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A Guide To The Perfect Pairings For Christmas

22 Feb 2024
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You’ve decked the halls, calligraphed the place settings, and devised a Christmas feasting menu to rival any Michelin starred chef. Now, it’s time to add the final flourish: a cellar brimming with bottles expertly matched to the culinary order of service. A glass of bubbles on Christmas morning is a must, but why not embrace the sparkle of the occasion and keep them flowing all throughout the day? So much more than the perfect aperitif, sparkling wines are incredibly versatile, working with a variety of different flavours in foods, lifting and enhancing each dish on the table. 

We’ve taken care of the fine details for you, with our guide to the best Christmas wine pairings, meticulously curated for every element of festive feasting, and the glasses raised in between. Think of us as your own personal sommelier. So you can focus on festive merrimaking, while your guests enjoy every tailored sip.

“Sparkling Wines are the perfect pairing for Christmas”

The Principles of Pairing Food and Wine


Pairing food and wine is an exceptional way to bring out the flavours in foods. Elements in one can elevate, lift, and enhance flavours in the other. When it comes to pairing food and wine, there are a few helpful guidelines to follow, for guaranteed deliciousness.

 

Golden rules for pairing food and wine:

 

  • Match the weight and intensity of the food with the wine. Delicate wines complement dishes with subtle flavours, allowing each to shine through without overpowering one another.
  • Richer dishes require wines that are more robust in flavour intensity and body. 
  • In addition to comparing similarities, think also about contrasting some elements: dishes with spice work beautifully with wines that have a touch of sweetness. 
  • Balancing acidity and sweetness: indulgent, unctuous dishes can be lifted by wines of refreshingly crisp acidity.
  • Sugar levels in wine provide more than sweet flavour, they also add body and weight that can bring out additional elements in dishes. 
Blanc de Blancs 2013
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Pairing Sparkling Wine with Food


English sparkling wine offers an array of diversity, thanks to its incredible texture and acidity. At Nyetimber, we meticulously craft each of our wines for flavour, depth, and extraordinary balance, from our brightest Classic Cuvee to our most opulent Rosé. There’s one additional element to consider to really unlock a sparkling wine’s pairing potential, and that’s a sparkling wine’s sweetness level. 


The Sparkling Wine Sweetness Scale:

 

You’ll most likely be familiar with the term ‘Brut’ on a label, but did you know that it’s one of a number of terms referring to a sparkling wine’s sugar level? Ranging from incredibly dry, zero dosage to the sumptuously sweet dessert wines, the terms are: 


Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Dry, Demi Sec, Doux

 

Very dry, lean wines, such as ‘Brut Nature’, tend to work well with fresh seafood and sushi, as well as slicing through fattier, richer or oily dishes. ‘Brut’ works with richer seafood dishes, like salmon, oysters, and scallops, and demi-sec, with its gentle touch of sweetness, is surprisingly versatile. Demi-sec works beautifully with dessert, but try pairing it with particularly indulgent savoury dishes like foie gras for an elevated experience. 

 

Higher sugar levels don’t automatically mean ‘sweet tasting’. The experience of sugar can be balanced with high acidity, for extra depth of flavour, texture, mouthfeel, and complexity. This is your secret weapon in elevating and tailoring your pairings; thinking not only about the flavours, delicacy, intensity, but also about working with the sugar levels, beyond dessert and demi sec wine.

 

We know that English sparkling wine makes a merry pour for Christmas morning, but with extraordinary texture, uplifting acidity, and a kaleidoscope of flavours from bright fruit and mineral purity through to rich, toasty indulgence, Nyetimber pairs perfectly with a range of food. From graceful and lithe Blanc de Blancs crafted for delicate seafood, to the rich decadence of 1086 Rosé by Nyetimber that pairs beautifully with charcuterie, and the designed-for-food depths of Cuvee Chérie – the array of flavours and textures means that sparkling wines are the perfect pairing for Christmas.

Cuvee Chérie by Nyetimber
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A Guide To The Perfect Pairings For Christmas


From the night-before party to the all-day feast, we’ve got bespoke pairings for everything, whatever’s on the menu. Here are our Christmas food and wine pairing suggestions.

Christmas Eve

The night before Christmas is time for celebration, and that calls for canapés, caviar, and bubbles for a crowd. Add extra flair by pouring from magnums; our flagship Nyetimber Classic Cuvee brims with star-bright citrus, sumptuous pastry, apple and hints of floral bouquet. Wonderfully textured, deliciously drinkable, and oh-so-perfect with classic canapés. 

If yours is a soirée of glitz and glamour then you have the perfect excuse to reach for something extra decadent. 1086 by Nyetimber seamlessly combines subtle minerality, fresh grapefruit, nougat and delicate vanilla with acidity, texture, and a long, luxurious finish. Fine beads of bubbles go exceedingly well with caviar. 

Christmas Morning

With a day of feasting ahead, it’s wise to ease in to the indulgence with something flavoursome yet delicate. Salmon gravadlax makes an elegant breakfast, preferably enjoyed in one’s finest festive silk pyjamas. Gently cured organic salmon, sprinkles of flaked sea salt and flurries of dill served simply with rye bread call for a glass of something with crystalline purity to cut through the richness of the salmon. Rare and refined, Nyetimber’s Tillington Single Vineyard balances elegance and richness in perfect harmony. Brilliant concentration of fresh citrus meets notes of almond and brioche. An opulent way to start the day.

Christmas Brunch

Oysters and fine sparkling wine make a harmonious duo, and an indulgent mid-morning brunch for Christmas Day. Oysters, with fresh sea-salt minerality and a squeeze of lemon work beautifully with bubbles that have equally vibrant acidity and richness of depth. Made with one-hundred percent Chardonnay, Nyetimber Blanc de Blanc’s subtle minerality accentuates the elegant yet generous notes of lemon zest, honey and chamomile. Beautifully poised, the texture of the bubbles are sublime with the smoothness of the oysters. 

Christmas Day Starter 

Lobster and prawn cocktail makes a decadent start to the feasting. The gentle sweetness and indulgent texture of seafood requires an equally indulgent wine pairing. Nyetimber Tillington Single Vineyard makes an outstanding match, with alluring aromas and ripeness of fruit that shines beautifully alongside the subtle sweetness of the lobster. Apple and citrus notes entwine in sweetness, richness, elegance and harmony. 

Christmas Day: The Main Event

Christmas Day feasting – the table laden with all the festive classics: a centrepiece of the finest free-range turkey, goose, or nut roast and all the trimmings; golden roast potatoes that are crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and of course, brussel sprouts with your own signature serve; something nutty and rich like glazed chestnuts and pancetta, or light and bright with pomegranate. And let’s not forget pigs in blankets, preferably drizzled with honey.  While the variety of different flavours may make the task of wine pairing feel like a daunting one, there is one delicious element that most dishes have in common, and that’s sumptuous, glorious, melt-in-the mouth fattiness. 

Sparkling wine works wonders here, as bubbles lift the overall weight and serve as a palate-cleanser in between mouthfuls. Look for a sparkling wine with suitable richness, but also zest to lift those deeper flavours. Nyetimber Rosé Multi-Vintage is brimming with berry notes of juicy red cherry, pomegranate, and cranberry that perfectly mirror flavours found on the table. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay together with a touch of Pinot Meunier have exquisite structure, creamy round texture and an elegant and silky finish. 

If your feasting table includes game birds such as pheasant or grouse, even more decadent touches like venison, or, if you simply want to infuse a little extra indulgence, then reach for  1086 Rosé by Nyetimber. Beautifully poised and balanced Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are treated to extended lees ageing, imparting extra depth, weight, and a truly luxurious mouthfeel. Elegance, structure and complexity in perfect harmony; a medley of wild berry and red apple meets crystalline purity and a subtle brioche character that melts into a long luxurious finish. Opulent and intense, the finest expression of rosé within our collection is the perfect pairing for the most indulgent of dishes. 

Christmas Dessert

The combination of winter berries, pomegranate, cranberries, poached pear, and candied pecans provides a festive twist on the traditional Eton Mess. Pair with the exquisitely balanced demi-sec Nyetimber Cuvee Chérie. Its sweetness harmoniously counterbalances the luscious notes of the berries and cream, while its refreshing acidity lifts and elevates the flavours. This delicate and refined sparkling wine, with aromas of pure lemon, mineral, and honey notes and clean, pure structure seamlessly complements the dessert’s delicate textures and fragrant notes, creating a harmonious combination.

 

Toast to traditions with our Christmas wine pairings


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