I have one word when it comes to pairing Christmas turkey with its perfect white: chardonnay. I’m sorry if you don’t like the sound of it, but this is – by far – the grape variety that best suits the festive bird.
Chardonnay gives generously fruity, rounded, ripe whites, exactly what’s needed for the whole loaded plateful.
That said, it’s a chameleon-like grape that changes style according to where and how it is made.
So you can avoid rich, toasty-oaky New World chardonnay (the style that tends to divide the room) by picking a more refined and subtle one from France. Burgundy, probably, and northern Burgundy for a chardonnay from Chablis if you want a more elegant, cooler-climate, subtler take (giving you a white that suits a salmon or seafood first course as well). For a southern French style, see below.
But riper chardonnays from Australia, New Zealand, Chile, California and South Africa are main-course champions too, their bright tropical fruit and (often) vanilla oaky hints taking on bread sauce, sweet-tasting roasted parsnips and buttered carrots as well as the meat.
Two tips, though: do trade up, as cheap New World chardonnay can taste confected and flabby, lacking fresh acidity; and go easy on cranberry sauce or peppery sausages as they may clash with a white.
If you persist in being a chardonnay denier then invest in premium, peachy viognier (pronounced vee-on-yay) for the Christmas roast bird. It too delivers a relatively rich white, aromatic and full in texture, dry and usually unoaked.
Oh, all right then, two words.
Taste the Difference Limoux Chardonnay 2016, France Sainsbury’s, £9
Impressive own-label chardonnay from the area round Carcassonne, south-west France. A dash of wood-spice over rich lemon and orange fruit, finishing dry. Loves fresh, or mildly smoked, salmon, too.
Rustenberg Chardonnay 2016, Stellenbosch, South Africa Waitrose, £13.99 down to £10.99 till Christmas Eve
Wonderfully rich but well-balanced with a lift of fresh pineapple, mango and citrus, this has a sweeter, juicier note, which I love with the traditional turkey and trimmings. Chill only lightly.
Nettie McManis Viognier 2016, California Majestic, £8.99 or £7.99 in a mixed six
With a scent of apricot and peaches and a ripe, lingering tropical fruit flavour, a star not only for roast turkey or chicken, but for mild spicy poultry or prawn dishes, too. (Coronation turkey alert!)