Here’s to the festive season! Bringing some extra cheer and the chance to spend time with family and friends, we’re sure you can’t wait to kick back, relax, and celebrate with those you love. It’s time to start planning how to eat, drink, and be as merry as possible in the face of a year that’s been harder than most. Louisvale Wines have all the tips you need to pick the perfect vintage to complement your delicious dishes, too, so let’s get to it.

Climate matters

First of all, while we get flooded with pictures of snow and roasting fires at this time of year, baby it’s hot outside! While that’s no reason not to bring some traditional Christmas fare to the table, smart party planners know to give it a lighter, local twist. This applies equally to wines, too! 

The last thing you want is to create a scrumptious lunch, but have everyone find it far too heavy and roll out to the pool. Whether it’s using a lighter, chilled wine instead of the ‘recommended’ heavy red, or finding a way to add a South African touch to the recipe instead, cooking for the hot Christmas we get is always smart.

What’s the star of the show?

Traditionally, wine is always matched to the meat or the fish, because that’s the focal point of the meal. If you’re unsure how to pair your wine, or just want an easy rule of thumb, it’s a great way to go. 

If you’re opting for a more modern festive feast, however, you can play with these rules. Match the wine to a show-stopping sauce (and use a little in it) or lift the undertones of the dish through an acidic wine. You can even frame an unusual spice with a perfect wine to match!

Savoury sweetness

If you’re whipping up something savoury that’s got a hint of smoky or sweet (think honey glazes and pork), you’ve already got a lot going on in the dish. A touch of sugar in the wine is nice, but don’t go overboard. Chardonnay (creaminess & acidity), Cabernet Sauvignon or a Bordeaux style red blend such as the Boris have the tannins to lift the taste, while a lightly wooded Chardonnay compliments a smokey or fatty meat

Traditional dish: A honey-glazed ham with a Unwooded Chardonnay

Something new: Game meat with plums and pancetta with a Cabernet Sauvignon

Perfect poultry

Poultry is traditionally the domain of the white wine, so the meat isn’t overwhelmed. Traditional festive food is a little different, however. Turkey and chicken are heavily influenced by the herbs, sides, and sauces we use, so almost any wine can work, but white’s inevitably better. Match the flavour tones to the sauce.

Duck is an unusual addition to the festive table, and fattier and gamier than most poultry. A wooded Chardonnay works perfectly, and you could consider the Louisvale Boris or a similar red wine with aromas of vanilla, cherry and dark berries

Traditional dish: A turkey roast with stuffing and Pinot Noir

Something new: Duck breast with orange sauce and Chardonnay

South African all-stars

Ditching tradition for some sticky ribs, spectacular wors fresh from the braai, or succulent bobotie? The perfect wine is still at hand!. An unwooded Chardonnay could lighten the meal, while a classic Bordeaux or Pinotage, chilled to perfection, will amplify the tastes. Think fruity undertones and bolder reds or crisp apple/pear toned whites.

Traditional dish: Braai meat and chilled Merlot

Something new: Lemon and herb chicken kebabs with Sauvignon Blanc

Fusion fun

Daring to be very different? One of the toughest parts of being a culinary trailblazer is finding the right wine to match. Look to your spices for inspiration. Warm spices like cardamom or ginger love heavy reds. Fresh tastes like citrus, pepper, and lemongrass need a perky partner, like a crisp rosé or a nice light white. Woody herbs love Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. 

Traditional dish: Roast veggies with a Pinot Gris

Something new: Vietnamese lemongrass chicken and unwooded Chardonnay

Fishy, fishy

As with poultry, you traditionally want a white wine for any fish dish, so as not to overwhelm the flavours. Pinot Noir can lift a heavy cream or tomato fish dish, but some reds leave a metallic aftertaste with fish. Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are go-to’s here, but also consider your sauces and spices

Traditional dish: Smoked salmon with Chardonnay

Something new: Moroccan spicy fish with Moscato

Delicious dessert

Of course, it’s not Christmas without a delectable dessert! Heavy traditional puddings like Christmas pudding and Malva pudding need strong and confident reds like a Muscat or even a Port. Sherry is great with Christmas pies and nut blends, while Madeira and dark chocolate pair beautifully. A sparkling wine like the Louisvale MCC Brut can also work beautifully with dessert, cutting richer and sweeter tastes without overpowering them. Lighter treats like sorbets pair beautifully with a rosé or a white wine with matching undertones. 

Traditional dish: Malva pudding with Riesling

Something new: Turkish rose sorbet with rosé 

And there you have it! This quick and easy wine pairing guide for Christmas will soon have you on the road to tasty things. Remember, there’s no wine police busting down the door if you do try something unique, although it’s always a good idea to make sure the wine and food complement each other for the very best results and happy guests. Whether you match the wine to the food or build the menu around your favourite vintage, have a happy, safe, and fun-filled festive season from the Louisvale Wines team!