How to pour Christmas wine
It is the most wonderful time of the year and you have probably researched, planned and procured the best possible bottles of wine to suit everyone’s taste and impress family and friends around the Christmas table. Here’s a bunch of handy rules that will make those special wines shine this Christmas.
Keep your wines cool.
The living room and patio temperatures are way too hot for wines in summer, at 35C (here’s hoping) in the shade, this will make your red wines taste stewed and harsh, so make sure you keep them in a cool dark place until you’re ready to pour them. It’s OK to refrigerate reds briefly to keep them cool, too, so pop them in the fridge about an hour before serving them and they will be just perfectly chambré, the ideal room temperature of serving red wine. The opposite remains valid for your bubbles, white and rosé; don’t serve them too cold or you will miss on that beautiful aroma and texture. Be prepared ahead, and make sure you’ve chilled these at least 4 hours ahead of serving, and preferably overnight, but take them out of the fridge for 20-30 minutes before serving them to get the most out of the palate.
We all know bubbles will be flowing around the holiday festivities - Aussie sparkling, Prosecco, Traditional Method or Champagne, whichever style you wish to celebrate with, it tastes much better with a story in the bottle. Do a little research of the grower and understand where they are coming from when it comes to the wine’s style. Besides, it feels good to get to know who passionately grew the grapes and patiently waited for the wine to be ready in their cellar, before releasing it. If you can, choose family winemakers from Australia and artisanal growers from Italy and Champagne (France).
If not now, then when?
It is finally time to open one or two special aged bottles from the cellar; they’ve been sitting there waiting for better times. Don’t stress too much, grab a couple of those fancies and set them upright, standing in a cool place for at least 12 hours. This will allow the sediment to fall to the bottom of the bottle. To open these special wines, you should use an Ah-So opener, which is designed to remove an aged cork without it crumbling and then it won’t fall apart, and as you remove the cork, careful pulling the prongs, and take your time. Taste the bottle and decide if it is good or has gone bad. If it has stood up to the test of time, it needs to be decanted – aged wine that has been without oxygen for a long time and needs to be aerated. Pour very slowly, to prevent the sediment mixing through it. Any vessel will work to decant, I have used my grandmothers Murano water carafe with great success. Most importantly, don’t decant the wine too early, either - if it bears ten, twenty years of age, it will fall apart too quickly. The ideal time is 2-4 hours to let it sit. Always taste the wine as you first decant it too, then again after a while and taste how it changes with the oxygenation.
What I’ll be drinking this Christmas Day
When it comes to wines to pick for the festivities, I tend to rely on classic producers that I know well of and has a style close to my heart - I will be splashing around a healthy dose of Champagne Fleury from the Cote des Bars in Champagne. Founded in 1895, biodynamic growers of Pinot Noir on chalky, Jurassic Kimmeridgian soils. Their NV Blanc de Noirs is a blend of 2016 vintage and reserve wines fermented in oak foudres. It is a beautifully rich style, creamy yet balanced by that characteristic salty minerality. For the classic family spit-roasted pig I have ready the brilliant 2016 Amarone della Valpolicella from Marion. Stefano and Nicoletta Campedelli craft the most unique and trueful style in the Marcellise area, east of Verona. The Amarone carries a gentle dose of appassimento (dried grapes) delivering density and texture whilst remaining vibrant and charismatic. And no new oak to interfere with the purity of the wine. Fruit rich yet floral, dark cherry and violets, a sprinkle of maltesers chocolates. Exotic and velvety length. I’ll be making sure to decant one or two bottles well in advance.
Words by Fabio Pallottini. Image by Mathilde Langevin, Unsplash.