The holiday season is so close, we can almost taste it. And, in case you were wondering, it tastes like happiness, sunshine, and cheese boards, seafood, and wine aplenty!
While our busy work schedules are about to start wrapping up, our social calendars are only just getting started. We’re exhausted just looking at all the soirees and after work events that are scattered throughout December. Eugh, isn’t having fun such a chore?
Outside of attending parties, this is also the time of the year when our hosting skills are really tested. Our numero uno goal this year was to become masters at matching our favourite wines with food, and so we asked our pals at Penfolds for some handy pointers to get us there. From chardonnay to shiraz, they gave us the lowdown on which wines and hor d’oeuvres are MFEO (meant for each other), and our palettes, and those of our future guests, are all the better for it.
If you’re new to the game, or are looking to become the hostess with the most (knowledge about wine and food), read on for our handy guide…
So, fromage is where it’s at for you this ~silly~ season? Good choice! Much like the snack itself, a good cheese joke never goes astray, and so to kick things off, we’ve included a couple of our faves that are guaranteed a LOL or ten…
Q: What did the cheese say itself in the mirror?
A: Halloumi! (As in: hello, me! Geddit?)
Q: What cheese do you use to hide a horse?
OK, with those cheesy dad jokes out of the way, let’s get down to business. When you’re serving up strong cheeses, it’s best to go for a robust (aka full-bodied) red wine, like the 2016 Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz. Some tasting notes for you from those in the know: “The Bin 389 has the structure of cabernet sauvignon with the richness of shiraz and exemplifies the judicious balance of fruit and oak. The two varietals work in harmony with one another, the cabernet providing lift and structure, with the opulence of shiraz fleshing out the mid-palate.”
If you’re looking to fill your grazing table with semi-hard cheeses like Gruyere and Gouda, the subtle fruits of a shiraz found in the 2015 St.Henri will compliment them perfectly (the same can be said for meat, game and poultry). There’s no oakiness to this particular shiraz—it’s all about the purity of the fruit.
If you’re treating your cuties to charcuterie—our favourites are prosciutto and salami, PS—then your best option is a multi-regional shiraz, like the 2016 Kalimna Bin 28 Shiraz (which, FYI, is also delicious paired with BBQ meats and strong cheeses). This particular wine shares a strong DNA connection to Grange (multi-regional, shiraz, American oak (albeit seasoned), and while it’s great as a young wine, it has a cellar potential of 20+ years. See you in, 2038!
If you’re serving up seafood, then a crisp glass of white is in order. If fresh seafood and bouillabaisse are on the menu, then the award-winning 2017 Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay is the wine for you. If bouillabaisse isn’t too your liking, don’t worry there’s plenty more fish (and other seafood) in the sea, along with the right wine to match! The 2018 51 Eden Valley Riesling is perf with freshly shucked oysters, grilled scallops and Thai squid salad. With its crisp acidity and perfumed aromatics, it has been known to win over Sauvignon Blanc devotees, and since it can’t be over-chilled, you can enjoy straight from the ice bucket on a hot summer’s day. Delish.
For red meat—like lamb, game or beef—a cabernet sauvingon like the 2016 Bin 407 is your best bet. It needs the balance of protein to balance the tannins when drunk young. For chicken, the aforementioned 2017 Reserve Bin A Adelaide Hills Chardonnay will more than do the trick.
A bit of everything
And, finally, the wine that does it all. If you’re attending a party or gathering and are not too sure what’s on the menu, the 2016 Bin 138 Barossa Valley Shiraz Grenache Mataro promises to do it all. Rich, full-bodied and extremely versatile, this can be paired with all sorts of Mediterranean style cuisines, from oily fish and grilled meat, to pasta…
Photographer: Daphne Nguyen
*This post was shot in collaboration with Penfolds.