by J.K. Whelehan

With the holiday season just around the corner, what are we to eat and drink? Without a doubt, first on Santa’s list would be champagne. There is no wine so festive, seductive, elegant, versatile, adaptable and uncomplicated. The bubbles (Co2) carry the alcohol into the bloodstream instantly, releasing you from your inhibitions and sending your head into a whirl—just add mistletoe for romance. Or put simply, sparkling wine is par excellence as an aperitif and icebreaker.
In terms of food and wine for Christmas I will probably opt for wild smoked salmon on toast. It’s so easy—just spread cream cheese on a piece of toast and top it with salmon. Sprinkle black pepper, fresh dill, pink pepper and perhaps a drop of lemon juice, subject to taste, and match with a rounded rosé champagne like Boizel.

I’ll follow this with a traditional stuffed turkey served with gravy, mashed potatoes, and truffle butter. In fact, truffle butter is the specialty of world-famous chef Tetsuya Wakuda, based in Sydney. His black truffle salsa can now be purchased online in Japan (Website). Mix 40 grams of the salsa with 160 grams of non-salted butter and 25 grams of parmesano reggiano and presto, truffle butter! Adding it to the mashed potatoes raises the dish to another level. For perfection, match with a fruity pinot noir from the New World, which typically have a gentle acidity, or alternatively aged pinot noir from the Old World.

For the cheese platter to follow, I would recommend Comte, Mont d’Or (in season), Epoisse and Stilton served with dried fruits such as dates. While you could continue with the pinot from main course, if you have a dessert wine lined up, crack it open and try a sip with the blue cheese to experience some real magic. A quick tip: stuffed dates with Stilton go very well with German wines in higher grades like Auslese and Beerenauslese.

To end my feast will be traditional plum pudding with fresh cream, followed by assorted chocolates. Now comes a difficult choice: a German dessert wine, cognac or port?

J.K. Whelehan is a Tokyo-based wine expert and writer, as well as co-author of the best-selling book Japanese Dishes for Wine Lovers, published by Kodansha and available from Amazon.

Photo credits:
Photo courtesy of J.K. Whelehan