Drinks News

What wines should you pair with your Christmas menu?

Robin Tedder of Glenguin Estate gives the lowdown on which drops are the best match for your festive menu, from the prawns straight through to the ham and dessert.

By Yvonne C Lam
Food comprises just half of the Christmas menu equation. A well-considered selection of wines to complement your entrees, through to the main event and dessert, will make your festive feast one to remember.
Here, Robin Tedder of Glenguin Estate in New South Wales' Hunter Valley shares the best wines to match with your Christmas menu. (And view the video above as Tedder busts common myths about wine.)
Looking for recipes for Christmas mains, sides and drinks?

Match oysters with: Hunter Valley sémillon

"Jancis Robinson, the most influential woman in the world of wine, describes Hunter Valley sémillon as Australia's unique gift to the world. It's perfect with most things, but especially with Sydney oysters.
When it's young, sémillon has those lemon and lime zesty characters that are a great foil for oysters. It also has mouth-watering crunchy apple acidity, but it's not oaked, and has a modest alcohol level."

Match prawns with: Clare Valley riesling

"Similarly to the sémillon, you need a crisp white wine but with a little more body and aromatics, as well as a slightly deeper flavour and higher alcohol to balance the full, salty flavours of prawns.
Want to match a red wine with your prawns? A top-quality Beaujolais with beautiful bright cherry notes is really refreshing. Serve it lightly chilled."

Match Christmas ham with: Tasmanian pinot noir

"You need a well-balanced pinot noir with ripe, red-berry characters and savoury complexity to complement the smoky intensity of ham. Pinot noirs from Tasmania are an excellent match."

Match Christmas turkey with: Barossa Valley shiraz

"Particularly Barossa shiraz produced in the modern mould. That is, not picked too late in vintage, and that's not too high in alcohol. Some of Barossa's young guns are producing wine in this style with a light touch of oak, specifically David Franz's Benjamin's Promise. The full-bodied, dark fruits, and chocolate-cake intensity of top-quality Barossa shiraz would balance the lean, slightly dry characters of the turkey breast and the rich gamey flavours of the leg."

Match Christmas lamb with: Hunter Valley shiraz

"You need a wine that will cut through, but not overwhelm, the delicate flavours of the lamb meat. The Hunter Valley shiraz is perfect for this – it's a medium-bodied yet intensely savoury wine which goes with the fatty, richness of lamb."

Match your pavlova with: botrytised sémillon from New South Wales

"You might also know botrytis cinerea as 'noble rot', a type of fungus that can grow on grapes. If it gets too wet it becomes grey mould, but if it stays fairly dry it shrinks the fruit and concentrates their flavours, acidity and sugars. The result is sémillon that's not as gloopy as other dessert wines. A botrytis-affected sémillon would blend in well with the richness of these desserts and has the weight – enough body, length and intensity – to hold its own against their high sugar content.
"On a side note – I have a menu for a dinner that was served to the UK's Law Lords where the Queen was the guest of honour. A good mate of mine was the chef, and do you know what they served with the Eton mess? A Glenguin sticky. They had all these great Burgundies, and they served this little sticky from the Hunter Valley."

Match your Christmas pudding with: Petit Manseng fortified wine

"It's not so well-known, but Petit Manseng is a French grape variety from Jurançon, just on the northern edge of the Pyrenees in the Basque region, and it's gaining traction in Australia. It's a cracking wine – it has this electrifying mouth-watering acidity that works with Christmas pudding. You could serve it with trifle or cheese, too."

And to finish: muscats from Rutherglen

"Unlike port, which has still-spirit added to it, people love muscats because they're totally naturally made. These wine producers re-ferment the muscats, leave them in barrels in hot storerooms, and about five to 10 per cent of their liquid evaporates every year. What you're left with is a super-concentrated wine that's great for the end of the meal. It warms the cockles of the heart, which might seem incongruous for a hot Australian Christmas day, but it's truly one of the world's greatest drinks."