Best White Wines for a White Christmas
Christmas is just around the corner. Once again, it’s that time of the year when families and friends gather to bask in the warmth of each other’s company. With the big day fast approaching, are you really and truly holiday-ready? While you may have eggnog and other great holiday dishes lined up, have you given some thoughts to your choice of wine?
This year, make the Yuletide season extra-memorable by ditching your usual red vinos in favor of lovely and fruit-forward whites. Join us here at Singapore Wine Vault as we celebrate a gloriously White Christmas. To make it easier for you to plan your holiday dinner, we’ve come up with a list of wines that will tickle your taste buds as you dive into your traditional Christmas meal.
Hors d’oeuvres, Oysters, and Canapes
Champagne isn’t exactly white wine, but if you want everybody to get into the festive holiday spirit, this is the one you need. It’s the ultimate celebratory drink, and one that’s sure to impress or enliven even the dourest of relatives. Serve this effervescent tipple with a delectable spread of hors d’oeuvres and appetizers. Bring out a platter of grilled oysters, caviar, fig and bleu cheese savories, ham croquettes, and creamy sausage-stuffed mushrooms, and you have a holiday-win on your hands.
Now, if you’re planning on saving the Champagne for New Year’s Eve, then go for a crisp, dry, and moderately acidic Pinot Grigio. The zippy nature of this drink will help enrich the flavors of a scrumptious seafood cocktail. Its robustly acidic spine can also help prep the drinker’s palate for the next course.
Value Buys: Tesco’s Louis Delaunay Champagne (US$13) and Aldi’s Veuve Monsigny Champagne (US$15).
Pairing white wine with a cheese platter is harder than most folks think. Like vino, cheese comes in a myriad of styles. From dry to creamy, subtle to sharp, salty to tangy—there’s a wealth of flavors to consider before you can decide on which wine to serve.
The good news is that creamy and subtly flavored cheese, like Camembert, goes splendidly well with Champagne. You can simply continue serving bubbly to your guests when they get to the table. However, if your cheese platter consists of salty varieties like Stilton, Roquefort, and Cambozola, pop open a bottle of Gewürztraminer.
Salad and Seafood Starters
If you’re starting the first course with a serving of salad and seafood dishes, then it’s time to break out the Sauvignon Blanc. It goes incredibly well with seared scallops, wild rocket and parmesan salad, gazpacho, or prawns with mango and chili salsa. This wine cellar favorite is refreshing and verdant enough to take on the flavorful nuances of most entrées. The Sauvignon’s citrusy notes and grassy undertones will bring out the freshness of each carefully prepared dish.
Not particularly keen on the zesty Sauvignon? Then consider going for a dry but citrus-loaded Chablis. Its notes of green apple, lemon, and wet stone minerality will help draw out the underlying sweetness and acidity of a nice seafood spread.
Value Buys: The Co-operative Truly Irresistible Leyda Valley Sauvignon Blanc (under US$15) and the Iona Sauvignon Blanc (under US$15).
Stuffed Turkey with Trimmings
Turkey is a pretty wine-friendly food. On its own, it can go with a variety of wines. However, it’s a totally different story when you’re having a Christmas turkey with herb-loaded stuffing, piquant sides, calorific sauces, and roasted veggies. You’ll want a vino that can stand toe-to-toe with the savory elements of this rich dish. After sampling an array of whites, we found three primary varietals that go spectacularly well with Christmas turkey—regardless of stuffing and sides.
First up, we have Sauvignon Blanc. This herbaceous wine is a pro at highlighting the herbal undertones of the dish. Next, we have oaked Chardonnay. With its ripe fruit flavors and incredibly creamy texture, this wine will go swimmingly well with the rich and sweet flavors of the dish’s sauce. And lastly, we have the soft and stone fruit-driven Voignier. Its juicy apricot and peach notes can do wonders in balancing out the more piquant elements of the turkey.
Value Buys: Paul Cluver Chardonnay (US$15-S20) and Hay Shed Hill Chardonnay (US$10-$15 ex-tax).
Whether we’re talking baked or honey-glazed, smoked or dry-cured, Christmas hams fare spectacularly well when paired with a sweeter white wine. Alsatian or German Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Chenin Blanc are all excellent partners to this dish. Despite their differing flavor profiles, these food-friendly vinos are all experts at showcasing the sweet and salty marriage of the ham’s flavors.
If you’re a fan of the versatile Riesling, we have a couple of recommendations. First, when picking German Riesling, go for one that comes with a bit of residual sugar but plenty of zippy acidity. As for Alsatian Riesling, go for a bolder and richer varietal.
Value Buys: Stepp Riesling *S* Kallstadter Saumagen (offered by Marks & Spencer in half-cases at just over US$15 per bottle), and Rolly Gassmann Riesling (US$21 ex-tax).
Roasted Goose or Duck
In choosing wines for roasted goose or duck, you’ll need to take the waterfowl’s strong flavors and fatty profile into consideration. Compared to duck, roasted goose is a little easier to pair with white wine. Why? Well, the bird is usually stuffed with traditional components like plums, apples, ginger, and dried fruit. So you can go the classic route with Riesling and Gewürztraminer. Alsace and German Rieslings are great at incorporating some sweetness to the dish. While an intense New Zealand Gewürztraminer can soften the piquancy of a mildly spicy stuffing.
Now for the challenging part. Roasted duck is usually paired with heavier reds like Tempranillo, Zinfandel, and Red Burgundy. But you can still match the dish with a fruit-forward white so long as you’re using fruit-based sauce. The best whites for roasted duck include Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Alsace Pinot Gris, Auslese, Beerenauslese, and Sauternes.
Value Buys: F E Trimbauch Gewürztraminer (under US$20) and a 2012 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris (US$25 ex-tax).
Many wine drinkers would argue that a good dessert wine, is a good enough dessert. But since Christmas is the time for overindulgence, why not have the best of both worlds? Whether you’re having Christmas pudding or treacle tart, moist chocolate cake or baked Alaskan yule log—‘tis the season to enjoy your favorite treat with an equally delightful sweet wine.
Serve dessert with a gorgeous Canadian Ice Wine, Moscato, Botrytis Semillon, or Late Harvest Riesling. Oozing with ripe fruit flavors, these wines will satisfy the biggest of sweet tooths.
Value Buys: Saracco Moscato d’Asti (US$16), Inniskillin Vidal Icewine (US$50-$90), Hogue Cellar’s Late Harvest White Riesling (US$10), and De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon (as low as US$30 for certain vintages).