Christmas dinner is a great time to gather with loved ones and celebrate a beautiful time of year...
If the year gone by relied too much on ready meals and takeaways, Christmas dinner is the grand finale that reminds us we can spending treasured time together cooking snd sharing.
But of course, the success of a Christmas dinner comes down to planning and preparation.
So what wine pairs well with Christmas dinner?
If you’re planning on having a bird or ham as the centrepiece, the right wine can make a perfect marriage which elevates the meal, leaving you feeling light and satisfied.
The right wine with Christmas dessert continues conversation between family and friends around the dinner table, telling stories and soaking up the highlights of another year.
Below are the most enjoyed Christmas dinner variations you’ll find.
(If you’re in Oz, check the shop links to have our Margaret River wines delivered to your door!)
Christmas dinner – turkey, ham or seafood
What wine pairs with Christmas turkey?
Christmas turkey is often the traditional Christmas dinner. So let’s talk turkey:
- Purpose – Turkey is a medium bodied meat; it has a low-fat content which easily dries out. Your perfect wine pair will need to add mouthwatering juiciness.
- Profile – Tannins not in balance can contribute to bitter, astringent characteristics in wine. Strong tannins soak up fatty foods – but turkey is not a fatty food. Our turkey wine pair needs to be low in tannins, or with enough bottle age for tannins to have turned to silk.
- Pairing – When choosing a wine pairing for Christmas turkey, it’s often more about what your main side dishes are going to be. A fruity cranberry sauce will call for a fruit-forward, low-tannin red wine pair. Ham or bacon on the table might allow for a more tannic wine. A herby stuffing might call for a spiced and more acidic white wine.
Let’s talk wines:
- Pinot Noir – Soft tannins and fruity notes in a Pinot Noir will make a great wine pairing for Christmas turkey, especially if eaten cold and with pickles or chutneys on the table.
- Beaujolais Cru – This is perfect to pair with cranberry-sauces eaten with Christmas turkey, and is easy-going enough not to clash with side-dishes.
- Aged Bordeaux – A strong young Cabernet Sauvignon will have large tannins and dark fruits that overpower the turkey. But an aged Bordeaux, with soft and velvety tannins, could be just the touch. Be wary of too much oak influence. Our UMAMU Estate 2015 Cabernet has aged beautifully, with bags of character and red fruit aromas – 96 points from James Halliday.
- Chardonnay – A full Chardonnay can work wonders if your turkey has a side of bread sauce. Acidity and creamy lactic acid can add sweet, spicy notes to a dry turkey breast. Our UMAMU Estate 2018 Chardonnay received 97 points from Winestate, with poise and power.
What wine pairs with Christmas ham?
Christmas ham is a must-have – fresh out the oven or cold.
Ham is sweet yet smoky. More often than not it comes glazed with honey or maple syrup, with sweet fruit side-dishes like cranberries or baked apples.
Let’s talk ham:
- Purpose – ham often has a little sweetness. The wine pairing rule says that your wine should be sweeter than the food, otherwise it will taste bitter and tart.
- Profile – We’re looking for bright, fruit-forward wines without strong tannins.
- Pairing – If your ham comes with a smoky or spicy taste, then you’ll need a red or white which can handle that.
Let’s talk wines:
- Shiraz – A South Australian Shiraz is bold and fruity, and will work well with a sweet orange or marmalade glaze component. For a spicier (and less sweet) glaze, our young UMAMU Estate 2019 Shiraz from Margaret River could work wonders (we think of it more as a syrah than a shiraz).
- Châteauneuf-du-Pape – This wine is a Christmas favourite for many. These wines are blends of Grenache, Syrah & Mourvèdre and are well known for cooked cherry, berry fruits and herb notes. It won’t stand up so well to spice.
- Sémillon – A rich Sémillon could be a great call for the classic ham and pineapple combination. Our UMAMU Estate 2016 Sauvignon-Blanc Semillon could be just the ticket, with notes of tropical fruits and honey. And if your ham is a ham ham then we suggest our UMAMU Estate 2010 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon which is rocking at the moment, it has so many layers of flavours. We have poured this blind at recent events and has gone down a treat.
What wine pairs with Christmas shrimp?
Australia is famous for featuring fresh seafood at Christmas.
Most commonly this will be prawns, or shrimp. Plain cooked prawns (boiled in salt water onboard the trawler and put on ice) are delicious or barbecued, always enjoyed.
Let’s talk shrimp:
- Purpose – Shrimp is rich, salty and often heavy on the stomach. We’re going to need something that can wash it down and leave you feeling light.
- Profile – A crisp and refreshing wine is most likely what we’re after.
- Pairing – Every family has their own way of cooking shrimp. Bought steamed, grilling, barbecuing, frying, battering and marinating and more will all necessitate slight adaptations to the wine pairing.
Let’s talk wines:
- Rose - ours UMAMU Estate 2018 Rose being a delicate layered rose, pairs so well with plain cooked prawns. Check out our simple platter idea.
- Chardonnay – Chardonnay can make a fantastic shrimp pair, especially if there’s (non spicy) butter or creamy marinades involved – oaking will go wonderfully with the smoky tones from the barbeque. Our UMAMU Estate 2018 Chardonnay won 95 points from James Halliday, with butterscotch flavours and oak overtones.
- SBS – Shrimp can pair beautifully with a sharp, fruity Sauvignon Blanc-Sémillon. Try our UMAMU Estate 2016 SBS. And again as you do more with your shrimp, you need more characterful wine, which with age has developed more character, UMAMU Estate 2010 SBS.
- Riesling – If you’re going for a shrimp cocktail, you might try a dry Riesling which can play well with the horseradish component of cocktail sauce.
- Sparkling – Sparkling wines are a traditional go-to for seafood, especially oysters and scallops. Try our UMAMU Estate 2019 MacAnn Sparkling (semillon) for crisp, citrus and apple notes that add some sparkle to your Christmas dinner.
Christmas desserts – Pavlova and Christmas pudding
What wine pairs with Pavlova?
Pavlova is a Christmas staple in Australia and New Zealand.
It’s a meringue with fresh cream and fruits on top – light, fluffy and perfect after a huge meal in high temperatures.
Let’s talk Pavlova:
- Purpose – As we mentioned before, you need a wine that is sweeter than the food. When it comes to Pavlova, we’re talking very sweet.
- Profile – Aside from sweetness, we’re going to enjoy a wine which matches the flavour intensity of Pavlova – ideally a fruity or floral-scented sweet wine.
- Pairing – Your choice of topping could well influence the perfect wine pair – fruits like passionfruit will call for a wine with tropical tones, while red fruits and berries will call for a like wine.
Let’s talk wines:
- Muscat/ Moscato – Sweet wines made from the Muscat grape are a no-brainer for Pavlova. These wines combine sweetness with floral fragrance. According to Michel Roux Jr in Decanter, his choice for Pavlova is an Orange Muscat from Australia!
- Cane cut – Australia’s very own sweet wine, a cane cut could be a great pair if your Pavlova contains any citrus fruits, apricots or summer fruit flavours. Our UMAMU Estate 2014 Cane Cut from Margaret River is a wonderful pair. And we have a recipe for you too.
What wine pairs with Christmas pudding?
Christmas pudding is a British tradition which has put roots down in Australia.
The dessert is boiled, and full of spices like ginger and cinnamon as well as packed with raisins, dates, sultanas and almonds. Christmas pudding is often set alight with brandy and served with creamy brandy butter.
Let’s talk Christmas pudding:
- Purpose – Not only do we need a wine sweeter than the food, but Christmas pudding is rich and generously spiced too.
- Profile – We need something that can cut through the richness and go toe-to-toe with the spices.
- Pairing – In Australia, it’s common to add orange to a Christmas pudding. The addition can require a more tangy, acidic wine pair. Nuts will require a nuttier wine pair. Butter or suet will require richness.
Let’s talk wines:
- Ruby port or tawny port – These are the traditional fortified wine pair for Christmas pudding. Ruby port is fruitier, while tawny port has a more nutty component.
- Madeira wine – This fortified wine from the Portuguese Madeira islands can be perfect to pair with the nuts and rich, sweetness of Christmas pudding. A good bet if you’ve got orange peel in the mix.
- Pedro Ximenez – A glass of chilled Pedro Ximenez sweet sherry is a great bet for any Christmas pudding. Flavours of raisin, sultana and prune make a great pair for fruity Christmas puds.
- Cane Cut – A homegrown Australian Cane Cut is also a must for an Australian Christmas pudding! Try our UMAMU Estate 2014 Cane Cut.
And if you fancy exploring your own pairings but need some brainstorming, check out our tips for pairing blog.