CHRISTMAS is well and truly upon us. Which means it’s time to start planning the menu and, more importantly, which wines to drink with each meal.
At Simply Spanish Wine, we’ve been down to the market to reserve our turkey and been thinking hard about some food and wine pairings, so everything is just right when family and friends come round on Christmas Eve!
But if you haven’t had time to start your festive planning, not to worry. We’ve got some ideas for wines that work beautifully whatever the occasion.
But before we start, it´s important to remember that those fixed rules of the ¨you can’t serve red wine with fish¨ variety are going out of fashion faster than you can say Denominación de Origen. It’s true that, like Morecambe and Wise, some combos do just work better than others. But 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 just a smidgen of knowledge about what´s in the bottle, and to be true to your own tastes rather than what others say you should do.
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, or one with just a few months of barrel ageing to soften the tannins.
Alternatively, you could try a slightly fuller-bodied, more gastronomic white wine. Our Solarce Blanco, for example, is a blend of Chardonnay, Macabeo (known as Viura in Rioja) 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.
Of course, Christmas is not all about turkey. So, for you beef fans out there, wines made with Garnacha are a fantastic option. The iTant Garnatxa Negra from DO Montsant in southern Catalunya, with its layers of succulent, juicy fruit, is a good choice. While for something with a bit more weight to tackle fatter cuts of meat, the Que Sí! blend of Garnacha and Carignan from DOQa Priorat is a deliciously indulgent red just right for Christmas.
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. Roast pork is delicious at this time of year, and here at Simply Spanish Wine we’ve gone off-piste a little recently and paired it with white Rioja. But it would combine equally well with Viña Clavidor, our old vine Verdejo and Viura blend from DO Rueda, or an unoaked, Mencía-based red from North West Spain.
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 sumptious 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.
Last but not least don’t forget the Cava, Spain’s favourite sparkling wine which you can enjoy lightly chilled at any time of the day or night. 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. The Grimau winery in the Penedès region of Catalunya is one of our favourite producers, and we’re running a special offer on their Cavas in the run-up to Christmas so keep an eye out for that.
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!
To find out more about the resources on offer and sample some of Simply Spanish Wine’s fantastic wines, you can visit the website at www.simplyspanishwine.com or follow the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/simplyspanishwine.