What Christmas Drinks Do I Serve?

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We answer your questions about what to serve your guests this Christmas from the wine to choose to go with the Christmas turkey to what to eat with goose to how to read the label on a bottle of sherry to know if it is sweet or dry.

What wine goes well with turkey and white meat?
Australian Semillon, a rich dry white, any New World crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a classic Chablis or Sancerre or a French Picpoul goes particularly well with turkey but any Italian reds are good too including Merlots and Pinot Noirs from Veneto.

We’re having a goose this year, what should we drink with it?
Goose and any game go well with full-bodied reds – look for wines made from the Cabernet Sauvignon or the spicy French Syrah grape, known as Shiraz in Australia. In whites, an Australian oak-aged Chardonnay or a spicy French Alsace Gewurztraminer would be good.

What wines go with Christmas pudding?
Whites are best: try a Sauternes from France or even a Muscadet. Avoid a dessert wine which would be too sweet.

I want to serve a dessert wine but I’m not sure how many people will drink it. How much should I buy?
– You can usually buy dessert or sweet wines in half bottles (35 cl). If you serve it in small glasses, you should have enough for 10 people in half a bottle.

We have cheese instead of Christmas pudding – should I choose special wines? 
With Stilton, Dolcelatte and other blue cheeses serve Côtes du Rhône or a decent Cabernet Sauvignon or a vintage port. With soft herb and garlic-flavoured cheeses a Pinotage or Cabernet Sauvignon will work well. With Brie and Camembert serve a Merlot, a good Claret or a crisp chilled Sauvignon Blanc.

What does ‘decanting’ mean and should I do it with my Christmas reds?
Decanting is when you pour wine from one vessel to another usually from a bottle to a decanter. This is done to move a wine off the sediment which has been thrown during the wine’s ageing. When you decant a wine, air gets into the wine and the wine’s aromas are allowed to develop. Serve fine wine immediately after decanting so the aromas are not lost by the time you serve it. Full-bodied reds get better if you aerate them by pouring them into a decanter – opening the bottle doesn’t allow enough air in. However, light reds don’t improve by decanting. Vintage port needs to be decanted so that you don’t get sediment in the glass. Just pour what you think you will drink into a spotless glass decanter and put the cork back into the bottle for later use.

How do you know whether a sherry is dry or sweet?
Check the label: if it says’ Fino’ it’s dry, ‘pale cream’ is medium sweet, and ‘cream’ is sweet.

How long will sparkling wine or champagne keep its sparkle once it has been opened?
It will keep up to a day in the fridge. The best way to preserve the fizz is to buy a stopper which will keep it fresh for up to 3 days. Putting a spoon in the bottle doesn’t help, it is just a myth.


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