by Fergal Gleeson
Fa La La La, La la La!
Here we go again into another Festive season when we launch into a Dante’s Inferno of eating and drinking with colleagues, clients, friends and family. By the end of it your current account will have been carpet bombed, your waistline will resemble that of a sumo wrestler and your drinks cabinet will have been marauded like a monastery in the middle ages.
Being a traditionalist it will be Turkey, Ham and all the trimmings in our household. Seafood on Christmas day I don’t get. Christmas comes but once a year after all so stick to the script! I also have a problem with eating crustaceans. These weird looking creatures have evolved slowly over four hundred million years to make themselves difficult for predators. Their armour is comprehensive: exoskeletons, antennae, claws, scales and tails. You need the patience of a preschool teacher and the dexterity of a neurosurgeon to extract the meat. After all your hard work there’s hardly any! Yes it is funny when prawn juice explodes all over grandad’s tie but I’m left feeling exhausted after beheading and shelling these suckers.
This week I’ll make some recommendations on value wines that taste much better than they should for the price. It’s a cosmopolitan selection with wines from France, Spain, Germany and of course the Great Southern Land.
There is plenty of cheap sparkling wine out there but most is forgettable. Here are two crackers for under $15. Veuve Amiot (Dan Murphys) is a sparkling wine from the Loire Valley in France. They’ve been making it for over 100 years so it’s got providence. It’s slightly sweeter than Champagne which makes it easy drinking. Segura Viudas Brut NV (Vintage Cellars) is from Catalonia in Spain is also outstanding. It’s made from eclectic grape varieties that I hadn’t heard of Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo. This cava smells and tastes of granny smith apples with some biscuit flavours. They also have a Demi Sec and a Rose but the Brut is the one to go for.
I’ve featured the Peter Mertens Mosel Riesling (Aldi) previously. Stock up on this gentle easy drinker for $10. My favorite budget Australian Riesling is Jim Barry Watervale (widely available) at $15. It’s an interesting contrast to the Mosel with crunchy acid and in a drier style.
Chardonnay is the natural white wine accompaniment to turkey and I’d go to Margaret River as the leading Australian region for the variety. MadFish Gold Turtle Chardonnay is a crowd pleaser with enough richness to handle the variety of flavours that appear on a Christmas table.
Because it’s Summer and you are eating at lunchtime this isn’t the place for heavyweight red wines. Marques de Riscal Proximo (Dan Murphys) is a keenly priced Rioja for $10. Fruity, medium bodied Tempranillo sits behind the grand label. I scratched my head at how they can do it. For $10 more I’d refer you to SC Pannells Tempranillo Touriga, another wine I featured recently. Murray Street Black Label Shiraz (Kemenys) for $20 is an elegant, mid weight Barossan.
Pinot Noir is the obvious red choice for turkey and ham. Coldstream Hills from the Yarra and Abels Tempest from Tasmania (both widely available) are excellent wines but will cost around $25. Does anybody have any suggestions to share for a good pinot under $20?
So there you have it Christmas drinks on a budget covered! Next week some recommendations for wines for those with deeper pockets. Bank some sleep, squeeze in some exercise and buy some Berocca. However you feel about Christmas… it’s here!
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