From classic Christmas Day Champagne to something a bit different for Boxing Day: Top tips for the ultimate festive tipples!
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When it comes to glorious Christmas grub we all know what we’re doing: some moreish nibbles; some seafood to start; a plump turkey with a garland of roasties, and – love ‘em or hate ‘em – Brussels sprouts.
But what about the accompanying beverages? Are you up to speed with exactly which fizz to pour alongside Christmas Day canapés, which red to pair with your parsnips, and what on earth to ease you into a relaxing Boxing Day?
We've spoken to M&S' drink experts and come up with a really helpful guide offering both familiar favourites and something just a little bit different for every moment of the festive holiday.
It's Christmas time... and M&S is at hand to help you pick the perfect festive drinks!
We asked Marks & Spencer’s wine buying supremo Elizabeth Kelly, who's also a food and wine matching guru to recommend her favourite bottles for the big day (and the day after), so you can create a winning festive drinks menu that your guests will remember well into 2017.
And Elizabeth’s advice should be heeded carefully: M&S just scooped 60 awards for their festive booze range at the International Wine Challenge, Britain’s biggest wine tasting contest. So even with our 'something a bit different' suggestions, you’re in very safe hands - bottoms up!
Christmas Eve supper
There’s so much excitement rippling through the air on Christmas Eve that it’s difficult to eat much at all, but a lovely fish pie with hot buttered garden peas would be perfectly accompanied by one of these two drinks recommendations from Elizabeth:
Try: The Christmas Keg (£20, 5 litres)
‘Christmas Eve is either a night for putting your feet up and saving your energy for the big day ahead, or getting together with friends and family and feeling festive. If you’re staying, put your feet up and chill out before the big day, and let everyone help themselves to Southwold Christmas Ale made by the Adnams Brewery inside this Christmas Keg. A delicious ale, and perfect for a hoppy Christmas!’
Perfect for supper on Christmas Eve: Southwold Christmas Ale, left, and Christmas Cobbler Cocktail, both from M&S
Something a bit different: The Christmas Cobbler Cocktail (£12.50, 50cl, or two for £20.00 until 1st January)
‘For those who prefer something more sophisticated, try one of M&S’s readymade cocktails – no mixing required. An American classic of the 1840’s, is back in favour in the modern speakeasies of New York, this sherry cobbler has been given a twist with the addition of beetroot, a delicious and increasingly trendy cocktail ingredient. The ready-to-drink cocktail combines oloroso sherry, rum, beetroot, calvados and apple. Simply pour over ice and enjoy!’
Try: Mulled Wine: Red or Rose
Bottom's up! Enjoy a warming glass of mulled wine. For something lighter, why not try M&S Mulled Rosé £6.50 (down to £4.50 until 1st January)
‘The sweet but subtle aromas of cinnamon, apple and cloves in our mulled wine are best appreciated warm with a slice of orange.
Pure festive indulgence in a bottle! M&S Mulled Rosé is a lighter alternative to M&S Mulled Red (although both won the Good Housekeeping Taste Test for Best Mulled Wine this year), offering tangy berry notes balanced by aromatic spices.
Alternatively, why not make mulled wine yourself? I like using something Grenache- or Syrah-based wines, such as Australian Shiraz 2016 (£5.50), because the wine has naturally spicy flavours and lots of red fruit.’
Top tipple: Enjoy Mulled Rosé, £6.50 (down to £4.50 until 1st January), and Australian Shiraz, £5.50, both at M&S
Something for Santa...
Delivering presents to millions of little boys and girls is thirsty work. Keep the big guy ticking over with a tasty little tipple...
Try: Martinez Marsala Riserva Dolce 5-yr-old (£7)
‘Last year my daughter told me it was really boring to keep giving Santa Port or Sherry, so if you’re putting wine out for Santa, how about Marsala instead? People often see Marsala as a cheap cooking wine, but this wine made by the Martinez family in Sicily has just won a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge. This is also great with charcuterie or cheese if you are having a simple Christmas Eve supper.’
Why not try Martinez Marsala Riserva Dolce 5-yr-old, at £7, or the Asti NV, at £9
Christmas Morning Breakfast
December 25th is the only day of the year when it’s totally acceptable – if not obligatory - to drink before noon, so make sure you do it in style. Here are Elizabeth’s suggestions for what to drink alongside your scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, and your fresh buttery croissants...
Try: Asti NV (£9)
‘For breakfast something light and fruity is needed to wake you up. Try our M&S Asti, made from the Moscato grape in Northern Italy, this is a light, fruity, grape-scented fizz. Its sweeter palate also makes it perfect with jam and crumpets for breakfast.’
Try: English Fizz: Marksman English Sparkling Brut Blanc de Blancs, 2013 £26 (£21 off until 1st January) + Pressed British Apple Juice
Cheers! Marksman English Sparkling Brut Blanc de Blancs, 2013 £26 (£21 until 1st January), and Spiced Clementine Gin 50cl, £13
‘As an alternative to Bucks Fizz how about an English Fizz? Blend together 2/3 English sparkling wine - like the crisp Marksman English Sparkling Brut Blanc de Blancs, which has a lovely apply nose – with 1/3 crisp apple juice.’
Something a bit different: Spiced Clementine Gin (50cl, £13)
‘Or for the more hardcore how about a festive G&T?! For a spicy twist on the classic G&T choose this new clementine gin with cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.’
Christmas Day canapés
Sparkling Red Lambrusco Reggiano 2015
Christmas Day can’t begin in earnest until that first pop of bubbles. Here are two of Elizabeth’s favourites, both available from M&S, and both perfect for warming up your jolly guests as you pass around a few trays of delicious little nibbles.
Try: Louis Vertay Champagne NV (half-price until 1 Jan: £16 down from £32)
‘You can’t beat a glass of champagne to get the party started and this is the perfect party fizz; a rich traditional blend of the main champagne grapes – elegant and fruity, and the perfect partner to canapes.’
Something a bit different: Sparkling Red Lambrusco Reggiano 2015 (£9)
‘What could be more Christmassy than red bubbles?! This famous crisp sparkling red has intense blackberry and blueberry fruit, with a deliciously dry finish, making it the perfect accompaniment to Christmas nibbles’
Kick back with a cocktail: Enjoy the M&S No Big Dill Cocktail with fish
A Christmas Day seafood or salmon starter requires a crisp accompanying beverage to keep the palate nice and fresh, whether you’re opting for a retro prawn cocktail or a more traditional smoked salmon on brown bread with lots of lemon and pepper affair. Elizabeth’s choices – one classic, one a little quirkier, both available at M&S – will both pair marvellously with any fishy starter.
Try: Craft 3 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (£11)
‘You’ll be very popular when you open a bottle of this! A classic example of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc: crisp and fresh, and perfect with seafood and smoked salmon.’
Drink up: Craft 3 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015, at £11, and No Big Dill Cocktail, £12, 50cl
Something a bit different: No Big Dill Cocktail (£12, 50cl)
‘Herb-based cocktails are the hottest trend right now; and this delicious gin cocktail infused with dill and a touch of elderflower also makes a fantastic match with smoked salmon.’
The main event: Turkey!
Femail reveals what tipple goes best with your turkey, chin chin!
Christmas lunch always verges on the deliciously decadent side, so you’ll need a fairly robust bottle of plonk to stand up to all those deep and brooding flavours – especially if you’re planning on covering your roast turkey in lashings of glossy gravy and plenty of warming, spiced red cabbage. Elizabeth has picked a heavenly Pinot Noir, a complex Hermitage Blanc, and a rich, port barrel ale to go with the biggest feast of the year.
Try: Secano Estate Pinot Noir 2014 (£9.50)
‘This juicy fruity red wine from Chile is perfect to go with ‘all the trimmings.’
Try: Crozes Hermitage Blanc 2015 (£13)
‘This rich blend of Marsanne and Roussanne from the southern Rhone is perfect to go with turkey.’
Something a bit different: Port barrel Aged Greenwich Ale (£5.50, 75cl)
‘The Greenwich ale is brewed using seven different malts by the Meantime Brewery and then aged for 6 months in Port barrels - perfect with rich Christmas dishes. This also comes in a lovely 75cl bottle – so won’t look out of place on the Christmas table!’
What's sup! Secano Estate Pinot Noir 2014, at £9.50 and Port barrel Aged Greenwich Ale 75cl, at £5.50
Alternative lunches: Venison/Lamb/Beef
6 Malt Cornish Stout (£2.40, 240ml)
If you’re swapping turkey for another meat this Christmas – say venison, lamb, beef or pork - or you’re serving something different for Christmas Eve or Boxing Day, your wine choices should be a little different. Gamey meats like venison pair beautifully with spiced cherry reds and chocolatey ales, while Bordeaux is perfect with lamb. Here are Elizabeth’s top picks:
Try: Tercius Touriga Nacional 2014 (£8.50)
‘Portugal may be more famous for its delicious ports, especially at Christmas, but it also produces some fabulous reds, like this spicy, full bodied red, perfect for full flavoured beef dishes.’
Try: Moueix Saint Emilion 2012 (£14.50)
‘A classic Bordeaux; cassis-scented Merlot dominated blend, delicious with red meat dishes especially lamb.’
Something a bit different: 6 Malt Cornish Stout (£2.40, 240ml)
‘This modern Cornish stout is made with pale, crystal, chocolate, smoked, malted oat and roasted barley malts making it perfect with reach meaty dishes such as beef or venison.’
Hermits Hill Botrytis Semillon 2011 (£9)
You may think you can’t squeeze in another bite after all that turkey, but we have an inkling you’ll change your mind when Auntie Mildred brings out her famous Christmas cake – the one whose fruit she started soaking in sherry back in April 2006 - or a flaming Christmas pudding lands squarely on the dining table. Elizabeth’s two suggestions for pairing tipples from M&S are wonderfully a wonderfully marmalade-y Australian dessert wine and a super-spicy sherry:
Try: Hermits Hill Botrytis Semillon 2011 (£9)
‘A premium Australian sweet wine, made by the renowned winery of De Bortoli exclusively for M&S from 100% Semillon grapes; a wonderfully luscious, rich dessert wine, bursting with fresh peach and pineapple fruit, with tempting notes of marmalade, dried citrus peel and beeswax.’
Something a bit different: Rare Pedro Ximenez NV (£8)
‘No longer just for Granny, sherry is now officially fashionable again, and thank goodness, for this is delicious; a sublime sweet sherry with raisin, citrus peel, spice and coffee notes – try with Christmas pudding or a slice of Christmas cake.’
The Cheese Course
So much cheese! With this tasty course why not enjoy a bottle of port?
10-year-old Tawny Port NV (£17)
The table has been cleared, the presents have all been opened, the toddlers are napping and the teenagers are all comatose in front of a merry Christmas film: it’s time for the grown-ups to unplug the cork on something really special to savour with a morsel or two of tasty cheese. Elizabeth has two perfect options for the ultimate Christmas Day cheese board:
Try: Late bottled Vintage Port 2011 (£13)
‘Nothing says Christmas more than port and Stilton, and this one won’t disappoint: an enticing ruby-hued Port infused with perfumed aromas of spices, fresh blackberry and ripe plum fruits. Delicious.’
Something a bit different: 10-year-old Tawny Port NV (£17)
‘Have you tried a Tawny? Tawny port is an often overlooked style but this trophy-winning port is rich with dried fruit, walnut and toffee flavours, and perfect with a cheese platter.’
Boxing Day Leftovers
One of the best things about Christmas day food, is eating the leftovers on Boxing Day
Thank heavens for Boxing Day leftovers, filling our fridges with their gloriousness on the one day of the year that every single one of us is far too pooped to cook anything whatsoever. If you’re looking for the perfect drink to pair with your turkey and parsnip sandwich or your Stilton and Brussels sprout toastie (of course you are – you’re not going back to work until the 2nd January!) Elizabeth has three terrific bottles to recommend:
Try: Paul Cluver Pinot Noir 2015 (£12)
‘The delicious blend of red fruit mixed with an earthy spice note means this is perfect with all sorts of cold meats, as well as game dishes.’
Try: Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Closiers 2014 (£21)
‘A full bodied, complex strawberry scented, Grenache based red with a savoury black pepper note.’
Something a bit different: Gluten Free Kent IPA (£2)
‘A classic English IPA with apricot, citrus and honey notes – which will match beautifully with cold meats, charcuterie and cheeses. It’s also gluten-free.’
Top tipple: Enjoy Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Closiers 2014, at £21, and Gluten Free Kent IPA at £2
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