Festive feasts


ChristmasWith Christmas less than a week away, now is the time for panicked last-minute purchases and hurried preparations for that all important Christmas Dinner on Sunday. With that in mind, we’ve put together a basic guide to festive food and wine matching!

Remember that the most important factors to consider when matching food and wine are:

  • Match the weight of both the food and wine. Full-bodied wines complement heavy, rich foods
  • Match the flavour intensity of both (full-flavours like Sauvignon Blanc and asparagus) and also consider the wine’s fruit character (the raspberry flavours in Pinot Noir complement duck the same way a fruit sauce would)
  • Match or complement acidity in wine and food (high-acid wines complement fatty foods the same way lemon cuts the greasiness of smoked salmon)
  • Salt is not found in wine but does clash with tannic wines, so avoid this pairing
  • The more texture a food has (fatty food like duck or chewy food like steak), the more tannin the wine should have
  • Always remember to serve a wine with greater sweetness than the food. Sweetness in wine also acts as a foil to rich foods (Sauternes and foie gras is a classic pairing)


No matter how glitzy your Christmas jumper is, the turkey will always be the star of the show at Christmas! However, the most powerful flavours are usually found in the accompaniments, so these also need to be considered when choosing wine. Trimmings like stuffing and gravy bring salt to the mix, and cranberry and redcurrant sauces are fruity and sweet – try young, ripe, fruity wines low in tannins like top-quality Californian Zinfandel or pinot noir from cool climates such as Burgundy or New Zealand. And for traditional English accompaniments like bread sauce and chipolata sausages, full-bodied Chardonnay or white southern Rhône blends will match the smooth sauce and the bird’s weight.


A little bit more fatty and flavoursome than turkey, goose is a great match for good quality red Burgundy or reds from St Emilion or Pomerol in Bordeaux. As for whites, medium-sweet is better than dry – try German Riesling Spätleses.


Depending on the cut, beef is a good match for most full-bodied reds. Just remember: low fat cut = low tannin wine.


Fleshy fish such as salmon or turbot are popular at this time of year, and oaked, full-bodied Chardonnay is a safe bet for both. With salmon you can also consider a lighter red such as a Pinot Noir.


Christmas veggie options usually revolve around mushroom or nut-based dishes whose rich flavours can easily handle full-bodied and very mature reds such as old Burgundies or aged Merlots from Bordeaux.

For more helpful tips and Christmas food and wine matching ideas, visit the Wine Knowledge section of our website.