Gastronomy |

Christmas à la “Japanese”

Christmas à la “Japanese”

When Christmas comes, and with it the cold, the traditions, and the long dinners, many of us start planning and preparing the dishes that we will serve during the meals with family and friends. 

Today, our sommelier Sergi Castro tells us how Japanese Christmas looks like!

“If I invite you to Christmas dinner (or lunch) in a Japanese style what do you think of it? Miso soup, sushi and sashimi, ramen or yakisoba, and some mochis for dessert… Well, you’re wrong (and very wrong). On the Japanese Christmas table, a few million of Japanese families will be eating fried chicken. Yes, a bucket of fried chicken pieces from that famous American chain you have in mind.

When I search, investigate and read every year to write the Christmas article for the blog, I try to find ideas that take me away from the traditional pairings of our tables on these special dates. In many articles you will find which are the best wines for sea bream, seafood, turkey, lamb and pig, or the suitability of pairing wine with “escudella i carn d’olla”. 

Are we able to give up the traditional “turrones” and “polvorones” to gather around the table with other meals? 

Maybe I digress too much, but I have become obsessed with this “Japanese style” Christmas.

But of course, am I going to give up everything? Well, of course not. I won’t mind surprising my guests with fast-food for the Christmas meal, but I’m telling you that the wines chosen will pair perfectly with this unexpected menu.

To understand this “tradition” we must go back to 1974, but at the same time understand that Japan is not a country with a Christian tradition, only 1% of the population is Christian, so Christmas Day is not an official holiday. So, the idea that families are going to spend all day cooking ham or turkey and side dishes is simply not viable. Instead, they show up with a bucket of chicken….

It all started thanks to Takeshi Okawara, the manager of the country’s first KFC. Shortly after opening in 1970, Okawara woke up at midnight and jotted down an idea that came to him in a dream: a “party barrel” to sell at Christmas.

Okawara came up with the idea after overhearing a couple of foreigners in his store talking about how they missed having turkey for Christmas, according to Nakatani. Okawara hoped that a Christmas dinner of fried chicken might be a good substitute, so he began marketing his Party Barrel as a way to celebrate the holiday. In 1974, KFC took the marketing plan nationwide and called it Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii, also known as Kentucky for Christmas.

The Party Barrel for Christmas almost immediately became a national phenomenon. There was no Christmas tradition in Japan, so KFC came along and said: This is what you should do for Christmas.

The company’s Christmas meal ads show Japanese families happily gathered around buckets of fried chicken. But it’s not just chicken breasts and thighs: the packs have been transformed into special family meal-sized boxes filled with chicken, pie and wine!

3055 RANGE

Christmas à la “Japanese”

And this is where I wanted to get to. But what wine should they be sold with this “family pack”? I have it very clear. Here the importance is not so much that it is chicken, but rather that it is battered and fried, which adds fat and at the same time a crunchy texture. Nothing like light and fresh wines, with a good acidity that will clean the fatness. 

The Jean Leon 3055 chardonnay or also the rosé will be very good choices, but if you want red wine, the petit verdot-merlot of the same range 3055 is a good compromise. With the Jean Leon 3055 rosé you can also combine with the strawberry and cream pie that traditionally follows the fried chicken in Japan. 

Perhaps taking a bucket of fried chicken to the Christmas meal is not the best idea at the table where the grandparents and aunts and uncles will be seated, but for those who celebrate Christmas with friends it can be an easy, practical way and above all it will give you a good time of conversation during the meal. And if you take care of the wines with this magnificent option that is Jean Leon’s 3055 range, we assure you, in addition, some good laughs.  Because it’s not about chicken or seafood. It’s about bringing together the people you love on these special dates.

Happy Holidays!

Sergi Castro – Sommelier Jean Leon