How Christmas was nearly lost

Posted on: 1st December, 2014

Category: The Wine Buff

Contributor: Tony Eklof

Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.

We take the celebration of Christmas for granted, the trees, gifts, music, and of course the food and wine. How different it would be if Cromwell or the Puritans in America had got their way.

Oliver Cromwell must be a contender for the least popular man in Irish history. His armies committed a number of atrocities during the 17th century, including the burning down of our own famous Franciscan Abbey in Timoleague. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his followers frowned upon ‘the waste, disorder, sin, and immorality of the Christmas celebrations’ and formed a Directory of Public Worship calling for the banning of the celebration of Holy Days including Christmas.

During the years 1642-1660, legislation was passed to this end, including an ordinance passed by the famous ‘Long Parliament’ in 1647 specifically banning the celebration of Christmas and Easter. Fortunately for us, all this legislation was swept away during the Restoration of the English monarchy under Charles II. A similar attack on Christmas occurred in Boston under the Puritans during the years 1659-1681.

In recent weeks I have had two meals out with wine which I thought would be perfect for Christmas, firstly a bottle of ‘Predator’ California Zinfandel, a new arrival at Deasy’s Seafood Bar and Restaurant in Ring, Clonakilty, a wine with definite wow factor. Secondly, dining out with my sister visiting from Connecticut in Cashel’s famous Chez Hans, we sampled the wonderful German wines, both white and red, which are imported directly by the restaurant. It is coincidental that good California and German wines are in short supply in our area, wine suppliers please note!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers of the West Cork People a happy and prosperous Christmas and may we give thanks that Cromwell didn’t get his way!

Recommendations: Christmas wines
Chateau de Carles, AOC Fronsac 2007. Lidl, €18. Very high quality Bordeaux from one of the best properties in the area, a steal at the price.
Guerrieri Rizzardi Pinot Grigio 2013. On special at O’Brien’s Fine Wines, Douglas, Cork. €10. There is a sea of nondescript Pinot Grigio out there, but this fresh, dry white from a top Bardolino estate is gorgeous.
Oyster Bay, New Zealand Sauvignon. SuperValu, on offer at €12. Crisp dry white, perfect for the pre dinner drink.
Lamole, Chianti Classico, 2011. €20. One of the finest chiantis, I’m afraid you must fly to Verona Airport for this one!
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