As Christmas fast approaches, “Noche Buena”, translates to “the good night”, is the Spanish word for “Christmas Eve”, traditionally celebrated on December 24th in the Philippines.
On the night before Christmas, families gather at home, usually after hearing evening mass, to feast on traditional “Noche Buena” items like Christmas ham, lechon, paella, and bibingka to name a few as they welcome in Christmas day. 2020 may be the year that holiday traditions will need to be postponed due to COVID-19, but this shouldn't be an excuse not to cook up (or order) a meal that brings us into that Christmas vibe.
|To add to the Christmas cheer and celebration, pairing wines with this assorted fare can be a new tradition and experiment of sorts. Because there is a wide range of flavors in the Noche Buena feast, a wide range of wines can also be paired. Let’s take a look at your common Christmas Eve offerings and how best to pair them.
The center of the Noche Buena spread is usually the Christmas Ham.
This is a special ham, usually covered in a pineapple glaze, giving salty and sweet contrast. This is served with Queso de Bola which is actually Edam Cheese. The Cantina Cellaro Solea Merlot IGP 2017 will be a wise pick, with enough spice to go with the sweet glaze of the ham and enough structure to stand up to the saltiness of the ham and the Edam cheese.
|Intense red color and fruity aroma with hints of black currant and ripe blackberries, the palate is persistent and enveloping, well structured with hints of spices well integrated with the fruit.
Lechon also takes centerstage during Noche Buena, for obvious reasons. It’s delicious, feeds a lot of people, and any uneaten lechon can still be eaten the next day by being made into other dishes.
The Dianella Chianti Riserva DOCG 2016 made from Sangiovese is a great choice for lechon as it’s a balanced wine with elegant structure. It has enough acidity to cut through the fat of the lechon and smooth tannins that won’t attack the mouth aggressively. Tuscans eat porchetta and Sangiovese is from Tuscany so this is a logical match for the lechon as the wine is Sangiovese-based.
|Intense ruby red color. Complex nose with aromas of violets, blackberry and ripe red fruits on a spicy and elegantly balsamic finish. In the mouth it is refined with structured and velvety tannins. Long finish with a pleasant return of sweet spices and eucalyptus.
Another favorite is Paella.
It can be prepared to be seafood or meat-based. Paella is a crowd pleaser and addresses everyone’s need for rice, which as we know, we Filipinos cannot live without. Due to the variety of ingredients in a paella, a safe choice for wine would be the Luccarelli Rosso Puglia IGP 2018. Another safe choice would be the Renato Ratti Battaglione Barbera D’Alba DOC 2015 as this Barbera is full of spices which would pair with the spices in the paella. Barbera is also not an overwhelming wine on the palate and can go with meat or seafood with its high acidity.
|Cardinal red with sparkling tonalities. Resolute bouquet, with trace scents of ripe plum and an undercurrent of mixed spices. Full flavor with long persistence.
Fruit Salad is a popular dessert for Noche Buena as it is easy to make and affordable. It normally contains fresh and canned fruits, mayonnaise and sometimes some macaroni.
A great pairing for the fruit salad would be the Bottega Petalo Moscato – Il Vino Dell’Amore made from Moscato grape. It’s a sparkling and fragrant wine, fruity and light, which would be delightful with the fruit salad. Another choice would be the Tonon Magia Fiore Bianco Dolce which is a white sparkling wine and has its own fruitiness to it.
|Flowers, fruits, Muscat grapes. Fragrant, delicate, markedly sweet. Delicate hints of roses.
Leche Flan, a caramel custard with a layer of caramel sauce, is also a favorite dessert for Noche Buena. It’s silky and creamy and not too sweet.
The Deakin Estate Moscato, also a sweet dessert wine, is perfect for the leche flan with its intense honey flavors, it will surely match the sweetness of the leche flan.
The fruity bouquet exhibits lifted tropical fruit, musk and floral aromas. These fragrances are followed by a low-alcohol palate revealing delicate flavours, which are balanced by fresh acidity. This spritzy drink ends on a refreshing note.
With all this food paired with these delicious wines, a joyful Christmas is guaranteed for everyone celebrating. Cheers!