Christmas is just around the corner and we’re about to put together our wine order for Christmas day. Although I could write a novella about the consumption of wine, I’m afraid my knowledge of what to drink is poor. Luckily we have Phil, from Loki Wine in The Great Western Arcade, on hand to offer advice and provide for all of our boozy needs – aperitif to digestif and everything in between.
Christmas is the only day of the year where you can reasonably start drinking before 8am, we like to start with a Mimosa (2/3 Champagne, 1/3 Orange Juice, which is more efficient booze consumption compared to Buck’s Fizz which is 1/3 Champagne, 2/3 Orange Juice).
We only usually manage a bottle of fizz before lunch, and this year Phil has recommended an English stunner – Nyetimber (£29.99). He’s also got a limited stock of the award winning Welsh sparkling wine, Ancre Hill Estate (£25.99) which has been much lauded – and at the moment it’s only available at Loki and Fortnam and Mason – get it now before it runs out!
Lunch is, for us, when the real hardcore food/wine pairing kicks in though. We sent our menu to Phil and he’s provided some suggestions.
Starter: We’re having Parsnip & Chestnut Soup. Phil says: Christmas wouldn’t be the same without an oaked Chardonnay in my opinion. My first choice would be the fantastic Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Chardonnay (£14.99) Not only does this have zesty fresh fruit it has a lovely creamy length that I think will match perfectly with the soup. However for people who really can’t stand oak or Chardonnay I would perhaps try the lovely Minaia Gavi Di Gavi (£13.49) this is wonderful and fresh with a mineral edge and acidity to cut through the soup.
Main: We’re having Turkey, with 46 vegetables, and the rest of the trimmings. Phil says: Christmas Turkey is always an issue for me as there is always so much going on, but if you are like me you’ll be having a nice rich gravy I would stick to the reds, and potentially go traditional Bordeaux. You can get some great youthful 2010 vintage at the moment Chateau Le Pey Cru Bourgeois (£12.99) – this Cabernet Sauvignon dominated Bordeaux would be my great value pick, it is rich but has enough juicy fruit to drink young. Watch out for some Merlot dominated Bordeaux on discount at the moment, I found that although 2010 was a great year for Cabernet Sauvignon, some of the Merlots are just too jammy, and don’t have the complexity. Another great shout is some ‘lesser years’ such as 2007, 2006 and 2004, these offer great value and some famous estate wines are drinking very well, something like Chateau Beau-Site 2004 Saint-Estephe (£19.99) is soft and approachable whilst maintaining good structure.
Dessert: We’re having: Christmas Pudding or (and!) Chocolate Torte. Phil says: For this I would branch away from the traditional dessert and go for some slightly unconventional choices, Skillogalee Liqueur Muscat (£31.99) would be my first choice it’s rich enough to cope with the richness of any Christmas pudding. another unconventional match is Pedro Ximenez, I would go for a high quality one so that the weight will cope with the richness of the Christmas pudding, try Romante (£27.99) or Colosia (£12.99 Half Bottle). With the Chocolate Torte, I would suggest the Le Cedré, late harvest Malbec from Cahors (£19.99, 50cl) This has the richness to go with the chocolate, but also the tannins that balances well with the cocoa.
Savoury: Obviously, we’ll be on the Cheese! Phil says: Let’s hit the traditional again and go for the lovely Quinta Do Crasto LBV Port 2007 (£16.99), this port house constantly punch above their weight, and it is no surprise as they sell their rejected grapes to the more famous Taylor’s. This has a soft smoothness whilst maintaining a wonderful hint of port sweetness. For the more adventurous of you I would try Mas Amiel 10 year old (£33.99) this fortified wine is from Maury in South France, they use the unique technique of ageing their wines for long periods outside in glass. This gives the wine it’s distinct sherry character whilst maintaining it’s smooth port-like elegance.
Mid-afternoon after the nap, and before your evening guests arrive I suggest a quick pick me up. My personal favourite – a Coffee Martini. Make an espresso (you can buy them in advance and fridge them), pour on plenty of ice in a cocktail shaker, add a shot of plain vodka, a shot of vanilla vodka, a shot of coffee liquer (such as Tia Maria or Kaluha) and either half a shot of gomme (sugar syrup) or a tea spoon of sugar. If you don’t have vanilla vodka then double up the plain. Shake until the the shaker goes frosty. Serve in a Martini glass and decorate the froth with three coffee beans.
All the wines listed are available at Loki. If you give them a call on 0121 212 9440, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, they’ll put together an order for you which you can then collect. Alternatively, which I would strongly suggest, you pop in and try the 24 wines on tasting!
Remember, it’s about quality, not about quantity, so make it count!