By Lindsay Trivers December, 13 2017
As our favourite time of year draws closer, one thing’s for sure about living in the UAE; There’s so much to do that our diaries are pretty much fit to burst! But that’s a good thing of course, as not only is there a SERIOUS amount of fun to be had during the rest of 2017, but there will also be PLENTY of opportunities to raise a glass (and you won’t hear many complaints from us about that!). Whether you’re about to be the hostess-with-the-most’ess or you’re rocking up at the huge amount of festive soirées upon us, let’s face it, getting the drinks just perfect for the all important Christmas dinner, can be quite a challenge. Lucky for us, internationally-trained expert sommelier and founder of The Tasting Class, Lindsay Trivers shares what the most enjoyable tipples are to see us through the festive season and there are some absolute gems in here! Read on to discover some brilliant tips for brilliant wines at bargain prices…

What’s an impressive welcome cocktail for a festive dinner party?

Welcome drinks should be refreshing and thoughtful, but not too much work for the host, as you’ll must likely be pretty stretched in the kitchen as it is. I’m a big fan of a simple highball glass of a good quality dry vermouth, like Dolin Blanc, that costs around AED 100 AED RRP (before tax) per bottle, available from African + Eastern. Cut with some soda and garnished with a zesty fruit, it’s simple, attractive, subtly and hydrating. Alternatively, a ‘Dark ‘N’ Stormy’ cocktail traditionally made with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, ginger beer and lime is always really easy, and slightly fancier than a standard mixed drink. Just be sure to get a good quality ginger beer to finish it off. Brands like Fever Tree or Bundaberg are really good and you can find them both in Spinneys. Also, Gosling’s Rum can be found at some MMIs, but failing that any dark rum will do. I’m a fan of the sweet undertones of Appeleton Estates V/X from MMI for 70 AED RRP (before tax).

What goes best with canapés for pre-dinner drinks?

Champagne is a really diverse wine to enjoy with canapés. It’s high acid, and the bubbles in Champagne make it a refreshing drink to prime your palate, and it’s these same two components that cut through fat in food easily. While Champagnes may seem like a ‘light’ drink, believe it or not they’re actually quite full, with lots of aromas (and flavour) to match with a wide range of foods. My favourite is Pol Roger Brut NV that’s available from Le Clos and will set you back around AED 195 RRP (before tax) – a worthwhile investment to get the party off to a great start.

It’s turkey time. What shall I serve with the all-important Christmas lunch?

White wines I suggest whites made from a grape called Viognier. There are some good value ones made in Australia, like the Yalumba Y Series, available from African + Eastern or The Cellars for AED 85 RRP (before tax). If you’re treating your nearest and dearest to some fine wine this Christmas, then reach for a bottle from the Condrieu region of France, where the only grape permitted is Viognier. The Chapoutier Coindreau Invitare from MMI, Le Clos and Al Hamra Cellars is a beauty, is AED 290 RRP (before tax) for a bottle and is most definitely worth splurging out for. Red wines I love an Californian Zinfandel. They have aromas of Christmas cake and are velvety smooth, so they can also work well with white turkey meat even though they are actually a red wine, kind of the same way that Cranberry sauce does. Try Kenwood Estates Zinfandel for around AED 85 RRP (before tax), available at Barracuda, MMI and Al Hamra Cellars. The same grape is called Primativo in Puglia, Italy, and the Italian versions often forego the oak aging so they are a lighter style, but still have the lovely ripe and spicy aroma. For a bottle that massively delivers in flavour for its teeny tiny price point, go for the Da Luca Primativo, available from African + Eastern and The Cellars for just AED 40 RRP (before tax). This is a total bargain, but be quick to secure yours after reading this! Beer Don’t overlook beer as a fine beverage to pair with cuisine as well. Keep you’re brew choice festive with Chimay Bleu, a monk-made Trappist beer that was originally made to celebrate Christmas at the Abbey, that’s available from The Cellars in Ras Al Khaimah or Fujairah for around AED 15 per bottle (before tax). This is a dark ale, with lots of roast coffee and dried fruit aromas that work especially well with roasted red meats, gravy, and anything that’s slathered in cranberry sauce.

And what about when we’re ready to retire on the sofa with a family film?

Whilst the children snuggle up nicely with a creamy hot chocoate and marshmallows, there’s nothing that tastes more Christmassy than a Port. It works like a dream with Christmas cake, dark chocolate, a cheese board, or of course all on its own! In addition to it tasting like ‘Christmas in a bottle’, it’s actually quite a versatile option to move on to after dinner. You can pick up a good value bottle of Late Bottle Vintage Port (LBV) at any reputable wine shop from around AED 120 (before tax), or you can splash out on a Vintage Port like Graham’s 2000 for AED 575 (before tax) at MMI, Le Clos and Al Hamra Cellars. A great tip however, is to use a decanter so that you can separate the sediment from a drop this old. Genius isn’t it? For more information on The Tasting Class and its festive season events and home tastings, visit First published on: British Mums

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