Christmas with all the trimmings


Simon BerryI love this time of year. Christmas is just around the corner and shining like a beacon of warmth and cheer in the deepening darkness of winter. The food, the wine, the company and the fun – what better reward at the end of a long, hard year?

Throughout St James’s the window displays offer an enticing picture of festive life: cheeses from Paxtons, cigars from Foxs, hats from Locks, country clothing from William Evans. I wonder what will be under the tree for me…

As a lover of wine and food, I always look forward to Christmas with relish. I value the tradition of staving off the ravages of mid-winter with a long-running feast that runs the gamut from fish to meats of all varieties, fruit and savouries, cheeses, sweets and chocolate. And if somebody has to volunteer for the task of choosing wines to match such a variety of dishes, well, it might be as well be me.

Simon Berry Christmas

I’ve got something rather special in store for our main meal this year. Christmas is a time for treating yourself to delicacies that you wouldn’t normally indulge in, so we’ll be starting with lobster and following it with roast goose. Goose has a richer, stronger flavour. It’s also a smaller bird than the turkey, which means we won’t be eating it in all manner of soups, pies and curries right through until Easter.

To accompany the lobster I’ve chosen a 2009 Grüner Veltliner, Lamm from Schloss Gobelsburg. This is an intense Austrian wine with the mineral precision you’d expect from Burgundy and a wonderful, white pepper finish. It’s superb with lobster and scallops.

The goose is going to get the benefit of Giuseppe Mascarello’s magnificent 2003 Barolo, Cru Monprivato, Castiglione Falletto. Again, choosing a Piedmont is a slight departure from the traditional Bordeaux but the Barolo is absolutely delicious now. It has classic notes of ripe cherries, roses, minerals, flowers and herbs, and very silky tannins make it a fabulous pairing with goose or duck.

I must make sure I don’t rush the main course just to get to the pud, but with a Malmsey 10-year-old Madeira, Broadbent Selection waiting for me, it won’t be easy. Madeira’s such a wonderful wine and this is a superb, full-bodied, wonderfully rich example that’s absolutely glorious with Christmas pudding or indeed Montgomery Cheddar.

Please accept my best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!