Wines to pair this holiday season

By Halliday Wine Companion

30 Nov, 2022

Get the most out of entertaining this holiday season with these wine pairing suggestions. 

Holiday Food and Wine Pairings

Whatever and however you celebrate, we suspect feasting of some description is on your agenda this holiday season. And as the definition of feasting is not just to eat, but also to drink sumptuously, we expect you’ll be looking for the perfect wines to match.  

Wines to pair with seafood

A hot Australian summer demands seafood. If you’re looking for something to pair with oysters, prawns or other shellfish, sparkling wine is an obvious choice. If you don’t want to splurge on Champagne, look to the Antipodean sparkling epicentre – Tasmania. House of Arras has bubbles at a range of price points, from the more affordable Brut Elite ($64.99) to the top-of-the-line Late Disgorged 2007 ($265.99). Gilbert Family Wines Blanc de Blancs 2016 is another excellent option – this wine won the award for Best Sparkling at the 2023 Halliday Wine Companion Awards. 
If you’d like to pair your oysters with something other than sparkling, perhaps try picpoul. This French grape hails from the Languedoc, and is nicknamed ‘the oyster wine’ because of its natural affinity for the briny bivalve.  

An overhead shot of a plate of freshly shucked oysters and wineOysters are a perfect match for sparkling wine.

Wines to pair with meat dishes

For weightier dishes, such as roast chicken, pork, lamb, brisket or even baked salmon or vegetable-based dishes, you’ll want a wine with the body to match. For roast chicken, try an oaked chardonnay (it’ll also stand up surprisingly well against the brisket), such as Delamere Vineyards Block 3 2021 Chardonnay. For pork or salmon, anything in the lighter-red spectrum will do, from pinot noir to sangiovese. For lamb or brisket, try grenache or cabernet sauvignon. If you’re more of a shiraz or nebbiolo drinker, both will do well here, too.    

Wines to pair with dessert

When it comes to pairing wine with dessert, a good general rule is to pick one that has a higher level of sweetness than the dish. Otherwise, the dessert will make the wine seem less fruity and unpleasantly acidic than it otherwise would be. Here’s where dessert wines and fortifieds come into play. With their inherently Christmassy flavours, tawny port and muscat, particularly from Victoria’s Rutherglen, are foolproof options for pairing not just with Christmas pudding or mince tarts but with cheese as well. If you’d prefer a sweet dessert wine, try Brown Brothers Patricia Noble Riesling, or, if you can afford it, a Sauternes. If sticky wines aren’t your thing, you could always look to an off-dry German Riesling or something with some residual sugar. 

A close up of a bottle of dessert wine and a full glassBrown Brothers Patricia Noble Riesling is an excellent pairing for dessert.