Shropshire wine expert Francis Peel recommends a pink Christmas

PUBLISHED: 15:18 16 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:10 20 February 2013

Shropshire wine expert Francis Peel recommends a pink Christmas

Shropshire wine expert Francis Peel recommends a pink Christmas

Francis Peel recommends a Christmas lunch wine to make you blush

Every year I receive hundreds of requests for advice as to what wine is the perfect foil to turkey. The trouble is that Christmas lunch has so many flavours: stuffing, chipolatas, bread sauce... that a white is often too light and a red too heavy. So this year I have decided on a different tack: think pink. Pink, I hear you say? Is the man mad? Surely ros smacks of summer, is redolent of long hot evenings, not short nights, icy roads and bitter winds? Well, 10 years ago Id have agreed with you. But 10 years ago, I didnt have a tenth of the high quality ross that we now ship. Believe it or not, we have just had a container of 400 dozen South African ros leave Cape Town to keep us

going over the New Year. You see, ros good, dry ros that is can be the most versatile of wines and is no more exclusively a summer drink than white wine. It will complement the flavours of the main Christmas meal, and will go well with the leftovers on Boxing Day. As a family, we have always started Christmas Day with a bottle of pink champagne, and I now intend to follow it through the day. What about a bottle of Sancerre Domaine des Godons ros from top vigneron Philippe Raimbaults estate at Sury-en-Vaux (10.99)? Delicious!

Have a (bio) dynamic Christmas

One of my New Years resolutions it to suspend my disbelief about biodynamic viticulture and study it seriously. Many of the worlds greatest winemakers, Nicholas Joly, Leroy, Chapoutier, Zind-Humbrecht to name but a few, have implemented religiously the ideas of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) based on his spiritual philosophy that attempts to understand the ecological, the energetic, and the spiritual in nature. As the practical side seems to involve cow dung being buried in cow horns in the soil before being spread on the ground at certain stages of the lunar cycle, I have always fought shy of it, but the recent conversion of Randall Grahm, the Californian wine guru and one of my vinous heroes, has made me reassess. Of immediate importance is what the biodynamic calendar tells us about tasting wine over this Christmas and New Year. Days are divided into four types: fruit and flower days being the best for wine drinking, and leaf and root days which are to be avoided. Sounds barking? Well, it seems that both Tesco and Marks & Spencer now only hold tastings on fruit and flower days. Back to this Christmas: although marginally better than last year, all of Christmas Day itself is to be avoided. Christmas Eve is not much better although there is a slot from 8pm to midnight that looks good. Boxing Day however is a
full-on fruit day so we can enjoy wine to its full shame about the hangovers though. As for New Years Eve, you will need to get your drinking in early as it moves from a flower Day to a leaf day at 8pm. If any of you notice any difference in the taste of wine during these periods, do please let me know. Otherwise watch this space for further developments in 2011.

Francis Peel lives in north Shropshire and owns the Midlands largest wine warehouse, Whitebridge Wines.

The Dictionary of Wine Terms

N is for:

- Ngociant: French term for someone who deals in wines. Very often you will find that small growers who lack the facility to make wine will sell their grapes to a ngociant, who then makes, bottles and markets the wine

- New World: A term used to describe wines from non-European regions such as Australia, California, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and New Zealand

- Nebuchadnezzar: An extremely large bottle holding 20 75cl bottles of wine (15 litres) that is traditionally the largest champagne bottle. Named after the King of Babylon who captured Jerusalem

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