You know that feeling just after Christmas when you’ve had enough? Enough turkey. More than enough mince pies. Enough stuffing, metaphorically and literally. You – and when I say you, I guess I really mean I – crave crunchy salads, the bracing sourness of citrus and the fresh green lift of herbs such as coriander, mint and aniseedy dill.
Well, there’s a wine equivalent of that, I reckon. After the big hitters of Christmas Day – the lush chardonnays, the high-alcohol, big-shouldered reds – we want crisp whites with a bite and reds with palate-refreshing acidity. We want to forget about the cold weather to come, close our eyes and think of bistros and beach cafes, and of sharing a good bottle of wine over a platter of seafood.
This is when the wines we enjoyed during those happy few summer months when we were not in lockdown come back into play. As do zesty sauvignon blancs from New Zealand, and elsewhere in the southern hemisphere, which are just starting to come through from the 2020 vintage. Rosé, once a summer-only drink, but now, according to the latest Waitrose trends report, a year-round choice, with sales this autumn up 57% on the same period in 2019. Definitely a wine to drink when you don’t know what to drink.
Riesling, too, hits the spot for me, particularly if you’re subjecting the turkey leftovers or a post-Christmas veggie fridge forage to south-east Asian flavours or a spicy, Thai green curry.
And I want my reds bright and brimming with fruit. Beaujolais fits the bill, as does mencia from the north of Spain, but I’m newly taken with vibrant Sicilian reds such as nerello mascalese and frappato.
If you’re still planning a New Year’s Eve feast, it’s definitely time to pull out that bottle you’ve been saving for a special occasion, given that nothing could be more worth celebrating than the end of 2020. If you’re making Rachel Roddy’s deeply savoury pork with juniper and porcini, that could be a mature chianti. And if you need to go out to buy a bottle, Marks & Spencer has the rather festive-looking Poggio Tosco Chianti Riserva 2017 (13.5%) for £12 (also available through Ocado).
Personally, I’m hovering between a smoked fish feast with blinis, lumpfish roe (can’t afford caviar), and frozen vodka or a vacherin mont d’or with new potatoes and either champagne or, more authentically, a Jura savagnin. Even if we can’t get away for the time being, we can make a resolution to travel through wine.
Four wines to make you forget we haven’t even hit January yet
Tukituki Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020 £6 Asda, 12.5%. Made just months ago, but less pungent than many Kiwi sauvignons, with an appealingly soft, citrus and ripe passionfruit character. Ideal for salads with a south-east Asian spin.
Kerpen Blauschiefer Riesling Trocken 2019 £11.90 Tanners, 11.5%. Drier than you’d imagine from the Mosel, though with a beguiling touch of grapeyness. Would go well with the remains of the smoked salmon, or other smoked fish.
Château de Berne Provence Rosé 2019 £9.99 (on offer) Waitrose, 13%. If you’re thinking longingly of languid summer nights, snap up this handsomely bottled Provençal rosé and enjoy it with a spread of meze.
Nostru Nerello Mascalese 2019 £11.95 Jeroboams, £12 Yorkshire Vintners, Ripon, 13.5%. Lively Sicilian red that’s as bright as a dollop of cranberry sauce, so perfect for that turkey sarnie (or brie).