Stefan Kobald, the Executive Head Sommelier at The Biltmore Mayfair hotel
Don’t let your Christmas Day be marred by cheap sherry and wine that tastes like bleach.
Instead, heed the advice about what to drink – and when – on the 25th from one of Britain’s top sommeliers, Stefan Kobald, the Executive Head Sommelier at The Biltmore Mayfair hotel and a nominee for sommelier of the year.
Here Stefan outlines a beverage strategy for the entire day. His counsel includes what to drink with mince pies, for the all-important aperitif before lunch, what goes best with turkey and vegan Christmas dinners and the perfect Champagne for the Queen’s speech.
For a Christmas Day hangover
Personally what I like to do to stem the Christmas morning hangover is have a full breakfast with left-overs from the night before and a glass of Champagne, or a Bloody Mary always does the trick.
With mince pies
Stefan recommends a liqueur such as Cointreau to go with mince pies
With mince pies, I would recommend something on the sweeter side such as a lovely Sauternes [a sweet French wine] or maybe a liqueur, such as Cointreau. Alternatively, if you can get hold of some beautiful Amarula Cream Liqueur from South Africa served with some ice, this complements wonderfully.
Krug is a classy option for an aperitif
For an aperitif before lunch
I usually start with some Champagne – something easy-drinking such as Moët Grand Vintage 2012 or Krug Grand Cuvée. Other aperitif options such as eggnog or even a mulled wine to warm up before lunch or dinner is also a great way to start.
With a turkey or goose Christmas dinner
Both red and white work very well with turkey and/or goose, it’s just about picking the right bottle.
For the white wine option, I would suggest something fresh but still containing good body and structure, a white Burgundy or a Californian Chardonnay with minimal oak ageing, for example. Puligny Montrachet Domaine Bernard Moreau 2016 is a fantastic wine and the San Francisco Bay Varner Wines Chardonnay, Foxglove 2016 is also a wonderful option.
For red wines, I wouldn’t recommend anything too heavy as you don’t want to overpower the food. If you feel like splashing out, the St Julien Château Gruaud Larose 2ème Cru Classé 1989 is fabulous.
A Pinot Noir from Burgundy (pictured) goes well with a turkey or goose Christmas dinner
Alternatively, I would suggest something lighter, a Pinot Noir from Burgundy such as the Vosne-Romanée Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot 2015 or a wine from the new world, like Oregon Pinot Noir Cristom Vineyards, M.T Jefferson Cuvée.
With a salmon/fish Christmas dinner
If looking for red wine I would go the same direction as with the turkey, but if going with white I would suggest a stunning Rosé Champagne or rosé wine. Alternatively, you could go for a lighter style of Chardonnay.
With a vegan Christmas dinner
Generally, I would suggest something like a Grüner Veltliner from Austria or something with aromatics like a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire like a Sancerre (for example Alphonse Mellot Cuvée Edmond 2016).
I also love Seedlip Spice 94 and Franklin & Sons ginger beer!
With Christmas dinner pudding
Sauternes all the way, or some German sweet wines. Maximin Grünhäuser Riesling, Auslese, Abtsberg 1999 will be fresh vibrant and a perfect balance of sugar. Or some Tawny Port. The Graham’s 1994 Vintage Tawny is stunning.
For straight after Christmas lunch
Gin and tonic, and to keep in the Christmas spirit use Sacred Christmas Pudding Gin.
With the Queen’s speech
For the celebratory factor, pour a Pol Roger glass of fizz while watching the Queen’s speech
Nightcap? Break out the cognac, says Stefan
A cup of Earl Grey tea, one of Her Majesty’s favourite drinks. Otherwise some Pol Roger Champagne for the celebratory factor.
For a post-Christmas Day walk
If you’re not too hungover after all that, why not visit the local pub and, for a complete change, enjoy a cold beer.
For a Christmas Day nightcap
Cognac – and my favourite is Frapin XO.
Stefan is the Executive Head Sommelier at The Biltmore Mayfair, London, and has been shortlisted for the Imbibe sommelier of the year award.