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Food

Christmas food and wine matching guide

Planning your Christmas Day feast shouldn’t be a chore, so to make it a breeze we’ve put together this easy to follow Christmas food and wine matching guide.

Matching wine and food is as much about personal taste as anything else, and you may have your own family traditions, however some tried and tested pairings can be a good way to ensure your Christmas Day is one to remember.

Read below for our tips and start planning your most delicious Christmas yet!

Poultry

Turkey

If you were enjoying it entirely on its own, roast turkey would be one of the easiest ingredients in the world to match. You could drink your favourite white, red, rosé or even sparkling wine with it and it would work fine.

When turkey is served with a number of different accompaniments it can be a little complex to match wines to. With full-flavoured, fruity, spicy stuffing, tart cranberry sauce and an array of vegetables there are a lot of different flavours to take in, so choose something full and fruity that can stand up to so many flavours.

Turkey is medium weight so any white wine needs to have the body to match and this is why Chardonnay, Viognier and Pinot Gris are a great – all three are fuller-bodied dry whites with richer flavours.

Turkey is also lower in fat (hence why it needs basting), so it needs a wine with bright fruit and low level of tannin. Smooth, fresh and juicy wines like Grenache, Shiraz Viognier and Pinot Noir make great partners or if you’re in the mood for bubbles try a Sparkling red!

Chicken

Oaked Chardonnay is a blissful match with a simple roast chicken and also a good choice if the chicken is seasoned with tarragon or served with a creamy sauce.

If you have a slightly spicy stuffing or one with fruit like apricots in it, a rich white wine like Viognier is a good choice.

As for reds, Pinot Noir is a good choice for chicken served with its own juices or with truffles, and the generous sweetness of a Grenache is perfect if the chicken is accompanied with a traditional meaty gravy.

Goose

If you’ve decided to serve goose rather than turkey this Christmas you’ve already decided to be adventurous. So you could arguably be adventurous with your choice of drink too.

Goose is more strongly flavoured than turkey and is more like game but quite a bit fattier which means it’s essential to look for a wine that has a fair level of acidity. Pinot Noir offers a fantastic pairing, but select one with some sweet, silky fruit.

Baked glazed ham

Baked glazed ham has three things to contend with – the saltiness, the spice of the glaze, and the fat content.

A sweet glaze needs a ripe and fruity wine with juicy fruit flavours to offset the saltiness of the ham.  Riesling with its lime cordial flavours, Rose´ with raspberry nuances or the lemon curd flavours of Semillon all work well (think of the classic ham and pineapple combination – salty and sweet).

If you prefer reds choose wines with a lot of fruit and not too much tannin. Ripe reds like Merlot and Shiraz are plump and rich with red and black fruits that compliment the spice of the glaze and offset the salt.

Seafood

Citrus fruits are a natural accompaniment to seafood – the acidity offsets the richness of seafood and the sweetness compliments their delicate flavours.

White wines such as Riesling, Semillon and Vermentino are all perfect matches because of their citrus flavours, mouth-watering and energetic acidity.

Fresh prawns have a delicate flavour so the wine should simply act like a squeeze of lemon hence Semillon with its fine, piercing acidity and lemon flavour, is the perfect accompaniment.

Young, crisp Vermentino goes well with so many fish dishes, as well as oysters, raw shellfish and cold, seafood antipasti.

Dry Rieslings from the Clare and Eden Valley have a distinctive limey twist that makes them a particularly good match for spicy seafood dishes.

Or why not serve an entrée of smoked salmon with Champagne or Sauvignon Blanc for a match made in heaven.

Dessert

Christmas pudding

There is an argument that you don't need anything to drink with the classic Christmas pudding, especially if you've flamed it with brandy or served it with a brandy sauce, but if you fancy a small glass of something sweet and delicious, a dessert wine with a touch of orange or apricot such as late harvest or botrytis-affected wine make the perfect match.

Mince pies

Mince pies are very much like Christmas pudding and Christmas cake so you could drink much the same sort of wine with them. But tradition obviously plays a part in terms of what most people expect and they do pair particularly well with fortified wines like Tokay, sweet Sherry or Madeira.

Trifle

For a trifle with jelly, custard and cream, a sweeter style, spritzy wine perfect. If it is a classic Sherry trifle, depending on how much is already added to it, sherry is obviously an option.

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Words by Patrick Haddock & Mark Hughes on 7 Aug 2015
The Hunter Valley Wine Region is fast becoming a mecca for foodies. From casual bites to artisan cheeses and full degustation fine dining, there is a burgeoning restaurant scene that is exciting locals and visitors alike. Here is our list of the Hunter’s top 20 culinary delights. Muse 1 Broke Rd, Pokolbin (02) 4998 6777 Hands down the Hunter’s best fine dining destination conveniently located at the gateway to the vineyards inside the sleek architecture lines of Hungerford Hill winery. Chef Troy Rhoades-Brown uses the best seasonal produce to serve immaculate dishes such as butter-poached scampi tails, slow-cooked lamb and his signature Muse Coconut dessert. Restaurant Botanica 555 Hermitage Rd, Pokolbin (02) 6574 7229 Restaurant Botanica at Spicers Vineyards Estate has made a name for itself thanks to its emphasis on sustainability. They make fresh bread daily and use their on-site kitchen garden to create healthy and locally sourced dishes that deliver freshness and flavour. Margan Restaurant 1238 Milbrodale Rd, Broke (02) 6579 1317 Margan uses produce from its one-acre kitchen garden and orchard in its the Meditteranean-inspired meals and complements it with Andrew Margan’s award-winning wines. A delightful atmosphere with views of the Brokenback Range.   Bistro Molines 749 Mount View Rd, Mt View (02) 4990 9553 Located at Tallavera Grove Bistro Molines is coveted by locals as one of the Hunter’s little gems thanks to the consistent cooking of Frenchman Robert Molines, who arrived in the region in 1973. Rustic provincial cooking paired with a stunning wine list. Circa1876 64 Halls Road, Pokolbin (02) 4998 4998 One of the new culinary highlights of the Hunter, located in the refurbished site of the historic Robert’s Restaurant at Pepper’s Convent. American-born chef George Francisco uses seasonal produce from the on-site kitchen garden to create a superb menu of modern Australian with French flair. Muse Kitchen Hermitage Rd, Pokolbin (02) 4998 7899 Muse Kitchen (at Keith Tulloch Wines) is the second Hunter venue from Troy Rhoades-Brown, this one somewhat more laid back but still delicious seasonal produce. Breakfast at the weekends is not to be missed. Esca 790 McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin (02) 4998 4666 Located at Bimbadgen Estate, Esca serves modern Australian cuisine such as confit pork belly and Madgery Creek venison. Match with Bimbadgen wines or something off the varied international list. Verandah Restaurant Palmers Lane, Rothbury (02) 4998 7231 Situated at Calais Estate, the Verandah Restaurant serves up delicious tapas or a la carte dishes such as slow-braised pork belly.   Make sure you save some space for the signature dessert of soft chocolate soufflé with Baileys and almond ice cream. Sabor 319 Wilderness Rd, Lovedale 1300 958 850 Sometimes it’s a sweet hit you require and if you like to skip mains, Sabor is the place for you. Portuguese custard tarts, gourmet ice creams, hand made chocolates and terrific coffee. Café Enzo Cnr Broke & Ekerts Rd, Pokolbin (02) 4998 7233 Located next door to the boutique wines of David Hook in Peppers Creek village, Café Enzo’s charming Tuscan-inspired courtyard is open for traditional breakfast, and lunch dishes such as barramundi on kipfler potatoes & pea purée.   Mojo’s on Wilderness 84 Wilderness Rd, Lovedale (02) 4930 7244 By day you can stop by the deli and stock up on gourmet sandwiches, delicious tarts and quiches straight from the oven, in the evening, Ros and Adam Baldwin serve up cultured European cuisine with natural flair.   Restaurant Cuvee at Peterson House Cnr Broke Rd & Wine Country Drive, Pokolbin 02 4998 7881 At the very gateway of the Hunter Wine Region is Peterson House where you can taste the best sparkling wines and pair them with the freshest of oysters then stay on for the full a la carte menu using regional produce. Smelly Cheese Shop 2188 Broke Rd, Pokolbin 02 4998 6960 No trip to the Hunter is complete without a visit to the Smelly Cheese Shop. Now in two convenient locations, there’s no better way to match the wines of the region than to some of the locally made and international cheeses. A cheese lover’s paradise! Goldfish Cnr of Broke & McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin (02) 4998 7688 Unwind in this bar & kitchen in the heart of the Hunter. Down to earth, laid back dining paired with a broad cocktail list with a range of tequila, whisky, boutique beer and of course, wine. Oishii Cnr of Broke & McDonalds Rd’s, Pokolbin  02 4998 7051 Right next door to Goldfish at Tempus Two Winery you’ll find Oishii which fuses the best of Thai and Japanese cuisine. There’s sushi, sashimi and teppanayaki as well as Thai curries and salads.   Lindemans 1843 café McDonalds Rd, Pokolbin 02 4993 3700 Casual and comfortable dining for the whole family with dishes like wood fired pizzas, pulled pork and wild mushroom risotto – all at reasonable prices.   Tatler Tapas 477 Lovedale Road, Lovedale  (02) 4930 9139 Head chef Katy Carruthers has designed a delicious range of tapas delights including bacalau & potato croquetas, sardines escabeche, and Moroccan meatballs Shakey Tables 1476 Wine Country Dr, North Rothbury 02 4938 1744 Art and food collide at chef Paula Rengger’s Shakey Tables, which serves up modern Australian blended with touches from Paula’s Scottish heritage. Morpeth Sourdough 148 Swan Street, Morpeth 02 4934 4148 On the other side of the Hunter in the picturesque village of Morpeth, this is the site where the iconic Aussie brand Arnott’s started. Morpeth Sourdough serves an amazing range of sourdough breads. A must visit.
Food
Seasonal Abalone
Words by Libby Travers on 14 Jun 2016
Noma restaurant’s temporary Sydney relocation has swept a wind of change through our kitchens. Their (self-proclaimed) mission was to put Australia on the plate. Drawing on culinary traditions and native ingredients without fear or favour, Rene Redzepi and his team painted an image of Australia’s culinary culture. The exercise drew out questions, ideas and inspiration. One dish that encapsulated this combination of native ingredient and cultural cringe was the abalone schnitzel. A mainstay of the Australian pub menu, the ‘schnitty’ is likely to have found its way on to Australian tables following the post-WWII wave of immigration from Europe. The abalone, on the other hand, had been a part of the Australian diet for many, many years before that. Abalone history Also known as mutton fish, abalone has been a part of aboriginal diets for thousands of years. Their distinctive flat, oval shells, replete with mother of pearl inlay, have been discovered in middens along Australia’s coastline. Favouring cold waters with high salt content, regular tidal movement and abundant seaweed forests (for food), the southern Australian coastline provides one of the world’s best natural environments for abalone. This is reflected in industry: Victoria has served as an important abalone fishery since the late 1950s, while Tasmania now supplies around a quarter of the annual world abalone harvest. This is in part due to the overfishing of abalone stocks globally. As abalone is highly prized, and can reach impressive prices at market (around $100/kg), many abalone fisheries have been plundered by poachers on top of the commercial market, leaving them decimated. We are certainly not immune, however, abalone fishing is heavily protected in Australia with commercial diving licenses limited by haul quantity and shell size, and is also regulated to protect breeding grounds. Recreational divers can also brave the elements (and often shark infested waters) to prize the muscle from rocks, but their haul is also severely limited (it varies state to state). Flavour profile A prized delicacy, particularly in Japan and China, abalone is somewhat similar to squid in regards to flavour and texture. It also reacts in a similar manner when cooked and benefits from super quick flash frying or long and slow braising. Anything in between renders it too tough and chewy to be enjoyable. Select and store We have four key varieties of abalone in Australia: greenlip, blacklip, brownlip and Roe’s abalone. There is a farmed cocktail size now also available. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on fresh, live abalone, Stephanie Alexander suggests storing them like you would live oysters - in a wet hessian bag in a cool spot. To clean the abalone, slide a sharp knife under the muscle to separate it from the shell. Generally you will then cut out the v-shaped stomach (although in some cultures this is kept in place and eaten with the rest of the abalone). Scrubbing the surface of the abalone is also suggested to remove the coloured membrane and frill around the edge. Abalone is then most often sliced very finely for quick cooking, or a little wider for a long braise. It is often tenderised with a meat mallet to help break down the muscle fibres. Abalone love Soy sauce, mirin, ginger, sake, garlic, butter, chilli, lemon.
Food
More pork on your fork
Words by Mark Hughes on 10 Aug 2015
One of my favourite scenes in the TV show, The Simpsons, is when Lisa is telling her dad Homer that she is no longer going to eat meat.

“What about bacon?” asks Homer.

“No,” replies Lisa.

“Ham?”

“No.”

“Pork chops?”

“Dad, those all come from the same animal.”

“Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.”

It might have been a great punchline on TV, but in reality Homer was pretty spot on. The varied cuts of pork and the vast ways to cook them has seen pork become very popular with Australians. But it hasn’t always been this way. Statistics show that 50 years ago it was beef and lamb that dominated the dinner plate; pork, and chicken for that matter, were barely a blip on the radar. One of the key reasons why this has changed is also the same reason why we are drinking table wine instead of fortifieds, and that is immigration. Our once predominant English-inspired dinner of meat and three veg has thankfully been complemented by a succulent array of delicious dishes. Think spaghetti Bolognese, pasta carbonara, chorizo paella, char siu – all of which, incidentally, feature pork; and that is not even thinking about breakfast (bacon and eggs) or, for that matter, lunch; ham and salad sandwich, anyone? Kitchen tradition Peter Haydon, marketing manager for Australian Pork , says tradition has played a huge role in shaping our food preferences and hindered his job in promoting pork. “People grow up to cook the meals their parents cooked,” he says “That was steak and veg, lamb chops, roast beef.” Decades ago Australian Pork had great success with the ‘get some pork on your fork’ campaign – many of you reading this will still have that phrase indelibly inked on your memory, and while that brought attention to the ‘other white meat’, it only did some of the job. “The next challenge was teaching them how to cook it,” says Peter. For the past decade, Australian Pork have marketed PorkStars – a collection of well-known chefs such as Manu Feildel , Giovanni Pilu , Alessandro Pavoni , Dan Hong, Chui Lee Luk – all of whom have shown Australians how to cook pork via events and recipes. Manu explains that pork played a huge role in his upbringing in France, learning different cuts and the many ways to prepare them. It is this knowledge that he hopes to pass on through his recipes.   “Food has always played a big part in our lives, my dad was a chef, so was his dad,” says Manu. “One of my uncles is a ‘charcutier’, so he’s an expert with pork and making pork products, such as salamis, pâtès, rillettes, and his own specialities, so pork has always been part of my diet. “I believe that pork is more versatile than any other animal,” states Manu. “You can eat everything from ‘nose to tail’. Roasts, stews, pan fried, deep fried, confit. Charcuterie, and things you not think about, like intestine for sausage skin, blood for black pudding, head for terrines, trotters, tail, ears, and more. “Creating recipes with pork is endless and it is a great match with other ingredients. It pairs beautifully with fruits such as apple, prunes, apricots, so as a chef, you can let your imagination run wild.” The science of eating Manu is also brand ambassador for Murray Valley Pork , part of the Rivalea group and Australia’s largest pork producer. They sell their extensive range of pork products exclusively through butchers and see the affable chef as a great way to promote their brand and also to continue to educate Australians on how to cook pork. “Manu’s reputation as an acclaimed chef has been instrumental in growing awareness of the brand,” says Sean Barrett, marketing manager with Murray Valley Pork. “We work together to communicate the same message: the best quality taste and experience when it comes to pork.” To this end, over the past 15 years Murray Valley Pork have invested heavily in addressing many concerns of consumers, from animal welfare to issues such as dryness, colour and pork taint, to create a better quality product. “There’s a cultural misconception that pork needs to be served well done, however more consumers are understanding this is not the case,” says Sean, who explains that they use a number of techniques including moisture infusion to ensure their pork doesn’t dry out from cooking. “It is easy to cook, which means everyone can produce a great result This guarantee of a soft, tender and delicious meal every time significantly increases consumer confidence in cooking pork.” Well-fed welfare Dr Rebecca Morrison, animal welfare programs manager at Rivalea, details how the company has also set the benchmark in providing the best care of their stock. “Rivalea commits to ‘care for every pig, every day’,” she says. “For instance, instead of pregnant sow stalls, our pregnant sows are now housed in social groups. This ensures that the sow is able to move freely within group housing and is able to perform natural social behaviours. More than half of our pigs are reared in straw-bedded housing systems. “Other programs include loose farrowing systems, group weaning of sows and environmental enrichment for animals. This humane treatment ensures the end product is of the highest quality.” It is these points that Manu believes will see pork continue to grow in the market and is the reason why he chose to work with the brand. “Murray Valley Pork produces the highest quality of meat,” he says. “They do this ethically and responsibly. And I love the consistency, sweetness and tenderness across all of their cuts.” Check out Manu's delicious pork recipes with our wine matching suggestions Pork, peas and asparagus risotto
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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