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Christmas Food & Wine Matching and some other stuff


I am looking out of my window. The world stands as grey and bleak as the Commons debate on the radio. The brook that borders the end of my garden is grim and murky, like a Tory party take over bid. On the far side of it a cock pheasant hunkers down in the under-brush against the biting wind. I fancy even he is sick of Brexit. Some feathers are missing, perhaps evidence of a close encounter with a twelve-bore or one of the Sussex' countryside bushy-tailed friends, but these signs of battle only add to his wild beauty. The idea that perfection is the be all and end all is a constant misconception in all areas of life and also wine.

I remember reading, as a student, in a probably not very highbrow magazine about what was imagined as the most appealing female form. There was a ludicrous definition of the perfect woman's face all to do with the symmetry of eyes nose and mouth. Replicas basically were supposed to be attractive, fem-bots in Mike Myers world, or in wine terms boozy, fruity Napa Cabernet Sauvignons that do nothing but rot the intellect of the wine lover. It is part of the reason that the 'Parker 100 point' thing is such a festering crock of old turkey giblets.

In his lovey dovey ballad 'All of Me' John Legend warbles of “perfect imperfections”. He has a point. What seduces, interests and entertains are the oddities and offbeats, not the last two weeks of Strictly when everyone is getting 10 out of 10. No thank you. Take me back please to week one and some doddering, club-footed B-List celeb getting twos and threes and making Craig Revel- Horwood's eyes roll back so far you wonder if they might just fall out of the back of his head. Now that's entertainment. 

Likewise, wine matching need not be perfect. There are some basic culinary rules that even the most humble of cooks can appreciate. Acidity cuts through fat, sweetness complements sourness. It is not such a challenge to work out what type of wine might go with what type of food, but do not forgot the important aspect. The emotive aspect. Good wine is emotive so allow that to be part, if not the core, of the process.

The Christmas meal always used to be Burgundy for me. A hearty but fresh, oaked white such the always delectable 'Les Murgers des Dents de Chiens' from Vincent Girardin or a lightish red from one of Rene Bouvier's superb village wines. These days I look to Spain and Tempranillo for that gentle but fully committed fruit with an earthy background that screams of decaying autumn leaves. Anything from La Rioja Alta or Lopez de Heredia is going to make me dribble over the roast Turkey and something along the lines of Louis Canas superb value barrel-aged Viura will do very nicely indeed as a white option.

That is just me. Buy what you love, buy what you want to drink and hope that by serving Barossa Shiraz with your Smoked Salmon doesn't make your Father-in-Law physically ill and have you committed. Drink Pedro Ximinez Sherry with your sprouts if you feel the urge, just be prepared for the fact that combining a sugar rush with bouts of flatulence could make for serious trouble. Jellify your vintage port and melt down a honking block of Stilton to sip alongside it. I dare you. Embrace the madness and the fact that perfection is a dull, disappointing façade.

For I am inclined to embrace these silly times and enjoy laughing at Jacob Reece-Mogg and Bojo as the ludicrous cartoon characters they appear to be. Do not whinge about our PM but admire Theresa May for being the last girl left sitting at the side of the disco still waiting to be asked to dance even though there are no boys left in the room.

After all, it could be worse. I recall a piece of graffiti scrawled upon a wall in Sarajevo in the 1990's. It read “The past is tense and the future perfect.” 

Let's just hope ours' is not too perfect. Where would be the fun in that?

Here's to another bonkers year. Happy Christmas.


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