I know not everyone is like me – wine-obsessed and list-reliant – but you might find this little compendium valuable. Forget, for a moment, thoughts about how to be creative with tinsel or turkey, and put your mind instead to the really important part of Christmas; your Christmas drinking.
- If you’re leaving sherry out for Santa, make it something tasty; an Amontillado or Oloroso served lightly chilled with a mince pie. The epitome of Christmas fayre and the best thing is that it is recommended the bottle should be drunk within a week or two, so do your duty and polish it off over the holiday season with Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, cheese and nuts.
- Bucks Fizz is the perfect way to start the day. You don’t have to use the finest Champagne, a Prosecco or Cava will do, but the best orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed if you can bothered, will make all the difference. And one of your 5 a day right there!
- Traditional Christmas dinner is actually very versatile for a wine match. An oaked chardonnay to a medium-bodied red will fit the bill nicely.
- Decant your red wine an hour or so before serving to soften the tannins and to give it a chance to open up.
- Be prepared – keep a bottle of Champagne in the fridge for unexpected visitors or for when you deserve an extra treat. And, trust me, you will.
- When entertaining, don’t keep your best until last – pamper your guests by serving a great wine early on when they and their palates are fresh and attentive. Once everyone is in the ‘party-mood’ they won’t appreciate what’s in their glass quite so much.
- Sweet and fortified wines like Sauternes and Port are wonderful matches to a whole host of seasonal fare from blue cheese to Christmas pud, and they also make ideal winter aperitifs.
- When choosing party wine, make the reds soft and fruity; the whites not too acidic. You need to please lots of different palates, always tricky, so it’s best to go for wines which aren’t too complex, heavy or dry.
- Water is your friend. Drink as much water as you do wine over the holidays to avoid thinking you need to do a Dry January.
- Empty your wine stocks in December for in January there will be bin-end sales aplenty!
PS What have penguins got to do with Christmas? Or drinking wine? Nothing whatsoever. They just seem to be the emblem of Christmas 2014.