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Article – Rudolph the Red Nose Wine Deer

December 12th, 2009

I can hear the sleigh bells being tested and the elves are getting the big man match fit. He’s on a strict regime of fine wine and good food. He’s not sure who has been naughty or nice. He’s pretty sure there are a few ‘masters’ of commerce who have been very naughty indeed. Will they get a lump of coal this Christmas or will he take pity on them like the government (and by default, the taxpayer) have. To be honest, I have lost interest and am just looking forward to spending Christmas with my family. But before that can happen, there is much fine wine to sell and hopefully Christmas is the time when people can treat themselves to a bottle of real and authentic wine. Whether it is an Italian Pinot Grigio for €8.50, or a perfectly aged 1995 Chateauneuf du Pape for €39, the important thing is to enjoy it with family, friends and good food.

With so much food to be eaten this Christmas, I think it is high time I matched them to the right wines for you. Enough of my self indulgent rants; let’s talk turkey, and ham, duck, beef and maybe even Foie Gras if we have time. While I have lots of cheaper wines I can match, Christmas calls for something more. Wherever you buy your Christmas wine this year, I would hope you buy it from someone who can help you maximize your dining experience. You spend so much time, effort and money on the actual food; don’t ruin it by buying a poor or even average wine. Ask them about the wine they are selling you – challenge them to sell you something authentic and real. It’s going to be a bleak winter one way or another, so let’s allow ourselves the window of Christmas. Let us start with the big one – Turkey. It is quite a dry meat so matching this can be tricky – what you want to do is counteract that dryness with a wine that is rich and full of life from the start. While some would disagree, this is why very dry Bordeaux is not always a great match. What does fit the meat perfectly, in my opinion, is Pinot Noir. I have waxed lyrical about this grape variety on many occasions – it is a poorly kept secret that it is my favourite wine. It has very little tannin normally so will not overwhelm the meat. Unless you are serving a top end Burgundy, I would suggest serving the wine at what is known as cellar temperature, about 13 degrees. If you do go down the road of high end Pinot (and you really should), let it come up to room temperature and leave it open up for an hour or two before serving. You may even consider a decanter. It will make a huge difference. I can almost taste my dinner now. Personally, I am debating between a Burgundy Premier Cru Nuits St. Georges I have or the delicious Muddy Water Slowhand Pinot from New Zealand. The people who attended the recent tasting know what I am talking about there. It’s Christmas so I might have both. Another alternative is a fantastic New Zealand Pinot Noir I negotiated a good price on last summer with Christmas in mind – down from €21 to €16.

What about white I hear you shout. White meat demands white wine it has been said. Not always I would suggest. If you prefer white and have a Turkey to enjoy, I would suggest something with a little more body, such as a good Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay or a Pinot Gris ( as opposed to Pinot Grigio ). Chablis is always popular as is Pouilly Fuisse. Good French Chardonnay, while popular, also tends to be pricier than its Australian equivalent. The tendency with ‘modern’ Chardonnay is to over oak. It became popular for a while but the market overdid it. The wine floods came as they so often do and the market changes as it so often does. Chardonnay is not currently a popular wine when compared to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. Personally, I can’t understand why Riesling is not the top white wine in the world. Then again, Pinot Noir is not the top Red. That is the beauty of personal preference.

If you are having something different such as duck, I can recommend a wonderful wine that Delboy Trotter of “Only Foods and Horses” fame used to use as an expletive when something went wrong. “Chateauneuf du Pape”. This is an absolute perfect match of food and wine. If you can let it open for a few hours or even better, get your hands on a bottle with some age, the flavour, fruit and magic will be multiplied. I have a limited amount of 1995 and 2000 wine from this most magic of appellations. Be very careful of dodgy vintages – when they get it right, they really do, but there have been some horror stories as well. It is all about who makes the wine and what year it was harvested. Whatever you do this Christmas with your dinner, try and match the food and wine as best you can, because it will make a difference. Do we have time for Foie Gras – there is always time for Foie Gras, well at least at Christmas. Champagne or chilled Sauternes would be my recommendations. I have both wines for sale, but the hard part is actually finding good Foie Gras. I was in France 2 weeks ago and got some – the trick is now to convince my family that they won’t like it. I only bought a single block, and there are 7 adults at dinner. If I find some locally, I’ll post it on the blog. Happy matching.

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“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”


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