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How to pick the best booze for every Christmas occasion

Words: Shamin de Brún
Artwork: Paul Smith

There are a million little occasions that makeup Christmas. It’s billed as a one-day all-inclusive event but in reality, there’s a load of preamble and a hefty epilogue. And you must bring something with you everywhere. Whether your a last-minute Lassy or a forewarned is forearmed Frank we have a few suggestions that’ll help you get through it.

01

Secret Santa with Your Mates

If you manage to get a reservation in the 50 per cent capacity restaurants with your 5 favourites then you’ll probably be ordering off the wine list. But if you’re like most people and don’t have your events already planned and it has somehow become too late what you’ll need to do is find something to make your revelous pot-luck feel fancy. Nothing feels as celebratory as excess. Get one or two of everything on the menu. A sparkler, red, white, orange, rosé, hell even a sweet wine if you want to make it a home run. Set yourselves a miserly budget and set everyone invited a colour or two.

What I’d bring – Gran Cerdo, Gonzalo Grijalba €15. It’s a wine to pig out on. This is a banging almost purple in colour Spanish porker. It’s fruity, vibrant and moreish. A pocket-friendly number that tastes like you know what you’re talking about. It’s also available in white at the same price.

It’s available from Martin’s, Baggot Street Wines, Fallon and Byrne, 64 Wine, Hen’s Teeth.

02

The Present Exchange with your SO

You won’t have to spend the day with your respective families. Maybe you haven’t told the folks you have another crusty tattooed boyfriend yet. Maybe you want your partner to still like you and never hear about your overblown emo phase from your sardonic father. It doesn’t really matter, what matters is there’ll only be 2 of yiz and you can treat yourselves. Going with something a little more up-market is always more tempting when you don’t have to share it with a million ungrateful people. This is the time to go for that Northern Rhone you’ve heard whispers of, Crozes Hermitage. Drinking a Crozes Hermitage together is like reading a thoughtful love letter, with a little spice. The syrah common in all Crozes Hermitages is fruity with a rush of pepper notes.

The one I’d Bring – Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage rouge €36. It’s pricy but it’s eyes in the back of your head good. Especially if you can nab the 2018 vintage. It’s available all over Dublin. Green Man Wine, 64 Wines, Ely Manooth; Neighbourhood Wine and Mitchell & Son

03

The Christmas Eve Gaff

This one calls for a slab of cans. But: fancy ones. It’s Christmas after all. Why not treat yourself and your godforsaken mates to an IPA. Get crafty and get everyone to bring a slab from a different indie producer and bicker all night over who bought the best one. Nothing is more Christmassy than a good bicker.

The one I’d bring – Whiplash SCALDY PORTER. The beer doesn’t give a crap that you think it doesn’t taste like Guinness and it’s way more relaxed than Ireland’s Edge could ever be. If your mates are always on the plain you’ll win the competition with this one.

Available all round the country but more specifically in Blackrock Cellar, Fresh (Smithfield, South Dock, Stepaside), 57 The Headline, Baggot St Wines, Mace South Circular Road. 

04

The Christmas Morning Swim

Bring the whiskey. Nothing will warm you faster or more fervently after a dip in the obnoxiously cold Irish sea than the water of life. Add it to a coffee: Irish coffee. Add it to just hot water: you’ve got a hot whiskey.

The one I’d bring – Fercullen 10 year old single grain. It’s light, fresh, and approachable whiskey with a bit of age to it. The cask rounds out the high alcohol and makes it way less “dear god I’m drinking straight whiskey” than one would imagine.

You can pick this one up all across Dublin and Wicklow including the core four of Celtic Whiskey Shop, James J Fox Whiskey & Cigar shop, Mitchell & Son and L Mulligan’s.

05

Christmas Dinner

You are with family. You know these people. You know what they’re into even if you can’t articulate right now. It’s at the tip of your tongue. Go for the light red wine. It’ll be had with the dinner. A gamay like a fleurie won’t be so high in alcohol that your mam will end up singing rebel songs before the soaps and it will pair with the light and salty meats central to a Christmas dinner.

The one I’d bring – Domaine de la Madonne Fleurie. It’s €21, it won a French award cork-dorks care about, and yer man from The Irish Times has mentioned it every year so anyone into wine won’t argue your choice. Most importantly: it tastes good. Even the “I don’t drink red wine” people will like it. Plus five points if you chill it slightly (I promise).

Available from Mitchell & Son, Wilde & Green, and Nectar Wine

06

The Stephens’ Day Roll-Over

Nothing hairs of the dog like a Pet Nat. I will reach for that fruity fizz every time I roll over into the next sesh. It’s always fizzy enough to knock out the taste of poor life choices and the bright acidity makes your mouth water and combats cotton-mouth as if it were designed by a pharmacist. Of course the best thing to drink in the mornings is probably water but if you have another day of frolicking ahead, this low alcohol breakfast wine is the best thing to put some pep in your step.

The one I’d bring – Prosa from Meinklang. It’s an organic natural pink fizz that actually tastes like strawberries. It’s smash-able and comes with a flat cap so you don’t even need a bottle opener to crack into it. It comes in under €20 and will freshen you right up.

Pick this up at Sheridans Cheesemongers, Mitchell & Son, Fallon &Byrne, and Green Man Wines

07

Dinner with the In-Laws

No matter how long you’re an extended member of the family you always want to dress to impress. Nothing distracts defiling their first born better than a bottle of something sparkling. Yeah, champagne runs expensive. So if you can’t track down an illusive Bollinger or afford a Blanc de Blanc then reach for the dupe: Cremant. Cremant has all the flavour and fizz of champers without the dent in your new wallet. Cremant de Loire and Cremand d’Alsace are much better than Cremant de Bourgogne.

The one I’d bring – Mure Cremant d’Alsace. It looks expensive but it’s only €26. Made in the solera method where it goes through multiple wooden barrels sucking the flavour out, this one has all the rich brioche notes champagne drinkers love. The alcohol isn’t too high either so you can relax yourself with a tipple.

Where to get it Mitchell & Son

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