Richard Ballantyne MW 19th November 2018

How to choose the perfect wines to go with Turkey this Christmas and my suggestions for the perfect match

When choosing a wine to go with Christmas Turkey, it is not just the meat itself that you have to consider. There are all the trimmings: sprouts, roasties, cranberry sauce etc and whether you are having gravy or bread sauce, or both. The good thing is that although Turkey is considered a white meat, for which you would normally choose a white wine, a red wine can be equally as good.

At the Christmas table it is good to have white and red choices which suit all the grown-ups around the table. The key in choosing a white wine is to go for something flavoursome. I particularly like Chardonnay for this occasion, but something a bit fuller bodied than Chablis. I would recommend Kumeu River’s 2016 Kumeu Village Chardonnay from Auckland which has enough flavour and aromas to cut through all the veg and sauces, and not too expensive that you can afford to be generous to your guests.

This is also a good opportunity to bring out some lovely white Burgundies such as Macon Villages 2016 from Louis Jadot, or better still Olivier Leflaive’s amazingly good value Bourgogne Les Setilles, which is made from vineyards in Puligny Montrachet and Meursault, two of the greatest villages in Burgundy for making Chardonnay.

An alternative to Chardonnay would be Viognier. This is a grape variety that has all the richness of Chardonnay, but is more peach and apricot in flavour, and always has plenty of richness to stand up to the array of flavours on the plate. I am particularly fond of the excellent Viognier from Yves Cuilleron which is stylish and flamboyant.

For reds, I would steer you towards wines which are not too heavy and with not too much tannin. This is a good time to bring out a few bottles of your favourite mature Claret, but on a more modest budget, the Crus of Beaujolais make the perfect accompaniment, going particularly well with the cranberry sauce. I am very fond of the Beaujolais of Pierre Ferraud and their Morgon would be a particularly good match.

Pinot Noir would be another favourite and there are many great choices from New Zealand such as Mt Difficulty’s 2016 Roaring Meg Pinot Noir from Central Otago, but I have a new favourite and that is the Spatburgunder (the German name for Pinot Noir) 2014 from the Kaiserstuhl vineyards of Karl Heinz Johner. Flavoursome, aromatic and soft and is a great all-rounder.

Staying on the theme of soft, but generous wines, I have another favourite, but from a region of France that is slightly out the way, from the Ardeche. Chateau de la Selve’s Coteaux l’Ardeche ‘Petite Selve’ is made from a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, but is unoaked, fresh and full of flavour, but without the heaviness of the classic Rhone wines a little further down river.