Red Wine Pairing at Christmas 101

Wine at Christmas: |

The festive season is well and truly underway and as the ‘big day’ draws closer there’ll be some that will, in the midst of frenzied preparations, nevertheless still find time to consider the all-important vinous accompaniments to the occasion with utmost seriousness and scrutiny.  

If the Christmas lunch is to serve a purposeful simulacrum to the humble spruce, pine, or fir around which family and friends gather at this time of year then it is the wine that acts as the adorning angel or star; propelling an otherwise uniform, Groundhog Day-esque spread into one that dazzles and sparkles long in the memory.

Although goose, salmon, steak and more recently nut roast pose threat in the tussle for the top spot of the Christmas lunch centrepiece, it is undoubtedly turkey that still rules the roost.

Being a white meat with little fat and meeker in flavour than most, it becomes important to take this subtlety into consideration when choosing red wines to pair alongside.

Given too that the plate will likely be brimming with other flavours and textures vying for dominance; namely ham, parsnips, stuffing, cranberry and the notoriously difficult-to-pair Brussel sprout, it is of no wonder why many find the task of pairing reds to this fabled repast more taxing than it would initially seem.

While personal preference is paramount in all of this, there are a few points to consider when wishing to pair red wines with Christmas lunch:


  • Be wary of tannins – In general, low, or mid-tannin wines will perform better with turkey, being a low-fat meat. This lack of fat leaves little to soften the tannins in the wine meaning that high-tannin wines tend to overpower not only the subtle flavour of the turkey but the dish as a whole.


  • Acidity is your friend – Wines with medium or high levels of acidity will act as palate cleansers when confronted with the myriad of flavours and textures that make up the Christmas lunch. Just as the cranberry sauce brings about a sense of piquant, tart freshness to the dish so too will a vibrant red wine with zippy acidity.


  • If you must go full-bodied, go mature – Full-bodied wines tend to have high-levels of tannins which, in their youth, can be over-dominant and/or austere and run you into the problems outlined in the first point when considering pairing with Christmas lunch. Bottle ageing over time however will serve to integrate and soften these tannins within the wine contributing to a rounder and less grainy character that will contend less with the food served alongside.


With all that in mind, you can find below a list of suggestions of red wines that we are confident will provide the ideal pairing for your meal this Christmas as well as delivering joy in times spent away from the table in the company of friends and family.



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