In Dulci Jubilo and Camel Valley Cornwall Brut
A perky classic: this song never dates. Besides, who doesn’t love a little recorder action of a Christmas morning? I like it with Camel Valley Cornwall Brut – Seyval Blanc! It’s what I’ll be drinking while I alternate dancing around the kitchen with stuffing a turkey.
Shen Khar Venakhi and Georgian amber qvevri wine
In our house, at Christmas there’s always a bowl of whole nuts strategically placed within snacking distance of the sofa. There’s nothing like freshly cracked walnuts with a top-quality Georgian amber qvevri wine – the combination is beautiful. Best enjoyed alongside this beautiful mediatation on spiritual love. The Polyphonic Georgian song: Shen Khar Venakhi sings of her beauty to the Virgin Mary, with the opening line, “You are a vineyard, newly blossomed.” Both qvevri amber wine and this song are ancient, perhaps unfamiliar, but timeless – and so worth your time.
Kentucky for Christmas and sake
I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Japan over the past three years and love how they take anything – everything – and refract it through their unique cultural lens. Last November I noticed that there were Kentucky Fried Chicken ads EVERYWHERE. That’s when I found out that KFC is a massive Xmas thing in Japan. And that this song – “Kentucky for Christmas” – originally an advertising song – has become a Japanese Christmas classic. It’s perfect with sake – a gentle, mellow drink. I love how you can warm it up. Don’t be scared of sake – it’s really a tender drink, not some frightening strongly alcoholic thing.
Italian Madrigals and Borgogno Barolo
I did my MW dissertation on Barolo, and I love to celebrate with it at Christmas. It’s such a contemplative wine, perfect late at night with candlelight and the fire dying down. I find it to be a kind of elemental wine – ideal with sacred choral music. My grandmother had a beautiful voice, and sang in a church choir for all her life, and every Christmas we would go to hear her choir sing. I miss her.
These Italian madrigals are as unadorned, timeless and complete as a good Barolo. I’ll listen with a bottle of Borgogno’s Cannubi I’ve got tucked away ready for Boxing Day’s rib of beef.
Johnny Mathis and an old-vine blend
At Christmas you simply must have a plush red to snuggle into. I’m cracking open a case of this brilliant old-vine Cali blend. I love the cultural legacy of really great old vineyards – they are rare, and threatened. California is at the forefront of a growing movement to preserve them. This multi-vintage, multi-grape blend is big and juicy and delightful paired with Mr. Smoothie, Johnny Mathis, himself.
Bing Crosby and Vincentini Soave
I’m obsessed with good Soave. It’s easy to see it as a ubiquitous, easy-drinking white. But, like Bing’s vocals, the deep, light-footed elegance of true Soave is seamless. Classic Bing is just the sound of Christmas, isn’t he? He’s on repeat in the Abbott household – and this Soave from the brilliant Agostino Vicentini is my accompanying liquid soundtrack.