Christmas wine tips from Uncle Fabien the winemaker.
Tadaaaa! Christmas is here, the decorations are up in the streets, trees are appearing in living rooms and you’ve already been thinking about your Christmas dinner in great detail for the last month… or maybe not. Fear not, Uncle Fabien, winemaker at Château de Garbes, is on hand to offer his advice. You’ll be able to prepare a mind-blowing Christmas dinner and, of course, choose the wines to match.
So Fabien, for starters I love the jumper. Now on this photo I see several wine colours, including rosé. Interesting. Do you believe in rosé at Christmas?
Fabien David – Of course I do! If you like rosé, why wait until summer to drink it? It’s like the sweet wines from Sauternes, Cadillac, Barsac, etc. They don’t have to be just with foie gras. You can drink them in summer, as an aperitif.
So what would we cook to go with this rosé?
For Christmas: baked tenderloin. Or alternatively grilled or sautéed king prawns. When they’re singing in the pan, that’s when you can make your palate dance with a rosé. But Christmas is less about feeling refreshed so you can choose a deeper coloured rosé – that’s generally a rosé with a bit more body. And if you don’t want to have it with a meal, you could serve a sparkling Crémant de Bordeaux rosé as an aperitif.
OK, so what about white?
Well, when it comes to white, honestly, our Bordeaux colleagues do an amazing job, the quality is really high these days. It’s always the colour that surprises me most. There are some real gems, whether from Graves, Pessac-Léognan, Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux or Côtes de Bordeaux.
So getting back to your question, there is of course that great Christmas classic, oysters, and for a more modern touch, you could add some marinated ginger or fish eggs placed directly on the oyster. Wow… To die for. It goes well with a fairly dry Bordeaux white but you can match it with whatever you want. Why not a slightly fruity white wine to balance the marinated ginger, that could really work!
And what about for people who don’t like oysters?
There are people who don’t like oysters? Haha, OK I know they’re not to everyone’s taste but you can try adjusting their salty taste by matching them with a flavour you like.
For example, people who can’t imagine life without cooked meats could add some diced dry-cured ham… All served with a sweet white Bordeaux. Bam! Such indulgence! Come on, the idea is to have fun, to be a bit creative. The same goes for foie gras. No need to eat it the same way year in year out. It can be fried, made into a cream soup… And with a woody white, such as Pessac-Léognan, no need for gingerbread.
OK uncle, so what about the main?
Well as we eat A LOT at Christmas, no need to go for a great big turkey with chestnuts. You could go for fish. Fish is great. Quite simple, sea bass fillet, fennel, potatoes, butter – olive oil – pepper, oven-roasted. Perfect.
To go with it: a dry white, an AOC Bordeaux, well balanced and beautifully round. Are you drooling? Please don’t drool, it puts me off.
And what if we still want some meat?
Then, I’d go back to sweet and savoury white meat. A great combo is coconut and curry turkey with a fleshy white wine such as a delicately barrel-aged Graves, or a sweet white. They go really nicely with the spices.
That sounds perfect. And if I prefer red, what should I go for?
In Bordeaux you’ve obviously got quite a choice. Again, there are no rules. Explore, surprise yourselves, don’t be shy. You don’t need to be an expert to know if you like a combination or not. Now, a full-bodied red such as a Médoc is a great idea with fried foie gras. As for game, you could go for a Saint-Émilion or a Pomerol, with mushrooms or truffles. Mmmm truffles!
And what about cheese, should we make a platter?
Naturally! The more varied the better (and the more chance of catering to all tastes).
Everyone has their favourite. Mine is Maroilles. You can’t miss it on the platter and the smell stays with you for several days but it’s amazing with a nice dry Graves, or a Médoc if you prefer red…
And what do you suggest for dessert?
For those with a sweet tooth, we’re here at last. You’ve waited through the whole meal and we’ve finally come to the serious bit. For me, Christmas dinner, as with any good dinner, should finish with a hint of chocolate. You could have ‘bûche glacée’ yule log accompanied by a deep red, with round tannins and red fruit aromas… 2 desserts in 1. Or of course a Crémant de Bordeaux. Ending on a sparkling note always bodes well for the rest of the evening.
Thanks Fabien David from Château de Garbes for playing ball, and for wearing the festive cat jumper so well.