seeking pure drinking pleasure.
Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit www.winewyse.com.
Have a sparkling Christmas with some great Champagne. Click here to read last week’s wine column.