Today’s topical speaker was John Butterwick who came with his “bible” THE QUICK AND EASY GUIDE TO CHOOSING WINE WITH FOOD by Kathryn McWhirter and Charles Metcalfe. Thus armed, he was able to give lots of pointers to choosing the right wines for our Christmas Day Celebrations and only leave us with the daunting task of putting the turkey in the oven at the correct time.
Beginning with champagne, John suggested we keep an eye out for unfamiliar names selling cheaper than the main champagne houses. These are likely to come from smaller producers unable to supply the volumes demanded by major supermarkets. Just check that the label contains the words Champagne plus Grand Cru or Premier Cru and you could be on to a bargain!
His recommendations for good value supermarket champagnes include the Co-op’s Les Pionniers NV, Asda’s Henri Cachet Brut and Waitrose’s Chandon Brut NV . All under £20
Cheaper alternates to the main champagne labels are found in the sparkling wines listed as Cremant These are made using the double fermentation champagne process but with grapes grown in the locality. One example is the popular Cremant de Jura by Aldi.
John moved on to matching wine with Christmas food beginning with smoked salmon for which he suggested a Californian Chardonnay or a Blanc de Blanc or a Chablis Premier Cru
Following up with the turkey main course, John was set on an Australian shiraz named Atkins Farm from the Barossa Valley which should be available at Waitrose. If not a Cabernet Sauvignon from Coonawarra District or maybe some more of the Chablis Premier Cru for those preferring white wine.
Recommendations for the cheese course depend very much on the strength of the cheese. With a Blue Stilton John prefers Tawny Port (Aldi), with Wensleydale a German Riesling, with Brie and Camembert a Chianti Classico or a Spanish Tempranillo.
Finally, with Christmas cake and mince pies, John recommended a 12-year old Pedro Ximenez sweet sherry. And so to bed – but not before a question from the floor to which John was unable to offer any recommendation. “What is the best mattress for postprandial recovery?”
So thanks to John Butterwick’s informative and inspiring talk many of us will be hairing off down Otley Road to find that elusive bottle of Atkins Farm at Waitrose. Not easy – I’ve been there already.
Reported by: RICHARD WRIGHT