Wine Q&A with David Bowman
There’s always so much choice when it comes to wine, and if you’re hosting on Christmas day, it can add to the pressure if you’re not sure what to serve with your food.
To help out, we’ve spoken to David Bowman, our Wine Manager at our Big Yellow Wine Cellars in Fulham. Here’s some great tips on what to choose, where to store it, and how to make it last.
Around Christmas time, the fridge is always fully stocked with food, and there may not be enough space for chilling wine. What are the alternatives – can you store wine outside?
Generally, I wouldn’t recommend it in the winter months; although this winter the weather is mild so it might be an exception. If your whites need a good chill and temperatures outside are well above freezing and space indoors is at a premium, then yes, I would chill mine outdoors – I tend to leave an empty ice chest outside all year, just for a bit of overflow and to protect them from extreme elements.
With regards to red wine, the home is usually warm with all the people and the fire/heating at full blast – where’s the ideal place to store red wine?
Best place to me would be in the garage or somewhere else around the house with a relatively consistent temperature – around 11°c to 13°c. What you don’t want to do is leave wine anywhere that it could be subjected to sudden or extreme hot or cold – don’t “shock” your wine.
And now for some wine pairings. We’ve heard that your palate is at its optimum at 11am; what’s best to start the day alongside the various nibbles?
Daytime Christmas drinking around my home is usually Mimosas/Buck’s Fizz’s. Most supermarkets sell clementine juice this time of year and it’s great with Cava or Prosecco; there’s no point in wasting money on Champagne until later in the day. Just remember to pace yourself with the daytime drinking – there’s no point in slaving over a fantastic meal and then having a headache come dinnertime.
For those who go for traditional turkey for the main meal, what would you suggest?
If you’re an exclusive red drinker, keep in mind that strong, robust and tannic reds are going to make your turkey seem very dry – lighter-bodied reds are the way to go. Think pinot noir, younger Rioja Cosecha or Crianza or a Beaujolais. If you’re willing to give it a try, it’s worthwhile chilling these or serving them at cooler temps than you might expect. Champagne or Cava are also great compliments. For my own meal, I’ve picked a young Tempranillo from Arribes del Duero – a really “undiscovered” part of Northern Spain and vintage Cava for the white drinkers in the family.
And would it be something different for duck?
To me, the same rules would apply for reds to pair with turkey and duck, but whites like a nice Riesling or an Italian Gewürztraminer pair really well. Northern Italy, around Trentino, produce some real gems.
What if you’re going for beef or pork?
This is where you can bring out the big guns and go for your much more robust reds. This is where your aged Reserva or Gran Reserva Riojas belong! My other favourites would be Argentine Malbecs or a Ripasso-method Valpolicella, California Zinfandel, Australian Shiraz or your classic Bordeaux-style blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
What would you pair with the all-important Christmas pudding? Something sweet or keep it dry?
I’d stick with sweet, but something with a nice bit of acidity to cut through the richness of not only the pudding, but also the entire Christmas dinner. My favourites would be Hungarian Tokaji Aszú or a Canadian (yes, Canadian) Ice Wine. Also, I’d pick up a bottle of Pedro Ximénez Sherry – drizzled over your pudding or over ice cream – it embodies the taste of Christmas to me.
So you’ve had a big Christmas day, and you have to do it all again on Boxing Day with a new set of friends and family. Is there something light and refreshing you’d recommend?
To start, go back to the sparklings, but this time with a nice cordial of cassis or blackberry. Any food you’re reheating from yesterday can get a little dried out, so for whites, I’d tend to go for something buttery and acidic but with a bit of density to it – Gavi di Gavi is the first thing that springs to mind or a California or South Australian Chardonnay. Again, your lighter-bodied reds would be my rule of thumb for my poultry and the more robust reds for red meat.
If there’s some wine or fizz left over at the end of the night, what’s the best way to keep it fresh for the following day?
A rarity in my house! Best advice is that the less oxygen and warm temperatures it’s exposed to the better; putting it into clean half-bottles or using something like a vacu-vin to remove the air and refrigeration is the best way to go. For sparkling wines, pick up a good-quality stopper; they’re available in most wine shops or on-line. If you think your red wine has started to turn, it’s perfect for turning into mulled wine for Boxing Day and save your white wines for poaching fish in when the New Year’s Resolution dieting begins.
For more information on our Wine Cellars, and how you can store your wines with us at Fulham from as little as £6.50 a week, visit http://www.bigyellow.co.uk/wine