The Christmas carols are playing and the tree is sparkling.

The atmosphere is set for your beautiful dinner party and this month we are going to New Zealand for our wine pairing.

For white wine lovers, goat’s cheese and sauvignon blanc is a match made in heaven.

One of the most famous regions in the world for this type of wine is the Loire Valley in France where goat’s cheese and sauvignon blanc go hand in hand.

And what grows together, goes together.

However, on this occasion, we’ve gone with the New Zealand variety to match the bolder flavours of Neven’s salad which includes beetroot and walnuts. The reason sauvignon banc is such a good match is because the zippy acidity in the wine will match the acidity in the cheese, making it even more fresh and invigorating, emphasising its herbal flavours.

For the duck, we’re staying in New Zealand with a pinot noir. It really works because of the way we’re cooking the duck. It’s pan fried and then finished in the oven so it doesn’t have the high fat or richness of other duck dishes such as confit duck. So we don’t want something that will overwhelm the flavours.

Pinot noir has lower tannins and good acidity to complement the fat that duck can contain and it is a flexible wine so it handles the additional flavours of the ginger and honey.

Pinot noir is one of the most food friendly wines so these suggestions will work right through the Christmas season.

NZ Sauvignon Blanc

Lidl, €8.99

You’ll be hard pushed to find a good NZ Sauvignon under a tenner but this one from Lidl is an exception to the rule. One of the nicest things about sauvignon blanc is that is has lovely citrus notes but they are complemented with more exotic flavours like gooseberry and pineapple and this really shines through here. For its price point, it’s zesty and vibrant with good weight and a nice mouthfeel. It’s a crowd pleaser of a wine, whether you’re pairing it with this meal or having people over during Christmas.

Tiki Grey Label Sauvignon Blanc

Simply Better at Dunnes Stores, €12

I actually ordered this wine in a restaurant last weekend with the girls and it went down a big hit. This is a sauvignon blanc that I come back to time and again and with 20% off the Simply Better range of wines throughout December, it is very good value for money. Green apple and peach shine through along with exotic notes such as passionfruit, grapefruit and citrus. However, it’s also got a bit more depth with an earthy tone which will goes excellently with the goat’s cheese. The length is very impressive and it’s got a lovely zing of acidity. This wine also pairs great with fish and would be delicious with a creamy shellfish starter on Christmas Day.

Freeman’s Bay Pinot Noir

Aldi, €9.99

As it’s Christmas I am going for a budget red if you’re having a few people over and a blow the budget option because why not! This one from Aldi looks like Christmas in a glass with a lovely ruby red colour drawing you in. It’s quite a fruity wine with flavours of blue and red berries with soft tannins, ridiculously easy to drink. This is ideal with duck but if you’re having a big family Christmas dinner and need a lot of wine to go around, this will work well with turkey.

Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir

Higgins Clonskeagh Dublin, The Wine Centre Kilkenny & O’Briens Wines nationwide, €46.80

For the pinot noir lover who wants a real treat, this is a New Zealand favourite. Cloudy Bay is one of the finest vineyards in Marlborough. If the Aldi wine looks like Christmas in a glass, this tastes like Christmas in a glass. You’ve got fruity flavours like strawberry and raspberry but this is layered with darker fruits such as black cherries and then with vanilla and subtle spices. It’s even got a hint of chocolate. Silky smooth tannins and juicy acidity and because it’s oaked, it has an exceptionally long, lingering finish. An exceptional wine and a real treat.

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