Christmas wine and food matching

The traditional hot Christmas has been eroded somewhat over the years in favour of the seafood extravaganza. It is doubtful that the fish symbol representing Jesus and Christianity has much to do with it. It’s more to do with a hot climate and perhaps a desire to be close to the water, if only vicariously thorough the seafood on your plate. Seafood means beer, crisp white wines, cheeky bubbles and perhaps a gulpable dry rose preferably one without a monster alcohol level so common with Aussie blushes. But there is nothing distinctively Australian about those seafood and beverage combinations.

It is the traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas spread that lends itself to uniquely Australian tipples to accompany it.

Turkey and cranberry sauce are screaming for a decent sparkling red like a white label Seppelt Sparkling Shiraz with a few years on it or the elegant Joseph Sparkling Red. This end of the spurgle spectrum is more elegant with less obvious plumy fruit than some. Failing that an evil Mick Morris Sparkling Durif from Rutherglen will do the job. A spurgle (sparkling burgundy) is a pretty handy utility player on the Christmas table. It will nail a piece of roast pork and crackling and is a good foil for a decent Australian ham, especially when accompanying it with a ham jam. But given its versatility and perfect food partnering potential, that style of red fizz it is a nigh on impossible to find anywhere else in the world.

Which brings us to the mince tarts, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding. Pass the liqueur Muscat — and interestingly enough Rutherglen is the home of this rasiny little drop too. If sparkling red is the engine in the Christmas Cheer Express, then this is the steadfast caboose for taking on nibbles of chocolate, fruit and nuts before it dances with the festive cakes tarts and puds. Like spurgle, liqueur Muscat is another Aussie effort you won’t find around the world.

As a pair, they are the quintessential Australian yuletide beverage present for visiting overseas guests or taking as presents. The amazing thing is that the American wine industry hasn’t embraced sparkling reds. Turkeys are native American birds and the centerpiece at the table of all Thanksgiving Day family gatherings, which are then only a month out from a second helping of turkey at Christmas. You’d have thought Uncle Sam would have gobbled that opportunity up long ago.

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