Posts Tagged ‘Christmas food and wine’

If you are pondering about  how to surprise your dearest family members during this Christmas I have a tasty tip for you – learn how to multiple the pleasure from a Christmas meal by pairing it with the right wine. A bonus is on its way as well – you can multiply the pleasure and it doesn’t need to cost you a fortune.

Turning Leaf

Turning Leaf winery from California makes lovely wines for affordable prices. The winery’s senior winemaker Stephanie Edge travelled to London to introduce the heavenly combinations of the Turning Leaf’s wines with Christmas delicacies such as roast turkey, goose and of course with a Christmas pudding (for US speakers – a dessert).

During an informal event at The Assembly in the London’s edgy East Ms Edge with her warm attitude encouraged everyone to forget about fear and instead be adventurous and experiment. She said: ‘I know that there are thousands of wines out there, but you’ve got to find the one that fits best to you.’

An intimate setting at The Assembly

And we all found one. After tasting five wines from the Turning Leaf’s range one’s favourite was a creamy Chardonnay, another’s a jammy Zinfandel and Ms Radka’s (me) a juicy Pinot Noir. I really like their Pinot, very different from the Pinots from Burgundy. Nevertheless, it is less complicated for many casual drinkers.One of the reasons might be that the Turning Leaf’s Pinot wasn’t really a 100% Pinot Noir although this fragile grape prevails (77.6%). It was blended with Tempranillo and other lesser known grape varietals in small amounts.

The wine was nice and light as the grape has very thin skin so it is never very bold and heavy. I savoured some cloves, spices, bright red fruits (light black currants, blackberries). This Pinot is ideal for these who are not usually keen on red wine as it is low in tannins – so your mouth won’t be ‘shrunk’ by their astringent effect.

Colourful world of wine and food

FOOD PAIRING: Ms Edge surprised us saying: ‘Christmas roasted turkey would go very well with it.‘ And she explained why: ‘The crisp acid will be nice with the poultry.’

Here we go – red wine and turkey! Forget about the white with fish and poultry and red only with powerful red wine. It is not as straightforward as many ‘shortcut devotees’ would claim.

I would add: ‘As world is not just black and white, the same applies to wine and food.  Pairing them together results in a colourful palette of flavours.’

Turning Leaf wines


But, I have jumped to the main course already, mind my taste buds getting too excited about the Pinot. Every Christmas meal starts with starters (now I know where they got their name from) and I quite agree (more often than not) with the turning Leaf’s winemaker as she said: ‘I think a natural progression of the meal is to start with something lighter and it is the same with wine.’ So our tasting commenced with a light bodied Pinot Grigio. You really don’t want any heavy meal with this wine.

Ms Edge emphasised that: ‘The wine should enhance the taste of the food or the food should enhance the taste of wine.’

FOOD PAIRING: With Pinot Grigio you won’t go wrong if you drink it with a smoked salmon, lighter cheeses like brie, but also with a very salty blue cheese as the Pinot Grigio cuts through the saltines, celery with houmous, salami – it’s quite fatty so it cuts a bit the fat in your mouth. A roasted goose will taste less salty and more delicate with it.

From light bodied we jumped right into an intense Chardonnay. In California perhaps the most popular white grape variety. It was a very interesting wine with primary fruits such as pineapple, peach and apples and with secondary powerful oaky and creamy flavours. It tastes like a butterscotch, apples and cloves. Someone  said: “I don’t’t know what it is but this wine reminds me something that my grandmother does, just I am not sure what it’s.” For me it’s simply a great Christmas wine as it feels wintry.

FOOD PAIRING: Ms Edge said: If you have a creamy food and a creamy wine than the fruit in the wine will be more expressed.’ Therefore, if you want the creamy taste of Chardonnay you don’t eat it with creamy food. An intense Gruyere cheese or pate enhance the fruits in Chardonnay especially the ripe pear and pineapple.

The king of reds

The powerful Cabernet Sauvignon deserves to be called the king. If you know about any other grape which would conquer with a more flair most of the world’s top wine regions, please let me know. The line up of red fruits, vanilla, mocha and chocolate, spice and a hint of oak tells it all. Pairing this wine with food needs to be well-considered. It needs something at least as big as the wine itself.

FOOD PAIRING: roast beef, lamb, duck. The wine cuts through the fat in the meat and enhances the meat or gamey aspect in the duck.

Yoghurt and wine? Our fantasy doesn’t have boundaries

We couldn’t end differently than with a quintessential California grape – the mighty Zinfandel. It has a very dark and intense colour. The body is rich,  jammy, bursts with fruit. The Turning Leaf winemaker added her subjective experience as she said: “It reminds me a blueberry yoghurt”

FOOD PAIRING: Perfect with minced pie, with roast beef, pate, foie gras, dark chocolate. Ms Edge summed it up: “Zin goes well with anything.” confirming that her taste buds have already adapted to a Californian taste. (She grew up in Australia)

As you have been just browsing though my yummy notes you probably spotted it – I had a really lovely evening, just eating all these Christmas delicacies at the end of November transferred me to the atmosphere of December 25. Perhaps, I shall pair festive food with wine all year-long and I will be eternally happy.

NOTE: All of the wines from Turning Leaf are blends, however, the US guidelines allow the presence other grape varietals in a wine in which one dominates to be called by the name of the prevailing grape.

Oh, and in the Czech Republic we don’t say that we are “pairing” wine with food but we are “engaging” wine with food – what an intense relationship!


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