Wine. While important all year round, it takes on a special role when it comes to the festive season.
It’s the pairing for our Christmas dinner, the social lubricant for our Christmas parties, and the perfect addition to days chilling with the family in front of the TV.
You could just get whatever wine is on sale. But we say why not go big, and get something fancy?
We asked Master of Wine, Dermot Nolan, to advise us what wine to get for all situations for the coming holidays.
What kind of wine would you recommend for Christmas Day?
There’s often a belief that you should drink red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat and fish. But by and large food and wine matching depends more on the sauce than the protein. Most wines go well with turkey and ham. Unless you’re using a heavily spiced sauce just choose a better version of your normal favourite.
From The Wicklow Wine Company list I’d look at a Rully Red 2013 (€33.95) from Dureuil-Janthial as my top pick or perhaps Clos de Gamot Red 2008 (€22.95). For a top white the Gavi 2015 from Le Formiche (€18.95) is gorgeous and so is the Offida Pecorino (€18.95) from Cooci-Grifoni.
What cheapish wine would you recommend having in reserve for friends or family who happen to stop by out of the blue?
In terms of cheapish wines, you’re probably looking for something which is easy to drink. Italian wines tend to go down well, such as a Pinot Grigio for white or a Nero d’Avola for red.
At The Wicklow Wine Company we have a super Bianco di Custoza (€12.95) from northern Italy which is a lovely, soft easy-drink white and, for a red, I’d suggest the Domaine Martin “le Petit Martin” 2015 (€13.95) which is a super little red, soft and rich, blended especially for us.
What wine would you use to impress guests at a Christmas party?
To impress guests you’re probably looking for something with a bit more body and richness.
A wine which might impress is our Paternina Rioja Crianza 2013 (€14.95) from Rioja as it is a classically soft and smooth red with a real silky finish. A lovely white is the Beaujolais-Villages Blanc (€16.50) from Domaine Thulon which has great richness and depth and really over-delivers.
If you really want to show off, you might get a sparkling wine, such as prosecco or champagne, as an aperitif before the meal, and finish with a digestif like port or brandy.
I’d recommend Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Champagne (€48.55), rich and fresh with tremendous depth of flavour, to start while post-meal I would recommend Quinta do Tedo Late Bottled Vintage Port 2010 (€26.95), a fantastically deeply flavoured wine from a top estate which strongly supports eco-tourism and is now fully organic.
What wine would you drink if it's just the family sitting around watching movies and eating a tin of biscuits?
This really depends on your own personal tastes. If you’re not sure what you’d like, ask for advice in your local wine shop.
My partner adores the Terre d’Eglantier Viognier (€16.95) from Vignerons Ardéchois, which is a soft, peachy white so that’s high on the list. For a good red the Le Torri Rosso Piceno (€15.95) from Cocci Grifoni has a nice rich depth.
Dermot Nolan is one of only six Masters of Wine in Ireland, the highest professional wine qualification in the world. He works at the Wicklow Wine Company which has been importing and selling wines for 16 years, and has a wide and eclectic list.