Food and drink: Great wine at Christmas doesn’t mean spending big

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Alistair Myers is the only certified sommelier in Sheffield - so who better to reveal which wines to drink with Christmas dinner.

Here the Rafters co-owner tells Ellen Beardmore about his top tips and mistakes to avoid.

“One thing we couldn’t do without on Christmas Day is champagne”, says Alistair Myers.

We’re sitting in the cool dining room of Rafters fine dining restaurant in Nether Green in November, discussing how to match drinks with the biggest meal of the year.

“We have to have champagne on the morning or its not Christmas”, said Alistair.

“But if you normally drink prosecco, don’t go for champagne because it’s not the same, it’s sweeter.

“One of the biggest things at Christmas is people think they have to have something different from what they like to drink usually.

“They spend a lot of money on a special wine but they are disappointed because they don’t like it.

“They need to start on the edge of their comfort zone and move it out a little bit - not go to extremes.”

As well as the wine, choosing who to drink it with can also be key.

Alistair added: “If you are going to open a special bottle, it may be that not everyone finds it as special as you.

“One Christmas my father-in-law said ‘this wine’s alright’ and I wanted to say ‘this is a £100 bottle of Shiraz!’”

Alistair will be leading a ‘12 wines of Christmas’ event at Sheffield restaurant Inox Done on December 8, which will match a dozen locally available wines with a Christmas dinner, for £45 a head.

But he encourages people to drink what they want - be it beer, or gin - if wine isn’t their forte, and be aware there is no obligation to spend big.

Alistair, who with co-owner and chef Tom Lawson launched a full tasting menu experience at Rafters earlier this year, added: “If you are thinking of having a sparkling wine, do try to support the English trade.

“For me Chapel Down is head and shoulders above anything else, but there is also Camel Valley as well.”

To read Alistair’s recommendations for different meats, see the full interview in Profile, published inside the Sheffield Telegraph.

For vegetarian and vegan diners, Alistair will be giving top tips on what to drink with your dishes via @shftelegraph on Twitter from 6-7pm on Wednesday December 6.