Save vs. Splurge - Wines to pair with your Christmas Pudding!
By Master of Wine, Christopher Burr
In the third and final part of my search for the best wines to go with the Christmas feast, I now come to the Christmas Pudding, the Mince Pies and the Cheese Board.
I am personally not that keen on dessert or sweet wines with very sweet food, and Christmas pud can be really difficult, as with brandy sauce or brandy butter, the wine to work well has to be even sweeter. Then perhaps it is all too sweet, unless the wine also has great fresh acidity.
It might sound strange, but I often drink Champagne or a good sparkling wine, which acts as a sort of "counterpoint" to the sweet pudding. But for those who love sweet wines, combining the two ideas, a good sparkling Moscato d'Asti, is low in alcohol and sweet and fresh and can work well, so a good SAVE choice.
ASDA have in their Extra Special range a medal winning Asti Spumante, at a really exceptional value £6.25. Sweet, fresh and a real crowd pleaser.
For a very sweet wine, which can cope with a rich Christmas pud, I would have to get you to SPLURGE at Selfridges for their excellent Ice Wine (meaning picked when the grapes are frozen to concentrate the sugar) from the Niagara Peninsular in Ontario, Canada. Vidal Ice Wine 2015, a 37.5 cl bottle for £57.99, but really luscious and intense, and also a lovely match with Mince pies.
Christmas is one time of year for Port. What better wine for a traditionally British cheese like Stilton. My SAVE selection is in ASDA, Taylor's First Estate Reserve Ruby, soft round sweet and full bodied, now promoted from £12.50 to £8.50.
But ASDA's own Extra Special Late Bottled Vintage Port is also excellent, a bit more intense and is £9.
To SPLURGE on Port, I would send you to the range at Waitrose. If you don't want to have to decant a vintage port off its sediment, I would recommend Kopke's Colhieta 1999 tawny port, gentle, complex wine and delicious at any time of day. Reduced from £32.99 to £26.99.
But for a Vintage Port, Taylors' Quinta do Vargellas 2001, their top single estate right up the Douro river almost to the Spanish border, is excellent, lots of dark rich fruit, complex flavours, a proper Port. Ocado are selling it for £25 a bottle. This needs careful decanting, a nice ritual for Christmas morning.
Port will last a few days once opened, but do allow it to "breathe" when first opened, and a decent sized wine glass does that job well.
Have a wonderful Christmas.