With the festive season just around the corner, now is time to ask yourself essential questions, such as: what should you be serving your guests with smoked salmon, roast turkey and other classic British Christmas classic recipes? Here is our selection of French wines to make your festive tables pop, from classic pairings to more adventurous options. Santé!
Smoked salmon and Loire Valley white wines
First thing first, let’s kick off the celebrations nibbling on deliciously classic smoked salmon toasts - or a slightly more creative Adour kiwi and shrimp tartare.
The Loire Valley region is renowned for its production of Chenin Blanc and Muscadet, but is also the spiritual home of Sauvignon Blanc. This green-skinned white grape variety is one of the most popular in the world. The wines are dry, crisp, mineral and herbaceous - a firm favourite when it comes to smoked salmon pairing.
Look out for the famous Sancerre PDO appellation, located along the left bank of the Loire River, or the fresh and smokier wines from the Pouilly-Fumé PDO appellation. The Touraine appellation is also a good destination for more affordable examples.
Where to find Loire Valley white wines in the UK :
Sancerre: Hubert Brochard Sancerre PDO 2020, Waitrose, £19.99. Find here.
Pouilly-Fumé : Pouilly-Fumé Les Loges Pierre Marchand 2020, Virgin Wines, £16.99. Find here.
Touraine: Marcel Martin, La Perclaire, Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Fine Wines Direct, £11.69. Find here.
Christmas roast and Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages reds
At some point, there will most certainly be a traditional Christmas roast involved, with all the trimmings - unless you try our French exotic take on it, a Guinea fowl with truffle and potato purée flavoured with vanilla.
In any case, you may want to look at the red wines from the Côtes du Rhône Villages PDO appellation, from the Southern part of the Rhône Valley region. Vines have been grown on terraces there since Roman times. 22 official villages make up the appellation area, from Drôme Provençale to the banks of the Durance river in the east, and from the Ardèche to the Pont du Gard in the west. Made mainly from Grenache often blended with Syrah or Mourvèdre, you can expect elegant, generous meat-friendly red wines.
Festive puddings and sparkling Saumur wines
For the fizziest finish, Champagne is an easy call. But this time, we’d rather take you off the beaten track: have you ever tried pairing pudding to a sparkling rosé from the Loire Valley?
If you’re a fan of Champagne, then the Loire Valley’s Saumur Brut should be your go-to appellation. Made using the same traditional method, these wines are an absolute steal, sold at a fraction of the price.
We have our eye on this particular Bouvet Saumur Rosé Brut NV, a gem made from Cabernet Franc. Creamy, fresh and floral, it’s a great match to brighten up your Christmas pudding. It would also easily hold up to a Glacé cherry trifle or a wine poached fruit and spiced brioche trifle if you want to explore other recipes this year.
Bouvet Saumur Rosé Brut NV, Majestic, £12.99. Find here.