Advent calendars, presents, gathering of friends and family, roasted chestnuts on an open fire and cheese boards a plenty - Christmas is truly the most magical time of the year. The real star of the show, however, is Christmas dinner. While everyone has their preferred meat (or non-meat) to enjoy on this day, there is no denying that Turkey reigns king. This big, lean bird, is enough to go round, stuffed to perfection and a great match for all of those Christmas day side dishes (and bread sauce of course).
Whilst beef and lamb have many no-brainer wine pairings, Turkey can seem a little trickier to pair. Fear not, for we have compiled the holy grail of go-to roast turkey wines for the special day. Whether you enjoy a zingier white wine or prefer a bold bottle of red wine, you’ll be surprised at just how versatile this holiday staple can be.
What is the best white wine for Christmas dinner?
It’s no wonder we have a plethora of bubbly on Christmas day! It is one of the best wines to serve to your guests as they arrive as a refreshing aperitif or with those seafood starters, but even more so – it is a fantastic match for Christmas Turkey. The high acidity in Champagne not only compliments the turkey flavours, but is a great match for the side dishes like cranberry sauce. The light fruit flavours in Champagne don’t overpower the Turkey, whilst the yeasty, nutty and almond notes blend seamlessly with your plate.
Viognier is another one of turkey’s perfect matches. Fleshy, juicy with delicious honey tones – it’s the perfect creamy accompaniment to this lean meat. Viognier is often described as Chardonnay’s exotic (or sultry) sister, so if the big oaked Chardonnays are too much for you, this is an excellent alternative.
What is the best red wine for Christmas dinner?
Many people think poultry – white wine, red meat – red wine. However, turkey is one of those brilliant meats that can really hold its own with either or. The main thing to consider here is tannins.
Tannins calm down when paired with fatty protein (the kind you get with red meats) so when there is not enough fat on the meat it can make the tannins seem harsher. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a normally tannic wine like Barolo or Bordeaux, but it does mean that if you decide to serve one of these wines, make sure they’ve got some good age on them as time in the bottle will lessen the drying effect.
Here are our go-to red wines to pair with a turkey Christmas dinner:
Turkey and Pinot Noir are a contender for best match of the meal. With Pinot Noirs juicy red fruit flavours are superb when paired with a bit of cranberry sauce, and the earthy and herbal tones will also complement all of the vegetables on your plate. However, you don’t want a lighter style of Pinot to get lost amongst all the flavours, so we suggest a bolder Pinot Noir, like those of the cru of Gevrey-Chambertin.
Good ol’ Gamay! Juicy, fruit forward, low in tannin, bursting with flavour (and great for a long boozy lunch) – this is an excellent pairing for Christmas dinner. All Gamay’s are not created equal though, and be reminded they are not all extremely light in weight. Look for wines from Fleurie or Moulin-a-Vent, which have power and depth to them and plenty of complexity.
Although Bordeaux is seemingly the antithesis of what type of wine should go with Christmas turkey dinner, somehow the beautiful balance of fruit, acidity and tannins in these wines can be a showstopper at your table – if aged enough! All those tertiary aromas begin to show themselves after a few years in the bottle and the tannins will calm down. Just make sure to find an aged Bordeaux that isn’t overly oaked as this will overpower the turkey.
Because Christmas is the best time to be indulgent, we suggest going for a bit of a splurge on a premier cru to start the dinner, then fall back onto a more budget-friendly option – or even better, ask Santa to bring you a few magnums. Browse our Christmas wines to see our full festive selection.