It’s the start of December and it’s currently 14 degrees outside, maybe winter has been and gone? I’m still wearing flip flops and mince pies have hit the shelves. If it gets any milder, it’s Christmas dinner on the patio with the barbecue. Ring the bells, the festive season is upon us and just to remind you, every shopping centre that you walk down, Noddy Holder will scream in your ear that “It’s Chrisstttmasssss!!”
It’s also that time when we light up everything, get caught up in Sellotape, listen to the Queen and indulge ourselves in that annual game of Trivial Pursuit. Yes, Christmas is upon us once more, no time to hide behind the sofa when the family arrive pretending you are out.
But hold the horses! Even before you get into the festive spirit there’s that enviable task of heading into the loft in a bid to hunt out those prized decorations, but you soon come across disappointed as the musty bag contains five broken baubles. This isn’t enjoyment, it’s torture!
There’s nothing more satisfying than working in the wine industry, listening to everyone’s plans and adding a little magic to their festivities by offering a tipple suggestion or two. Now is the time to open that favourite bottle that you’ve been eying up in your wine rack for so long!
My family are very close to me and whether I’m hosting or driving home for Christmas (cue Chris Rea) back to my parents’ house in the Cambridgeshire Fens, it’s a great opportunity to catch up on what they’ve been up to over a glass while lunch is being prepared in the kitchen, again usually over another glass or more!
Christmas is a fabulous opportunity to share good times and great drinks, so I’ve come up with some fabulous festive treats to help you enjoy Christmas just that little bit more….
The family arrival fizz
I always love welcoming the family into my home with a glass of the fizzy stuff, however you don’t need to break the bank to bring out the bubbles. From friendly, fruity Prosecco to rich and elegant Champagne the choice is yours. My choice this year to provide a spark of upbeat zing is a fizz whose art deco label stands out amongst its rivals.
If you’re looking for something completely different and live on the wild side, pop open a bottle or two of Ninkasi from the Wild Beer Company. It’s a brilliant alternative to Prosecco and takes its name from the ancient Sumerian goodness of beer. Combining New Zealand hops, Somerset apples and funky wild yeast, I couldn’t think of a better way to raise a glass to the yuletide season. Cheers!
The Christmas Eve extravagance
Once the family have settled in and the cold bite of the winter’s night makes its presence outside, there’s nothing more pleasant than enjoying a warming red in front of the fire and maybe to also accompany the viewing of your favourite festive soap on the telly. This rich and fruity Italian red has flavours which wrap around you like an old leather armchair from a hotel lobby, warming you up after a spot of carol singing on the High Street. If you’re hosting this year and favour a hearty meal before the evening draws in, this pairs beautifully with a joint of roast beef or some freshly-carved gammon.
The big day arrives
The church bells herald the arrival of Christmas Day and for some of you with children, the opportunity of a lie in after consuming all that food the night before vanishes into thin air. It may be 5am and cold outside, but when you’re a youngster, wearing Thunderbirds pyjamas (not anymore, I hasten to add) and it’s Christmas Day morning, you simply must make a beeline to the tree to see what Santa had delivered. If anyone buys wine for someone in my household I strangely become the chief approver…
After the floor has been littered with a kaleidoscope of colourful wrapping paper, the calmness and enjoyment of present opening then turns to the frantic task of preparing the family lunch. Grandad always insisted on having a proper turkey with all the trimmings, which provided the perfect centrepiece on the dinner table. The stuffed alternatives were a definite a big fat no especially after I opted for this one snowy Christmas and never heard the last of it. With Wham playing in the background and the turkey cooking merrily away in the oven, it’s time for that all important ‘turkey tipple’! This fruit-driven, festive-rocking Rioja is a guaranteed Christmas crowd-pleaser. Packed with red fruit flavours of cherries, raspberries and cranberries it will tantalise your tongue with fabulous flavours whilst also providing enough weight to compliment the meal.
The afternoon indulgence
After feasting your way through the delights of Christmas dinner you’re probably stuffed. Suddenly, the sofa becomes very appealing whilst others don the marigolds in the kitchen in preparation for the mammoth task of washing up: this is recovery time. Maybe a quick snooze? Most of us may be happy at this time of day with a cup of tea and the Queen’s speech, but why not indulge in a tipple to refresh the spirits. A glass of sherry might seem Dot Cotton-esque but the folk at Pedrino have taken this Spanish sensation and given it a bit of a facelift. Combining PX sherry with tasty tonic, this festive lubricant with dance the flamenco beat to kick start your afternoon.
Your palate may be crying out for a refreshing beer after the hearty meal so pour yourself a glass of Einstök Iclandic White Ale to quench your thirst. Brewed with coriander, orange peel and pure Icelandic water, this is the perfect hydration happiness.
The Boxing Day beauty
Following on from the big day you may be left with a mountain of festive foods, so bring on the Boxing Day buffet when your leftover meats are joined by an array of pickles, warm baguettes and freshly carved ham. Maybe the odd celery stick? When it comes to unscripted meals, Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc go together like Morecambe and Wise, showcasing a comedy of flavours. Feel free to unleash the famous prawn ring!
To sip by the fire
After the family have departed it’s time to unwind and put your feet up, maybe enjoying the satisfaction that Christmas is over for another year and someone else may be hosting in 12 months’ time? Time to throw a few logs on the fire and snuggle up with a wee dram and your favourite book. There might even been some sport to watch on the television. I’ve always enjoyed a trip to bonnie Scotland to savour the wonderful spectrum of whiskies, whether its floral, fruity, smoky or spicy there’s something for everyone’s palates. Bursting with prominent peaty and ripe red fruit aromas with subtle hints of vanilla and heather, ‘Select’ takes its name from a special cask-maturation technique which results in a fuller flavour. Take a trip to the distillery on Islay if you happen to be in the area throughout the year to raise a wee dam to ‘Scotland’s water of life’. Slainte!
Raising a digital glass to you all and wishing you a Happy Christmas and New Year!