“CHRISTMAS time, mistletoe and wine, children singing Christian rhyme” – schmaltzy, sentimental nonsense from the grannies’ favourite, Cliff Richard.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of most things festive, but this view of Christmas turns me off.
For me, Christmas tradition is about turning things on their heads and trying something a bit different, as well as observing some family favourites.
As you can imagine, I’d get lynched by my family if I ditched the Christmas tree and pressies, but in my own wee way I do try to mix it up a bit – namely with wine.
The traditional Christmas dinner offers plenty of opportunities to switch it up a gear and not necessarily settle for the predictable Chardonnay or insipid Pinot Grigio for your white.
Whether for your own table or for your Christmas party package, why not get stuck into a ripe and crisp Verdejo (phonetically ‘ver-day-HO’) – if you’re a lover of Sauvignon Blanc, this is definitely a must-try as it’s full of grapefruit citrus zing.
Conversely, Gewurztraminer (G’wurz-tram-in-er) – the smashing floral style – can move you if you enjoy a softer glass.
Hunt down a Chilean version of this wine, which, in my opinion, is much better value for money than the incarnation from its spiritual home in Alsace.
There are a bucketful of worthy red contenders for your table and probably leading the way both in the UK and the US is Argentinean Malbec.
My advice is to try a little closer to home and buy from our European neighbour, Spain.
I’m sure a Rioja will find its way into a glass or two, but seek out wines from the expansive La Mancha area much further south in the country.
Look for an old vine Tempranillo (known locally as Cencibel) and you’ll get a wine indecently full of ripe blackberry, cherry and violet flavours which is tasty with turkey and the trimmings.
Every Christmas dinner should have a sweetie at the end, so I’d say look no further than one of my favourites.
Sweeter than a truckload of fluffy kittens dipped in a vat of syrup is PX – the sherry made from the Pedro Ximenez grape.
Its lip-smacking freshness and tooth-loosening levels of sugar will have you going back to the bottle for a refill quicker than a Vaseline-coated racing snake – if that’s your thing of course!
Have a great festive season!
The Cork Dork fact:
Until it was repealed in 2010, there was a law prohibiting the sale of alcohol in the state of Michigan on Christmas Eve.