Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, a time to spend with loved ones and plenty of great taste and great times. With the festive season just around the corner we took some time out of prepping for the festive season to talk all things Christmas jumpers, pigs in blankets, and most importantly the perfect food & wine pairings. Check out the team's recommendations.
Festive Memory: I went through a real scrooge stage at the end of my teens before I started working in hospitality and even though it’s incredibly busy it’s always my favourite time of year to be working, there’s always just such a buzz in the air, everyone is merry and the teams are excited. At home we’ve never been a big family so it’s always been a lowkey affair, albeit filled to the brim with good food (an insane quantity of pigs in blankets for 5 people) and a few drinks. A recent favourite memory was from a couple of years back, it was a strange time in the world and myself and my partner had Christmas just the two of us at home, we splashed out for the ultimate cheeseboard from our friends at Chorlton Cheesemongers, Comte, Baron Bigod Brie, Sparkenhoe Red Leicester to name a few! We had a wonderful Puligny Montrachet and Rioja Reserva, perfect.
Michael Recommends: Glorioso Rioja Reserva
Festive Memory: For me, the festive season is all about winding down and spending time with loved ones. I have a big, blended family - there are 15 of us in total for Christmas dinner including parents, siblings, nieces, nephews and my puggle Jessie – who is never far from the turkey.
Every year is special, predictable yet heartwarming - a cosy Christmas jumper will make an appearance, as well as a festive playlist, some classic games (Scrabble and the After 8 chocolate challenge are two of my favourites), and I’ll celebrate with a glass (or two) of bubbly. Traditionally, it’s been Bollinger or Charles Heidsieck but this year I’m going teetotal and will be opting for the Vallformosa Sparkling Zero – perfect for a guilt-free morning mimosa.
Meg recommends: Vallformosa Sparkling 0%
Festive Memory: I’ll be cheeky and mention two and you’ll understand why. My first one will take me back around 10-15 years ago when I was spending Christmas at home in France with my family. Of course it involves splendid food from my mum and plenty of average, forgettable wine. But my favourite part was the amuse bouche when people arrived, my mum always make pastis-flambee gambas wrapped in smoked pancetta. It’s a dangerous one because it’s so finger-licking moreish you’re at risk of being full before the main meal. But it’s also an excellent food to good with a good Champagne or Cremant and we’d tackle that nicely before setting at the table. The presents freshly opened, the music on, the family jolly with Christmas spirit and eager to forget about their worries at least for a few hours before the inevitable heated arguments surface around the cheese course. It was my favourite moment of Christmas day.
My more recent Christmas memory (though 6 years old now) is when my first son was only just over a month old, my wife and I were of course shattered but we shared a nice bottle of English Sparkling on Christmas Eve and our glasses made a delightful clink sound which made Seb laugh so hard we basically spent our evening cheering with our glasses. The gift that kept on giving on Christmas eve. We watch that little video pretty much every year now.
Nic recommends: Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2018
Festive Memory: Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love Christmas. Not just the actual day, the full month running up to the day and all the festivities that come with it. From the moment bonfire night is done it is full on Christmas vibes in the Bannon household. I love the cold winter nights, the twinkling of the lights on the Christmas tree and the smell of the mulled wine I treat myself to more often than I should.
I have always made the trip down the M6, back to my family home on Christmas Eve with a car jam-packed full of presents, cheese, wine anddriving home for Christmas blasting on the radio. As the years go by this is more and more challenging trying to fit my husband, two kids, the dog and all the presents into my little C3.
On Christmas morning we always start the day with a glass of bucks fizz, which is acceptable as breakfast right? And then we move on to a good bottle of fizz, this used to always be Champagne but more recently I have been enjoying the more locally sourced Gusbourne Brut.
We have moved away from the traditional 3-course style dinner and now have a more relaxed buffet to allow us to graze throughout the day while all crammed around the farmhouse table and I am known for bringing an array of wines for everyone to try. I always take a showstopper red and this year it will be the stunning Bardos Ribera del Duero Suprema.
Charlotte recommends: Bardos Ribera del Duero Suprema 2020
Festive Memory: Growing up one of three boys in a Stockport terrace, Christmas was notable as the one-time of the year that there was alcohol in the house. My parents were not really drinkers, but at Christmas they'd cater for the guests. The one remaining grandparent on each side of the family would come visit and Grandad Cliff and Grandma Sally both liked a drop of Port or sweet sherry. I remember my Dad and my Uncle John giving me my first taste of lager aged about 11 and being very disappointed by the rasping bitterness of the fizzy liquid that hit my lips. The turkey Christmas dinner was always served as close to 12 noon as possible and eaten off laps while sat on the sofa or on the extra chairs squeezed into our living room. There was no fuss made about what to drink with it. You had whatever you happened to have in your glass at the moment it came out.
After the food had settled it was time for games. My mum would usually try to pick up something novel, like one year it was a crepe paper surprise ball, another year it was skittles. I remember one time, Grandma and Grandad smiling and giggling, a few glasses of port in, while they had a giant keyboard unrolled over their knees and they were trying to play chopsticks on it.
Over time it seemed my Dad picked up a taste for port too and as I got older, it became an easy choice for what to get him for Christmas. He tried Ruby Ports and Tawnys, but never white port. He once had a bottle of Taylors Quinta de Vargellas Vintage port that had a crumbly cork, and he was going to throw it away until I filtered it through an empty tea bag to try and save it.
The style he always came back to though was Late Bottled Vintage, and particularly the Niepoort LBV. He'd enjoy it with chocolate desserts, just as easily as a slice of Cheddar but most of the time he simply enjoy it with us.
David recommends: Niepoort, LBV Port 2018
Festive Memory:Christmas will always be one of my favourite times of the year. Even coming from a very small family my mum and I would always go all out when it came to Christmas. The drink that always makes me think of Christmas for as long as I can remember is Port. I would leave a Brandy and Port out for Santa on Christmas Eve. As I grew up that tradition changed intodrinking Port on Christmas Eve, watching the Christmas carol service, and singing along (terribly I might add). As my love for wine over the years grew so did my appreciation for port.The Niepoort Senior Tawny Port will always be my go to for the Christmas period as it is just so warming and festive. It will always be part of my Christmas and it makes the perfect pairing with a cheese board, which as anyone who knows me will tell you, is my favourite part of Christmas Day.
For more gifting ideas check out our Christmas shop here.