Sorry to mention the C-word before November is out: I know most people don’t start to plan their Christmas food and wine this early. But if you want to get ahead of the pack, it makes sense to order early and avoid any out-of-stocks later on. Besides, ticking at least one thing off your to-do list gives you that nice warm glow of efficiency!
So here are some suggestions to make December a little bit easier.
To mis-quote Little Women, “Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without any bubbles”. It’s a festive cliché, I know, but the pop-hiss as a bottle of Celli’s Brut Nature is opened really does put you in the mood to party. It’s delicious on its own or with devils-on-horseback, pigs-in-blankets or any other hyphenated-finger-food as a trailer for the main event. And it’s a great appetite-sharpener on Boxing Day, if you feel as though you can never face food again.
If you’re not a fizz fan then lighter Italian white wines, like Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Vermentino, are similarly versatile. They’ll take you through from aperitif to starters like Dover sole, prosciutto and melon, light cheese dishes or asparagus tart. For something with a bit more punch and body, try Ansonica, an organic white from the Marche that’s great with grilled fish, lobster bisque and roast turkey.
It’s not easy to find quality, hand-made, organic reds under £10. Enter Aion Rosso Conero, a fresh, easy-going wine that’s 85% Montepulciano and 15% Sangiovese, full of wild cherry and prune fruit, and a great match for pizza, lighter meat dishes like turkey, goose or ham, and many vegetarian dishes. A brilliant buy at £9.97!
Another vibrant, easy-drinking organic wine is Motta’s Morellino di Scansano from Tuscany, which is particularly good value at the moment as it’s reduced from £15.86 to £14.28 a bottle. Full of herby, spicy red fruit, it’s terrific with vegetable soup, red meat and mature cheese dishes. If you’re not a lover of turkey, this red would go very well with duck or beef Wellington.
If you’re looking for something to partner rich or strongly-flavoured foods, Augusta Barbera d’Asti from Piedmont has the intensity, grip and fruit levels for the job. With flavours of cherries, prunes and spice, it can hold its own with tomato-based sauces, pizzas and game. With its price reduced from £17.80 to £16.02, this is worth snapping up.
My last red suggestion is Inssieme, a super-Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Franc that has been served at Vatican banquets. Its deep colour, intense spicy/black-fruit nose, and well-balanced, peppery palate, with coffee and chocolate notes and great length, make it a superb match for beef, lamb, deep-flavoured risotto and pasta dishes – and it will carry you through to the cheese course, too.
And to finish…
Speaking of cheese, have you ever tried semi-sweet wine with it? It’s a match made in heaven, especially for blue cheese. Vin Santo del Chianti is the perfect end-of dinner wine, because its spiced candied-fruit character is just as good with lightly-sweet puds, the cheese-board, and the nuts and dried fruits. The classic pairing is with those hard almond biscuits called cantuccini, which are dunked in the wine to soften them (a fabulous addition to a decadent brunch!). Vin Santo is also great for sipping on its own at the end of a meal and, as it’s not fortified, is less likely to bring on a headache than Port.
I hope this has given you some ideas to help you plan. For full details of all the wines, and to order, click on Our Wines in the menu. As an incentive to get your order in early, we are running a competition to win a bottle of Carillon Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2013, worth £41.48, for orders over £100 placed before December 18th.