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What to drink on Christmas day from starter to dessert

John Wilson: Sometimes it is more important to match your choices to the occasion rather than the food. These are the wines, beers and spirits I recommend for the big day

As the big day approaches, it is time to make plans. Sometimes it is more important to match your choices to the occasion rather than the food. If you are having a large family gathering and a herd of children, this probably calls for something inexpensive and cheerful. If you are having a more sedate affair, why not push the boat out a little and serve a few really good wines?

A glass of sparkling wine will always get the proceedings started on a festive note. Champagne is great if you can afford it, but there are plenty of other options. Prosecco is popular, but crémant from France, Cava, or New World sparkling wines can offer great value for money.

I would tend to go for a richer white wine such as a chardonnay, viognier, or Chenin Blanc to go with a starter of salmon or prawns, as the same wine will also go with turkey. The Aldi Marsanne (€9.99) would also fit into this category, as would the excellent Domaine Begude Etoile (€19.95, O’Briens). However, lighter wines such as albariño, dry Riesling, or sauvignon blanc will do nicely with your starter. If beer is your preferred drink, try an IPA or lager here, and move on to an ale or cider with the main course. However, the Mescan Saison featured here would cover all foods.

If you are serving turkey, a rich white wine, as mentioned above, will work perfectly. For a red wine, Beaujolais, pinot noir, Rioja, or a soft warming Côtes du Rhône would all do nicely, as would Malbec from Argentina, a Grenache from Spain or Australia, and merlot from Chile. As you can see, most wines go well with turkey! I tend to avoid more tannic reds such as a Bordeaux, although they do go really well with goose, beef and mushroom dishes. Vegetarian gratins go well with the rich white wines mentioned here, and nut roasts are great with either red or white wines.


Christmas is one of the few times of the year that we drink sweet wines after dinner. A small serving of Port or a luscious sweet white wine, served in a decent glass, is a fitting end to the meal. You can then mull over life, Christmas and the year to come, over a glass of fine Irish whiskey.

Sparkling Wines

Tuffeau, 2022, Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature

12% abv, €19.99-21.00

Delightful, fresh, lightly sparkling with crisp, clean apple fruits and a bone dry finish. Great value for money and an ideal aperitif.

From: Baggot Street Wines; 64 Wine; Green Man Wine; Avoca; Fallon & Byrne; Deveney’s; Lilith; Eleven Deli; Ely Maynooth; Neighbourhood Wines; Jus de Vine, Cass & Co.

Veuve Monsigny Champagne No. III Brut

12.5% abv, €21.99

Zesty fresh citrus peel, with clean apple fruits and brioche. Enjoy before and during your Christmas dinner.

From: Aldi

White Wines

Specially Selected Austrian Riesling 2022

12.5% abv, €9.99

Concentrated fresh zippy citrus and green apple fruits with a snappy dry finish. Serve this alongside smoked salmon, prawns, mixed bruschetta, or creamy goat’s cheese.

From: Aldi

Mullineux Kloof Street Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2022, Swartland, South Africa

13% abv, €25.95

A lovely combination of rich creamy pear and nectarine fruits backed up with lively citrus acidity. Enjoy this with your starter as well as turkey or roast root vegetables.

From: Redmonds, D6;; Coopers, Cahir; 64 Wine, Glasthule; Mannings Emporium, Ballylickey; Neighbourhood Wines; Drink Store, D7.

Red Wines

Chateau de Corcelles Fleurie Poncié 2022

13% abv, €16 down from €20. 30

Floral aromas, fresh smooth cherry fruits and a nicely rounded tannin-free finish. A great all-purpose wine to enjoy with a plate of cheese and charcuterie, mushrooms, turkey, goose or beef.

From: 30 Dunnes Stores outlets

Lettre d’Eloïse 2021, Coteaux Bourguignons, Bertrand Ambroise

13% abv, €24.50

Delightful light silky-smooth bright plum and dark cherry fruits. Perfect with turkey, goose, duck or anything with mushrooms.

From:; Drinks Store, D7; The Grain store at Ballymaloe; L’atitude 51, Cork; Martins, D3; The Wine Pair, D8; 64 Wine, Glasthule.

Remelluri Rioja Reserva 2015

14% abv, €38-€40

Refined, elegant, mature Rioja with smooth dark fruits, subtle notes of dried herbs, and fine tannins on the finish. Great with turkey, goose or any red meat.

From:; Green Man, D6W; Martin’s, D3; 64 Wine; Mitchell & Son; MacCurtain Wine Cellar, Cork; Clontarf Wines;; Whelehans; A Taste of Spain, D2.


Mescan Brewery Westport Saison Beer

5.8% abv, €3.40-3.75 for a 330ml bottle

Medium-bodied with zingy hops and a very attractive yeasty note. Great with cold meats, fishy starters and turkey. Good with leftovers too.

From: Widely available from off-licences and

Dessert Wines

Chateau des Arroucats 2021, Sainte-Croix du Mont, Bordeaux

13% abv, €15.95

Barley sugar, honey, beeswax and pineapples. Sweet but with very good balancing acidity. An absolute steal at €15.95.

From: Mitchell & Son, Glasthule, IFSC, Dunboyne.

Warres LBV Port 2010

20% abv, €37

Warming rich sweet plum and blackcurrant fruits with Christmas cake spice. Enjoy with Christmas pudding, blue cheese or by itself.

From: The Wine Centre Kilkenny; Clontarf Wines; Molloys; Terroirs; Martin’s Off-Licence

After Dinner

Writer’s Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey

40% abv, €45-50

A blend of Pot Still and Single Malt, this is a delicious well-priced whiskey with subtle toasted nuts, plenty of ginger spice and smooth apple fruits.

From: Widely available from off-licences nationwide.

Low and No Alcohol

Kinnegar Low Tide, Low Alcohol Pale Ale

1% abv, €2.50-2.75 for a 440ml can

A nicely crafted low alcohol beer with crisp fresh hops and citrus, good body and plenty of flavour.

From: Widely available from or off-licences nationwide.

Hollow Leg Albariño

0.5% abv, €12-14

This has a slight spritz, fresh apple fruits, good mouth-watering acidity and a pleasant dry finish.

From: Dunnes Stores; Cavavin; Molloy’s Liquor Stores;; and independent wine shops.