Yes, another 12 months have zipped by and, once again, Christmas is just around the corner. So we thought we'd dust down our guide on which wines to drink over the festive period, and update it with some new wines we've brought on board over 2022.
Before we start, a word on the whole subject of pairing food and wine. Here at SSW, we tend not to obsess too much about what goes with what and generally follow the ¨reginal food with regional grapes¨ philosophy which tends to work well, especially in Spain.
It’s also important to keep an open mind and not pay too much attention to traditional ¨rules¨ like “no red wine with fish”. These days there are light reds that work well with fish and fuller-bodied whites that stand their ground alongside meat dishes. The trick is to have a smidgen of knowledge about what’s in the bottle and be true to your own tastes rather than what others say you should do. For more on all this, we’d heartily recommend this recent podcast from UK wine supremo Jancis Robinson in conversation with her pairing supremo Tamlyn Currin.
Which wine to drink with turkey and white meats
So, let’s kick off with the turkey…or any other white meat for that matter. These are quite light meats with a low-fat content. So ideally you want a wine with less tannin, the compound in grapes which helps wine age but can also leave a slightly bitter, astringent feeling in the mouth. Tannins can overpower lighter meats, so our advice would be to look for a medium-bodied red wine, or one with just a few months of barrel ageing to soften the tannins.
Alternatively, you could try a slightly fuller-bodied, more gastronomic Spanish white wine. Our Solarce Blanco, for example, is a blend of Chardonnay, Viura and Malvasia grapes. It’s got decent acidity to handle the myriad of flavours on your Christmas plate, plus a touch of barrel ageing for that all-important extra body.
Which wine to drink with beef
Of course, Christmas is not all about turkey. So, for you beef fans out there, wines made with Tempranillo or Garnacha are a fantastic option. Our new and elegant red Valsotillo Finca Buenavista from historic Ribera del Duero producer Bodegas Ismael Arroyo is packed with red fruit and a lick of oak, while for a more herbal, Mediterranean feel, iTant Garnatxa Negra from DO Montsant in southern Catalunya is the perfect choice. If you’re after something with a bit more weight to tackle fatter cuts of meat, another of our new wines, Finca la Rana from Hacienda Terra d’Uro in DO is a fuller-bodied, deliciously indulgent red just right for Christmas.
Which wine to drink with pork
Pork is one of Spain’s favourite meats and a perfect companion for Christmas feasts. It comes in a variety of guises, from embutido and the irresistible jamón serrano, through to the full-on richness of cochinillo (suckling pig). As a paler meat, it can seem tricky to find perfect wine pairings, but it needn’t be complicated. Cold cuts of pork work well with lighter red styles with good acidity like Massimo, a blend of Mencía and Sousón grapes from DO Ribeira Sacra in Galicia, or again try combining with the red fruit sweetness in Las Pilas.
Which wine to drink with seafood
Now we’ve got this far, and we haven’t even mentioned seafood or shellfish, which of course can be a big part of a traditional Spanish Christmas. If you’re planning a maritime feast with fresh prawns, clams or even percebes (goose barnacles), then you can’t go wrong with a fresh, young Albariño. Or try a sumptuous Fino from Jerez, with its enticing salty tang that combines brilliantly with shellfish. If you’re planning on rolling up your sleeves and using the oven, our Marola & Mass Albariño has a little lees ageing which gives it a slightly fuller-bodied style which works well with richer fish dishes, or prawns in a garlicky sauce for example.
Which wine to drink with a vegetarian meal
If you’re going for a veggie meal this Christmas, you might what to think about something like Cava, Spain’s favourite sparkling wine. Like Champagne, Cava is made using the so-called traditional method which means some of the fermentation process happens in the bottle, allowing more complex aromas and delicious bready notes to develop. It's great to drink on it's own, but also works well alongside a wide range of foods. So it's definitely worth giving it a try.
The Grimau winery in the Penedès region of Catalunya is one of our favourite producers, and their Brut and Brut Rosat Cavas are both delicious and exceptional value for money.
So there we have it, a few tips for the weeks ahead which we hope will take some of the stress out of festive planning and make everyone’s Christmas that little bit more enjoyable. Salud as we say, and a very happy holiday to you all!