Wine recommendations come thick and fast in the build up to Christmas. The weekend colour supplements and top-shelf foody mags are full of festive wine talk ahead of the big day, though quite what's so 'Christmassy' about any of the recommend wines is rarely explained. Wine seems to be the only currency the UK media are happy to deal in, particularly during the festive season when you'd be forgiven for thinking that no other alcoholic drink merits a place at the Christmas table. The well-worn path from Champagne to White to Red, with a fortified and a distilled grape-based drink to finish is hardly original, so why do we get the same dull formula year on year!
Beer rarely if ever gets a look in on these 'Festive Lists', this despite the fact that dozens, if not hundreds of Yuletide special beers make their appearance at this time of the year, both in bottle and on draught. Do wine writers drink nothing other than wine? Assuming they do, why on earth don't they write about it? A warming Winter Ale can be a real joy at Christmas, add in a crackling log fire and the buzz of your local at lunchtime on Christmas Day, and we're talking an essential part of the Yuletide experience. I can only assume that wine writers and foody journos rarely visit pubs. It's probably the lack of spittoons!
Which brings me to the most ignored of all alcoholic drinks, whether at Christmas or any time of year for that matter. Outside of the main Autumn cidermaking months, Cider and Perry are well and truly off the radar as far as the mainstream media are concerned, yet most Cider and Perry is consumed throughout the Summer months. Cider and Perry does perhaps suffer from the lack of range available in the larger retail outlets, but this is a Chicken and Egg situation. The more that drinks writers venture out of their cosy comfort zones in the Home Counties, search out fantastic artisan drinks producers in the wild scary countryside, and write positively about them, the more demand there's likely to be for drinks which originate closer to home than Stellenbosch and Hawkes Bay. Greater demand might just encourage supermarket buyers to increase their meagre range of ciders and perrys, thereby giving the drinks writers more to write about.... Instead we get the usual 'Ooh-arr, Scrumpy' press trotted out in October, predictably littered with 'hilarious' Wurzel references, and that's it for the year. Great!
So in the interest of greater balance, over the next few days I'll be presenting my own Cider Recommendations for Christmas Day. Six great ciders and perrys, all chosen to match critical moments on the big day. From the early morning Breakfast Pint, something Rich and Classy for the Queens Speech, through to a final 'Wafer-Thin' digestif to help the latest Harry Potter movie go down. So polish up your best glassware and throw the corkscrew out*. It's going to be a Cider & Perry-tastic Christmas this year, and you're all invited... To your own homes that is. Not round here, we haven't got the room!
*Actually, don't throw the corkscrew out. That would be very wasteful, and besides, you might need it on Boxing Day!