It’s Cham­pagne for break­fast, syrah with the bar­be­cue and sherry with the pud… Mas­ter of Wine Emma Jenk­ins sorts out the Christ­mas drinks.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

for the fes­tive ta­ble

Ial­ways write this par­tic­u­lar col­umn with an in­ter­nal wail, go­ing some­thing along the lines of “What?! Christ­mas al­ready?! What hap­pened to the year?!” De­spite my peren­nial best in­ten­tions, the fes­tive sea­son again looms with no dili­gently pur­chased and wrapped presents tucked away, no plans for the who/what/ wheres of Christ­mas dinner, no tree lights un­rav­elled... frankly, just no idea at all re­ally. Oh well, there’s some com­fort in such fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory, and of course I’m al­ways safe in the knowl­edge that come De­cem­ber I have plenty of wine on hand! So it’s def­i­nitely time to get on to my favourite Christ­mas “chore”: plan­ning the menu and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing wines. What­ever your fes­tive style, a hand­ful of well­cho­sen wines will al­ways el­e­vate the oc­ca­sion.

As we have small chil­dren, our Christ­mas Day starts early. It’s also one day when it’s never too early to open a bot­tle of sparkling wine, so break­fast is a glass of Cham­pagne served with scram­bled eggs adorned with a fes­tive sprin­kle of salmon roe. Sparkling wine is the ul­ti­mate fes­tive mood set­ter, and it hand­ily part­ners any seafood on the menu rather well too. New Zealand’s vi­brant sauvi­gnon blanc is an­other great seafood match, and mar­ries well with the fresh sal­ads that grace our sum­mer Christ­mases.

It can be hard to go past the clas­sic turkey­with-all-the-trim­mings, es­pe­cially paired with a good bot­tle of pinot noir, but for some­thing dif­fer­ent and fun, try a de­cent Australian sparkling shi­raz. Glazed ham suits rich chardon­nay, aged semil­lon or a lighter pinot noir – the lat­ter is also su­perb with salmon. If your spe­cial­ity is roast beef or lamb, or you love to fire up the bar­be­cue, be sure to grab New Zealand syrah or mer­lot/caber­net blends.

I’ve never been able to say no to my moth­erin-law’s Dun­can Fam­ily Christ­mas Pud with Shirley’s Brandy Cream Sauce (I’m sali­vat­ing just typ­ing it); its fruited rich­ness chimes per­fectly with a sweet ‘PX’ sherry. But if you pre­fer pavlova or tri­fle (maybe all three?), then a late-har­vest ries­ling or sweetly fizzy moscato will hit the spot.

A good spe­cial­ist wine shop can pro­vide great sug­ges­tions to match your bud­get and menu, plus they of­ten have glass­ware for hire – very handy if you’re ca­ter­ing for a crowd.

In­clude plenty of non-al­co­holic op­tions too; the gourmet soda mixes now avail­able add a touch of glam be­yond the usual OJ/le­mon­ade.

Once the feel­ing of im­pend­ing panic has abated, I be­come im­pa­tient for Christ­mas Day to ar­rive, ea­ger for the true plea­sures of spe­cial meals en­joyed with laugh­ter and loved ones. I wish you all a safe, happy and joy­ful Christ­mas.

Sparkling wine is the ul­ti­mate fes­tive mood set­ter.

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