Choose the right wine for Christmas pudding

Most of us have experienced that little pang of regret as the glass of brandy is poured over the Christmas pudding and set alight. "I’d rather have drunk it," we think. Instead we console ourselves with a dessert wine in an attempt to cut through all that cloying fruit and suet.

Choosing a wine to accompany the Christmas pud is no easy task. The traditional British end to a daunting Christmas lunch takes no prisoners when it comes to powerful flavours, so you need a wine that will not be overwhelmed.

Port is a festive favourite. A drier, nuttier tawny port will offer a more complex accompaniment to that pudding, while the sweetest vintage stuff is better left to go with its best friend, the Stilton.

Italian vin santo is a superb accompaniment to a festive panettone, which suggests it might also be able to deal with all the dried fruit and nuts in that pudding. If you are heading down an Italian route though, a sweetish, sparkling Asti Spumante might work better. The bubbles seem to make the pudding seem lighter and, at the end of a long lunch, you might be grateful for the relatively low alcohol content of the wine.

A Muscat, with its heady fruity and nutty notes, is an ideal pudding wine. Australian versions are very punchy and robust, with plenty of citrus and raisin flavours that are crying out to accompany that pudding. A rich sherry, with strong flavours of dates and a treacle sweetness, can also take on the pudding at its own game and emerge with an honourable and tasty draw.

The Spanish, no strangers to their own festive blowouts, have come up with some excellent dessert wines. A chilled Moscatel de Valencia, with lots of floral and citrus flavours is a great counter-balance to all the rich fruit of the pudding.

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