We Wish You a Sparkling Christmas and a Few Iced Cold Beers

We Wish You a Sparkling Christmas and a Few Iced Cold Beers

Written by
Vintage Cellars
February 16, 2017
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There is joy to be found in preparing and serving delicious Christmas fare, but you really can take it to the next level with the right tipple.

Searching for unifying Christmas themes centred around food and drink is a tricky business. Particularly in multicultural Australia. Traditions of hot roasts on days that can be 42C˚ remain stubborn - and strangely enjoyable. Some opt for the bronzed Aussie look on the beach, eating prawns. Others turn the paradisiacal Australian backyard into a Xmas and BBQ theme park, where increasingly exotic dishes are created in true MasterChef style.

None of these ideas are particularly representative or true, but at least they give us an idea and maybe even some inspiration for our own Christmas Day plans. I’ve had a go at all of the following over the years, and I reckon the success rate is high because the emphasis is actually on preparing the food and the drink. And speaking of which, Australia enjoys a broad church when it comes to wines and other beverages to help quench the Christmas thirst. Here are a few ideas to suit some different Christmas moods.

Champagne breakfasts

This technique gets the job out of the way early. It is cold roast chicken, homemade bread, your own coleslaw menagerie, and champagne - from Champagne. Given the growing number of Champagne brands now coming into Australia there’s more choice and better value. With chicken, the Moutard Brut Grande Cuvée NV is a bargain, and its 100% pinot noir blend makes for a more robust yet still brilliantly elegant wine.

Christmas lunch

Glazed ham, cherries, mangoes, peaches, pavlova, prawns. Prawns! Goodness me we go through prawns during the festive season. Eight million kilograms are sold at Christmas, equating to 240 million prawns - or 11 prawns per man, woman and child. Thank goodness then that we have an array of wine styles with which to wash them down, my favourite being Fino sherry, such as Tio Pepe Fino in the 750ml format, complete with all the aldehydic almond and apple bouquets you could wish for - if you like that sort of thing.

If you seek purity of fruit flavour, Riesling is the other safe option here, and we are spoilt for choice in the sub-$20 area. Pewsey Vale’s 2014 is textbook lemon and lime - and a single vineyard wine to boot. And if those two wines are found to be polarizing, we have the recently reborn wonder white: chardonnay. De Bortoli Yarra Valley Villages is incredible value under $20, and makes some poncy, real white burgundies look tired and dull. White stone fruits, the nicest whiff of subtle oak, add savoury and sweet.

Sparkling Australian Shiraz

But what do you do with a Weber-style turkey? Easy - sparkling Australian Shiraz. It’s a unique wine style peculiar to Australia, and befits Christmas Turkey like nothing else. The Black Chook Sparkling Shiraz combines McLaren Vale’s white chocolate and plum fruit flavours with the muted oak effects of three years in barrel, and then gets the balance right with just enough dosage richness. Serve it super cold in normal wine glasses and everyone is happy after their first glass. It’s red wine and sparkling wine and festivity and luxury all in the one package.

And the seasonal drink on permanent standby

Pimm’s No. 1 Cup might be the essence of an English Summer garden party, but boy is it well suited to that lost week between Christmas and New Year. A gin-based liqueur weighing in at 25% ABV, it makes a perfect long drink with lemonade, soda, long, thin batons of cucumber, orange slices and mint.

With a Pimms in hand there seems to be one overarching theme: Christmas is a coma diet; we eat and drink so much that all we really want to do is fall asleep. And that suits me fine.