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Fergus o halloran edit
Fergus O'Halloran

Christmas wine pairings with Fergus O'Halloran

Perfect pairings for every course.


The Christmas food shop may be foremost in our minds at the minute, but don’t forget to plan what you’re going to serve with all that lovely grub.

Sommelier Fergus O’Halloran, owner of The Twelve Hotel in Barna in Co Galway, has these tips for anyone still unsure about what wines to go for this year.  

For the starters  

If you’re serving a traditional smoked salmon starter, begin with a nice Champagne to bring out the taste of the fish - it’s Christmas after all! This year I discovered the terrific Nyetimber from the south of England. 

If it's prawn cocktail that's on your menu, go with a good Albarino from Rias Baixas. All decent wine stores will carry both these wines and have a good selection of price points.  

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For the main event 

For turkey with stuffing, a medium-bodied cabernet sauvignon is a superb accompaniment. If you prefer white wine and you’re someone who likes the finer things in life, then splurge on a white Chateauneuf du Pape from Beaucastel. It’s delicious and will pair beautifully with the bird. 

For the non-traditionalists out there, try a Brunello di Montalcino or a Barolo with some age if your family’s festive feast is a tender beef Wellington. Alternatively, if you are a little more adventurous and interested in developing your palette of wine knowledge, go for a Ribera del Duero. These are generally dry, big and meaty wines of exceptional quality from Spain that pair really well with roasted meats. 

A Crozes-Hermitage from a great producer like Jaboulet goes really well with roast goose - one of my all-time favourites. And to accompany the traditional glazed ham joint, look for a Chinon/cabernet franc grape. 

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For afters 

When it comes to dessert, you have to treat yourself to a dessert wine on Christmas Day. Whether you're having mince pies, pudding or cake, try Elysium Black Muscat, cracking dessert wine from California that’s inexpensive too.  

For those who like a little more decadence and are having a yule log for their something sweet, I recommend a Pineau des Charentes Rouge five-year-old Cognac. 

For me, no Christmas dinner is complete without cheese and biscuits. For this, I recommend opting for a tawny port to bring out the flavours. 

And finally, for the days after Christmas, you can't beat a delish sandwich made with turkey and ham leftovers. Team it with a hoppy beer – I’ll be keeping it local with Galway Hooker, Independent Pale Ale or the Spiddal River Brewing Company.  

Click here for more info about Christmas wine pairings.

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