With Christmas just around the corner we thought we’d share with you a few of our top tips for matching your New Zealand wine with the various courses that make up a traditional Christmas dinner. For us Kiwis down here in New Zealand, our Christmas dinner tend to be a bit different to those you might traditionally have in the UK but we have plenty of experience tucking into a Christmas day turkey with all the trimmings and we think we have got some great wine matches to go with your Christmas dinner this year.
Christmas Dinner Starters
In our experience, Christmas dinner starters seem to vary from household to household, however here are a few of the things we have been lucky enough to tuck into and the perfect New Zealand wine to accompany the delicious food:
Smoked Salmon – a Christmas Day favourite whether it’s served on eggs for breakfast or as a starter. The smoky flavour and oily texture goes perfectly with a champagne or prosecco which helps to balance out the oiliness, however our personal tip is to go with the oily texture and pair it up with a lovely Shaky Bridge Pioneer Series Gewürztraminer 2012, the balanced acidity and a beautifully rounded texture will complement the smoked salmon perfectly.
Prawns – another Christmas Day favourite seems to be a nice and light prawn cocktail. Again, look for a nice light wine to balance things out such as a Chablis or match the richness with a lightly oaked Chardonnay.
Rich Pate – we always recommend balancing a rich pate with wines that have a good degree of acidity such as a Shaky Bridge Pioneer Series Pinot Gris 2014.
Asparagus – one of our favourites on the Christmas dinner menu (we tend to do ours on the BBQ!), asparagus goes perfectly with a lovely New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The award-winning Ant Moore Sauvignon Blanc 2014 from Marlborough would be perfect and we’ll be tucking into a nice glass down here in New Zealand.
Christmas Dinner Main Courses
For many, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the traditional turkey, however we are starting to see more and more people branch out into other meats and fish in a break from tradition. If you’re planning on having something traditional or you’re going to try something a bit bifferent here’s range of potential Christmas dinner options and the wines we would match with each main:
Turkey – turkey is not such a powerfully flavoured meat and has a low fat content which makes it perfect for matching with a full-bodied white or a red wine with low tannins (tannins interact with fatty protein molecules ). For the white wine drinkers, we would recommend a Californian Zinfandel or a full bodied Chardonnay. For the red wine drinkers, a mature claret or Rioja would work really well.
Goose or Duck – these two birds have a hgher fat content than turkey and can be matched with red wines that carry more tannins such as a Burgundy (try the Brassknocker Pinot Noir) or a Claret. For the white wine drinkers, a Riesling or a Pinot Gris (Shaky Bridge 2014 Pinot Gris) will work perfectly.
Roast Beef – if you’re having beef for Christmas dinner, you really should match this with a red to really get the most out of your food and drink. The cut of beef will dictate the best type of red – low fat cuts like fillet require wines with less tannins like a mature claret (McArthur Ridge 2010 Southern Tor) whilst rib of beef demands something with more tannins like a Bordeaux (Shaky Bridge 2012 Pinot Noir) or a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Salmon (or Turbot) – this is one of our favourites for Christmas dinner – a fresh piece of salmon for a couple of reasons; Salmon is delicious at this time of the year from the South Island, I love to catch one a couple of days before Christmas from the cannels in the Mackenzie Basin. The perfect accompaniment for salmon is New Zealand Pinot Noir. You can take your pick from our great range of Central Otago Pinot Noir – we will be opening a bottle (or two!).
Nut roast – for the vegetarians out there, a nut roast seems to be one of the most popular options. It can be a pretty hefty dish so matching it with a fruity red is the best way to go – something like Shaky Bridge’s 2013 Pioneer Series Pinot Noir or a Merlot is perfect.
Christmas Dinner Desserts
Even if you feel pretty full, there’s always room for pudding at Christmas and there is no reason not to open up a suitable bottle of wine to go with dessert too. Here are our top tips:
Christmas pudding and mince pies – for us, there is nothing like matching a rich Christmas pud or mince pie with an aged Tawny Port or Madeira. We’re lucky down here to have some great ports on our doorstep, my favourite at the moment is a port from Clevedon Hills if you can't find this you can pick up some great bottles in the UK now too.
Fruit-based puddings – most fruit-based puddings are not that sweet (when compared to other desserts) so matching these with something acidic like Shaky Bridge’s Gewürztraminer or a Riesling will work well.
Chocolate-based puddings – whether it’s chocolate cake, gateaux, brownie…matching wine with chocolate can be tricky. We would again tend to steer down the port route and enjoy a glass with the Christmas pudding crew!
Hopefully this helps you to match your wine with the various courses of your Christmas dinner – if you want any more advice, be sure to leave a comment below and we will get back to you.
From all the team at New Zealand wine Co-Op thanks for your support and have a very merry Christmas.