Top 4 tips for Christmas Wine Pairings this year...#2020

Nick Willcock December 23, 2020

1. Christmas Morning Deserves Sparkling Wine

Bacon and eggs, chorizo, french toast, these delights need the acid that comes from sparkling wine to cut through the fat and give a refreshing edge. Tar and Roses King Valley Prosecco (HK$180) will be beside my morning feed - early harvests in the cool King Valley means high acid grapes with strong citrus and green apple flavours, with the second fermentation in tank to preserve these pure flavours. Citrus, grapefruit, refreshing acidity - it’s a crowd pleaser and even if you have only a few glasses of it think about some Aperol Spritz with the leftovers before lunch (90ml Aperol, 90ml Prosecco, 30ml club soda and some orange to garnish). Now - if you’re looking for the big old sparkling “pop” like on the F1 podium, you’re not going to get it from this bottle - it has a crown cap! Expect to see more of this from producers in the future who want to preserve the fresh fruit in a drink-now style - so get that beer opener ready for this sparking.

2. Pink Wine For Finger Food

The guests are arriving and they all have different dishes, from cheese to hummus to oysters - time to whip out the Rose. Deep Woods Rosé (HK$230) is not just a great wine but has enough talking points for even the shrudest critic to nod in agreement - winemaker Jules Langworthy won James Halliday’s winemaker of the year a few years back, this rose won rose of the year, it’s in a unique tall bottle so you can reach across the room whilst pouring, towering over it’s peers. There is a bit more structure and boldness in this than a typical pink-wine so it will hold up against a lot of varied dishes, or by itself (and it’s very Instagram-friendly). Margaret River Tempranillo, Shiraz and some Vermentino give this wine backbone, but still holds on to the wild strawberry flavours with a vanillin texture and a hint of spice from the shiraz. Get a few bottles of this one - it disappears quick. 

3. Great Reds for Great Lunches

Christmas mains have a bit of everything - creams, fats, meat, roast salad, prawns. This makes a one-size-fits-all wine near impossible to find, so you have to have a wine that goes with the flow, or one that pushes back. For the sake of the argument, I’m going to go for two reds just to prove that two very different styles can work very nicely.

Tomfoolery Young Blood Shiraz has been one of my favorite wines of 2020. Barossa shiraz, lovely bold flavours from ripe fruit and made in an off-dry style. A lot of winemakers are doing this now because sugar makes a young wine very appealing on its own, and easier to pair - which is great for a wide selection of dishes on Christmas Day. A small amount of residual sugar means the flavours won’t be competing on your palate if there is some sweetness in the dish - glazing on the ham, a chocolate dipped strawberry, some very rich berries with the turkey leg. An uncomplicated wine that is going to pair with almost everything at the table. Red plums, minimal oak, a minerality and tannins are kept smooth.

But if you want to go the other way - try something more bold….

A) Son of a Gun shiraz, Tomfoolery (HK$210)

Cabernet Shiraz has become a real Aussie wine representation - the shiraz softens the cabernet, whilst the cabernet gives more backbone for the shiraz. It used to be done more in France, but since the appellation system came in the blending of Rhone Valley Shiraz and Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon would mean operating outside of their strict  rules, and so the style sort of faded away. But the Aussies still do it in a typical “She’ll be right” attitude, and that’s a good thing! This is a bold wine, more oak than the Young Blood shiraz and a boldness that means the wine is going to be sitting beside the food, not playing with it - but that’s a good thing when you want to be chatting about wine nuances over a full lunch plate. Gamey flavours that will suit a roast turkey, and a spiciness to the finish. It hasn’t got the knock your socks off characteristic of the 100% cabernet sauvignon which is good because not a lot of Christmas food can handle the tannin - bold, ripe fruit, ready to exist besides the meal so people will remember it.

B) The Sang de Pigeon Shiraz, Michael Hall (HK$240)

This shiraz is a show stopper, and a great Barossa shiraz. Blackberry, sarsaparilla, black fruit and even some black olive saline quality at the end against chalky tannin. Would I decant? No, because you’ll miss the first act of this play as the wine opens up - it’s a beautiful drop to be experienced in it’s entirely. Handpicked from the Northern Grounds, known for opulent and rich grapes. Red brown earth over sand means yield are low, concentration is high and the tannins are chalky and the wine keeps its structure. Violet and spice on the nose, redcurrent runs through the palate along with ripe cooked cherries and allspice. This bottle seems to disappear quickly every time we bring it out! 

Sparkles, rosé, great reds. It’s a winning combo.