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Wines Pairings for Christmas from Berry Bros. & Rudd:
What do you do when you are working out what wines to buy for Christmas? It’s a time of year when you really want something a little bit special – and yet, there is such a range of food to think about, it can be hard to know where to start. Berry Bros. & Rudd have an ever-evolving list of new wines under their own label including their own Prosecco, which we’ve been trying just in time for Christmas. We are quite convinced you’ll find all the wines you need for Christmas right here. A Provence rose, a Brut Prosecco and a delicious Rioja, Torre Demontalbo 2015. Best of all, when a wine merchant is this renowned for its excellent selection of wines, you know that anything carrying their name is almost certain to be good.
The Provence Rose
On a beautiful summer’s day, there is something rather lovely about sipping a chilled rose whilst eating al fresco. Those days have definitely finished and we’re firmly into autumn. I wanted to reflect the season in the food that I choose to accompany the wine. Leaning a little to the retro, I decided that an apple, walnut, and toasted goat’s cheese salad with a Balsamic vinaigrette would make for a rather nice lunch. This was very simple and quick to assemble.
The Berry Bros. and Rudd rosé has been specially blended by Château la Mascaronne, situated in the beautiful rolling hills of the Côtes de Provence. On the nose we smelt lemon verbena and a little spice, plus wild strawberries and redcurrants. The crispness of acidity and salinity on the palate made this wine very vibrant and bright. We thought that the hint of spice went really nicely with the woody walnuts on the salad, whilst the crispness of the wine cut through the creamy goat’s cheese. A smaller portion of this could make a really nice starter for Christmas dinner, or a nice change from meat on Boxing Day.
A contrast between crisp and creamy ingredients makes for a delightful autumnal salad.
- 1/2 Head Lettuce
- 1 Apple Thinly sliced
- 1/2 Red onion Thinly sliced
- 1 Handful Walnut pieces Toasted
- 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tsbp Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Tsbp Dijon mustard
- 2 Tsp Runny honey
- 1 slice Chevre
- 2 slice Ciabatta Toasted
Combine the lettuce, onion and apple in a bowl.
Combine the Vinaigrette ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously (or whisk in a bowl)
Dress the salad
Cut the Chevre to fit the toasted ciabatta.
Place slices of the Chevre onto the toasted ciabatta and put under a hot grill until it has a little colour. This will take about 2-3 minutes.
Split the salad between 2 plates, top with the grilled goats cheese on toast. Sprinkle the toasted walnuts on top.
The second bottle we tried was a Prosecco made for Berry Bros. & Rudd by Paolo Trevisiol and his two sons in the heart of the Valdobbiadene cru. I wasn’t especially looking forward to this, as I find many Proseccos too sweet for my palate. This, however, was a cut above most. It was drier and had oodles of fresh, full and fruity flavour. On the nose, we both picked up green apples and plums. When I was thinking what to pair it with I decided to go for a dish that would give a nod towards Autumnal flavours from northern Italy. I used a recipe from Bryn Williams as my inspiration, but made a few changes partly to make it quicker, and partly as my supermarket didn’t have all the ingredients! If you left out the ricotta and used coconut oil instead of butter this recipe could easily be adapted for vegans, and it’s gluten-free.
A rustic dish which evokes autumn perfectly
- 1/2 Packet Polenta Valsugana If you aren't hungry, a 1/4 would be fine
- 3 Cups Boiling water
- 100 grams Ricotta Mascapone would also work
- 1 Sprig Fresh Thyme
- 30 grams Butter
- 1 Onion Finely chopped
- 250 grams Wild mushrooms (I used seasonal British) Cleaned, not washed
- 20 grams Tarragon
- 6 Chard leaves Washed
- 50 ml Rapeseed oil
- 100 ml Water
Add the boiling water to the polenta in bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Whisk. Leave to stand for 8 minutes
Stir in the Ricotta and thyme leaves, and season
Slice some of the bigger mushrooms so that they cook at the same rate.
Heat the butter in a pan, and fry the onion until soft, then add the mushrooms, tarragon and seasoning.
Add the rapeseed oil to a frying pan with the water, bring to the boil. Season and add the chard leaves. Cook for 2 minutes. (In retrospect I would have chopped up the stalks and cooked these for 5 minutes before adding the leaves)
Place a large spoonful of the polenta into the centre of the plate. Lay the chard next to it, then top with the mushroom and tarragon mix.
This worked beautifully with the Prosecco which complemented the creamy polenta and the woody mushrooms much better than I could have anticipated. The fine mousse lifted the earthy tones of the dish and cut through the creamy ricotta in the polenta.
The Red (review from Fiona)
Finally, a delicious, rounded Rioja, 2015 vintage. It’s soft and full of blackberry notes. A beautifully rounded wine with a long finish, this is the kind of wine that pairs perfectly with game dishes.
I’ve been trying mine with a venison steak very much as a prelude to what I am planning for Christmas Day (roast loin of venison). I think it would work perfectly well with turkey too though. And the concentrated fruity notes mean that it will not be overwhelmed by traditional Christmas recipes, like spiced red cabbage. Venison, for me, is one of the most underused meats in the country. It’s much healthier than beef – lower in cholesterol and calories and generally no more expensive. But for me, it has a more complex flavour profile and there’s something quite celebratory about venison with winter vegetables and a simple sauce made from the cooking juices.
Since I’m saving writing the recipe for when I have the venison loin I’m planning to use at Christmas, I’m leaving you with this turkey alternative if you are cooking for one or two this Christmas, or simply don’t like having lots of turkey leftovers.
You can order Berry Bros. & Rudd Wines from their own website or from their shop in central London:
63 Pall Mall
They deliver throughout the UK. You’ll find their current own selection recommendations here