So, you’ve created beautiful pairings with your starters and main course for the Christmas Day meal. Now you have the dilemma of what to pair with the Christmas pudding.
The accepted wisdom is that you pair sweet foods with even sweeter wines. But what do you do when the sweet treat, i.e. Christmas pudding, is already incredibly sweet and rich. Do you pair it with something even sweeter and risk overwhelming your palate with all that richness and sweetness? Or, alternatively, do you pair it with something lighter, to refresh your palate at the end of the meal?
Of course, it also depends on how rich your figgy pudding is and whether you are dousing it with brandy butter. Let’s have a look at some of the options.
Rich with rich
One option is to match the rich, dried fruit and nut flavours of your pudding with something equally rich and sweet. In this case, perfect matches could be a sweet Oloroso, whose dark figgy flavours mirror those of the pud or an Aussie sticky like Rutherglen Muscat, which will definitely be at least as sweet! Alternatively a 10 or 20-year-old Tawny Port, whose rich nutty yet also fruity flavours also benefit from some citrus and apricot lift along with higher, more refreshing acidity. If you are slathering your pud with brandy butter, then this is perhaps the best option for you, as these fortified wines can stand up to all the alcohol already on your plate. Serve your Tawny chilled, like they do in Portugal.
Classic noble sweet wines
Special occasions like Christmas also call for special wines. So, why not choose one of Europe’s famous noble sweet wines, such as a Tokaji Aszú from Hungary or a Quart de Chaume from the Loire Valley. The crisp, zesty acidity of the Furmint and the Chenin Blanc balance out the wines’ luscious sweetness and also that of the pud, while their complex citrus and tropical fruit character combined with dried and candied fruit, apricot and honey and spice will reflect the candied and dried fruit in your Christmas pudding. Or maybe try a New World take on these classics, such as a noble late harvest Chenin Blanc from South Africa. These wines are also the ideal match for blue cheese, so they’ll pair nicely with the Stilton too.
Aromatic and floral
Another way to add some lift to your pudding is to pair it with a delightfully aromatic Muscat, such as a Spanish Moscatel from Alicante or Jerez or maybe even a more unusual pale pink, Red Muskadel from South Africa, whose cranberry, mulberry and strawberry jam flavours as well as its Muscat spice will add a rosy glow to the end of your Christmas meal.
The refreshing option
Alternatively, something lighter and fresher, such as a slightly fizzy Prosecco or Cap Classique, could help refresh your palate at the end of a long, rich meal. And, of course, bubbles are always welcome in the festive season!