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Food

Festive food and wine matching made easy

Tis the season for fabulous festive food and wine matches.

Whether you’re catching up with friends over a casual bite, indulging in a family Christmas feast, or celebrating New Year’s Eve with a selection of finger food, there are so many opportunities to discover a diverse range of delicious food and wine matches.

If you like to stick to tradition on Christmas Day, pair a Sparkling Aussie red with a classic roast and clove-studded ham, or if you’re going for a lighter option of fresh seafood and salads, Semillon and Riesling are perfect. Whatever your festive food choices, there’s a wine to suit!

Festive celebrations

Festive Wine Matching Infographic Guide

Light and aromatic whites
When Nicole Gow is hosting a festive catch-up with friends, she likes to make sure the food is a celebration of fresh Australian produce and Sydney rock oysters with ginger and shallot dressing is one of her go-to choices. And for wine? “The subtle flavours in this classic summer entree need a celebratory Sparkling or a light and aromatic white wine match such as Sauvignon Blanc & blends, Riesling, Vermentino or Pinot G,” she says.

Medium weight and textural whites
Adam Walls is a huge fan of summer seafood and while he loves simply serving it fresh with a dash of lemon, he also enjoys adding a few other delicious flavours like in the prosciutto wrapped prawns with a rocket aioli recipe. When choosing a matching wine, he says, “With the rich flavours of the prosciutto and aioli, go for a medium weight and textural white wine such as the traditional varieties of Verdelho and Chardonnay, or for something different, Arneis or Fiano.”

Light to medium weight and savoury reds
Dave Mavor is a Christmas traditionalist, so Pete Evans’ glazed Christmas ham is always on his menu. But that doesn’t mean you have to go heavy on the reds, he explains, “Just perfect for the Australian climate, light to medium weight and savoury reds like Pinot Noir, Merlot, Grenache & GSM blends and Nero d’Avola are a fantastic choice for this beautiful ham recipe.”

Richer and fuller bodied reds
Trent Mannell relishes a big, bold red wine, whatever the weather, but of course in Australia we’re lucky to have so many fantastic Sparkling reds to enjoy in summer. “Sparkling reds are a uniquely Australian festive tradition and are ideal with roasted turkey and smoked oyster stuffing,” Trent say, “Or you can match other rich, full-bodied reds like Shiraz & blends, Cabernet & blends, Sangiovese or Tempranillo.”

 

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Wine
Pursuit of Perfection - Australian Pinot Noir
Words by Dave Mavor on 2 May 2017
Australia's established Pinot Noir regions are continuing to develop and evolve remarkable examples of this varietal. But for the big future of Aussie Pinot, we may need to look west. I'll admit it - not everyone is a fan of  Pinot Noir . But that fact, in itself, is what makes Pinot so enigmatic - aficionados swoon, swillers scoff. And this suits Pinot (and its lovers) just fine because in this land of the tall poppy, it is not always favourable to be too popular. That said, Pinot is one of the most revered and collected wine styles in the world, with the top examples from its homeland in Burgundy selling for outrageous sums of money. It is generally quite delicate (some say light-bodied), and it takes a certain development of one's palate to truly appreciate its delightful nuances, perfumed aromas, textural elements and supple tannin profile. It appears that if you enjoy wine for long enough, eventually your palate will look for and appreciate the more subtle and complex style that quality Pinot can provide. A good point that illustrates this comes from winemaker Stephen George, who developed the revered Ashton Hills brand. "A lot of older gentlemen come into the cellar door and say they love Shiraz, but it doesn't love them anymore," he says. "So we are getting some of my generation moving over to Pinot Noir, and the young kids of today are also really embracing it." THE ALLURE OF PINOT (FOR THE WINEMAKER) Winemakers love a challenge, and there is no doubt that Pinot is a challenging grape to grow, and even more challenging to make. The Burgundians have certainly nailed it, but they have been practicing for thousands of years, and this is part of the key. The cool climate of Burgundy has proven to be a major factor, as is the geology of the soils there, but they have also shown the variety to be very site-specific - vines grown in adjacent vineyards, and even within vineyards, can produce very different results. Vine age too, is critical. True of most varieties, but especially Pinot Noir, the best fruit tends to come from mature vineyards, considered to be around 15 years old or more. Yields too, need to be kept low to get the best out of this grape, as it needs all the flavour concentration it can get to show its best. Australian winemakers have taken these lessons to heart - gradually developing ever cooler areas to grow Pinot, working out the best soil types, and carefully exploring the ideal sites within each vineyard to grow this fickle variety. They're also working out the best clones and the most appropriate vine spacing, and then managing the vine canopy to allow just the right amount of dappled sunlight to reach the ripening bunches. Our vines are getting older, reaching that critical phase of maturity, and yields are managed carefully to coax the maximum from each berry. Once in the winery, the grapes need careful handling due to their thin skins and low phenolic content, so physical pump-overs are kept to a minimum. These days more and more winemakers are including a percentage of stems in the ferment to enhance the aromatic and textural qualities of the finished wine, and oak usage is more skilfully matched to the style being produced. THE STATE OF PLAY OF PINOT Australian viticulturists and winemakers are getting better at producing top quality Pinot with every passing year. And that quality is truly on show in our most recent State of Play tasting. It's been five years since we last had an in-depth look at Pinot Noir in this country. And what a change we've seen in that time! The overall quality of Australian Pinot is certainly on the rise. But what is perhaps the biggest development in the last five years has been the emergence of a potential Pinot giant  in the west . As you will see in our reviews across the following pages, the established Pinot producing regions such as the  Yarra Valley ,  Tasmania  and  Adelaide Hills  are still well represented in our Top 20, but they are joined by newcomers, the cool-climate  Tumbarumba  region of NSW, and an impressively strong showing from the  Great Southern  and  Pemberton  areas of Western Australia. In fact, five wines in the Top 20 are from WA - an amazing statistic given that there were none five years ago. THE EMERGING PINOT GIANT - WA We have seen a marked increase in the number and quality of Pinots coming from the West in recent years, particularly from the vast  Great Southern  area encompassing the five distinct sub-regions of Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongorup, as well as a secluded pocket of the South West around Pemberton and Manjimup. So what has led to the emergence of WA as a Pinot powerhouse? According to second generation winemaker Rob Wignall, whose father Bill pioneered Pinot production in Albany, there have been a number of small improvements that make up the overall picture. He believes that climate change has been a significant and positive factor, moving the region's climate into more of a semi-Mediterranean situation with mild summer days and a reduction in rainfall throughout the growing season, leading to improvements in disease control and better canopy management. In addition, Rob feels that better oak selection and winemaking practices such as 'cold soaking' of the must prior to fermentation have led to improvements in the finished product. He is also a strong advocate for screw caps, believing that the delicate fruit characters of Pinot really shine under this closure, and that they also enhance the age-ability of the wines. Luke Eckersley, from regional icon Plantagenet Wines in Mt Barker, points to the variations in micro-climates and soil types across the Great Southern region as a factor. "Pinot Noir styles are varied with complex savoury styles from Denmark; elegant perfumed styles from Porongurup; rich fruit driven styles from Mount Barker; big robust styles from Albany; lighter primary fruit styles from Frankland River," he says. Michael Ng, winemaker from Rockcliffe in Denmark, adds that the cool climate with coastal influences allows full flavour development in the fruit, while still allowing for wines of finesse and savoury complexity. And a bit further west, Coby Ladwig of Rosenthal Wines points to the steep hills and valleys of the Pemberton region creating many unique micro-climates that enable varied grape growing conditions, "allowing us to create extremely complex and elegantly styled wines from one region", he says. While neighbouring Manjimup, with an altitude of 300m and therefore the coolest region in Western Australia, has cold nights and warm days ideal for flavour enhancement. PERFECTING THE FUTURE In summary, Pinot Noir in Australia is in a healthy position, with the established regions in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia producing more consistent and ever improving results. Equally exciting are the emerging Pinot Noir regions such as those in WA, as well as Tumbarumba and Orange, that show that the future for Pinot in Australia is bright. So, if you find your Shiraz doesn't love you as much anymore, perhaps look to Pinot, and when doing so, glance west. THE WINE SELECTORS TASTING PANEL The wines in this State of Play were tasted over a dedicated period by the  Wine Selectors Tasting Panel , which is made up of perceptive personalities and palates of winemakers, international wine show judges and wine educators. With an amazing 140 years collective experience, they love wine and they know their stuff.
Food
The essential Seafood and wine matching guide
A seafood selection for all of your wine favourites. There’s something so Australian about tucking into a seafood feast with family and friends! We’re so lucky to have such an incredible range available all year-round, from fresh prawns and oysters served deliciously chilled, to barbequed and baked seafood dishes full of fresh flavours. The style of wine you choose to match your seafood is dictated by its delicacy. From the classic combination of crisp Riesling with freshly shucked oysters to grilled shellfish with a modern Chardonnay, and the not so classic match of salmon with Pinot Noir, there’s a vast array of wine and seafood-matching opportunities. LIGHT AND AROMATIC WHITES Dave Mavor and his family love seafood and are mad about Asian food, so a favourite at his house is steamed snapper with Asian flavours . “I’m a huge fan of alternative whites like Gewürztraminer and Grüner Veltliner which pair perfectly with this style of dish,” says Dave. With Asian flavours also think light and aromatic whites like Sauvignon Blanc , Semillon and blends, and Riesling . MEDIUM WEIGHT AND TEXTURAL WHITES “Living on the coast, I’m lucky to have access to fantastic quality fresh seafood and I love having friends around for lunch on weekends, so dishes like blue swimmer crab spaghettini with lemon and chive sauce and garlic pangrattato are my go-to,” says Nicole Gow. “Crab needs a white that’s light on the oak with crisp acidity, making medium weight and textural wines like Marsanne , Pinot G , Vermentino , Arneis and Fiano mouth-watering choices,” FULLER BODIED AND RICHER WHITES When you’re after an easy to prepare, but impressive and quite luxurious seafood dinner, Adam Walls recommends barbequed marron with garlic and herb butter . “Marron is just so delicious and the rich barbequed flavours of the dish are complemented by fuller bodied and richer whites which I love,” he explains. “Go for Chardonnay , Roussanne , Verdelho or Viognier .” LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT AND SAVOURY REDS Trent Mannell suggests forgetting what you’ve heard or read about red wine not going with seafood. “The richness of fish like salmon make it great for red wine-lovers,” says Trent. “I really enjoy dishes like King salmon with warm romesco salad that pair so well with light to medium weight and savoury reds like  Grenache , GSM blends , Nero d’Avola , Barbera , Pinot Noir and Merlot .”
Food
Food and Wine Matching 101
Create inspiring food and wine matches Follow the helpful tips below to ensure that at your next dinner party you impress your guests with your pairing prowess. Acid + acid If your food is high in acid – think tomatoes or a squeeze of lemon – you’ll need a wine that’s high in acid too. Riesling is the most obvious white choice, while Italian style reds will balance tomatoes and cut through olive oil.  Same + same Brings together complementary flavours – light-bodied wine + light dish, full-bodied wine + heavy dish and so on. Also pair similar textures and flavours – earthy wine + earthy food, citrussy wine + fruity dish, etc.  Opposite + opposite Try a fresh, crisp Chardonnay with a creamy pasta dish, or consider a clean, dry Riesling with a spicy chilli-filled Asian dish. Or if you’re serving a dish with very simple flavours, a complex wine can enhance the experience. Heat + sweet For spicy dishes, red wines high in alcohol and tannins are a no-no as the alcohol intensifies the heat. Choose sweeter whites such as off-dry Gewürztraminers or Rieslings .   Sweet + sweeter If your dish is sweet, the wine should be sweeter. Think milk and dark chocolate desserts with Tawnies and Muscats , while white chocolate pairs with Prosecco and lemon flavours are perfect with Botrytis Riesling . Tannins + fat This pairing is all about balance. Fat serves to even out tannin intensity, resulting in a smoother, softer red.  Wine styles Try these suggestions to match with your favourite wine styles. Fuller bodied red wines Wines: Cabernet , Shiraz , Malbec , Durif Food matches: Their robust structure makes these an ideal partner to hard cheeses and fattier cuts of meat. Medium bodied red wines Wines: Merlot & Blends, Tempranillo , Barbera , Sangiovese Food matches: To match the moderate density tannins go for slow-cooked or rustic style dishes like pasta, Mediterranean fare, tapas. Lighter bodied red wines Wines: Pinot Noir , Grenache & blends, Nero d’Avola   Food matches: With the finer styles, go for gamey, earthy foods like duck, while styles with higher acidity can take richer, spicier dishes. Rosé Wines: Dry, off-dry Food matches: For drier styles, go for salads, charcuterie and antipasto. For off-dry styles, try spicy food or fruit-based dishes. Fuller-bodied white wines Wines: Chardonnay , Verdelho , Viognier Food matches: A richer texture makes these fuller varieties a great match for poultry, pork, rich seafood, cream or cheese-based pastas. Medium-bodied white wines Wines: Arneis , Pinot G , Fiano , Vermentino , Marsanne Food matches: Zesty acidity makes these styles perfect with lighter flavours like tapas, pasta and salads. Lighter-bodied and aromatic white wines Wines: Sauvignon Blanc & blends, Semillon , Riesling , Gewürztraminer Food matches: The high acidity inherent in these varieties makes them ideal for fried food, raw seafood, delicate Asian dishes, and simple Mediterranean food. Champagne, Sparkling and Prosecco Wines: Champagne , Sparkling & Prosecco Food matches: With the richer styles, choose seafood and richer canapés, while lighter styles suit antipasto, fried foods and fresh fruit. Dessert and Fortified wines Wines: Botrytis , Tawny , Muscat/Topaque  Food matches: Botrytis: Cream or fruit-based desserts, pâté. Tawny: Cheddar & blue cheese, dried & fresh fruit, nuts. Topaque: Caramel-based desserts. Muscat: Chocolate-based desserts, dates & dried figs, ice cream.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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