We've shared our tips for a very traditional Christmas, but what if you’re looking for something a little more adventurous? If you’re sticking to the old favourites in the kitchen, why not try something quirky from the cellar? They mightn’t be your first picks, but try these pairings and we promise you won’t be disappointed.
El Esteco Old Vine Torrontes Hailing from Argentina’s unique Calchaqui Valley, this New World Torrontes is a refreshing partner for a festive seafood starter. A vibrant wine with fresh tropical fruits and delicate aromas of roses and orange peel, brought to life by an uplifting acidity. But don’t just take it from us – one of Britain’s leading wine writers, Tim Atkin MW, included this El Esteco drop in his 2017 round-up of Argentina’s Top 100 Wines.
Ottella Lugana Riserva DIC Molceo An utterly modern wine that possesses freshness, flavour and crispness. If you’d prefer to keep reds for the main event, then Ottella’s Lugana Riserva is a great option – particularly, if you’re wanting to break away somewhat from tradition. Our Italian Buyer Sergio loves nothing more than a splash of Lugana alongside the catch of the day from his local fishmonger. With an intense nose of ripe lemon and spice, it’s incredibly textured with excellent oak integration.
Not your usual suspects, this trifecta of quirky Christmas reds is light and versatile, meaning they’ll find their feet amongst the traditional smorgasbord of culinary treats to be dished up for the main course. Fontanafredda’s Raimonda is made from 100% Barbera – the most planted variety in Piedmont, and it’s what you’ll often find the locals drinking. Plus, compared to some of the heavy hitting Bordeaux, Raimonda has a much more attractive price tag.
While they tend to fly under the radar, especially at this time of the year with all the established stalwarts floating around, New World wines are fabulous alternatives to Burgundy and Bordeaux. Humberto Canale’s Seleccion de Familia Pinot Noir represents the best of the varietal in Argentina, and shows the terroir characteristics of the region. Meanwhile, Heartland has taken a modern approach to Old World wine with The Foreign Correspondent made from Dolcetto and Lagrein. In the words of winemaker Ben Glatzer: “It is a serious red that doesn’t ask to be taken seriously.”
It’s hard to beat a sticky or fortified to finish off the meal, but we’ve found a very strong contender in Valveran’s Ice Cider – it sounds weird, but stay with us. Crafted from frozen apples, indigenous to the Asturias region in Spain, this cider offers the perfect balance between sweetness and acidity. On the palate it is sweet and moreish, reminiscent of honey, full and persistent with a very intense and complex bouquet. The finish is elegant and refined with a crisp acidity which awards zest and leaves a long, unforgettable aftertaste.
Alternatively, because you’ve opted for lighter reds during the main affair, it might be nice to mix things up and move onto some heavier reds for your Christmas pud and cheese platter. A cross-section of a few of our top picks from around the world include d’Arenberg’s The Athazagoraphobic Cat, El Esteco’s Tannat and Planeta’s Santa Cecilia.
While we’re thinking outside the box, why not move away from wine completely and entertain the endless options available in the world of spirits? Our resident spirits enthusiast, Ben Gibbins, has put together an Audemus cocktail flight, using a selection of gins from for our French friends at Pink Pepper Gin. Interesting fact for you: while they’re located in Cognac, Pink Pepper Gin is actually crafted from Spanish peppercorns.
Starter // Umami Martini
The umami flavour will excite your tastebuds and play well with strongly flavoured fish dishes.
50ml Pink Pepper and 25ml Umami stirred to chill and strained into a chilled coupe glass, garnished with a lemon twist.
Main // Cranberry Snapper
A twist on the gin classic, matching with the turkey dinner flavours.
50ml Pink Pepper mixed in an ice-filled highball glass with 100ml Cranberry Juice, 3 drops Tabasco sauce, 3 drops Bitter Truth Cucumber Bitters and garnished with a twist of lemon and a thyme sprig.
Dessert // Old Ma’groni
Another classic twisted drink utilising the port flavours from Old Ma’s with the light herbal notes of Regal Rogue.
35ml Old Ma’s Gin stirred down to chill with 25ml Regal Rogue Bold Red and 15ml Campari, served in an ice-filled rocks glass with an orange twist.