With Christmas now just around the corner, it’s time to dust off the recipe books. And we need to start thinking about what we’re going to eat and drink over the coming weeks. Here at Simply Spanish Wine, we’ve booked the Christmas turkey and lined up some food and drink pairings. We want to make sure everything is just right when family and friends come through the door on Christmas Eve!
Festive wine pairings
But if you haven’t started your festive planning, or are worried you’re not going to have time, never fear. We’ve got plenty of ideas for wines that work beautifully whatever the occasion. Spain is a marvellous country for wine lovers, and Christmas is the perfect time to explore new regions and grapes. And also to find something that’s just right for you!
Let’s get one thing clear before we start; pairing food and wine is meant to be fun. And hard and fast rules of the ‘no red wine with fish’ variety are going out of fashion faster than you can say, Denominación de Origen. That said, like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, it’s true some things just do work better together than others. So, it’s definitely worth thinking ahead about what you’re actually going to be eating over the Christmas holidays.
Turkey and other light meats
So let’s start with turkey…or other white meats for that matter like chicken or the ever-popular capon. The important thing to remember is that they are all quite light meats with relatively low-fat content. So, ideally, you’re looking for a wine with not too much tannin. Tannin is the compound in grape skins, stems and pips which helps wine age well. But it also can leave a bitter, drying feeling in the mouth which can overpower lighter meats. So, look for a medium-bodied red. Or one that has had 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 like our Solarce Blanco, for example; a blend of Chardonnay, Viura and Malvasia grapes with good acidity to cope with the myriad of Christmas flavours. Plus a touch of barrel ageing to give it that all-important extra body.
For beef fans out there, Grenache (or Garnacha as it’s known in Spanish) is a great option. The so-called GSM blends – Garnacha, Syrah and Mourvèdre (known as Monastrell in Spain) –traditionally from the southern Rhone in France, tend to be bright and juicy and can work well with leaner cuts. The iTant Garnatxa Negra from DO Montsant in southern Catalunya is a good choice, while for something with a bit more heft to tackle slightly fatter cuts of meat the Que Sí! blend from DOQa Priorat is a deliciously indulgent red just made for Christmas.
Of course, pork is one of Spain’s favourite meats and comes in a variety of different guises, from cold charcuterie and the irresistible jamón serrano to the full-on richness of suckling pig or cochinillo as it’s called in Spanish. As 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. Roast pork is delicious at this time of year, and here at Simply Spanish Wine we’ve been going a little off-piste and pairing it with white Rioja made from the Viura or Macabeo grape, but it would work equally well with Viña Clavidor, our old vine Verdejo and Viura blend from DO Rueda or unoaked, Mencía-based reds from North-West Spain.
Seafood and shellfish
Miraculously, we’ve got this without mentioning seafood and shellfish 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, or even a delicious Fino from down south in Jerez which has an enticing salty tang which goes very well with shellfish. If you’re going to be rolling your sleeves up and turning on the oven, our Marola & Mass Albariño is a slightly fuller-bodied style thanks to a little time spent on the lees, which makes it ideal for combining with richer fish dishes or garlicky prawns for example.
Last but not least, don’t forget Spain’s favourite sparkling wine, Cava. Like Champagne, Cava is made using the so-called metodo traditional which means the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle which helps it 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, and we’ll be running a special online offer on their Cavas in the run-up to Christmas so keep an eye out for that.
Pointers for the festive period
So there we go a few pointers for the weeks ahead. Hopefully, these tips will make everyone’s Christmas a little bit more enjoyable. Salut and a very happy holiday to you all!
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