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.