Stocked up on wine for Christmas, but unsure of what to drink to serve with your turkey or Christmas pudding? We've enllsted the help of top sommelier Pierre Marie Faure from Ashford Castle to help out with pairings. 

Ashford Castle's wine cellar is one of the most prestigious in the country, having been awarded Two Glasses by Wine Spectator. The Wine Cellars at Ashford Castle offer private wine tastings and wonderful wine dinners in the secret passageways of the castle, which were unearthed during recent renovations. The old servants' entrance was originally a coal bunker and walkway underneath the castle, where the servants used to come in and get their coal buckets to take up to the rooms. It has now been transformed and the 16th Century tunnels provide three unique private spaces with a cosy ambience and soft lighting and using a Coravin system for tasting expensive bottles without having to take the cork out, keeping the wine fresh for longer. 

Read more Irish Tatler's Winning Spa at Ashford Castle Has Created a Special Package 

Pierre joined the team of 350 staff at the five star resort this year bringing over 10 years’ experience within five-star hospitality to his role.

Pierre's previous experience includes: Head Sommelier at the five-star Lanesborough Hotel in London and Head Sommelier at the two-Michelin-star awarded Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. In 2017, Pierre was awarded the Advanced Sommelier Certificate from The Court of Master Sommeliers, achieving Top of the Class.

Here, Pierre gives his expert advice and suggestions on possible wine pairings with your Christmas Day food. If you don't have the exact wine he suggests, look out for the grape variety or note the characteristics when hunting down a wine. 

Smoked Salmon

You need a good acid support that will cut through the lovely fattiness of the (wild) salmon. I would recommend Riesling from Southern Regions of Germany, probably Rheinhessen or Pfalz –

  • 2016 Rheinhessen Riesling Trocken 100 Hugels Weingut Wittmann, a little bit higher in alcohol than friends from Mosel and completely dry, like more than half of the production of Rheinhessen, this fresh and citrusy Riesling with a mouth-watering palate will be the perfect companion for this if the salmon not too acidic.
  • 2017 Anjou Thibault Boudignon, Loire Valley is not only Sancerre and Sauvignon Blanc dominated, the region has so much more to offer. Chenin Blanc, as a varietal, is not hugely popular in Ireland. Thibault Boudignon is part of this young generation loaded with talent able to produce pure, mineral wine with a good acid content that make them gastronomic wines.
  • 2016 Chablis Premier Cru Mont de Milieu Laurence Race, a cold climate vineyard, produced from chardonnay, Chablis’ wine are among my favourite. Mont Milieu, premier cru, ideally situated on the right hand side of the grand cru hill and the famous Montee de Tonnerre, will have a more ample mid-palate than a Chablis village and also demonstrate all the layers of minerality that you expect from a wine from Chablis."

Lobster, Scallops, Oyster

Oyster needs salinity, the wines recommended for the salmon will have a very good amount of it.

If we are talking pan-fried hand-dived Scallops served with Jerusalem Artichoke purée and bacon. For that kind of wine you will need with more weight, maybe a touch of oak, and able to support herbaceousness.

  • Rioja Vina Gravonia Crianza 2008, Lopez de Heredia, oldest winemaker in Rioja, producing very traditional style of wine. Red wines from Rioja are world famous and there is so much of different style available in white, from fresh, citrusy and lean, to more bodied, oily and oxidative. At Lopez the Heredia the whites wines are more oxidative, salty and well balanced produce from Viura or Macabeo. Definitely an experience for all the wine lovers that I recommend highly.
  • Pessac-Leognan Chateau Carbonnieux 2005, I remember this from couple of year ago, White Bordeaux at the time were never a source of excitement. They are now certainly the wine with the most improvement in France. Every Chateaux are in the Race, Palmer and Cheval blanc have now their very own white wine. When they can be seductive yet varietal in their youth when the sauvignon blanc is dominating the blend, they take completely another dimension when the Semillon kicks in, the texture turn from crisp to oily with more nutty character, the wine gains in balance making it a really good food companion.

Ham

For the ham, need the right amount of tannins to be able to balance the grassy texture and good level of freshness to keep it light. And if you plan to serve brussel sprouts these two wines are perfect –

  • 2016 Langhe Nebbiolo Sandrina Prinsi, Situated in Neive middle of the Barbaresco DOCG, Daniele Prinsi produce lighter style Langhe Nebbiolo than his Barbaresco, full of juiciness, Tannins are covered and balanced by an medium alcohol.
  • 2017 Saumur-Champigny Les Salles Martin Antoine Sanzay, Loire Valley again, with a beautiful cabernet franc raise and vinified by Antoine Sanzay. Antoine learnt his art in the World famous Clos Rougeard with the Foucault brothers. This cuvee vinified in 600l demi-muid will impress by its balanced between freshness and its oak caress.

Turkey

  • 2014 Gevrey-Chambertin Taupenot-Merme, Gevrey-Chambertin is definitely my favourite village of the Cote de Nuits. The wine can develop such a different palette of aromas and different structure level depending on the Geographic situation of the vineyard. The estate is organic since 2001, the son, Romain, insured the conversion. The wine will show a very complex nose, one the cherry note, Floral character, Pot-Pourri, a lot of earthiness. The wine vinified with a very gentle hand has very soft tannins.
  • 2015 Napa Merlot Duckhorn, the merlot from Duckhorn is the sum of different plots through the Napa Valley. 85% of this wine will be from merlot with almost only the Cabernet Sauvignon to complete, just a touch of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The wine is ample, black-fruit driven, with a good amount of tertiary aromas. Forget the plush, heavy style, here the Cabernet Sauvignon bring the grip that sometimes those wines missed. 

Christmas Pudding

The secret will be to match the sweetness level and bring some acidity to the pudding.

2000 Colheita Quinta do Noval, certainly the best port I have tried this year, a tawny style, Right on the point between fruitiness and oxidative character. The fortification is well integrated, the palate is balanced and fresh. What a port?!

Fernando di Castilla Antique Pedro Ximenez, richness at the nose and the palatte, dried and raisinated notes, certainly a very good match, but not the lightest.

If you have any comments or questions for Pierre, please leave a comment below and do let us know if you try one of the wine pairings too. Happy Christmas!