Christmas family gatherings – we look forward to them but once they’re underway, they can be a bit stressful to say the least. Whether it’s a relative who has an opinion on your relationship status and is quite happy to voice it, differing political views or just reverting back to a door-slamming teenager the minute you set foot inside the family home, it can take a monumental effort to keep the diplomacy. You would think that adding Christmas wine to the equation might help matters, but it can also have a not-so-welcome side effect for anyone who knows a fair bit about the subject.

A certain degree of wine knowledge can lead people to assume you are a raging wine snob and tease you accordingly. And then there’s the actual drinking of the stuff – how do you suggest some good Christmas bottles without coming under fire or offending anyone? Basically, Christmas family gatherings can be a diplomatic minefield on many issues, but when it comes to wine, I have a few suggestions…

Take the Focus Off Price

A lot of people assume that those who know about wine only want to drink expensive bottles and will sneer at anything under the £15 mark. Not true in the slightest. Being discerning about what wine you drink doesn’t have to mean spending more money. If you want to spread the wine love without coming across as patronising, perhaps consider bringing some interesting bottles that don’t cost the earth. The Vega D Castilla Tempranillo from the Ribera del Duero is a fine Spanish red that’s very versatile with food. If you want to offer a top alternative to Champagne, then the Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene is a top-notch sparkling wine guaranteed to prompt a number of questions about where they might get a bottle.


Christmas Food Inspiration

The good thing about having wine discussions at Christmas time is that you have ample dishes to take your cue from. We’ve all been to a family gathering and drunk something that didn’t really go with the meal, so if you’re hosting or taking some bottles with you, make sure you get the food and wine pairing as spot on as you can without even mentioning it. People might pick up on it and see the difference between a good food and wine match and a terrible one. If you need some suggestions then take a look at our food matching section, or for a VERY basic guide, remember that turkey goes pretty well with Pinot Noir and/or Chardonnay. You’re welcome.

CLR04I Winemakers Selection Casas pinot noir

Don’t Bring Your Prized Bottles

Now, there is nothing wrong with sharing the wine love, nothing whatsoever. If you have some excellent vintages you’ve been saving, it’s nice to share their qualities with others. But my advice is to read the situation accordingly and choose your prized bottles carefully. A friend told me that she’d once brought a treasured bottle to a family Christmas gathering. Someone had cracked it open and polished it off before they’d even sat down to lunch. Even the most diplomatic of wine lovers would struggle not to be hacked off about that.

It’s a tricky ask for a wine lover to give advice. Try not to sound like a know-it-all and remember diplomacy is key. Perhaps the best advice we can give it to let the bottles do the talking for you.