Twenty Brilliant Bottles To See You Through The Festive Period

MARY DOWEY has cracking wines for Christmas gatherings all lined up…

 

Entertaining over the next few weeks? Of course you are, whether with the full dinner works or a plate of mince pies beside the fire. As far as wine goes, only one rule really counts. Generosity. Lashings of it. View your festive gathering as a precious gift to your family and friends and buy the very best bottles you can manage. 

To simplify your shopping, I’m suggesting wines for each occasion from a single source, almost invariably with the option of ordering online.

Christmas Dinner 

You’ll want glamour – gorgeous, classic wines from top producers with a surprise somewhere in the line-up to keep things lively. Begin with CHAMPAGNE AGRAPART & FILS 7 CRUS BRUT NV €69.50, cutting-edge and brilliantly bracing. VERGET CHABLIS CUVÉE DE LA BUTTE 2015 €39.50 is a rich and rounded first course treat. LA PORTE SAINT JEAN SAUMUR-CHAMPIGNY 2015 €39.50 may be unconventional but I guarantee this suave, juicy red will do any turkey proud. Finish on a feather-light note with pudding-friendly G D VAJRA MOSCATO D’ASTI 2017 €17.95. From Terroirs, Dublin 4 and www.terroirs.ie.

Mince Pie Party

It’s always comforting to serve mulled wine (homemade, no nasty packets, using any youngish, fruity red and be sure to include a strip of orange zest). For a perfect flavour match with extra panache, also offer fruity, nutty WARRE’S OTIMA 10 TAWNY PORT 50cl bottle, €28, especially delicious cool, and WILLUNGA 100 McLAREN VALE GRENACHE 2015, €110 for six bottles. Rich and spicy but not overpowering, it’s the perfect red all-rounder for this time of year, suiting Christmas dinner too. From www.wineonline.ie.

St Stephen’s Day Lunch

Wines to be drunk in the middle of the day need softness and generosity of flavour. With its fine mousse and ripe apple flavours, biodynamic MEYER-FONNÉ CRÉMANT D’ALSACE BRUT EXTRA NV €26.95 makes a wonderfully appetising apéritif. Organic DOMAINE ANDRÉ BONHOMME VIRÉ-CLESSÉ VIEILLES VIGNES 2016 €27.95 is the sort of smooth, subtle white Burgundy that everybody loves. For a polished red with surefire appeal, choose exquisitely pure, intensely flavoured DOMAINE JEAN-CLAUDE REGNAUDOT MARANGES 1ER CRU LA FUSSIÈRE 2016 €29.95. From Le Caveau, Kilkenny and www.lecaveau.ie.

Simplissimo Italian Supper

It might just be a giant antipasto plate followed by a hearty pasta dish or a few different pizzas. No matter. It will be molto simpatico and fabulously turkey-free. Wines? You need a gentle white with a fresh, mineral core like GRECO DI TUFO LOGGIA DELLA SERA, TERREDORA DIAPOLO 2016 down from €18.95 to €16.95 until end of December and a stylish, appetising red. Silky, savoury ALTA MORA ETNA ROSSO 2016 down from €23.45 to €21.45, same period, is a cracker. From O’Briens outlets and www.obrienswine.ie.

Sherry & Tapas Night

Even without venturing far beyond fat green olives, salted almonds, manchego and good jamón, you have the foundations for a smart little party now that sherry is back in style. From highly regarded bodega Emilio Lustau serve tangy LUSTAU MANZANILLA PAPIRUSA €24 to suit the lightest foods; smooth, almondy LUSTAU LA INA FINO €16 for the richer ones and admirably mellow VIÑA HERMINIA RIOJA RESERVA 2011 €22.50 to silence any diehard sherry objectors. From Mitchell & Son, IFSC & Glasthule; Mitchell’s at Avoca, Kilmacanogue & Dunboyne; at Wilde & Green, Dublin 6 and www.mitchellandson.com. 

Bubbly New Year’s Eve Banquet

Why wait for midnight to crack open champagne? It’s a stylish food partner to savour with supper all evening long. To suit different dishes and different tastes, serve a brut rosé alongside a standard brut. Since insider champagnes are in the spotlight, my vote goes to CHAMPAGNE CATTIER BRUT ANTIQUE PREMIER CRU NV €46.95, marrying finesse and depth of flavour with terrific freshness, and CHAMPAGNE CATTIER BRUT ROSÉ PREMIER CRU NV €49.95 a serious pink that’s simply superb. From Wines on the Green, Dublin 2 and www.celticwhiskeyshop.com.

Indian Thali Evening

Whether it’s the full thali spread or not, a variety of complementary Indian dishes makes a blissful change from overplayed festive fare. Your wines could be Sauvignon Blanc and Côtes du Rhône – but why be boringly predictable? From up-and-coming Galicia, VAL DE SOUTO TREIXADURA, RIBEIRO 2017 €17.50 is a refined, citrussy white while smooth DOMINIO DEL PLATA TERROIR SERIES MALBEC, UCO VALLEY 2016 €18.50 from Argentine star Susana Balbo has enough richness to counter full-on
chilli fire power. From Marks & Spencer.

A Feast of Cheese

Christmas may not be the time to kill the theory that cheese requires red wine … But at least, with your laden platter (a few whole cheeses are more impressive than a multiplicity of wedges), serve an alluring white to prove it ain’t necessarily so. Organic MAS LAS CABES CÔTES CATALANES BLANC 2017 €15.75 from Roussillon shines with hard and soft cheeses. Its organic red Languedoc cousin LUC LAPEYRE L’AMOURIER MINERVOIS 2016 €15.95– dark berry flavours with underlying firmness – comes a very close second. From Wines Direct, Mullingar and at Arnotts, Dublin 1, and www.winesdirect.ie.

@MaryDowey

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