Wine for the Christmas season

It is well-known that food and wine consumed together can make the perfect partnership or end in a messy divorce! The ultimate goal is to succeed in providing more enjoyment than if the two had been consumed separately. Quite a tall order when we all have different sensitivities and our preferences vary so much.

That said the majority of people prefer their wines to have an attractive balance between fruit and acidity and will undoubtedly appreciate the generosity of any wine shared.


A great idea for keeping visitors happy over the festive period is to have some fun with a mixed case of wine. Fizz to mark the start of the festivities, red and white wine to comfort you through the meal and for something a little different, a well-chilled Tawny Port to enjoy with the Christmas pudding. If you need to look busy to avoid kitchen duties before your visitors arrive, double decant the red wine into a decanter to let it breathe and then pour it back into the bottle so people know what they are drinking! The wine will love being aired and the compliments will flow soon after!


Why not experiment this Christmas by offering both a red and white wine with the turkey. A well-rounded chardonnay is a delightful accompaniment, its rich creaminess and sweet spice notes can really enhance the mild and let’s be honest, often dry white meat. For the red winelovers there are lots of great wines that will match beautifully with the traditional Christmas lunch from the classic regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhône or their southern hemisphere counterparts. Do try to avoid a wine that is too young or too tannic as it will be at odds with the leanness of the turkey.

2017 harvest – will it produce a good vintage?

The British are renowned for talking about the weather at every opportunity if only as part of a polite greeting. But it seems we have little to complain about, so many parts of the world are experiencing extreme weather conditions which devastate lives and livelihoods.


The wine community is full of comment as the 2017 grape harvest is well underway. Although picking is 10-14 days early, due to a pleasingly warm June, it has been a particularly complicated growing season in Europe, notably France & Italy, with late frosts in April, extreme temperatures in mid-Summer and hailstorms in August.


Encouraged by a mild March the vine shoots and buds emerged early, only to be decimated weeks later by widespread frosts. Despite the desperate efforts of vineyard managers, lighting fires between the vines to keep temperatures from dipping further, many hectares were lost. The result has been that yields are reportedly down as much as 40% in France and 25% in Italy compared to last year. In South America where grapes were harvested in April/May, yields were also down due to extreme heat, drought and wildfires but most Southern Hemisphere producers agree that 2017 will be remembered for excellent ripeness and impressive concentration.


But what does all this mean to the wine lover?

It is too early to say yet but the 2017 harvest in Europe also, with tiny yields and glorious ripeness, could potentially rival some of the greatest vintages of the 20th century.  Nothing is certain until the wine begins to show its paces in the Spring but, as night follows day, low yields and high quality mean price rises. The challenge for independent wine merchants like ourselves, who are not restricted to wines only available in large volumes, is to find good value even if it means that we have to go to lesser-known vineyards.  Those who do choose to fork out a little more on wine from the classic regions can, in due course, expect to be rewarded with 2017’s of character and excellent quality.