Don’t be like Richard Nixon this Christmas

At dinners in the White House, Richard Nixon secretly sipped Chateau Margaux whilst serving cheap wine to his guests. Though I wouldn’t condone such inhospitable behaviour, one can see his point. Why waste the good stuff on those who won’t appreciate it and probably secretly hate you (I’m imagining Nixon’s reasoning here. I don’t assume that my dinner guests hate me)? Which is why at Christmas it’s important to have two sorts of wine in the house: the quality stuff to serve to close friends and family whom you like, and the cheaper stuff for everybody else. Now of course if you don’t want to be like Nixon, then you’ll have to drink the less good stuff too so it’s important that the cheap stuff should be top quality. I’ve picked a dozen wines to drink across the festive period, some to share with the happy few and some to open when Steve from accounts comes over.

At Christmas don’t worry about matching your wine with food, you are not going to find a wine that melds seamlessly with turkey, cranberry sauce, ham and brussels sprouts so I wouldn’t even try. Just make sure the wine like the turkey is of impeccable quality and not overcooked. I’m a traditionalist at Christmas, actually I’m a traditionalist at all times of the year, and so I normally choose a selection of old world classics: claret and white burgundy with the meal, champagne or sherry before, and port afterwards. This year, however, I’ve gone a bit mad. Instead of claret I’m going to have a South African Cabernet Sauvignon and instead of the usual Burgundy, an Australian Chardonnay. And madder still, instead of Champagne, we’re going to have a sparkling wine from England. Crazy! For my father who wouldn’t approve of a colonial wine at lunch, there’s some red Burgundy. Also in the case are some party wines, a Beaujolais – the ultimate leftover wine, and a Riesling as I like to start drinking early at Christmas and low alcohol makes this the perfect 11am opening presents wine. Click here for my suggestions.

A version of this article appeared in the Lady magazine Christmas bumper issue. Of course, it’s mainly fantasy, I’ll actually be having whatever my father gives me. Luckily it’s normally very  good.

About Henry

Henry Jeffreys was born in London in 1977. After graduating from the University of Leeds, where he studied English and Classical Literature, he spent so much time in Oddbins that they offered him a job. He worked in the wine trade for two years and then moved into publishing. At the same time he worked as a freelance journalist, book reviewer, founder member of the London Review of Breakfasts website and contributor to the Breakfast Bible (Bloomsbury 2013). In 2010 he started a blog about wine called ‘Henry’s World of Booze’ which became one of the most popular wine blogs in Britain. Following its success he was made wine columnist for The Lady by Rachel Johnson and in 2014 was shortlisted for Drinks Writer of the Year at the Fortnum & Mason awards for his work in the Spectator. In 2015 he wrote a weekly column for the Guardian called ‘Empire of Drinks’ looking at history and alcohol. He is now a regular contributor to the Spectator, the Guardian, the Economist, the Financial Times, the Oldie and Food & Wine magazine on drink and other matters. He lives in Blackheath, south London with his wife and daughter. Empire of Booze is his first book.
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4 Responses to Don’t be like Richard Nixon this Christmas

  1. Nice selection Henry.

    My own choices for this Xmas have something in common, although I’m not sure my family or my partner’s family’s palates would be able to discern the difference in quality between a £10 bottle and one costing £20 so I haven’t breached the £15 barrier except for fizz of course. No need to bother with Port either as there’s always plenty kicking around even if it is only LBV and since we won’t be entertaining at home “party” wine is surplus to requirement too …

    My provisional Xmas case is as follows (The Wine Society unless otherwise stated):
    1. Blind Spot Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula, 2011
    2. Lirac Blanc, Domaine Maby, 2011
    3. Bourgogne Chardonnay Kimmeridgien, Jean Marc Brocard, 2010
    4.Urlar Sauvignon Blanc, Gladstone, New Zealand, 2011 (approx £13, Smith’s Wines, Exeter)
    5. Sanchez Romate, Fino Perdido
    6.Camel Valley, Annie’s Anniversary Brut (from the vineyard approx £26?)
    7. First Sighting Shiraz, Elim, South Africa, 2009
    8. Bourgogne Rouge Vieilles Vignes, Vincent Girardin, 2010 (approx £13 from Whistle Wines, Exeter)
    9. Umore Nero, Pinot Nero, Oltrepo Pavese, 2010 (approx £11 at Whistle Wines)
    10. Ronan by Clinet, AOC Bordeaux, 2009 (£12ish from Smith’s Wines)
    11. Esprit de Puisseguin, Puisseguin St Emilion, 2010 (Waitrose approx £10 but formed part of a “Meal Deal” – that’s my excuse anyway)
    12. The Societ’s Exhibition Morgon Cote du Py, 2010

    Sorry I haven’t given the prices for the Wine Society bottles but they’re all in the £8-10 range so if by any chance I miss out on a glass I’ll be disappointed but not crestfallen!

  2. Emma says:

    Am I allowed a gentle plug on behalf of friends for a deal on the Nyetimber?

  3. Pingback: End-of-the-World Wine | Vegas Wineaux

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