Christmas is just around the corner, which means the time to celebrate has come! And whether you're planning on attending a party or having a quiet dinner with your loved ones at home, there's absolutely no excuse for skipping what I consider is the most important part of a great dinner: wine.
I know it can be hard to choose a wine, especially when you're a beginner. I remember I panicked the first time my mum asked me to choose it. But I've been improving ever since! If you ever want to become a real wine expert, I'm pretty sure you'll just have to practice –and probably also make a few mistakes. Just as my granny says: Practice makes perfect!
However, if you haven't still chosen your perfect wine for Christmas Eve, I guess this post might help you! So continue reading...
The first thing you need to keep in mind is what you're having for dinner. People tend to believe that white wines go with "white" meals, such as fish or chicken, while red wines go with "red" meals, such as meat. However, what's really important is the taste of the wine. What you need to pair is a strong wine with a strong taste in your meal, and a soft wine with a lighter-tasted meal. It doesn't necessarily need to be white or red. I've made this chart to help you find out which wines are stronger or lighter (according to the shades of colour in them):
Another very important aspect of wine-choosing is the precedence of the wine: i.e. where it's produced. Most people prefer "Old World" wines, made in Europe, basically because they've been making them for centuries there. However, the "New World" (South America, Oceania, South Africa) is making new wines and probably improving their quality. This chart shows which types of wine are the specialty of the different countries:
If you're doubting whether to choose and old world variety versus a new one, I'd recommend you get the old world one. I know we should experiment, but for a special occasion, the European wine might be a better choice if you haven't tried the new world one you intend to buy.
Some people tend to believe ageing wines is the most important part. But producers don't sell their wines before they're ready to consume. Usually, red wines will taste better with a couple of years of ageing, while white wines are ready to consume when you buy them. Be careful, however, not to let them over-age, because this will damage the quality of your wine.
You will usually find the varietal (type of wine), region of precedence and vintage on the label. You should also look for the word Reserve on it.
To serve your wine, make sure it's at the right temperature. This will make it taste better. White wines should be served at 5–9ºC and red wine at 12–18ºC. To reach these temperatures, you can take them to the freezer, and take them out before serving, to let them reach their ideal temperature. You should also let them breathe for a couple of minutes before serving, to give the wine a more intense flavour. The type of glass you use for your wine can also help intensify the flavour of a specific wine. You can see this page to find out more information on that.
Finally, remember the price is not the most important part of a wine. There are some very expensive wines out there that aren't that good, while there are some cheaper ones with a great taste. So you'll definitely find the perfect wine to adjust your tastes, your dinner choices, and your budget!