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Grape Expectations: How to impress your guests this Christmas

TAFE NSW Sydney Wine Academy

Grape Expectations: How to impress your guests this Christmas

Finding the right wine to pair with a Christmas meal can be a challenging task for anyone, especially those hosting Christmas, or tasked with the job of organising drinks for the day. To make navigating the wine shelves a little easier this festive season, TAFE NSW Sydney Wine Academy educator and sommelier, Joe Turnaturi, has shared his Christmas food and wine pairing tips:

Seafood – Fresh seafood is a popular option for an Australian Christmas with many opting in incorporate prawns, smoked salmon, crab, Moreton Bay bug and lobster into their Christmas meals. A dry Rosé, with subtle berry flavours pairs perfectly with these types of seafood as the acidity and light flavours compliments the seafood. A Rosé with a little bit of texture pairs ell with things like smoked salmon and it’s a colour match, giving it the added bonus of being a picture perfect combination.

If you are serving oysters this Christmas, it is best to pair them with a wine that has lemon or lime flavours. A Riesling is a dead giveaway as its high acidity makes it the perfect wine for pairing with oysters. If you want to try something a bit different, drinking a Soave from Veneto Italy or a Grüner Veltliner from Austria is like dressing your oysters with lime.

Ham – Ham is a classic Christmas dish, but depending on how you serve your Christmas ham will depend on the wine you choose. If you plan on enjoying cold cuts of ham, it’s best to go for a fairly light wine, like a Pinot Noir or Rosé. For those who prefer to serve their Christmas ham warm, a light and fruity Sangiovese Nouveau is a great option as the meaty flavour of the ham sits well with the cherry spice notes of the wine, while the acidity matches the ham’s saltiness.

Turkey – Turkey is another popular option during the festive season and, due to its rich flavour, is well suited to a Pinot Noir or Gamay. The soft tannins in these wines won’t interfere with the gamy flavour, instead complimenting it and the berry flavours in the cranberry condiment. A Pinot Noir from cool climates like the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, or Tasmania would be best.

Chicken – If you’re serving a classic chicken dish this Christmas, pair it with a buttery Chardonnay. A roast chicken matches very well with a Chardonnay that has a little bit of an oakiness to it.

Pork – The traditional and classic wine match for pork is a Riesling from Mosel Germany as the apple sauce matches the flavours in the Riesling. The high acidity in the Riesling also cuts through the fatty flavours of the applesauce and pork, leaving a fresh taste in the mouth.

If you’re planning to cook your pork on the BBQ, or serve it with a red wine sauce, pair it with a Sangiovese as it has both the acid and tannins that will complement the pork, or opt for a Chianti from Tuscany Italy as its tannins will dissolve the fat.

Christmas Cake – When it comes to dessert you can’t go past a classic Christmas cake. To make it even more enjoyable, pair it with Australia’s gift to the wine world, sparkling Shiraz. The wine has enough sweetness to match the Christmas cake without over powering it.

Pavlova – An Australian classic, Pavlova is the perfect summer dessert.  If it’s on the dessert table this Christmas make sure you serve it with a Moscato d’Asti as when it comes to dessert the sweetness in the wine must be sweeter than the food, or the wine will taste thin.

Wine lovers can get the practical skills and work experience they need to enter a career in the wine industry by studying at the TAFE NSW Sydney Wine Academy. Explore the range of courses on offer by visiting or call 131 601.

Media contact: Emma Cawley, TAFE NSW Media Officer, or 0412 478 415