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Who’s Drinking What Over The Holidays

By Alex Russell on December 23, 2015 in Food

Photo: Jacques Shiraz

Photo: Jacques Shiraz

I was recently asked about food and wine matching over the summer/Christmas break, so I’ve put together some recommendations. They’re This is a decent guide, but feel free to break the rules too!

Cheeky beers to start – Sour beers are coming into fashion, so I’ll share a few of them with my brother and brothers-in-law, along with some palate-cleansing pale ales. The Robin Hood Hotel at Charing Cross has a great range of beers. Tell Luke I sent you.

Seafood – Think refreshing, zingy whites. Rieslings work (Clare and Eden are easy, but do consider other regions) – remember that most Aussie Rieslings are not sweet. Pinot Gris or Grigio will also go well, but for me, I’ll be digging into Hunter Semillon. Tyrrell’s Vat 1 or Thomas Braemore, or even the new Thomas Murphy’s Vineyard, are all cracking wines. All of these styles will be great on a hot day. Semillon with prawns is one of my favourite go-tos.

Cold meats – You can go to lighter reds here if you like, so Pinots will work well, or Beaujolais/Gamay. You can even chill them down a little bit if you like. There’s some great drinking to be had around the $20-25 range. For me, I’ll be going a nice Chardy, probably Curly Flat this year, or perhaps a Viognier from Clonakilla or By Farr. Something with a bit more body than the seafood whites works for me. There isare incredible stuff coming out of Tumbarumba too.

Roast meats – Chardonnay with chicken, Central Otago Pinot with pork, Shiraz or Grenache with lamb and Cabernet or Shiraz with beef. Don’t chill down the reds here; just enjoy their full flavour. This is where you can really go nuts and get into something special. Personally, I like to pull out the sparkling Shiraz – this year, it’ll be the Joseph Sparkling Red.

Puddings and dessert – Seriously, when was the last time you had a dessert orr fortified wine? We never do in Australia, but here’s your chance. Get into a lovely half bottle of dessert wine (Noble One is a cracker, but any decent bottle shop will have a few other options, too). Botrytis dessert wines tend to be fuller and richer, while late- harvest styles tend to be more elegant. Go nuts with port, tokay or muscat, although these are now called different things, so just look for the section in the shop. I have some Chateau Suduiraut (a personal favourite dessert wine) and some great fortifieds from Seppeltsfield.

Vegetarian/Vegan – Some wines use animal products during the fining/filtering process. There are vegan-friendly wines that don’t use these (see As for matches, consider the style of food that you’re eating. If it’s refreshing and fruity, go with the seafood recommendations. If it’s very full-flavoured, go the roast meats recommendations.

I trust that you’ve enjoyed my columns this year. Hopefully you all have a chance to put your feet up and unwind with a decent glass of something. If you want me to write about a certain topic next year, let me know by emailing