Master of Wine Emma Jenkins has some valuable advice and suggestions that will help ensure your Christmas drinks are sorted.
So... you’ve spent the past 10 months diligently purchasing and wrapping presents, and of course you’ll have your Christmas dinner planned, the tree decorations unravelled and updated, and you’ll know who’s bringing the crackers and who’s in charge of the Secret
Santa. No? Me neither. That’s what December 24th is for. But what I do have – and you can too – is my wine sorted. There’s nothing like having your drinks in order to soothe the festive furrowed brow.
This time of year, great specials abound. A moment taken to ponder what’s looming ahead works wonders for getting the right wines at the right price. Is there an office party to cater for, 50 family barbecues, or perhaps you need wines to match an elaborate Christmas menu? While it’s tempting just to head to the supermarket, a good specialist wine shop is worth considering, as not only will they have suggestions to match your budget and menu, they also often have glassware for hire, usually at minimal or no charge when you buy their wine. Another bonus can be sale-or-return options for any unopened bottles.
How much should you buy? Generally allow around half a bottle of wine per head and make adjustments from there based on the habits of your guests and type of occasion (for example, people tend to drink more in the evening than the day, and more white than red when it’s hot). Include plenty of non-alcoholic options – you can also lighten things up with loweralcohol wines or have chilled soda water to make wine spritzers.
Taking time to match a few wines to your Christmas menu can really elevate the meal to another level. Sparkling wine is a great festive mood setter, and partners most seafood well. Sauvignon blanc is another seafood match, and perfect with summer salads. Ham suits rich chardonnay, aged semillon or lighter pinot noir; the latter is also super with salmon. Pinot goes well with turkey too, but for something different and fun, look for an Aussie sparkling shiraz. Serve New Zealand syrah with a barbecue and round it all off with a late harvested riesling or fruity, fizzy moscato with your pav or trifle.
A little planning now will pay good dividends when the silly season is in full swing. Tucking away a few bottles each week in the run-up makes the budget more manageable and ensures you are well stocked for any last-minute invites or unexpected guests. I like to buy a few extra bottles of decent sparkling wine to have on hand as spare/emergency gifts too – any remaining post-Christmas make the perfect gift to yourself for having made it through another year!
A little planning now will pay good dividends when the silly season is in full swing.