After an unusually long year, Christmas is finally approaching. Tis the season to be jolly, though people might need a little extra help with that this year.
This month would normally be the time where one would go out for annual work and social Yule Tables (directly translated for all you non-Norwegians reading this article). However, even as the lockdown is lifted, hotels and restaurants are faced with severe restrictions and our ability to congregate indoors is clearly hampered. Norwegians wouldn’t necessarily mind gathering outdoors, but one would suspect most people aren’t so inclined with the weather being “cold” and “miserable” despite temperatures barely going below double digits. Therefore, more people are looking to celebrate at home with their families and/or other co-inhabitants, as evidenced by the rapid growth of online alcohol retailers offering home deliveries.
A favourite drink of both Brits and Norwegians alike for seasonal celebrations is of course Champagne. Many Brits tend to prefer a glass of bubbly on their Christmas Day brunches, whereas Norwegians like to get a head start on Christmas Eve, preferably accompanied by the sweet tunes of the Silver Boys (another direct translation). Yet others prefer their own traditions when it comes to drinking the liquid gold: as a welcome drink for the guests’ arrival, pre-dinner drinks, as a dessert or starter accompaniment, or indeed on its own whenever one prefers. Such is the versatility of Champagne, because there are many different styles to suit everyone’s preference.
For the welcome drinks or pre-dinner aperitifs, choose a style with more body and power, perhaps a champagne made with more Pinot Noir than Chardonnay for a richer, less acidic tipple. If pairing Champagne with the food at dinner (yes, it can be done), keep in mind the fat content and sweetness of your dish. If you go for the traditional pork belly like most Norwegians, an aged yet crisp Blanc de Blancs might cut through the fat much like the shot of aquavit would. For a British roast duck, a fuller rosé Champagne should do the trick (it would also go great with gingerbread men after dinner).
However, when it comes to the Champagne of Champagne moments there is only one advice to keep in mind: Don’t waste the expensive vintage bottle by popping the cork on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Everyone is either too full or distracted to really appreciate it (especially aunt Helen on her fourth Sherry since dinner). You’re better off starting the evening with the Vintage you really want to savour and to use the slightly more reasonable yet delicious Non-Vintage Champagne for the bottle popping, or sabrage if you really want to show off.
No matter how you end up celebrating this year, the most important thing is of course that you enjoy yourself and take care of each other, with or without Champagne. And as always, enjoy yourselves responsibly.