With Christmas hurtling towards us, it’s time to start preparing for the challenge of the season. Whereas October is a month for complaining that Christmas seems to keep coming back earlier and earlier each year, November is a month for a gradually mounting sense of panic. It can be hard enough getting the presents together, especially when there are such good savings to be had online if you shop early. But then there are all the bits and piece of party hosting to consider.
Appropriately enough for someone contributing to the blog of a wine retailer, I’m of the opinion that wine is part of the holiday season, and purchasing ought to involve a little planning. There are significant bargains to be had online, but the realities of Christmas postage mean that the earlier you get in there, the better. But when you’re already worrying about buying gifts, wine may well slip your mind.
Unless of course, you’re buying wine gifts, in which case, you’re killing two birds with one stone. So why not help your hosts and yourself carry off wine ritual with even more class this year? Here are five classy ways to serve wine this season:
Champagne Saucers (Coupe)
There is certainly room for debate as to how classy champagne saucers are: the modern standard is the champagne flute, its elongated shape associated with preserving fizz and therefore taste. The champagne saucer is therefore defective in the eyes of the prescriptive wine connoisseur, especially as we currently prefer to serve dry champagnes.
Nonetheless, there’s a certain decadence in serving up your best champagne in a saucer. Popular in post-prohibition America and the sixties, they have a certain art nouveau-ish quality to them.
The bucket is one of those common as muck items elevated to the richest tables in the land, but it’s not exactly like you can pop ice in any old bucket and carry off class. Some of the most stylish items you can own prove their elegance by being pretty much unusable for anything other than their intended use. If you go to the effort of purchasing an intricately etched crystal champagne bucket, you’re making a statement about your commitment to class.
Naked flames are the perfect Christmas accompaniment. Now that open fires are unworkable (or simply, too much work) in many modern homes, the small scale comfort of a candle can be brought into play at any seasonal meal or gathering – candle holders aren’t just for romantics!
Even top tier wine experts like Jancis Robinson debate whether there’s actually a significant benefit in wine aeration: short-term exposure to air is supposed to release flavours, but some say they’re suppressed. Of course, there’s the chance that sticking wine into a decanter doesn’t do an awful lot at all, but that just makes owning a decanter even more opulent. Modern decanters silence criticisms by proving themselves as beautiful sculptures in glass and crystal: keep them in a display cabinet the rest of the year so they can continue to impress.
Whilst any stylish, designer wine glass will wow your guests, there is definite contemporary appeal in coloured glass. Black in particular brings a sophistication that fits perfectly into the formality of even the most formal black-tie event – though Black glass won’t look out of place at any Christmas gathering. Red perhaps, is the more festive alternative.