Fine FoodsFiner ElementsThe Best Luxury Foods for Christmas

What better time to splurge on luxury foods than during the Christmas holidays? Here we look at classic and modern fine food favourites, what drinks to pair them with, and how to spot the best quality offerings.
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What better time to splurge on luxury foods than during the Christmas holidays? Here we look at the best luxury foods for Christmas, the classic and modern fine food favourites, what drinks to pair them with, and how to spot the best quality offerings.

Christmas is fast approaching. The season of family gatherings, mouthwatering food and exceptional drinks is finally upon us. A roast turkey with all the trimmings might be your festive staple, but we all deserve a little extra during the holidays—don’t we? From white truffles to oysters, and tender wagyu beef to jamón ibérico, there are plenty of luxury foods on the market you can treat yourself and your loved ones to. Pair them with wine, spirits or beer and you’ll be all set to entertain and impress your guests this holiday season.

Oysters

They might not look like much from the outside, but oysters are one of the world’s ultimate luxury foods. Succulent and delicately flavoured, these mollusks are best when eaten from September to April—during any month that contains the letter ‘r’, the old rule states—as they tend to spawn during the summer months. A crisp and bright Muscadet is always a classic pairing for oysters as well as a fantastic drink choice for its value, but a Spanish bone-dry Fino Sherry makes for a great match also. If you happen to have a Chablis or a Sancerre laying about, those are good too. Buy the freshest oysters from cold waters: they must be alive if purchased in the shell, and will maintain quality for about a week if stored well.

Wagyu beef

Best known for being the world’s priciest and most exclusive cut of beef, wagyu is considered the ‘Champagne’ of meat. With prices skyrocketing as high as £500/kg, this Japanese delicacy is easily recognisable as a luxury food due to its finely marbled appearance. It is the intramuscular fat that gives the meat its signature melt-in-the-mouth texture and powerful flavour. Like any red meat, red wine is its best friend—pair it with a smooth and fruity Cabernet Sauvignon or a Pinot Noir. For the best quality wagyu beef, rely on big-name independent butchers.

See also: Rib of Beef with Celeriac Puree & Red Wine Sauce

Jamón ibérico

It’s a legendary ham and the jewel in the crown of Spanish cuisine. The aroma and flavour of this luxury food are best savoured when accompanied by a good wine and good bread. A rule of thumb when pairing wine with ham is to go for the fruity, acidic, and bolder offerings. The refreshing white wines of Spain—like a good Albariño and Verdejo—greatly compliment this flavourful dry-cured ham, while for jamón dishes that are hot and spicy, choosing a light clear beer like lager would be best. For the highest quality jamón, look for the black lable: this signifies the ham is 100% Ibérico de Bellota, which means the meat comes from a pure-bred, Iberian pig fed only with acorns.

Caviar

This is one of the more traditional luxury foods that never seem to go out of fashion or fail to make an appearance on our dining tables during special occasions. Traditionally, it should be served with Champagne—a match as well known as any—but it can also be consumed with vodka, though experts say it’s best eaten as is and on its own. If there’s no Champagne in sight, a crisp white wine will do the trick. Whatever you serve, choose a well-known, high-quality brand and make sure it is well chilled. A few things to remember when shopping for caviar: paying more doesn’t guarantee good quality, don’t be afraid to start from the low end, buy enough and most importantly eat it fast.

Truffles

Truffles have been enjoyed as a luxury food since the ancient Roman times and are among the world’s most expensive ingredients. Versatile and incredibly aromatic, these expensive mushrooms are at their best when paired with equally earthy wines. Due to their shared origins, they go hand in hand with wines from northern Italy. Match white truffles with a Barolo—one of Italy’s most prestigious wines—a red produced in the northern region of Piedmont famous for its light colour and lack of opacity. If you’re choosing black truffles instead, pair them with a red Burgundy. When buying truffles, rely on leading suppliers and remember to buy them during the winter, as that’s when they are at their best.

See also: Chocolate on the Christmas Table

Foie gras

This popular and well-known delicacy has the power to turn a regular dinner into a special celebration. Although foie gras is known to fit nicely with many different wines, it is at its best when paired with fruity wines such as Sauternes, or the classic Champagne. It is also becoming increasingly common to have foie gras with red wine—like an excellent Bordeaux—especially if the delicacy is being served as an entrée. When buying foie gras, make sure to look for a delicate rosy colour with slight touches of beige.

Find out more about the best luxury foods for Christmas to enjoy this festive season, on The Master Chefs.