Christmas is here! Although some may be wishing it wasn’t and frankly shocked at the notion it’s come around again, the trade will have long been prepared. Quite rightly so, it’s the biggest trading event of the year by some margin. While that will come as no surprise, the impact that great wine can have on your festive menus may do.
Offering wine pairings on your menu, or having on hand for staff to give advice, is good business. Not only do getting the wine pairings right enhance both the food and the wine, satisfying customers and winning return visits, but it can make the decision of the customer easier and moves them away from a typical choice. Many customers gravitate to the bottom end of a wine list, although often not the cheapest. Highlighting great pairings offer a greater experience to customers and guide them to products more profitable to you.
With the 1000’s of possible combinations and the many experts willing to offer advice, it’s can be a minefield to get the perfect match. You can never please everyone with a match and that’s okay. The most important element to remember with food and wine pairing is that personal taste is everything. Saying that makes it seem silly that we’re here trying to make recommendations at all.
But just because personal taste is king, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. There are some guidelines around food and wine matching that you can find in our guide, here. These guidelines will enable you to make some suggestions of your own that will elevate the dining experience for most of your patrons. With time precious at this time of year, we thought we would give you a head start by recommending some wines we feel are perfect for typical Christmas starters. Offering these with your Christmas menus will lead to better quality wine sales. Let us know what you think!
Smoked salmon for many, is a Christmas essential. The versatile fish can be served in a luxurious brunch or as the perfect starter. Plenty of full-flavoured whites can enhance the smoked salmon experience including Champagne, which is especially great if scrambled eggs are involved. Very lightly oaked Chardonnays or a Sémillon are also good choices, as is a lime-scented dry, cool-climate Australian Riesling. We’re recommending the St Hallett Riesling, Eden Valley.
If you’re putting plenty of effort into a beautiful soufflé it’s best not to have a wine with huge flavours that will make the soufflé a little bit of a let-down! A fruit-led Beaujolais Village such as the one from Château de Corcelles will provide plenty of complimentary fruit flavours.
What can be said about a Prawn Cocktail that hasn’t been said before? The UK’s favourite starter from the 60’s through to the 80’s and still making an appearance on Christmas menus. While it may not be seen as the height of sophistication anymore, it has a real kitsch appeal. To pair with this iconic dish we’re plumping for a Spanish rosé. It’s a visual match as well as a providing the flavours to keep up with the Marie Rose sauce, perhaps the Drassanes Bobal Rosado from Utiel-Requena.
Ham and Melon
Another classic starter choice; sometimes you can’t beat an oldie. The savoury ham and sweet melon make wonderful partners. Ham is salty, the melon is sweet, so some acidity and a balancing touch of sweetness in the wine will complement this delicious starter. We think a South African Chenin Blanc like the Kleine Zalze Cellar Selection Bush Vines Chenin Blanc will tick both boxes.
Duck liver Pâté/Terrine/Parfait
These French varieties are probably the most popular choice for Christmas menus today. The French would choose a sweet white to pair, the British usually plump for a lighter, fruity red, so take your choice. The French usually know what they are doing when it comes to food and wine so we’re taking the French route. We’re choosing a stunning glass of light and fresh and Bonnezeaux made by Château de Fesles in the Loire Valley.
It’s a perfectly safe bet choice for any Christmas menu. Home-made, with a zingy acidity, tomato soup can really awaken the palate! We think the wine should join on the act and that’s why we’re choosing a light, but serious Pinot Grigio from the Grave del Friuli region of north-east Italy; Fantinel’s Borgo Tesis is well worth travelling for.
You can find more information about the wines we stock here. If you want to stock any of the wines mentioned, click here to place an order online now, or here to request an account with us; and don’t forget we’re here to support you with everything you need to ensure that your wine range is a success, from free menu design and print services to staff training.