Seasonal inspiration

Wine ideas for the festive season

By Amelia Ball

8 Dec, 2021

If you’re stuck on the wines to buy this season – whether for gifting, hosting or passing around the table – take your cues from these two top sommeliers' recommendations.

Choosing the right wines for all the coming occasions can be overwhelming, but there are a few clear-cut factors to consider: we'll need some easy-drinking wines at home for visitors, we'll want to take guaranteed crowd-pleasers to catch-ups, and we're sure to buy a bottle as a gift or two. 

Below, we defer to two wine experts so we can steal their ideas. 

Peter Marchant, sommelier, Market Wine, Maroochydore, QLD

Sommelier Peter Marchant

Which value wines should we stock up on this season? 
I'd suggest the St John's Road Peace of Eden Riesling, Ricca Terra Cinderella's Beads Sparkling, and Gilbert Rouge Field Blend. 

Which wines should we give as gifts, even if we don’t know what they like to drink? 
A safe bet for me is always something with bubbles, especially as there is so much value in Australian sparkling right now. I'm loving two sparkling wines in particular – the 2017 Bellebonne Vintage Cuvée from Nat Fryar in Tasmania, and the 2014 Deviation Road Beltana Blanc de Blancs, which is made by Kate Laurie in the Adelaide Hills (it was also the Halliday Sparkling Wine of the Year). 
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Keep it simple. Don't try to impress. Take something you like and have a story to tell about it. Light and bright reds work with most food.

What’s your best advice for taking wine to a gathering when you don’t know the food being served? 
Keep it simple. Don't try to impress. Take something you like and have a story to tell about it. Light and bright wines work with most food, particularly at this time of the year. There is a plethora of delicious light reds that can be chilled and consumed with pretty much everything. I'm really enjoying the Golden Child Lazy Sunday Light Red, an Adelaide Hills blend of pinot noir and shiraz, Das Juice Red from McLaren Vale, and Rising Light Dry Red. 

What are you serving to drink on arrival at your own parties this season? 
It's got to be the Ricca Terra Cinderella's Beads Sparkling.

Which wines are you saving for the special occasions this season? 
I have a few new releases I've been looking forward to opening. These include the 2020 Tolpuddle Chardonnay, 2019 Curly Flat Pinot Noir, Frerejean Freres Blanc de Blancs, and 2021 Ochota Barrels Fugazi Grenache.

Nina Throsby, group sommelier, Kailis Hospitality Group, Perth.

Sommelier Nina Throsby

Which value wines should we stock up on this season?  
There is such value in the Great Southern of Western Australia, with incredible producers such as Frankland Estate – their riesling never disappoints or set you back a crazy amount. I’m also passionate about chenin blanc from France’s Loire Valley, and the classic Marc Bredif Vouvray is readily accessible and always impresses. I also always like to have bubbles as you never know who’s going to turn up. Jo Perry from Dormilona in Margaret River has made a Blanc des Blancs Pet Nat from chardonnay that will feature heavily in my fridge this summer.   

Which wines should we give as gifts, even if we don’t know what they like to drink? 
In these instances, I look to more esoteric wines that people may not be so familiar with and therefore won’t have as many preconceived conceptions. For whites, I can’t go past albariño. This Spanish grape is so abundant in fruit and texture, it’s such a likeable wine and hard to go past. I love the producer Zarate as their wines have a beautiful savoury edge. I've also fallen for German pinot blanc, especially from Hees Winery. For something red, I’d go local – the girls at South by South West make a magical sangiovese/cabernet blend called Supermargs, a riff on the fame of the Super Tuscans. It’s a great wine with a nice story, so it makes a solid gift. 

What should we be giving the person who loves big reds?
Corymbia Cabernet Sauvignon will impress even the harshest of Margaret River cabernet critics. What it lacks in age it makes up for in complexity. This is cabernet stripped back and without pretension; it's about variety, place and expression. You can see all the hallmarks – dark brooding fruit, a strong spine and layered tannin, all framed by the vineyard that sits just two kilometres from the beach. We always talk about how important maritime influence is for cabernet and we see it truly shine in this wine. 

Staying in WA, although we don’t usually think of this state for shiraz, Frankland River is producing some extraordinary examples – the Loam Syrah by Paul Nelson is the first release under this label and punches above its weight. The wine has beautifully intense fruit, but is backed by a taut structure that keeps everything so neatly in place.
What are you serving to drink on arrival at your own gatherings this season?
I'm so passionate about arrival drinks I'd gladly serve them all night. I like an interesting bubbles, like the Windows Mousseaux sparkling chenin, which always sparks conversation. I also spent time in Venice and one of my favourite things to drink there was a Sgroppino – a scoop of lemon sorbet mixed in a glass with a shot of vodka and topped with Prosecco. This is the start of any great gathering and super-refreshing on a hot day. And if you’re willing to go all out, Champagne is never a let-down. I like to keep it light and lean with the Pierre Peters Cuvée de Reserve – a wonderfully driven grower Champagne.