Christmas is a time for family and friends to get together to eat, drink and be merry – not to take tasting notes on the wines drunk.

And imbued with the spirit of Christmas as one might be, some of the best stuff you tot out might not be universally appreciated by one’s guests. Nevertheless you need to put on a reasonable show and importantly, it is polite etiquette to consume any bottles brought around by family and friends together.

So – here we go with our festive grub

Christmas Eve: Sonia found some white asparagus in North End Road market and she made a remarkable velouté with some little pieces of chicken breast and white asparagus tips, melted cheddar and a fair dose of pepper (a bit too much for my grandson) but it was absolutely delicious. I had nipped out to our local Tesco and brought back a couple of bottles of Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – not too grassy and it went well with the asparagus soup – and – at £6.50 a bottle an excellent rapport qualité/prix! This was followed by my grandson’s absolute favourite dish – lasagne!!! He had actually helped Sonia to make it in the kitchen and as it turned out, he has a real dab hand for making the béchamel! Well, we had to have something Italian with the lasagne, of course – it was a lovely lasagne, which my grandson voted number two in his all time tasting experience only just behind the one his Mum once made. (both of these have now usurped the lasagne at Trattoria Mario in Genoa, but that’s another story!). What better, then, to accompany this masterpiece than a bottle of La Spinetta Barbaresco Gallina 2001 and a chance for me to show off my Barolo decanter. It certainly didn’t disappoint. Cheese came next and the Stilton was substantially demolished with a bottle of Graham’s 10 year old Tawny. We all passed on dessert which meant that grandson’s second favourite dish – tiramisu – had to be forgone for another day. After putting grandson and the dog to bed, we relaxed with a glass of 10 year old Laphroag to see the evening out.

Christmas Day: Up fairly early to start preparing the Christmas day lunch. It’s going to be guinea fowl for the main course with broccoli and a mixture of wild rice and spelt. (Sonia hates sprouts, turkey and chipolata sausage and potatoes are fattening). I didn’t mind – I have had my fair share of Christmas dinners over the last two months, with the turkey breast tasting like blotting paper and the sprouts cooked to disintegration. I do miss the roast potatoes though! Our aperitif was a bottle of Charles Montaine Champagne from Dizy, it’s somebody’s sou-marque, but I don’t know whose. Still, at £10 a bottle from Iceland, it was quite acceptable. We started off the meal with the same velouté, though, but a little less peppery this time and the Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc served its purpose again. The guinea fowl was succulent – no sauce – just au jus (as they say in America) and for this I chose a bottle of Stonestreet Legacy 1986 – still gong strong, rich and opulent and a chance to use the Claret jug this time for this Alexander Valley Meritage of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. We finished off the wine with a little bit of cheese and then tucked in to a portion (or two) of Sonia’s famous Christmas Pudding Glacé ( the recipe of which can be found on our website) with some Ch. Rabaud Promis 2003 (mellowing nicely but with great balance between sweetness and acidity).

Boxing Day: With more invitees coming round for dinner, we thought it best to skip lunch and have a “f’lenglish” breakfast of bacon, sausage eggs etc. One of our guests brought along a bottle of Charles Heidsiek’s Blue Top Brut which was gratefully demolished but not being enough to go round for all of us, the next glass was back to the Champagne we bought at Iceland – and, yes, you could taste the difference. Sonia used up the last of the white asparagus with a warm terrine of smoked salmon – a dish she invented back in the ‘seventies and now copied by many. Another of our guests had brought along a bottle of Julicher Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 which we had with the terrine – definitely a step up on the Villa Maria but we reckon so was the price. By special request, lasagne was the dish of the day again and here, yet another of our guests came up with a bottle of Le XV du Président 2014 Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes, mainly Grenache Noir which did an excellent job with the lasagne. Sonia’s cooked strawberries with banana cake muffins was a light ending to the meal which we finished off with some of the underrated Ch. Lamothe-Guignard 2003. But we couldn’t resist the tiramisu, either!

So – everybody has gone now. Sonia and I are looking forward to our last fling tonight of a couple of roast partridges before it’s mega diet time – at least until New Year’s Eve! What to drink? Ch. Cinc Hilhs 2010 Bordeaux Supérieur from our eldest daughter’s vineyard near Saint-Macaire is in terrific nick at the moment, she couldn’t be with us this Christmas but it’s a good excuse to drink to her. Perhaps, that’s what Christmas is all about.


Please let us know how you got on this Christmas.

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