Whether it’s a swirl of sangria, a fine batch of mocktails, or a harmless shot (or two) of hard liquor, you’ll be hard to find a guest without something fruity or alcoholic in hand when it comes to a get-together.
As the ever-so-gracious host, you’re probably planning to put out a bottle of bubbly to perfectly complement your seasonal spread. But should it be red or white? Sparkling? Champagne? Mixed?
Don’t worry; we’ve some crib notes below that should help you eliminate some of the guesswork!
Chardonnay for Cheeses
Let’s start with the appetizers.
If you’ve got any soft cheese dishes to preface the main meal – like some brie or camembert with crackers – then a nice bottle of light, creamy Chardonnay would complement it perfectly.
Although the taste would differ depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made, Chardonnay is generally a very medium- to full-bodied wine with subtle notes of vanilla – especially when it’s been aged with oak. You might find that most bottles are only mildly acidic, with fruity flavours (like lemon or pineapple) taking centre stage.
Sharp, citrusy wine with buttery, earthy cheese? That’s one of the most satisfying taste combinations, ever.
Top Holiday Picks:
- 2018 Paringa Estate Chardonnay
- 2017 Tolpuddle Vineyard Chardonnay
- 2017 Tiers Chardonnay (Tapanappa Wines)
Blue Cheese, White Wine, Green Notes
But what if you decided to do away with the sharp cheddar, buttery brie, and the crumbly cottage cheese – opting instead for the heavier, smellier, and yet oh-so-sought-after blue cheese? Then you’ll need something that’s sharp, acidic, and almost painfully clean. We’re talking palate-cleanser clean.
In this case, nothing ticks the boxes better than white wine with green notes like Sauvignon Blanc. High acidity, very zesty, dances across the tongue like a dream. Definitely a great companion for blue cheese. Alternatively, a dry, sweet Riesling should balance out the blue cheese’s slightly-salty-slightly-spicy-slightly-something-else taste.
Top Holiday Picks:
- 2019 Distant South Sauvignon Blanc
- 2019 Cherubino Riesling Porongrup
- 2020 Sidewood Sauvignon Blanc
Light-Bodied Reds for Light-Hearted Conversation
This is less for a specific dish and more for the general table. If you’re planning to serve a variety of dishes (or if it’s going to be a potluck and you’re not sure who’s bringing what), you want to veer away from the heavy, full-bodied stuff. Sure, they taste great. But the strong flavour of rich reds and whites that heavily use oak in their profile might not pair well with all the dishes.
To keep the wine and conversation flowing, we recommend using light-bodied red wines; the kind that have an excellent balance of fruit and acid. This way, every conceivable flavour is complemented, but not overshadowed.
Try Gamay, Pinot noir, or a florally Grenache.
Top Holiday Picks:
- 2018 Henshcke ‘Giles’ Pinot Noir, Adelaide Hills
- 2018 Lyons Will Gamay, Macedon Ranges
- Willunga 100 ‘The Hundred’ Grenache 75cl
Other Top Recommendations
- Red: Mullan Road Cellers Red Blend for red meat dishes
- White: Alta Mora Bianco for seafood dishes
- White: Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc 2018 for heavy dishes
- Sparkling: Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad Cava, to pair with dainty desserts
- Rosé Champagne: Veuve Clicquot, Vintage 2008 Rosé for general table drinks
Pairing wine with food – especially during celebrations – can be pretty tricky. A good rule of thumb is to pair like with like. White wine with white meat, red wine with red roasts, and lighter drinks for light dishes (appetizers, finger food, etc.). Of course, there will always be exceptions to this rule but in a pinch? It’s a pretty solid strategy.