A rich Amontillado-style cream sherry like this one works well for your more traditional pie – and traditional pie eater. It’s an unusually pale sherry, which uses fino instead of oloroso as the base wine, lightening up the style overall, and adding the interesting nuances. £10.06 at Waitrose.
H&H VERDELHO MADEIRA
Sometimes, nothing beats a good Madeira when you’re tucking into sweets. This high-quality 15-year-old bottle from the best producer on the island has delicious figgy fruit with ingenious racy acidity, plus a typical burnt-earth character, which balances well with the sweet spicy mince. £18.99 at Waitrose.
Harrow describes this sherry as “old, sophisticated and richly dry, like a particularly patrician uncle – complete with cravat.” It’s darkness and heft make it a perfect Christmas warmer, but it’s subtle and stern, too. A good fit for less sweet, more spicy pie mix. £15.99 at www.cadmanfinewines.co.uk.
If you fancy going off-piste, a demi-sec champagne like Veuve Clicquot’s Vintage Rich Reserve “has enough body and residual sugar not to be obliterated by the sweet fruit and spice of the mince.” The cleansing, springy taste is not unsubtle in itself, but it’ll serve to relax and calm taste buds in this case. £53 at Harrods.
CHATEAUNEUF DU PAPE
This classic southern Rhone is a great non-fortified option. It’s big and ripe, with leather, chocolate and “very naughty fruit”. Would work well with a lighter pie, since it’s a hefty, show-stealing beast itself. Deliciously decadent with aromatic, sweet fruits and very versatile. £16.95 (for the 2004) at www.leaandsandeman.co.uk