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Christmas Food & Wine Pairing with South Downs Cellars

What should you drink with your food this Christmas? With an abundance of food at the table, ranging from turkey to brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce to pigs in blankets, it can be a challenge to know what to drink with your lunch and then your leftovers. Do not worry because our Christmas offers at South Downs Cellars have you covered with a great range of deals. Whatever your tastes you should drink what you and those at your table enjoy. It does not matter how good a pairing is if you do not like the wine in the first place. There are, however, some guidelines that will help you find wines to make the most of your festive feasting.

Acidity is key when pairing food with wine as it cuts through fats, refreshing your palate so that you taste even more of the food than you would if the fats were coating your tongue. This is great if you have a particularly fatty meat, such as ham, and is also very useful when you get out the cheese board. In fact when you are eating cheeses sparkling wines, such as the Poynings Grange Rose de Noirs, are great partners as they have plenty of acidity but also have bubbles that lift the creaminess of the cheese off your tongue and maximising the taste of the cheeses.

We also need the acidity there to make our food and wine taste fresh, without it they can become dull and lifeless, but too much acidity can be unpleasant. However if you have acidity both in your glass and on your plate, it tastes less acidic. I know this sounds counter intuitive but please trust me - it works and is a great asset when partnering wine with salad dressings, fruit sauces and chutneys. These attributes make sparkling wines the perfect all-rounders so please do not just think of them as options at the start of your meal because in our opinion it’s always time for a sparkling wine.

The next thing to bear in mind is that there is no one right way to approach a food and drink pairing. If you have lots of butter and/or cream and/or fat in the food that you are eating, you will want a fuller-bodied wine to complement it, something like the Luis Canas Rioja Blanco Vinas Viejas with its bold, rounded flavours and buttery notes is ideal with buttered greens. An alternative approach would be to contrast the heavy food with something lighter-weight that will make you feel fresher, our Austrian dry Riesling from Vom Gelben Löss will refresh your palate as you fill up on potatoes roasted in duck fat.

Red wines have a useful characteristic that most white wines lack and that is tannin. Tannins create a drying effect in your mouth as they attach themselves to the proteins on your gums and tongue. They want to create bonds with proteins, so when you then eat meat the tannins will detach themselves from the insides of your mouth and reattach themselves to the proteins in the meat. This will, in turn, make you salivate more which makes the meat taste even juicier. The effect is greater with red meats than white so if you are having beef you might want a full-bodied wine such as the Chateauneuf-du-Pape Closerie de Vaudieu. Turkey, however, pairs better with less tannic wines such as the Verum Pinot Noir or, if you want a more powerful red wine, the De Loach Heritage Reserve Zinfandel.

My final piece of advice is that if you are having something sweet to eat, you should drink something at least as sweet as your food. If you have a drink that is less sweet than the food you are eating it will make the wine taste bitter, ruining your drinking experience. This is why sweet wines like the Chateau Petit Vedrines, Sauternes are so useful when pairing with dessert. Another great use for sweet wines is combining them with salty foods to create a classic contrast such as blue cheese and port.

Whatever you are drinking this Christmas we hope you have a wonderful winter feast as we all celebrate the end of a very difficult year, and look forward with hope to a better 2021.


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