by Will Nicolson


I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked “What wine goes with turkey?” You won’t find a definitive answer via Google because there isn’t one. I’d always recommend that you buy a better bottle of your favourite wine.  Christmas is never far from organised chaos with a strange mix of friends, family, traditions and whims. If you think about it, nothing goes or matches at Christmas, it is the same but slightly different for each household and has evolved into what it is. To find the perfect bottle to go with turkey would be futile so if you love Bordeaux, buy the best bottle of Bordeaux you can. If Argentinean Malbec works for you, buy a premium one. If you have some rare bottle in the cellar, crack it open, the perfect moment may never come. All that is important is that you enjoy it.


But what other wines should you have in the house for the Christmas period. Traditionally this is a period of excess, something I would encourage everyone to avoid along with tins of Roses and Quality Street which are quite frankly a national disgrace now and simply put, the most joyless plastic boxes of confectionary that a joyless bunch of corporate executives could ever dream up. The mere sight of them in the supermarket slowly erodes what’s left of my childhood Christmas memories from the late 1980s when metal tins with properly wrapped sweets were a thing of beauty and the high of suburban sophistication. The contents could disappear in the morning and be reassigned as a biscuit tin by mid-afternoon.


Although excess should be frowned upon, having excess wine can be beneficial, financially shroud and of course, it won’t go off in the short term. It won’t get wasted like the two pints of double cream that has a use-by date of December 23rd or the 3 kgs of Moroccan raspberries that looked like such a good buy in the depths of Winter. If you order too much it won’t go to waste, it might be needed and to be honest, most retailers have their best prices on at Christmas so think of it as saving money!


It is impossible to cover what everyone needs, there are too many factors involved but I thought I’d share what I’m doing to give you some inspiration or feel free to copy me.


The Build-up

We normally have a few friends and neighbours round in the days leading up to Christmas. Sometimes organised, often spur of the moment but wine is always required in a quantity that only becomes clear as the evening unfolds. We like to keep in the house a few mixed cases of super tasty yet relatively inexpensive wines that can be cracked open with the abandonment associated with the time of year. Our current favourites are:


Sauvignon Blanc ‘Tendem’ Bruno Andreu

Garnacha Blanco, Latido

Chardonnay Cantine de Falco


Garnacha Tinto, Latido

Monastrell Old Hands Bodegas La Purisima

Piaugier ‘Les Ramieres’ IGP de la Mediterranee


Avoid the temptation of buying cheap wine. If you are buying bottles at £6 and under then you are pretty much just paying for VAT, alcohol duty, shipping costs, a glass bottle, closure, label and storage costs. The extra couple of quid up to £9 can buy you well-made enjoyable wine that will impress your friends and won’t find its way into your plant pots.



Our house binned the idea that sparkling wine is for celebrations a long time ago. French Cremant is part of life round our way and Champagne is only restricted by budgetary concerns. We usually have a bottle of older vintage Champagne on Christmas morning and I’m pretty sure Henriot 2012 will be the choice this year followed by a steady flow of Henriot Brut from magnums throughout the day.


De Chanceny Cremant de Loire Brut

Meyer Fonne Cremant de Alsace

Domaine de la Verpaille Cremant de Bourgogne

Henriot Brut Souverain

Henriot Vintage



We are quite traditional here with smoked salmon although Christine and her mum are allergic to fish, so a vegetarian tart is the norm for them. Loads of dry white wines go with smoked salmon and I’m partial to Chablis although premium Austrian Gruner Veltliner, younger German Riesling or Albarino work well. This year however I’m going to do the same as last year and go for Chateau Beauregard Ducasse Blanc from Bordeaux. It is a 50/50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with barrel fermentation and lees ageing. It is rich, fresh, a little smoky and has fantastic texture and lovely aromatics. I’m sure it will be fine with a veggie tart.


Chateau Beauregard Ducasse ‘Cuvee Albertine Peyri’ Blanc

Gilbert Picq Chablis ‘Vieilles Vignes’

Jean Dauvissat Chablis 1er Cru ‘Vaillons’

Ingrid Groiss Gruner Veltliner Reserve ‘In der Schablau’

Ingrid Groiss Gruner Veltliner ‘Pankraz’

Riesling Kabinett Trocken Sybille Kuntz

Albarino Terra de Asorei



Christmas Lunch

We don’t do Turkey which means that I don’t have the added pressure of matching wine to this traditionally massive mound of food featuring an ever-increasing list of items that any amateur chef will tell you should not work on the same plate but is brought together with a sprinkling of Christmas magic which turns into the most wonderous plate of food known to humankind. I guess red Burgundy would be my first choice with turkey if we were having it, but I think I’d end up with an Alsatian Pinot Noir or one of Schnieder’s Pinot Noirs from Baden. Good Beaujolais would also be a strong choice (It always is) as would Mencia or a fuller-bodied Chardonnay or Riesling Spatlese if you wanted white wine. We normally cook both beef and ham which means I’m having red Bordeaux. Nothing too old or fancy but something with a bit of age that still has some youthful fruit. I’m thinking a mixture of:


Chateau Beau Site 2016

Chateau Deyrem Valentin 2015

Herve Laroque 2015


Mercurey 1er Cru ‘Clos du Roy’ Tupinier Bautista

Christophe Vaudoisey Bourgogne Rouge

Meyer Fonne ‘Gallus’ Pinot Noir

Meyer Fonne Pinot Noir Reserve

Schneider ‘Weiler’ Spatburgunder

Fleurie ‘Grille Midi’ Domaine de la Madone

Mencia Bodegas Mengoba

Saint Veran ‘En Pommards’ Maison Matisco

Riesling Spatlese Trocken Sybille Kuntz



In an ideal world, I’d have a different wine open for each cheese, but we usually consolidate into one bottle of Port and one bottle of sweet wine. Port and Stilton go together like Ant & Dec and I’ve got my eye on some Warre’s Bottle Matured LBV 2008 which is terrific value along with a bottle of Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey 2009 Sauternes which is excellent.


Warre’s Bottle Matured LBV 2008

Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey Sauternes



This is where it falls down a bit for us. We normally have trifle and I’m not talking about some posh trifle here from a sophisticated recipe publication. I’m talking about something the kids knocked together from whatever was left over in the fridge. It’s a bowl of fruity, sweet slop that to be honest, couldn’t be more symbolic. We normally have some sweet Sherry like Fernando de Castilla Classic Cream Sherry or I always have Lions de Suduiraut in the house which is amazing, goes with most sweet things and is lovely with a cheese board. It is an excellent and cheaper alternative to Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguay if you are not that into sweet wines.


Fernando de Castilla Classic Cream

Lions de Suduiraut Sauternes HALF


Boxing Day

Boxing day is a day of leftovers, but we always have Champagne. I like the mellow feel of Boxing Day which is why we have Henriot Blanc de Blanc which is beautifully intense and invigorating to give us all a nice pick me up. We always drink red from magnums on Boxing Day. I started doing it with my dad back in the early noughties and have carried on – he’d be so proud of me! They must be full-bodied, mellow and low in tannin and this year I’m going Spanish with Meritxell Palleja ‘Nita’ Priorat 2018 and Arzuaga Crianza Ribera del Duero 2019.


Henriot Blanc de Blanc NV

Meritxell Palleja ‘Nita’ Priorat Magnum

Arzuaga Crianza Ribera del Duero Magnum



We are not massive spirits drinkers (except gin) and like small amounts of high-quality spirits. Beefeater is our gin of choice for G&T and Negronis but as a Martini, I much prefer Rock Rose Navy Strength to wake me up. We prefer Brandy to Whisky and love Fernando de Castilla’s Spanish brandy, which is mellow, fruity and warming. Both Maxime Trijol and Ragnaud Sabourin make high-quality Cognac that is complex and a real treat. We have also taken on a range of single cask malts from independent bottlers Hunter Laing which are unique expressions of single casks and will become collectors’ items if you can keep your hands off them. There is no need for Baileys or Advocaat.


Rock Rose Navy Strength Gin

Fernando de Castilla Reserva Brandy

Maxime Trijol VSOP Grande Champagne Cognac

Ragnaud Sabourin No20 Reserve Speciale

Benrinnes 2006 16YO Old Malt Cask Hunter Laing Bottling