Seasonal Snackage Package and Festive Libations
In the run up to Christmas we always invite a few friends and neighbours round for drinks. Experience has taught us that people like a definite cut off time and it is best to avoid trying to provide a fully catered meal. That said, a few canapés or snacks do provide some sustenance and are always welcome - even a modest selection offers variety and something for everyone. It all got consumed last time which, by my reckoning, means we judged it about right.
Wine-wise, I will be using our Sommelier Selections mixed case as my main festive inspiration this year. In terms of sparkling wine, it is great to have a really versatile fizz to hand and the Crémant d'Alsace from Maison Léon Beyer is just the ticket. It is light enough to drink on its own but pairs well with smoked salmon and any snacks or canapés. On the big day we will probably treat ourselves to a bottle of Gilles Dumangin's majestic '1er Cru' Champagne 'Le Vintage' 2009 but for pouring and partying the Alsace is a magnificent all-rounder. Those looking for stocking fillers will be glad to know that we also stock it in half-bottles.
The 'quaffable' Vouvray Demi-Sec 2019 from Domaine Aubert is a great, off-dry white to serve as a pick-me-up or partner to cheese and the red Saint-Pourçain 'La Ficelle' 2022, which is redolent of summer berries, is fantastic with charcuterie and would also pair well with ham or poultry.
Our stone-fruited, white Côtes du Rhône Villages Sablet has enough weight to pair with seafood or turkey but makes for a crowd-pleasing wine to serve to guests and thirsty family members throughout the festivities.
The popular red Petit Caboche, from Domaine Jean-Pierre Boisson, is ideal for fireside drinking or makes a terrific accompaniment to restorative stews and roasts.
In fully festive mode, I would probably turn my attention to the Cuvée Tradition 2020 from Domaine Richeaume. This big, briary belter is probably too powerful for chicken or turkey but if a rib of beef or leg of lamb are in the offing you can't go wrong with it. With a wealth of wild Provençal herb and berry flavours, couched by supple tannins with peppery undertones, it's a wonderful celebratory drop.
Finally, when the decks have cleared, I will treat myself to a small glass of chilled, sweet Banyuls Réserva from Domaine La Tour Vieille. This marvellous concoction is rich, dark and rounded and is, coincidentally, ideal with mince pies or Christmas pudding.