Loire Valley wines : ideal partners for Christmas
End-of-year meals, and especially Christmas meals, are often the ideal time to spend with family, friends and colleagues, and to mark the end of a new year. Meals are varied and copious, and certain gastronomic classics are naturally returning to tables all over the world. What wines should you pair with Christmas meals?
Without hesitation, if you had to choose just one wine-growing region in France, turn to the Loire Valley! The Loire Valley is France’s largest wine-growing region in terms of surface area. Its diversity of terroirs, techniques and wine styles means it can accompany an entire meal, from aperitif to dessert!
Crémants de Loire, sparkling wine for special occasions
The Loire Valley is renowned for the quality of its Crémants. Whether Crémant de Loire blanc or Crémant de Loire rosé, they’re all made using the traditional méthode champenoise. This is the same winemaking technique as for Champagne, but with a Loire twist! The grape variety most commonly used is Chenin, the king of the Loire Valley. Most cremant production takes place in the Saumur region, where tuff stone characterizes the soil. This limestone lends the essential freshness to Cremants de Loire. For all special occasions, including the festive season, bubbles are the order of the day. Choose a Crémant de Loire to celebrate Christmas!
Crémant du Val de Loire for aperitif
Les Crémants de Loire, avec leur belle fraîcheur et leur minéralité, se savourent avec plaisir à l’apéritif. Ils s’apprécient seuls, avec des gâteaux apéro ou encore des petites bouchées. Grâce à leurs grandes qualités gustatives, certains Crémants de Loire rivalisent plusieurs Champagnes ! De rapport qualité-prix imbattable, à l’aveugle, plusieurs pourraient confondre un Crémant avec un Champagne !
Crémants and dry white Loire wines as starters
After the aperitif comes the meal starter. The idea is to pair the starter with a light wine that accompanies the appetizer and prepares the taste buds for the rest of the meal. Beyond the aperitif, Crémant de Loire is once again more than interesting. Not only do its fine bubbles awaken the taste buds, the wine’s acidity makes the mouth water and whets the appetite! AOP Crémants de Loire, AOP Montlouis sur Loire and AOP Vouvray are ideal partners to get a holiday meal off to a good start.
Loire dry white wine and seafood
In France, it’s customary to serve seafood, shellfish and crustaceans as starters. If, as in France, your holiday meals feature these delicious seafood products, dry white Loire wines, with their unrivalled minerality, acidity and freshness, are recommended. The wide range includes Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) from the Nantes region, such as Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur lie, or white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin in AOC Anjou or IGP Val de Loire.
Sweet Loire Valley wines and foie gras
To continue with the French culinary traditions of the holiday season, there is of course foie gras! Although eaten all year round, foie gras is a precious product that is often found on family tables at Christmas. Goose or duck foie gras is particularly appreciated with sweet white wines. This is a classic pairing that many repeat every year for Christmas meals.
While sweet white wines from Bordeaux are often mentioned, such as the famous Sauternes or Monbazillac, for example, sweet wines from the Loire are just as delicious and just as good partners for foie gras! AOC Coteaux du Layon, AOP Coteaux de L’Aubance or AOC Quart de Chaume are absolutely sublime with foie gras, or blue cheeses at the end of the meal!
Red wines from the Loire Valley and Christmas main courses
For your main courses, opt for a bottle of red wine from the Loire Valley! Red wines come in a wide variety of styles in the Loire region. The most popular grape varieties are Cabernet Franc, Côt and Pinot Noir. To accompany a traditional turkey or any poultry dish, a red wine from AOC Anjou Villages, AOC Anjou Villages Brissac or AOP Chinon will enhance your meal. Some wines are aged in oak barrels to add structure and accompany superb, complex and refined meat dishes. The controlled tannins, fruit expression and freshness of Loire Valley red wines are simply superb!
Dry and sweet white wines for the cheese platter
After the starter and main course, it’s time for the cheese platter! In France, cheeses are traditionally served at the end of the meal. In North America, for example, such as the USA and Canada, cheeses are served as starters. White wines are the best accompaniment to cheese, whether as an appetizer or at the end of the meal. In the Loire Valley, magnificent dry white wines are the ideal partners for goat’s cheeses, hard cheeses and soft cheeses such as Camembert and Brie. Dry white wines made from Chenin and Sauvignon Blanc grapes bring out the fine, distinctive taste of these cheeses. For blue cheeses, opt for a Loire white wine with residual sugar. The sweet-savory contrast will delight your taste buds!
Crémants and sweet Loire wines for dessert
Chocolate or custard dessert
How do you finish a meal? If your dessert is made of chocolate or crème pâtissière, you’ll no doubt appreciate the lightness of the wine that accompanies it. As with an aperitif, an AOC Crémant de Loire will be perfect! The Vouvray and Montlouis-sur-Loire regions produce exceptional sparkling wines that will enhance the sweetness of your dessert. Depending on the sweetness of your dessert, opt for a sparkling wine with more or less residual sugar.
Exotic fruit or citrus desserts
For desserts with exotic fruit or citrus, opt for a sweet Loire wine, such as Coteaux de L’Aubance, Coteaux du Layon or Quart de Chaume. These wines, with their high residual sugar content and aromas of honey, orange peel and exotic fruit, will be superb with fruit desserts. These true nectars are even more appreciated at the end of a meal. Kill two birds with one stone and continue to enjoy your sweet Loire white wine served with cheese during dessert!