With Christmas upon us once again, here at Simply Spanish Wine we’ve been brushing up on our festive recipes and thinking about our Christmas wines for the coming weeks. Follow our tips on food and drink pairings to make sure everything is just right when everyone comes crowding through the door on Christmas Eve!
Pairing food and wine is meant to be fun!
Let’s get one thing clear before we start: pairing food and wine is meant to be fun, so don’t get too hung up on those old-fashioned rules of the “no red wine with fish” variety. That said, like Santa Clause and reindeer, it’s true some things just do work better together than others. Therefore, it’s definitely worth thinking ahead about what you’re actually going to be eating over the Christmas holidays.
Wine to accompany turkey or other white meats
So, we’ll kick off with turkey…or other white meats for that matter like chicken or the ever-popular capon. The important thing to remember is that these are all quite light meats with relatively low fat content. Consequently, ideally, you’re looking for a wine with not too much tannin. Tannin is the compound in grape skins, stems and pips. It helps wine age well but also can leave a bitter, drying feeling in the mouth. However, that feeling can overpower lighter meats.
So, look for a medium-bodied red, or one that has been aged a bit in the barrel so that the tannins have softened. Alternatively, you could try a slightly fuller-bodied, more gastronomic white wine. For example, like our Jaun de Alzate Blanco Reserva. Made from 100% old vine Viura grapes grown in Rioja Alavesa, it spent 36 months ageing in 225 litre oak barrels before it was bottled. Thereafter, it’s had another decade’s worth of bottle ageing before it got to us. Rich and sumptuous, it makes a great gastronomic white wine for Christmas and it’s also brilliant value.
Wine for beef fans
For beef fans out there, Garnacha is a top choice. Las Pilas is a silky smooth, low-production Garnacha made by Luis Oliván in the tiny village of Bespén in Aragón. Luis is one of Spain’s premium “terroir hunters”, roaming the country in search of top winemaking spots. This 2020 vintage from DO Somontano doesn’t disappoint. Ruby red, the wine gives off wonderful aromas of red fruit, blueberries, and scrub herbs against a background of subtle toasted notes from the time in the barrel. Fresh, light and mineral on the palate, the wine has gentle tannins, bags of fruit and a long finish.
Pork and wine, a tricky choice
Of course, pork is one of Spain’s favourite meats and comes in a variety of different guises. From cold cuts and the irresistible jamón serrano through to the full-on richness of suckling pig or cochinillo as it’s called in Spanish. As a paler meat, pork can be a tricky one when you’re thinking about what wines to drink with it. However, it needn’t be complicated. Cold cuts pair well with lighter red styles with good acidity like the Mencía and Sousón blend Massimo from the Ribeira Sacra DO in Galicia. Or stick with tradition, and try our Gomez Cruzado Crianza. This is a traditional Riojan crianza with a fresh, modern feel thanks to the Tempranillo and Garnacha blend which injects the wine with a touch more freshness.
Seafood and shellfish with wine
Miraculously, we’ve got this without mentioning seafood and shellfish. Food which of course can be a big feature of Christmas in Spain. If you’re planning a seafood feast with lots of fresh prawns, clams and the like, you can’t go wrong with a nice fresh, young Albariño. Bico da Ran from DO Rías Baixas in Galicia is fresh and aromatic with a light, tropical nose of melon, peach, green apple coupled with delicious citrus notes. The taste work brilliantly with everything from the sea!
Alternatively, branch out a bit and try one of wine conoisseurs’ favourite combos: seafood with sherry. Maruja from Bodegas Juan Piñeiro is a classic, elegant Manzanilla. It has all the sea breeze and salinity you expect from wines made on the Atlantic coast down in Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Furthermore, it pairs a treat with everything from fresh prawns through to white fish or rice dishes.
Last but not least, don’t forget Spain’s favourite sparkling wine, Cava. Like Champagne, Cava is made using the metodo traditional. This means the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. Thus to take on more complex aromas for you to enjoy at any time of the day. We love the Cavas from the Grimau winery in the Penedés region of Catalunya; their Brut and Brut Rosat (the pink version), work well on their own around Christmas to get everyone in the festive spirit.
So there we go, a few pointers for the weeks ahead which hopefully will make everyone’s Christmas that little bit more enjoyable. Salut and a very happy holiday to you all!