Tannin is the enemy, argues Decanter's Harry Fawkes. Here's his guide to wine with Christmas turkey and all the trimmings. Updated with new wine recommendations.
Wine with Christmas turkey:
It would not be Christmas without turkey. It’s a traditional favourite in the US and the UK since as far back as the 16th century, although it was the Victorians who really cemented its place at the festive lunch table.
Scroll down for wine recommendations
Turkey is not a powerful meat
Turkey is not a powerful white meat and has a low fat content – the reason why it can dry out if not cooked carefully. With this in mind, your wine matches should ideally be either a full-bodied white wine, or a medium bodied red, with low to medium tannin.
Tannin is the enemy
Tannin is your Christmas banquets enemy. It is at odds with the lack of fat on the plate, leaving nothing to soften the tannins. This can lead to accentuated, harsh tannins in a wine, whilst the saltiness of the turkey can also make tannin taste more bitter.
If that wasn’t enough to think about, there is also the complexity of the accompaniments to your lunch; cranberry, bacon, parsnips, stuffing and brussel sprouts to name a few.
Wine with Turkey: The Reds
A medium tannin red, for me, points towards top quality, robust Pinot Noirs or a Beaujolais Cru. Pinot Noir from muscular Burgundy Crus such as Gevrey-Chambertin or Pommard stack up exceptionally well – if you can stretch to the Grand Cru of Chambertin even better. The lighter, elegant Burgundian areas such as Volnay may be overpowered by all those accompaniments, so be careful.
Wine with Turkey: The whites
Sometimes ignored at Christmas lunch, a full-bodied Chardonnay is an enchanting accompaniment to your turkey, especially with traditional sides such as bread sauce. Oaky richness gives sweet spice notes, while creamy lactic acid really helps out with a meat that can sometimes be on the dry side.
Good Chardonnays, in general, are found in the same geographical areas as good Pinot Noir. White Burgundy from the Côte de Beaune will work well at almost all levels; upgrade where you can to something like a Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru or a Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru. The high levels of minerality and acidity in these wines help to cleanse the palate, allowing you to wade through all the trimmings effortlessly.
Other wonderful examples can be found in Victoria, Sonoma and New Zealand. The Kumeu River Chardonnays from near Auckland are extraordinary wines, offer fantastic value for money and impressed us in 2015.
Wine with Christmas turkey : Recommendations
When Louis of Domaine Louis Carillon retired in 2010, the family decided to divide the vineyard holdings, with son François…
Hess use massal selection in the Su’skol vineyard to encourage aromatic complexity from the nine different Chardonnay clones...
Mad Dog sell most of the grapes they produce to premium winemakers in and around the Barossa Valley, which says…
Vines and olives co-exist at Fattoria Casaloste. The organically certified vineyards have produced a really fruity and intense Chianti Classico…