Your guide to Christmas Wine Pairing

Christmas time is a magical period. The holidays are here, and you are finally off from work; now you can just relax and enjoy some family time.

Even though this time is extremely joyous it can also be very stressful especially when you have to make the perfect Christmas dinner for your family and friends and it’s just you against time. To make things less easy there is also the Christmas wine dilemma. Which wine should I pair with my dinner? Which are the perfect Christmas food and wine pairings? If you are already starting to feel the pressure, do not despair because when you finish reading this article you will have the answers to all your doubts.

Even if here in Australia we share many similar traditions to the United States and Britain we have something that they do not have during this time of the year, and that is warm weather. It is in fact the warm weather that makes the Australian Christmas experience quite unique and made Australian put their own twist on classic European dishes.

So, let us dive into which are the perfect Christmas wine pairings for Australians favourite Christmas recipes.

Another imported dish that can be found in the Australian Christmas table is the mince pie, that has been exported to Australia from Britain. During Christmas time is usually adorned by a festive puff pastry star design. Typically, the Australian version of this mince pie includes as ingredients apples, sultanas, oranges, lemons, marmalade, almonds and brandy. Depending on the type of filling that you choose to use there are different Christmas wine pairings available. If you are serving a beef pie with gravy a Shiraz would be the right pairing, while if you serve a lean beef pie with mashed potatoes a Merlot would be a better option. Meanwhile, a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay would pair well with both a seafood pie and a vegetarian option. For example, Verwood Estate Wine Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2019 is toasty with stone fruit, custard apple and hints of berries from the Pinot Noir, that leaves a lingering flavour on the palate; it has a taste that quickly melts away after swallowing, leaving your mouth tingling while still fresh and clean.

Similarly, to the United States, the undisputed star of the Christmas dinner is the ham. Most of the time each family has its own secret recipe to make the perfect ham but usually the classic recipes require the ham to be glazed with honey, apricot or maple syrup and sometimes also pineapple juice is used. As an accompaniment, we often have cranberries sauce and baked apples. For this dish when deciding its perfect Christmas wine pairing the main element that you need to think about is the glaze, as it is the glaze that will make your ham very sweet. Another thing to take into account when choosing the wine is the temperature at which you will be serving the ham.

🍷 If your glaze has a marmalade element red wines that are bright and fruity will work perfectly. One example is the Verwood Estate Wine Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, a smooth wine full of flavour and aromas, with bold black fruits and toasty notes such as blackcurrant, red plum, eucalyptus.
🍷 If you made a glaze with some heat and spice using mustard for example you should go for a red wine like Zinfandel or Pinotage that are both wines that can handle spices and a smoky taste. Also, the Verwood Estate Wine signature Shiraz Rosé 2019 pairs perfectly with any dish with spices as it is less intense than a big busting mouth red, but has more depth than most Rosé with a beautiful strawberry colour; cherries and red berry aromas and flavours with a crisp finish. Meanwhile, if you made your glaze less sweet you can use a rich dry red like an Amarone.
🍷 If you are eating your ham as a leftover a light-bodied Beaujolais cru will definitely go along, but do not drink this wine if your Christmas ham is hot as it would make it taste weedy. And if you are not a red wine drinker you can choose a rich Sémillon that would work flawlessly with a pineapple glaze otherwise full-bodied whites such as Viognier pair really well.

We definitely cannot forget about, prawns, one of Australians favourite seafood that can be used both as a starter and as a main course. Australian’s Christmas dinner is not complete if it does not have some prawn cocktails or a tray of giant banana, king or tiger prawns. Similarly, to the Christmas ham, the choice of your Christmas wine pairing depends on how you cook your prawns. For a classic prawn cocktail served with a Marie-Rose sauce, an off-dry Riesling or a fruity rosé would pair very well. If you are serving your prawns fresh and without anything else Chardonnay is a perfect choice. The Verwood Estate Wine Chardonnay 2019 is an easy to drink, smooth wine with a taste of peach, pears and has a refreshing citrus finish that pairs well with any seafood dish.

After the main course, it is time for one of Christmas favourite desserts: the Christmas pudding. Originally from England, this dessert was brought, during the early time of the colonialization, to Australia. The main flavour that can be found in an Australian pudding is orange that gives the pudding a summery hint and this dessert here is usually served with custard. Generally, the Christmas pudding is fruity, dark in colour with a rich flavour and the main ingredients are cinnamon, ginger, raisins, sultanas, almonds, dates, figs and then brandy or rum. When deciding the Christmas pudding wine pairing you can either decide to go for a wine that is as intense as the pudding or for something lighter to give a crisper contrast. A good pairing would be a fruity wine like a Moscato that has some orange or apricot flavour.

Another famous Australian dessert is the Pavlova named after Anna Pavlova a famous Russian ballerina. This dessert is an egg dessert with a marshmallow-like centre and a meringue shell, and it is usually covered with whipped cream and seasonal fruits. Sauvignon Blanc is definitely a wine that pairs perfectly with the fruit and berries used in this dessert and its acidity also helps to penetrate the sweetness of the cream and meringue. Otherwise, a Moscato an aromatic and sweeter light sparkling style wine, also pairs well with the Pavlova as it is light enough to not overpower the dessert. If you feel like pairing this dessert with something fresher the Verwood Estate Wine Sparkling Shiraz Rosé 2019 with its beautiful strawberry colour, cherries and red berry aromas and flavours, with a crisp, smooth fruity finish would pairs perfectly with the Pavlova berries.

Let us know which wine will you be drinking this holiday season and what you’ll be pairing them with.

Wishing you a magical and blissful holiday!

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by Chiara Socal