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The perfect partnership

Christmas is a busy and profitable time, so the last thing you want to do is make a faux paux by not serving (or not stocking) the right wine.

Take Stock asked wine expert Derek Smedley to advise on the best wine to complement your dishes during the festive season.

In the industry since 1961, Derek is a Master of Wine and says choosing the right style for the right occasion over Christmas is paramount and adds to overall pleasure and happiness.

“The golden rule with wine and food is to not overpower either,” says Derek. “They should be a harmonious partnership and it is important to enjoy the flavours from both.”

If you are hosting a corporate party or large dinner, Derek advises the following wines to serve during each course;


Sparkling wine is perfect – but you don’t have to serve Champagne. A Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Northern Italy, Cap Classique from South Africa, or an English sparkling wine are a good choice.


For fish white wine is a must. Sauvignon Blanc is gooseberry crisp and suits the lighter fish whilst the richer melon fleshy Chardonnay complements fish such as salmon.

Main course

Sticking with tradition, even though turkey is one of the richer types of poultry don’t overpower it with a red that is too rich and powerful. Cabernet and Cabernet/ Merlot blends or Pinot Noir suit well. The Pinot Noir from Burgundy is the ideal choice but it tends to be pricey so ones from Chile, South Africa or New Zealand may work better if you want to offer a cheaper option.


To complement Christmas pudding something sweet and white is essential. Sauternes / Barsac from Bordeaux are classics but there are others with the same style that are cheaper such as a Monbazillac.  Alternatively, if your customers would prefer a spicier one to complement the rich flavour of the pudding then one of the richer Muscats would suit.

Cheese board

Port is traditional and never fails. If you want a rich full bodied wine look for a ruby; for a lighter nutty style, opt for a tawny. Surprisingly, dry white wines go well with hard cheeses and sweet white – Sauternes style – with blue cheese

And here are Derek’s suggestions to accompany the recipes in this issue of Take Stock:

Prawn Cocktail

Prawns and the sauce have quite a strong flavour so choose a white with character.

Sauvignon Blanc with its racy crunchy gooseberry and lime freshness stands up well to the crustacean richness, or a Bacchus which has the same lively freshness.

Pork ‘oyster’ baked in duck fat and salt then served with spiced cabbage, plum and hazelnuts

Pork needs a lighter style of red but one with some acidity that can balance the richness. Cabernet Sauvignon based wines have lots of blackcurrant and black cherry richness yet retain an underlying bilberry freshness.

Wild Grouse with sweet chestnuts, alexander and raisins

This wonderful wild bird is full of flavour and needs a powerful wine to ensure that the wine is not overshadowed, so a Syrah / Shiraz goes well.

Roasted chestnut cake, fermented cherries, yoghurt and spiced chocolate ganache

This demands a wine with an equally strong flavour. A rich Muscat would work well.

Apples, cinnamon and nutmeg with caramelised toasted pecans and cranberries with All-butter Shortcrust pastry

Classic whites, either Sémillon or Sauvignon, would suit this nicely.


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