The Ultimate Festive Food and Wine Pairing Guide

It boggles the mind to think December is here already, and that the festive season is once again upon us! Preparing a menu for Christmas lunch need not be a chore. If you’re unsure about which wines to pair with your holiday feast—worry not. We’ve prepared a fool-proof guide that will take all the guesswork out of choosing the perfect wines to have on hand come Christmas day. 

Everyone celebrates the holidays in their own way. We all have that one friend—the Christmas enthusiast—who will deck the halls mid-November. Their Christmas shopping is done and dusted before the rest of us summon the strength of mind to begin the process. There are others who have a more laid-back attitude and can do without the fuss and bother of decorations and extravagant cooking. Likewise, there are those who don’t celebrate the festive season at all. 

But if there’s one thing we can agree on, it’s that we all deserve a moment of repose—a chance to unwind, share a drink with friends, spend some quality time with family, and feast on something scrumptious. No matter what you like to eat at Christmas, there’s always a fabulous wine that will heighten the dining experience. And with such abundance in our own backyard, locally-produced Australian wines are always the way to go in terms of quality and affordability.

Wines To Pair With Seafood

For so many Aussie families, fresh seafood at Christmas time is non-negotiable. Whopping great Prawns. Rock Oysters with a tangy vinaigrette. Garlic butter scallops. Smoked Salmon. Juicy Moreton Bay Bugs. For all of the above, there are a number of sensational pairing options. 

Refreshing table whites like Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino are the perfect accompaniment to fresh oysters, juicy prawns, and light fish dishes. Their crisp texture enhances freshness, while fruity notes bring out the natural sweetness already present in many seafoods. Perhaps try an oaked Marsanne for richer seafood dishes like seafood chowder or buttered lobster. 

Sparkling wines like Champagne and Prosecco go beautifully too—the textural nature of these wines complements the saltiness that is often naturally present in seafood. 
Left we see a plate of oysters and freshly cooked prawns; right we see a bottle and glass of sauvignon blanc

Wines to Pair with Turkey 

If you’re going for more traditional Christmas fare this year, there’s nothing quite like a roast turkey with all the trimmings. The succulent white meat will perfectly compliment  a medium-bodied Chardonnay. The wine’s fruitiness will bring out the sweetness in the meat. If you’re in the mood for a richer white— opt for an oaked Chardonnay. This will bring out the nutty, roasted earthiness in the turkey stuffing. 
Christmas lunch

Wines to Pair With Baked Ham

There are a number of different pairings to suit a classic wood-smoked Christmas ham. If you’re in the mood for a red—opt for a Shiraz full of juicy ripe fruits, oak, and spice. Shiraz pairs particularly well with a glazed ham (think a honey-marmalade glaze—yum!) as it adds depth of flavour and balances sweetness.  

If you’re a white drinker, the sweet pineapple and tropical-fruit characteristics in an unwooded Verdelho will provide a satisfying contrast with the salty, savoury nature of the ham.

Wines to Pair With Game & Roast Vegetables

Meats like duck, goose, boar, and venison possess an earthy and multilayered depth of flavour. While not necessarily the most popular Christmas fare in the southern hemisphere, gamey meats are full of character, richness, and make for impressive centrepieces. Why not break with tradition this year? Add a side of roasted root vegetables to create a Christmas dinner your guests will never forget. Wines with herbaceous and earthy undertones will highlight the richness of these foods—varietals like Aglianico and Cabernet Sauvignon are perfect examples.

Wines to Pair with Pavlova

A sparkling Moscato will match the sweetness of Pavlova and complement its layer of fresh fruit. Bubbles add a bit of fun and a textural contrast to the cream and meringue layers. A match made in heaven. 
Pavola, Christmas Table

Wines to Pair with Cheese & Charcuterie

An aged Muscat or Tawny Port is the perfect companion to any cheese board. Alternatively, a lighter option is a crisp and dry Rosé. To elevate your cheeseboard, further adorn your platter with dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, and charcuterie. The addition of gingerbread biscuits, rum balls, or fruit mince pies will really bring the Christmas cheer. All that’s left to do is sit back, relax, sip & graze away. Pop on Nat King Cole’s Christmas album and revel in the festive spirit.
Cheeseboard; dessert wine

Keep in mind that these pairings are suggestions only. It’s always fun to experiment and try new wines, but nobody knows your palate better than you do!


Cheers & Happy Holidays!

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