Parents think about how they can accommodate the whole family in one room.
Children check (expensive) flights for the journey home.
Couples buy beautiful gifts for each other.
Friends decide which of them will host the meal (and the party afterwards).
Ah, the Christmas season!
I may sound a little cold-hearted now, but let me say this:
When I think of Christmas, I think of food and wine.
A lot of food!
I am a child of the eighties. Something that perfectly represents my idea of Christmas is called Panettone Gastronomico. It's a tribute to opulence, eighties-style opulence.
Imagine a savoury panettone. A soft bread in the shape and size of a panettone.
Now slice it horizontally and fill the different layers with hearty naughtiness....
Mayo and shrimp? Very good!
Salami? A classic!
Grilled vegetables? Something healthy!
And so on, for, say, between six and eight shifts.
Then take a very sharp knife and cut it, this time vertically, to make small triangles. Small sandwiches.
The concept of Panettone Gastronomico sounds a bit bacon-y, but it's a lot of fun and a dish with a sense of family. Discussion about the fillings, hands trying to get a piece, laughter at unsuccessful cuts. It's a communal thing. It's meant to be shared.
Sorry, I got a little carried away... Let's talk about wine.
I can't count how many times wine has saved my life at family dinners.
Family dinners that amounted to a seated marathon at the dining table.
Sometimes pouring a glass was an excuse to get closer to a family member you hadn't seen for a long time.
Sometimes it was a nice distraction from boring topics.
At the end of the dinner, the wine was certainly one of the reasons why I had a big smile on my face.
I would like to suggest a selection of wines that can accompany an entire dinner. Yes, even one with the Panettone Gastronomico!
Here is my celebration of too much - to share.
My list doesn't start with the aperitif this time, but with the wine to drink while cooking or while waiting for your guests. Here we go.
Cinque Campi Particella 128
From Emilia-Romagna with love.
Honest, direct, uncomplicated and at the same time incredibly fine.
A good friend whom you like to invite for a chat.
Just open it while cooking and offer a glass to your first guests. A wine that will also convince your grandfather, your wine connoisseur friend ("You like autochthonous grape varieties, don't you?") and the nephew who only drinks Pét-Nat (yes, they weren't invented in 2020...).
Tarlant Zero Rosé Brut Nature
Ok, now everyone is sitting at the table.
The vol-au-vent are distributed.
It's time to really get things started. There's no better way to kick off a celebration than opening a bottle of champagne.
Tarlant is a family winery in the heart of the Vallée de la Marne, in Épernay.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. That's it. "Zero" here means without dosage. This is a bone-dry rosé. It doesn't matter if you went a little overboard with the mayo or the butter in the puff pastry - this champagne cleanses the palate with wonderfully clear acidity in every sip, while the delicate fruit of the Pinot Noir tickles the tongue. I guarantee that more than one of your guests will marvel at the unique colour and perlage.
Bret Brothers Pouilly-Fuissé Climat "En Carementrant"
After the excitement of the first bubbles, we should drink something to soothe the palate (but not too much!). It's time for a warm, cosy feeling. Perhaps a stuffed pasta will be on the table.
A little Chardonnay to go with it. I bet you also have a friend who
Chardonnay doesn't like. Then let's convince him with this one.
Hand-picked grapes from Burgundy, specifically from the top village of the Côte Mâconnais, Pouilly-Fuissé. A perfectly balanced wine between creamy feel and minerality.
Juiciness and citrus notes dance together. The wood notes disappear in the background and only support the fine texture of the wine.
Vietti Barolo DOCG Castiglione
This bottle should be opened at least a few hours before serving. Perhaps take a sip immediately after uncorking it. You will be able to entertain your guests with the incredible evolution of this wine.
After pouring this wine, it will probably go quiet around you. Don't worry, that's perfectly normal. The seductive power of this Barolo can enchant anyone.
The nose is already so complex that you need a few minutes.
Violet, sour cherry, plum, liquorice and nougat. To name just a few
of the aromas. On the palate, it is simply fantastic. Fresh with perfectly integrated ripe tannins.
Maybe now the conversation will be a little more intimate and the feelings a little stronger.
Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal Trie Speciale Sélection de Grains Nobles 2006
All good things have an end. But our end can be a sweet one.
Probably some cheeks are red now, the eyes a little watery. Someone is thinking of leaving or rather not drinking any more.
Now get this little gem out of the fridge, show off its amber colour and everyone will immediately change their minds!
Zind-Humbrecht is an absolute legend and shows all his skills with this sweet wine. Few sweet wines can match this complexity, with a multi-layered nose of caramelised nuts, candied dates, dark tobacco, damp earth and more. But what is truly amazing is the acidity and minerality that melds with the concentrated sweetness in your mouth.
Now there is time for one last conversation and one last glass.
Merry Christmas & Hanukkah Sameach to you!
Text & wine expertise: Jonathan Gobbi
Illustration: Ananda Costca