What The Drinks Trade Is Cracking Open This Christmas (And Popping Open In The New Year)

It’s that time of year again – the media is awash with festive drinks recommendations as the holidays draw in. What though will the experts in the drink trade be enjoying during the break? 

Specialist corporate events company, The Tasting Quarter put this question to three of their professional drinks hosts: Joe Wadsack, Panu Long and Pip Martin. They’ve shared their answers to inspire your drink selections this festive season.

Joe Wadsack

One of The Tasting Quarter’s wine tasting hosts and winner of Wine Communicator of the Year in the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC) in both 2005 and 2016, starts us off with the following:

To kick off Christmas Day with his Christmas Day aperitif, expect him to opt for a fizz –  Ferrari Perlé Blanc de Blancs, 2014, from Trentino, Italy.

When it comes to Christmas Lunch, he’ll be opening a bottle of red and white, with each chosen to compliment the different courses of the meal.

For a smoked salmon starter, Joe will be going for Davy’s White Burgundy, 2020, while he’ll choose a Lapalu Brouilly Vielles Vignes Beaujolais, 2018, (a magnum of this) for the turkey.

When it comes to the Christmas pudding/dessert, he’ll be drinking a Moscato d’Asti Fontanafredda, 2020, from Piedmont.

Joe’s chosen Port for the day is Dow Quinta do Bomfim, 2004.

Panu Long

Leading cocktail tasting host, events planner and mixologist, follows up with his chosen drinks:

For his Christmas Day aperitif, Panu is opting for a classic Champagne cocktail.

He explains that this cocktail includes light spice from cognac while being rich with champagne, bright with orange zest and balanced with Angostura bitters.

“A glass of something fizzing is a must on the big day, and better off before rather than after the lunch” he says.

“There may be equals as a Christmas Day aperitif, but nothing more fitting in my book”.

For New Year, Panu will be drinking The Cold Brew Mule.

He describes this as having “all the flavour, but not the body or bitterness of normal coffee”.

He continues, “fresh citrus is delicious with cold brewed coffee and charged with ginger beer to keep you going to the fireworks – with or without the vodka.”

Panu has shared the recipe below:

First of all, start off by making a litre of cold brew coffee. To do this, “take 100g of mid or course ground coffee, preferably light to mid-roast, and leave in 1100mm of water overnight. Then pass it through coffee filter paper, or you could use a french press”.

To make the Cold Brew Mule:

In a 300ml-350ml glass, fill ice to the brim. Add:

  • 40ml vodka (omit if needed)
  • 10ml of fresh lime juice (2tsp)
  • 5ml sugar syrup (or 1tsp caster sugar)
  • 50ml cold brew
  • 100ml ginger beer
  • Dash of Angostura Bitters (optional)

Pip Martin 

Finally, director of The Tasting Quarter and wine host, finishes with his festive drink choices:

For his Christmas Day aperitif, Pip will be opting for André Clouet NV Champagne. 

This is a lively all Pinot Noir (otherwise known as Blanc de Noirs) Champagne I can’t wait to open again”, he explains.

For his Christmas Dinner starter, Pip is also set to serve smoked salmon. But what does he enjoy pairing it with?

Pip states although it’s not 100% confirmed, he’s pretty sure he will be “opening a bottle of Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2018 from Trimbach”.

I’m rarely adamant about anything”, he explains, “but I think this will be universally loved in my house”.

This is vinified full and dry, and is as fresh as a daisy, if the daisy has had a glass (or two). This is one I save up for.”

When it comes to the Christmas turkey, Pip explains that “there’s a lot going on around the turkey in our house – pigs in blankets, spiced red cabbage, brussel sprouts tossed in pancetta, and at least 5 other side dishes and trimmings that seem to materialise every year”.

To pair with this selection, Pip will be going for something big enough to deal with it all, but not so huge as to dominate. 

I’ve long been obsessed with the wines of La Rioja Alta”, he says. “This year I’m going for their Viña Arana Gran Reserva, 2014, not cheap but worth it”.

With his Christmas pudding, Pip’s choice of Port is set to be Graham’s 20 year old tawny port.

Slight variance from Joe here”, Pip explains, “although I’d love a glass of his single quinta (bottle aged) vintage Port at some stage”, he says.

This is proper tawny (wood aged) Port with just the right amount of maturation in my book”.

For New Year’s, fizz is going to be the wind beneath Pip’s respective wings! His choice is set to be the La cuvée release from Gramona, 2016, which will steadily launch family and friends into the New Year.

For the ideal professional event in the new year, enquire today about a corporate tasting event with The Tasting Quarter.

Merry Christmas from the team.

Pip Martin is the Founder of The Tasting Quarter, a Corporate Wine Tasting & Specialist Events Company. After management positions in Harrod’s Foodhall, Pip became Corporate Events Manager at Richard Branson’s online wine merchant, Virgin Wines, where he hosted over 200 wine events in a little over 15 months for companies including BBC, Morgan Stanley, PricewaterhouseCoopers and JP Morgan.

Since 2002, via The Tasting Quarter, Pip and his team have produced and hosted tastings in Spain, Russia and South Africa and co-hosted events in Ireland, Holland, Belgium, France, Denmark and Switzerland for groups of 10 to 3000+. He has run virtual, hybrid and AI augmented tastings for companies including AVMI, Oracle, Adobe, Google and Cisco. He also counts all the Magic Circle law firms in the UK as repeat clients for in-person events.

Pip’s media work has included wine presenting on Sky One’s Taste programme and BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen. Writing credits include wine articles for Condé Nast’s Gourmet Travel and Esquire.