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Xmas Tips # 4 - For Turkey

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Xmas Tips # 4 - For Turkey

Tristan Darby

Perhaps the most self-explanatory in this series of Blogs, this one is for the traditionalists among you, that are going to get a big 'ole bird in the oven for the main event. 

As always, I've chosen a few wines to suit different palates and budgets. However, it's not just the turkey we're pairing to the wine here, as it's not the most flavoursome of meats, but also the plethora of other items on the plate.

With that in mind, it's best to go for medium to full-bodied wines that can stand up to everything and still carry the essential flavour.

Happy Basting!



Carrick, Chardonnay 2015

Carrick, Central Otago, New Zealand
 £16.95 at Great Western Wine

My preference for Turkey is always white wine - a fuller-bodied nicely oaked one with lots of ripe fruit flavour to combat the richer elements on the plate.

For a few years now, the role of 'Turkey Wine' has been fulfilled by this, Carrick Chardonnay - and I'll be having it again this year. (Call me boring, but if it ain't broke...)

Carrick Chardonnay hails from the 'Lord of the Rings' territory of Central Otago in southern South Island, New Zealand.

This is a really classy Chardonnay that can rival many of its fine wine peers from around the world, and at a very reasonable price for the quality, I think. 

A touch of sweetness in the wine, from ripe grapes and sweet creamy oak, lifts the plate of savoury roasted veg, counters the salty gravy and bready-herbal stuffing, then marries really well with the white meat, mashed swede, mashed sweet potato, creamy leeks and potato dauphinoise. It even handles the sweet cranberry sauce!

An inviting welcome of Peach, sweet almonds and a touch of mealy oak greets you on the nose, but the palate is where this wine really rewards. Rich, lush almost tropical fruit is tempered by a crisp and clean acidity which cleans, refreshes and drives a long elegant creamy and slightly sweet finish. Full bodied, complex and very well balanced. 

If £16.95 is more than you want to spend (especially if you're entertaining a crowd!) go for Les Mougeottes Pays d'Oc Chardonnay 2015 from southern France at just £8.95 a bottle (Xmas offer, usually £9.95 - still a bargain!). Languedoc Chardonnay often offers good fruit richness and depth, and when combined with well-handled oak, they can see off many white Burgundies at a higher price point.

Yealands, Pinot Gris 2016

Yealands Estate, Marlborough, New Zealand
£13.95 at Great Western Wine

If you're a white wine drinker, but you're not a fan of Oak or Chardonnay, you'll need to find a bottle of wine with enough fruit, weight and presence to stand up to the trimmings.

Yealand's delicious Black Label Pinot Gris fits the bill just fine, I think.

Quite a concentrated, heady wine on the nose, with super ripe pear fruit flavours and a nice weight and texture overall in the mouth. There's a touch of ginger spice and citrus on the finish keeping things in check. Mouthfilling, long and dry. Super stuff. 

You could also try a peachy, apricot fuelled Viognier like the sublime Yves Cuilleron Vignes d'a Cote 2015. The wine, from one of the Northern Rhone's most heralded winemakers, has had 6 months of ageing both on lees in tank and in barriques, for added depth and complexity. This heady, floral-scented delight is pretty much textbook Viognier and would be a great partner for the Turkey.

Yealands, Black Label Pinot Noir 2015

Yealands Estate, Black Label Pinot Noir
£14.95 at Great Western Wine

The trick with matching a Red with Turkey is not overpowering the dish with a weighty wine with too much flavour and body, yet finding one with enough fruit concentration and depth to stand up to rich trimmings and cranberry sauce. 

PLUS the wine will need to have low-ish tannins (tannin gets soaked up by fat, so too much tannin with a low-fat bird like Turkey can wreak palate havoc, creating an uber-tannic mouthfeel and a bitter taste!).

I find the best grape for the job is Pinot Noir. If you find the right style, it ticks all the necessary boxes and is always my number one choice.

If you want to go for French Pinot, you'll be looking at a Burgundy. And to do the job properly, I reckon you'll have to dig deep for a bottle of wine with riper fruit concentration and depth, such as Domaine Lucien Boillot's Pommard 1er Cru, Les Fremiers

However, at £55 a bottle it's not in everyone's budget, especially if you have a larger crowd to entertain.

So, my tip this year is again a wine from Yealands in Marlborough New Zealand, and this time their Black Label Pinot Noir. It delivers everything you'll need, and as far as Pinot with personality, it very much delivers on value. 

It's worth stocking up on this wine for general Christmas quaffing, too. I've served it 'blind' at tastings, where a lot of Pinot drinkers are surprised to find such ripe of flavour, character and quality at this price point - and a lot of non-pinot drinkers are pleased to discover a Pinot that they like!

A very satisfying smooth mouthful. Plum and cherry fruit with a lick of sweet vanilla oak. There's creamy, almost chocolaty richness here too, with just the right touch of acidity and tannin to work well against your 'pigs in blankets'!