Raise a glass, or two
Venison is a very wine-friendly food, so you could roll out your very best big reds here. Châteauneuf-du-Pape would be great, or its near neighbours, Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Cairanne.
Taking a different tack, you could try matching the sauce with the fragrant dark cherry fruits of a Pinot Noir. New World might be best, and probably cheaper too, although if you have a nice bottle of Burgundy around, I would be tempted to pop the cork.
In the New World, New Zealand makes great Pinot Noir, but it is relatively expensive. Chile is cheaper, and a better option if you are catering for large numbers.
Turkey is a fairly accommodating bird, but tends to clash with dry, tannic red wines. Sauces and stuffings magnify this effect, so I go for something rounded and supple. Once again, a Pinot Noir, Australian Shiraz, or a rich Grenache from the Southern Rhône would fit the bill perfectly.
I will cover fortified and dessert wines next week, but in the meantime my suggestion to accompany Domini’s raisin and sherry ice-cream, with or without plum pudding, would be a few mouthfuls of sweet sherry. The Lustau Pedro Ximenez (Mitchell Son) is raisined and decadently sweet, but my desert island choice would be Gonzalez Byass Matusalem Oloroso Dulce (€20 per ½ bottle, O’Briens). Serve either lightly chilled, in small amounts, but in a large glass to allow the full glories to emerge.
What to drink with dinner
Fleurie 2010, Collin-Bourisset, 13%, €10For large-scale catering, Supervalu has a great St Chinian at €10; Superquinn has Cristia Grenache at €8, and Dunnes has this charming, easy-drinking red. Inexpensive Beaujolais can be watery at times, but this example is a good light, fruity wine with no rough edges. Stockist: Dunnes
Secano Pinot Noir 2011, Leyda Valley, Chile, 14%, €13.29This is a great value Pinot, with fragrant aromas, smooth dark cherry fruits with a hint of spice, and a decent finish. An elegant wine that would go perfectly with turkey or goose. I also think it would work very nicely with the venison and accompanying cherry sauce. Stockist: Marks Spencer
Taltarni Heathcote Shiraz 2008, Victoria, Australia, 14.5%, €17.99One of my wines of the year, this is a very nicely crafted wine with a good structure, big ripe mulberry fruits and dark chocolate. It lingers very nicely on the palate too. Serve in a nice decanter and wow your guests. Stockist: O’Briens
Baron de Boutisse 2008, St Emilion Grand Cru, 13.5%,€19.99Turkey and Bordeaux do not always make a great match, but I reckon this wine would go very nicely with venison. Medium-bodied with maturing, slightly leafy red fruits, and a dry finish. A very satisfying wine. Stockists: The Vintry, Dublin; O’Donovans, Cork; Londis, Malahide; Baggot Street Wines; Hole in the Wall, D7: Deveney’s, Dundrum.