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Food

Winter Food and Wine Matching Guide

Winter is such a special season for wine enjoyment. As the nights close in and you cosy up against the cold, it’s the perfect time to indulge in rich, warming reds and the more full-bodied white styles.

Follow our winter and food matching guide to which wines to be enjoying this winter, then stoke the fire and fill the stockpot for a season filled with sensational flavours.

 

MALBEC

Robust and flavoursome, Malbec is the on-trend red to enjoy this winter. With its flavours of cocoa, red plum, sweet tobacco and vanilla, it has crowd-pleasing cool weather appeal.

With its high tannins and robust structure, Malbec needs food matches with big flavours. For a tasty starter, we suggest this delectable beef and olive empanadas recipe . Or if it’s a winter dinner party you’re planning, try Miguel Maestre's chickpea and chorizo hotpot recipe.

 

BAROSSA SHIRAZ

Rich and complex with its characters of dark fruits, rich spice, earth and chocolate, Barossa Shiraz is just sublime in winter.

Its wonderful fruit depth makes Shiraz a food-matching delight with so many options to choose from. For a classic winter feast, try braised oxtail with Italian flavours , or try a taste of Morocco with vegetarian harira.

 

CABERNET

Plush, smooth and ready for hearty food, Cabernet  is a classic winter wine. With its flavours of blackcurrant, cedar and plum, it’s oozing with charm and its elevated tannins make it exquisite with just about any lamb dish. Explore our mouth-watering collection or go straight for our recommendation of lamb pie .

Cabernet is also a match made in winter heaven with vegetarian dishes and you’ll thank us for recommending rag pasta with pumpkin, sage and tomatoes .

 

PINOT NOIR

Featuring cranberry, cherry, raspberry and clove, Pinot Noir is the lighter red that’s perfect for winter lunches.

With its fine tannins, Pinot Noir pairs perfectly with winter lunch menus featuring gamey, earthy dishes, such as Julie Goodwin’s lovely Pinot partner of mushrooms with speck . Or if it’s seafood you’re after, try prosciutto-wrapped king salmon with crisp capers .

 

NEW WAVE REDS

For winter evenings with a difference, there’s an exciting range of new wave of reds just perfect for the season. There are warming expressions of both Italian and French varieties, from lighter styles like Barbera and Sangiovese to bolder drops like Lagrein and Durif.

Keeping with the Italian theme, a delectable partnership would be Barbera with our bocconcini cherry tomato and basil pizza recipe, or venture across the Mediterranean to Greece with this spiced kofte with cucumber and yoghurt salad and a nice Durif.

 

AGED WHITES

With their complex flavours, aged white wines can be a perfect winter choice. Hunter Valley Semillon is world famous for its ageing ability, developing toasty flavour persistence over time. Other whites with wonderful cellaring potential include Chardonnay, Riesling and Marsanne, which transform into silky, creamy drops with warming characters like honeysuckle and nougat.

Semillon and seafood is always a winner, and in winter, combining the rich characters of an aged expression with the flavour explosion in Mark Olive’s barramundi in paperbark recipe is guaranteed to impress. Aged Marsanne is a unique treat and another standout white to enjoy with Asian flavours. We love the inventive fusion of this this hearty sweet potato and parsnip soup with red curry and coconut cream recipe. 

 

RIESLING

Luscious and flavoursome Riesling is another white that can take your winter entertaining to new levels. What makes it such a great seasonal choice is its delicious ability to match with aromatic Asian dishes like Luke Nguyen’s chilli salted squid recipe.

 

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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
What grows together, goes together Wunderbar lamb and Mitchell Family wines.
Words by Paul Diamond on 7 Jan 2018
The Clare Valley is one of Australia’s most underrated wine regions, which is hard to fathom given it produces some of the finest Rieslings and intensely concentrated red wines in the country. No doubt, the pull of the Barossa has a lot to do with the underestimation of the Clare, but, if you can resist the urge to turn right at Gawler and stay on the A32, you’re in for a treat.  In addition to its wine cred, Clare is uniquely beautiful. The open landscape is a sea of wheat fields sprinkled with eucalypts and stone cottages beneath powder blue skies. 
Heinrich’s Wunderbar  You’ll also notice a few sheep along the way, as Clare, like much of Australia, was Merino country. But around 1959 when wool exports declined, families left in droves. One of the few that stuck with it were the Heinrichs of Black Springs and fifth generation Ben, along with his wife, Kerry and five children, continues to farm sheep on the family’s original 810ha property just east of Clare.  But while the sheds, tractors, machinery and utes all make this look like a stock standard farm, one look at the sheep and you realise Ben does things a bit differently to his ancestors.  Practically bald and with long tails, Ben’s sheep are a breed that sheds its wool, chosen as part of his humane, minimal intervention philosophy. This is underpinned by his adherence to the Humane Choice farming principles of which he is the only certified producer in Australia. “With no wool, we can give our sheep a better life, as there’s no mulesing, tail docking, crutching or shearing,” Ben explains. “My sheep are truly free range, paddock raised, no feed lots and we try to minimise human interaction with them as much as possible.” When it comes to conventional industries, sheep farming is close to the top. The practices are well entrenched over generations and traditions are not easy to break, especially when there are mouths to feed.  So why undertake such a radical change? For Ben, it was the knowledge that the ways of the past were not going to work. “Dad was running a self-replacing Merino flock and it wasn’t going so well,” Ben recalls. “Personally, I wasn’t cut out for it, I couldn’t see myself shearing, and Dad saw the writing on the wall. It was either going to be sheep with no wool, or no sheep at all!” So Ben, backed by his dad, started Wunderbar. They’ve since gone from strength to strength, now selling directly to butchers and chefs around the district and into Adelaide. Fans of their meat remark on how tender, flavoursome and lean it is, while chefs love to cook with it. High praise indeed.  A Delicious Seed Word of Ben’s lamb is spreading and one chef that sings Wundebar’s praises is Guy Parkinson, owner of Seed Winehouse +Kitchen in Clare. Guy and his partner, Candice, have run Seed since 2014 after travelling through Clare and deciding it was the place to set up shop. Seed is now a food and wine destination, drawing people from all over to sample Guy’s creative, trattoria-inspired cooking paired with Candice’s take on the Clare wine scene. The couple had been Hunter-based, where they had a significant following of loyal winemaking food lovers, and this pattern has repeated in the Clare. 
The Mitchells Part of the Seed appreciation society are the Mitchells, who run the acclaimed Mitchell Wines. Led by second generation Andrew and Jane, they work with their children, Hilary, Angus and Edwina, to produce beautiful expressions of Watervale Riesling, Semillon, Shiraz, Cabernet and Grenache under the Mitchell and McNicol labels.  The Mitchells have been in Clare since 1949 when Andrew’s father purchased land featuring an orchard, a dairy and a small vineyard. Andrew was born and bred on the property and after school, returned to the family business.  “I came back home and thought that making wine was better than working for a living,” he says with a cheeky smile. Most of the wines the Mitchells produce are released with some age, a decision that can be a financial burden. However, as Andrew explains, “The significant thing about the Clare Valley is that it is a region that produces wines with incredible intensity of flavour, but with elegance. We sell some of our wines at 10 years old and the dividend is that people get to see our wines at their best.” The Lunch As a celebration of Wunderbar lamb, Guy devised a menu with an entrée of lamb backstrap poached in extra virgin olive oil, grilled cucumber, mint and whipped yogurt, and a main of roasted rack served on baby carrots cooked in whey and honey, pearl barley and pomegranate.  Andrew and Angus brought along a range of wines to evaluate and see which suited Guy’s food best.  For the entree, Candice chose the 2009 NcNicol Watervale Riesling. It had the age to be a perfect textural match for the silky backstrap, but also fresh acidity to cut through the whipped yoghurt. For the rack, Candice’s call was Andrew’s 2001 Peppertree Vineyard Shiraz. The wine was still dense, but time had softened the mouthfeel, allowing the secondary fruit to sit beautifully with the flesh and the sauce to suit the wonderful, natural intensity of the wine.  As the afternoon progressed, conversation became more relaxed as stories were shared and reflections were made on their beautiful home. Guy Parkinson’s back strap of lamb poached in extra virgin olive oil, grilled baby cucumber, whipped sheep yogurt
Recipe:  Get  Guy Parkinson’s back strap of lamb poached in extra virgin olive oil, grilled baby cucumber, whipped sheep yogurt Wine:  Explore  Mitchell Family Wines Clare Valley:  Discover the fun of cycling the   Clare Valley Riesling Trail
Food
The Essential Beef and Wine Pairing Guide
Find the perfect beef dish for your wine with our easy to follow wing pairing guide. One of the most wonderful things about winter is savouring a range of slow cooked, hearty meals. Full flavoured and nourishing, beef is perfect for these types of dishes and when it comes to choosing the perfect wine, both reds and whites can be ideal. Key considerations are the cut of meat, how fatty it is, how it's prepared and any accompanying sauces. While red wine lovers can match almost any variety, white wine lovers should stick with fuller, more textural varieties.   BEEF WINE MATCHING 101 MEDIUM TO FULL & TEXTURAL WHITES
Adam Walls is a real white wine lover, even in winter, which is why  chargrilled beef and peanut green curry  is one his favourite meals at this time of year. What makes it such a delicious choice, is that there's a great range of white wines to match. As he explains, "Perfect with curries and spicy food, Verdelho ,  Fiano  ,  Pinot G  ,  Arneis  and  Chardonnay  have the fruit weight and acidity to perfectly offset the spices and aromas of this dish." For further inspiration, our friends at Asian Inspirations have a great guide to  matching some of our favourite wines with great east asian dishes here . Light to Medium Bodied Aromatic Reds
Dave Mavor loves nights in during footy season, especially with a meal of  spicy chipotle beef  , which is a great match with light to medium bodied aromatic reds. "You could pair most reds with this dish", Dave says, "However, its smooth texture and tomatoey richness pairs deliciously with vibrant, lighter-bodied varieties such as  Pinot Noir  or  Grenache  , or  Nero d'Avola  ." Medium Weight & Savoury Reds When he's got the family around for a Sunday feast, one of Phil Ryan's favourite meals is pot roasted beef in red wine with garlic, fennel and rosemary . For a wine match, Phil says, "Pot roasted, slow cooked and braised beef dishes with melt-in-the-mouth textures pair well with the richness and peppery spice of cool climate Shiraz , or try Mediterranean favourites,  Sangiovese  or  Tempranillo  ." Bold & fuller bodied reds
"We're so lucky in Australia to have so many delicious international influences and one of my favourite winter recipes is  Argentinean beef steak with chimichurri sauce ", says Trent Mannell. "Bolder, fuller bodied reds such as warmer climate Shiraz ,  Cabernet Sauvignon  and blends,  Durif  and  Malbec  are ideal partners for barbequed or roasted beef with their charry richness." If you're looking for more beef recipes, celebrity chef Curtis Stone is an enthusiast for all different cuts of meat. In fact, he has a butchery as part of his New York restaurant, Gwen. Read all about it in his  Selector  interview , then check out his recipe for 80-day dry aged ribeye with creamed corn and scallions. And, for more great beef recipes, make sure you visit  www.beefandlamb.com.au . Plus, there's more winter food and wine matching inspiration to be found in our Italian inspiration feature.      
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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