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For Starters

by Grape Expectations

You want to get things off to a flying start with your Christmas feast, so make sure your choice of wine sets the right tone too.

Assuming you’re having classic Chirstmas starters; smoked salmon or prawn cocktail, then the Codorníu , Graham Beck and Duval Leroy mentioned in Festive Fizz will work a treat. If you’re opting for something richer, like paté or terrine, then you could also try a fizz, but go for the demi-sec versions – the fruity sweetness and high acidity will work beautifully with the richness of the paté. Alternatively, you could try some of these lovelies…

Minimal:

Morrisons The Best –Sèvre et Maine sur Lie 2009, £4.29 at Morrisons. Great with seafood and smoked salmon – has lemon and lime flavours and a hint of honey to work well with rich, oily fish.

Sainsbury’s Manzanilla Superior Sherry, £5.49 at Sainsbury’s. Forget the sweet sherries of old, this is a dry style that it is a perfect partner for smoked fish. It has a tangy, salty, sea-spray aroma, which combines with green almonds and fresh yeast flavours. It will also work well as an aperitif served chilled with nuts and olives to complement.

Manageable:

Cave de Lugny, Mâcon-Villages, Chardonnay, 2010, Burgundy, £7.17 at Asda (but widely available). This won best in show in the International Trophies for Chardonnay under £10 at the Decanter World Wine Awards. It is dry, fresh and juicy with lemon, apricot aromas and a long finish. It will be great with seafood and goat’s cheese.

Jacob’s Creek Riesling, £9.99, widely available. Riesling is naturally high in acidity and this will work in the same way that lemon juice does when squeezed over smoked salmon. This version is full of lemon and lime flavours and is bone dry.

Taboexa Albariño 2010, Rias Baixas, Spain, £9.99 at Waitrose. This is a beautiful, delicate wine with hints of lemon, apple and peach. High acidity with a touch of minerality make this a fabulous wine with seafood. It will work wonders with a classic prawn cocktail.

Brown Brothers Orange & Flora Muscat, £7.49 at Majestic Wines (but also widely available). This is a sweet wine, it comes in a half bottle and will work beautifully with duck paté in particular. As the name suggests, it has orange marmalade and floral aromas but a crisp, clean finish so it is not clawing and will cut through the richness of the paté.

Warre’s Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port, £9.97 at Asda (but also widely available). Sold in a 50cl bottle, this is a lighter, fresher style of Port that can even be served slightly chilled. Sweet in style, with baked fruit, nutty and caramel flavours, this is also a great option for paté and chunkier meat terrines.

Maxed:

Domaines Brocard, Chablis Premier Cru, £14.99 at Sainsbury’s. Fantastic quality for the price, refreshing, floral and fruity with some minerality on the finish. Will be great with seafood or goat’s cheese.

Château Laville Sauternes 2007, £19.99 at www.thewinereserve.co.uk . Sauternes is the classic partner for Foie Gras. This is a luxurious version with honey and apricot sweetness to complement high acidity and a fresh finish to cut through the richness.

Hugel Jubilee Riesling 2005, £27.39 at www.rannochscott.co.uk. This is a delicious alternative to Sauternes to pair with paté , terrines and smoked salmon. It is opulent, rich and packed with fruit flavours such as baked apple and marmalade and has a long, refreshing finish.

Grape Expectations is a small wine tasting company, specialising in informal wine tasting events for friends and colleagues. Events are tailored to suit the requirements of the group and are designed to increase wine knowledge in an interesting and interactive way. The aim is to have fun and enjoy wine.

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