The seafood is on order, the turkey and ham are ready to be picked up from the butcher, and the plum pudding is approaching its peak. Yes, Christmas is once again around the corner, and with it a much wider array of dishes than the typical lunch or dinner
So how do you go about selecting the right wines with each dish or even course? You start right here, with our selection of wines encompassing both familiar labels and rising stars.
Sparkling wines are traditionally served with nibbles, but why not try something different this year by going with the current trend and choosing something pink.
For a fun and frivolous drink maybe try the Madfish 2018 Moscato ($20), a fresh and zingy little wine with a hint of sweetness from the same people in West Australia who make the more serious Howard Park wines. For something more challenging, the House of Arras Rosé 2007 ($90) is a dry and deliciously food-friendly aged bubbly from Tasmania.
Rieslings from the Clare Valley and semillons from the Hunter Valley are the traditional choices to pair with seafoods ranging from freshly-shucked oysters to prawns and crayfish.
The Mount Horrocks 2018 Watervale Riesling ($30) is bone dry, fresh, vibrant and citrusy with minerality and crisp acid finish, while the Tyrrell’s 2018 Johnno’s Semillon ($55) from the Hunter is long and textural and has terrific zippiness.
With the Christmas roast
Whether you opt for turkey, glazed ham or both, high-end chardonnays and pinot noirs are an ideal accompaniment, with flavours that complement, rather than overpower, roast meat.
The Kooyong 2016 Faultline Chardonnay ($60) from the Mornington Peninsula is a stand-out individual vineyard chardonnay with real panache, while the Soumah 2017 Yarra Valley Pinot Noir ($38) is a delightful drink; varietal with plenty of juicy fruit, length and savoury notes.
With cold meats and salads
On hot summer days, fresh and zesty is the way to go with wines, which are best served well chilled. With rosés all the rage, I recommend the Gundog Estate 2018 Indomitus Rosa ($40) – a delightfully dry and savoury wine from Hunter Valley young gun Matt Burton made using nebbiolo grapes from the Hilltops region of NSW. An alternative is the lip-smackingly fresh West Cape Howe 2018 Pinot Grigio ($18) from Western Australia, made in the vibrant Italian style.
Pairing with cheeses
Most Australians prefer red wine with their cheese platters and big, bold Clare Valley reds are always a good bet. The Knappstein 2016 Enterprise Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($50), a beautifully put together medium-bodied red with impressive style and swagger. Another option would be the De Iuliis 2017 LDR Vineyard 2016 Shiraz Touriga ($40), a feisty blend of the Hunter’s traditional red grape and an interloper of Portuguese origin.
With Christmas puddings and cakes
The De Bortoli 20-Years-Old Black Noble ($90) is a new take on the classic de Bortoli botrytis wines: a special release to mark 90 years of family winemaking. It is rich and concentrated with toffee, coffee and spice to the fore, but with a brisk acid finish. A more traditional choice would be the Yalumba 2017 Botrytis Viognier ($30 for 375mls) with luscious tropical and stone fruit flavours.
Organising the office Christmas lunch or having guests over to your place also means being mindful of vegans, many of whom avoid traditional wines as meat and fish products (including milk protein, gelatin, isinglass and egg albumen) are used in the fining process to remove proteins and yeasts.
Good options start with Margaret River's Vanya Cullen, the style guru in biodynamic, eco-friendly wines – its new-release Cullen 2017 Kevin John Chardonnay ($127) an elegant and pure wine that's set the Australian benchmark.
For red lovers, the Paxton 2015 Cracker Barrels ($55) is estate grown in McLaren Vale and as well as being organic, biodynamic and vegan-friendly, this classic blend of shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, is full-bodied, well balanced and thoroughly delicious.