The Ultimate Holiday Wine List
The season of joy is upon us again. As every year, it comes with a set of challenges of its own. But fear not, we’ve done all the hard work and came up with the ultimate, fail-safe, all-singing, all-dancing holiday wine list for you – catering for all those hard-to-please people that might descend on you with their festive demands…
They braved both crowds and traffic jams. They made snap-decisions of vital importance at the eleventh hour: Socks again for dad? Is this lingerie too risqué for my girlfriend? What on earth do five-year-olds want? They deserve to de-stress completely. Classy traditional-method fizz is just the answer. Crémant d’Alsace is fresh and lightens the mood while a glass of refreshing Chardonnay will decompress anyone.
a. Crémant d’Alsace, Arthur Metz Brut Prestige
b. Chardonnay, J.P. Chenet Réserve
They’ve prepped and stuck to a military-style schedule for the past week. They’ve thought of and catered to their guests’ every whim. They’ve baby-sat that giant turkey/rib-roast/cured ham and fried enough potato latkes for a baseball team. They are so frazzled they might cry into the gravy. Keeping a glass of light, fruity Sauvignon Blanc topped up will mean they won’t fry their nerves, too. Alternatively lift spirits with a refreshing fruity rosé from Côteaux d’Aix en Provence
a. Côteaux d’Aix en Provence, Domaine Sarragousse
b. Sauvignon Blanc, Réserve Haut Mouleyre
Their dreams are not in technicolor, they are in unpasteurized, raw milk ferments. They know their vache from their brebis, their Morbier from their Mimolette, have brought artisanal, heirloom-oat biscuits and were delighted with the hand-tooled parmesan chisel you gave them. Send them into a vino-lactic nirvana with an off-dry, floral Gewürztraminer from Alsace, a dream with pretty much any soft or washed-rind cheese. Alternatively, try a honey-scented Vouvray for another heavenly cheese-marriage.
a. Vouray, Domaine Du Vieux Vauvert
b. Gewürztraminer, Helfrich Grand Cru Steinklotz
Yes, that dairy- and gluten-free broth really has no animal products and no, bacon has never been fried in that pan ever. You’ve even foregone the lard and made the pie crust with all-vegetable shortening. Make it a relaxed meal with a wine for all seasons, textures and pulses. Versatility is all when it comes to nut roast, lentil tagine, mushroom paté and soya sausages. Creamy sparkling Saumur Brut is surprisingly adaptable, as is the friendly, spicy and powerful Fitou red.
a. Saumur Brut, Château de Montguéret
b. Fitou, Château de Segure
They’ve contributed umpteen six-packs and carried them to the extra fridge in the garage. Yes, they even brought a selection of craft beers, but dinner time is wine time. Devotees of hops and malt need a gentle intro to the slightly more potent world of wine. Used to drinking rather than sipping, they should be started off on something light. Also, their heroic open-mindedness to stray from the grain should be rewarded. Look no further than friendly, light-bodied but satisfying Anjou Blanc or approachable, smooth and non-tannic Loire Valley Bourgueil.
a. Anjou Blanc, Château de Fesles La Chapelle
b. Bourgueil, Sauvion La Pierre Percée
Steak must be bloody, beef must be rare, pizza is always meat-feast and no, fish is not flesh, neither do vegetables in themselves constitute a meal. You know your inspired gift choice of a monthly bison-cut-subcription will wow them. They will love you even more if you give them a solid red to counter all that protein. Only big and bold flavors will do. Satisfy them with a rounded Pomerol or a structured Cabernet-Merlot blend from the Haut Médoc.
a. Cabernet-Merlot blend, Château Lestage Simon, Cru Bourgeois Haut-Médoc
b. Lalande Pomerol Château Marcadis
Not again, they’ve already complained about the towels in the bathroom, they’ve singlehandedly offended the neighbours, the daughter’s boyfriend and your cousins and it’s not even noon. They also made the toddler cry and nearly sat on the cat. All you really want to do is throw a poinsettia at them. Silence the next snide remark with a sweet aperitif of iced J.P. Chenet Ice Edition or a rich, harmonious Merlot-Cabernet.
a. J.P. Chenet, Ice Edition
b. Merlot-Cabernet, Petites Folies
They could be cruising on a luxury yacht, they could be holed up in an exclusive ski resort or soak up the rays on the other side of the globe. Hey, they could have it all and yet they decided to do the family thing this year. Show them you appreciate the gesture and their rare, benign presence with smooth wines of impeccable standing: plummy St Emilion Grand Cru from the Left Bank and elegant Sancerre from the Loire Valley.
a. Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Château Cantin
b. Sancerre, Marquis de Goulaine
They have brought their own single-estate hand-selected beans (plus grinder, porcelain filter and special water) just so they don’t have to drink your coffee. They won’t stop talking about that mind-blowing Ukrainian pop-up they went to last week in an urban slaughterhouse. They’ve regaled you with home-cured donkey salami. Hell, even their deodorant is bespoke. Show them you’re cutting edge as you first serve chilled flutes of Ancestral-Method Clairette de Die, chatting knowingly about its honeysuckle aromas, before moving on to even more obscure but delicious, bubbly Crémant du Jura.
a. Ancestral-Method Clairette de Die, Depréville
b. Crémant du Jura, Marcel Cabelier
They have starved themselves to fit into that dress/suit. They went for a run before everyone else was even awake. They may allow themselves three roasted almonds after their restrained dinner. Don’t sabotage their herculean effort at this tricky time of year. Instead share something they can enjoy: Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine is a bone-dry white with very restrained alcohol and makes an almost sin-free sip. Its elegance and versatility will charm even the most ascetic Chirstmas elves. A red with similar credentials is berry-scented Chinon.
a. Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie, Château du Cléray
b. Chinon, Sauvion Les Roches Cachées
Perhaps it’s the new neighbors with the flash car, perhaps your new boss, your future in-laws, old class-mates you haven’t seen in two decades or simply that annoying out-of-town cousin for whom nothing’s ever quite good enough. Sometimes you just need to score and we all know first impressions count. Rest assured that a Grand Cru Riesling from a single vineyard will show you in the best light. So will a classy red Bordeaux from one of the most traditional French appellations.
a. Riesling, Helfrich Grand Cru Steinklotz
b. Haut-Médoc, Château de Lamarque
It’s not about ‘like’ or ‘want’ anymore, they have a full-blown cocoa addiction. Worse, they think everyone shares their enthusiasm and all their gifts were brown: a chocolate-moulded spanner for brother, chocolate-scented bubble-bath for sister, a book of chocolate recipes for mum and chocolate cigars for dad. Elevate their chocolate-plane with orange-oil flavoured high-grade chocolate along with marmalade-scented Muscat de St Jean de Minerovois or inspire them with a white-chocolate cheesecake served with luscious, unctuous Bonnezeaux.
a. Muscat de Saint-Jean de Minervois, Domaine Les Combes
b. Bonnezeaux Château de Fesles
- 1The Tired Christmas Shoppers
- 2The Put-Upon Host/Hostess
- 3The Cheese Lovers
- 4The Vegetarian
- 5The Ingrained Beer Drinker
- 6The All-Out Carnivores
- 7The Difficult Relative
- 8The Person Who’s Got it All
- 9The Know-it-all/Millennial Hipster
- 10The Calorie Counters
- 11The People You Need to Impress
- 12The Chocolate Addicts