Why Isn't It Christmas Yet...?

It was a complicated set of domestic circumstances which meant that I was out walking the dog this morning whilst it was still dark.  I plugged in my ipod but in the early morning gloom selected the wrong playlist and before I had made it as far as the street outside I had Michael Bublé telling me that “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas”.  Actually, it wasn’t.  I decided to go with the flow but not even Noddy Holder shouting at me made me feel remotely festive.  In a way I’m not surprised by this because it’s only mid November.  The Halloween pumpkins have only made it as far as the brown bin and there are still dead fireworks in the streets.

News reports tell us that Christmas starts earlier every year, sometime in August apparently so surely it’s OK to feel vaguely Christmassy in November? We tasted the candidates for our Christmas Mixed Case Offers back in September though as is always the case other lines have emerged since then which have equally grabbed our enthusiasm; suddenly there’s too much to choose from!

As I continued my walk the opening bars of Mistletoe and Wine by Sir Cliff set me thinking which various food and wine pairings might work well based on our current selection.  I skipped forward to the next song… Ker-ching! There was Roy Wood wishing it could be Christmas every day.  Now that’s a horrid thought, after all, if it really was Christmas every day you’d be mighty tired of turkey pretty quickly.  Turkey either means light red or full-ish white.  Red or white Burgundy maybe?  BourgogneHautes Cotes de Beaune Rouge perhaps, or Francois Lumpp’s Givry which is something we always seem to suggest, but it is so good and something we don’t think we will ever tire of!  Les Volets Chardonnaymight be a good option at a more modest level, or what about those fantastic Grand Cru wines from Cave de Turckheim in Alsace (all nicely reduced incidentally).  Pinot Gris with smoked salmon, maybe even the turkey? Riesling with a posh fish dish of some sort, and Gewurztraminer with some wonderfully gooey cheeses.

For years we only had one CD of Christmas music in our house and the first song on it (played as the word “aperitif” drifted across the kitchen) is Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas” so as the shuffle feature on my playlist selected this track I immediately thought of Sherry (as you do…) and a good one too.  This year have we unearthed that most rare creature, a dry amontillado that doesn’t cost a fortune.  Delgado Zuleta are based in Sanlucar de Barrameda so their amontillado comes from Manzanilla base wine making it lighter and nuttier than most.  When there’s a bottle in our house it lives in the fridge… but not for long!

Next up was Wham! singing “Last Christmas” and I remembered that somewhere amongst my music collection was a version of this labelled as the “pudding mix” (child of the eighties? Who? Me?) which set off thoughts of Christmas pud, cake and mince pies.  Ah! Several options here then, Campbells’ RutherglenMuscat, Lopez Hermanos’ Pedro Ximenez or even the plum infused sake ShiraumeUmeshu from Akashi-Tai in Japan(you could keep all of these in the fridge too if you like).  If, like JH, you believe that Christmas pudding is an invention of Beelzebub and that a lighter dessert is the order of the day you’ll need to refer to this previous blog article for ideas on dessert wines and the sort of things they work best with.

Abba’s Happy New Year set me thinking of fizz.  Prosecco perhaps? Decent Cava? Even modest Champagne if you think it will be appreciated (Rasselet would be perfect – better than the big names and cheaper too)! How about the English equivalent of Champagnefrom Furleigh Estate in Dorset, or even a Sparkling Shiraz from down under?

It’s odd how these thought processes work, music can be very emotive, and as Mud began to sing “Lonely This Christmas” I looked forward to a Christmas with the family, but it did make me wonder, “OK, if it was just me, what would I eat and what would I drink?”.  Beef, I decided.  That would mean a big red of some description.  Domaine de la Mordoree’s “La Remise” perhaps (while we still have some left – we were only allowed to buy 6 cases).  If that’s all gone maybe the Pablo Y Walter Malbec?  If I fancied a “spoiler” it would have to be Coyam which probably is nearly too good to be shared with all but the most appreciative of friends anyway!

I’ve always been surprised that the Beach Boys made a Christmas song.  It seems wrong somehow for them to be singing about “Little Saint Nick” with those harmonies so evocative of summer.  Ah yes, summer, I remember that; my favourite season.  I love summer, it means rosé and Test Match Special, but then we reckon Boxing Day means rosé too with a turkey, stuffing and cold bread sauce sandwich and what could be better with that than a glass of cold pink!  Chateau Montaud from Provenceperhaps, or if you fancy something bigger try Mediodia from Navarra or the Santa Digna Rose from Chile?

If summer is my favourite season winter probably comes second.  I like spring too as the days lengthen and nature wakes up, but winter is lovely as long as you haven’t got to go anywhere.  It seems to me that those short midwinter days (cue Jethro Tull singing “Ring Out Solstice Bells”) provide the perfect excuse for what are known in our house as “Drawbridge Days” namely the opportunity to shut the door, light the fire and open something rich and warming.  Garnacha del Fuego would be perfect – it even has a fire on the label!

By the time I was approaching home, I still wasn’t feeling particularly festive (though Steeleye Span’s splendid version of “Gaudete” came closest) and I concluded that really only a high volume playing of John Taverner’s “The Lamb” would do the trick and I really didn’t feel up to that yet, though the word “lamb” set me thinking…  Guelbenzu Azul…?  I could go on…

Too many wine merchants simply slap the tasting note “Great with turkey” on wines that they want to shift at around Christmastime, though I hope my random thoughts from this morning demonstrate that we really do love thinking up great wine and food combinations (even on a pre-breakfast dog walk).  In fact, we can’t help it!  So whatever you’re planning for your table this festive season we would love the opportunity to suggest something suitable from our range for you to drink.  Any budget, any taste, you only have to ask.  You might even get me feeling vaguely festive….eventually.

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