Christmas dinner is arguably the biggest and most anticipated meal of the year. Whether you serve turkey, beef, ham or something more unusual, there’s a wine to suit every Christmas dinner meat choice perfectly. Here’s what you’ll find on the Ideal Wine table this Christmas.
Turkey – avoid tannins
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a turkey. This traditional favourite is not a powerful meat and has a low fat content. The wine you choose to match it shouldn’t be too overwhelming either. Try to avoid serving anything heavy with tannin as this will clash with your meal. The lack of fat in the dish leaves nothing to soften the tannins, leading to an accentuated and harsh taste in the wine. On a similar note, the saltiness of the turkey will also make the tannin in your wine taste bitter.
A full-bodied white wine or a medium-bodied red, both with low to medium tannins and high acidity, will work well. If you’re opting for a white, try a Chardonnay. This enticing accompaniment pairs well with both your turkey and all the traditional trimmings. Its oaky richness provides notes of both sweet and spice, while its creamy acidity benefits the meat that can sometimes be dry. Look for wines with a high level of minerality and acidity, to cleanse the palate and cut through the richness of the meal.
If you’d prefer a red wine, look towards the more robust varieties. Options such as Pinot Noirs and Beaujolais Crus are known to pair well with turkey. These medium tannin and medium bodied reds bring a fruity element that complement trimmings like cranberry sauce, while also bringing a sweet freshness to your plate.
Ham – add a dash of sweetness
Hams are a delicious addition to your Christmas meal. Whether you choose to bake, smoke or honey your ham, the salty meat needs a wine that will add a touch of sweetness. Try serving a German Riesling with a touch of residual sugar. Providing plenty of acidity, this palate pleaser provides enough sweetness to counteract the meat’s saltiness, without being overwhelming. Alternatively, look to an Alsatian Riesling if you want less sugar. This will bring more body to your wine and provide a richer palate profile.
If you’re looking for a red wine accompaniment, try looking for a variety lighter in body and overall style. Beaujolais, Pinot Noir and Spain’s Tempranillo grape exhibit subtle tannins and an easier going pairing profile that works well with ham.
Beef – opt for a bold red
Undoubtedly, red wine is the perfect pairing for beef. A large variety of reds work with this meat due to its richness and gamey flavour. A bold Cabernet Sauvignon, a rustic Tempranillo or a Barbaresco are just some of the wines that would be perfect for your Christmas dinner. These varieties are strong enough to mix and mingle with the bold flavours of the red meat, while also bringing out subtle nuances of beef.
Duck – red or white
When it comes to pairing wine with duck, be aware of the special features of the meat. While it is strong like beef, it also has a unique, fatty profile and an intense gaminess. A red is usually the best option if you are roasting, smoking or braising the duck. To pair with this, try using a red wine from Burgundy or Bordeaux.
If you’re serving your duck with a fruit-based sauce, try opting for a white. This means the sauce will not be competing with your wine choice and the wine will cleanse your palate to prevent an overwhelming sweetness. Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and Sauternes wines all work well with fruit-based duck dishes.
Christmas is a time to celebrate and come together. Whether you’re trying something new with your meal or sticking to a classic choice, always choose a wine you’ll enjoy. No matter what meat you choose for Christmas dinner, there’s a wine for your table.