Chardonnay with the Christmas turkey? You can't beat it

roast turkey on a board
A big bird deserves 
to be paired with 
a rich white wine Credit: Alamy

Let’s hear it for big whites – rich, ripe and rounded – because it’s no good pairing hearty Christmas food with a crisp, dainty one: the bird and its ranks of side dishes will march all over it, flattening its flavour until it resembles weak lemon squash.

By all means chill light sauvignon blancs, rieslings and pinot grigios as refreshing party wines and aperitifs, but do bring out something more substantial for the feast.

Here I issue my annual reminder that chardonnay is the best grape, by far, with roast turkey. And with salmon, smoked or fresh, thus staying on the table and niftily segueing from the first course into the main one, if salmon (or any rich fish) is your starter.

Chardonnay gives us the generously fruity character needed – expect plenty of citrus, especially oranges, and tropical fruits like pineapple and mango from hot-climate versions.

As well as a bright juicy quality, this grape often delivers a richness, a fuller mouthfeel that goes so well 
with poultry, gravy and bread sauce as well as roasted vegetables.

And many chardonnays are aged in oak barrels, picking up layers of flavour in the form of vanilla, spice and even a light nuttiness.

Drink chardonnay in the form of white burgundy if you don’t like the very bright fruitiness of New World versions. And if you dislike oak, there are plenty of unoaked bottles around.

Make 
it chardonnay at Christmas, the time of year when it really comes into its own.

Try these...

Viñ Alta Chardonnay 2017, Mendoza, Argentina

(13.5%, Marks & Spencer, £9)

Lively but ripe white, made by a French winemaker in Argentina. It’s unoaked, majoring on delicious pineapple and mandarin orange with a hint of butterscotch, ending up perfectly dry.

Domaine des Valanges Saint-Véran 2017, Burgundy, France

(13%, Co-op, £12)

Well-balanced white burgundy, young with juicy apple and citrus fruit and a subtle dab of spicy oak rounding it out. A versatile food-matcher for fish pies as well as a classic Christmas feast.

Rustenberg Chardonnay 2017, Stellenbosch, South Africa

(Waitrose and waitrosecellar.com, £13.99, down to £10 until 12 December)

Excellent offer on a fine Cape chardonnay, aged for a year in oak and plumped up with peach, melons and toasted pineapple.