Let the pros help you plan the perfect drinks list for Christmas entertaining with their expert tips and hacks.
So, you’re doing Christmas at yours this year. You know who’s coming, your menu is set, but how do you plan what festive drinks to serve? Planning the perfect drinks list is critical for Christmas Day entertaining to ensure your family and friends have a good time, and that there is something for everyone – but you also don’t want to blow the budget. Here, the experts share their top tips for organising the perfect wine and cocktail list for your Christmas party.
Bubbly is essential for a festive meal. But you can make your Champagne or sparkling wine go a lot further if you make a refreshing cocktail for Christmas rather than serving straight up – and it feels extra special. It’s worth focusing on quality over quantity here, so opt for a high quality Champagne like Veuve Clicquot. According to Jarod Senior, manager of Champagne Bar at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour. a welcome cocktail should be light, fresh and inviting. “A classic like a French 75 [Champagne, gin, lemon juice and sugar] really puts the Champagne to work yet remains full of life,” he says. “Combine a few simple ingredients ‒ gin, lemon, a touch of sugar, and of course Champagne, and you’re done.” Other easy Champagne or sparkling wine cocktail options include mimosas [Champagne with orange juice] and Bellinis [prosecco with peach nectar].
Try the rule of the two Ps when it comes to a simple, fuss-free wine pairing for your Christmas menu, suggests Louella Mathews, head sommelier at Bibo Wine Bar, Sydney. “For an easy match with lunch, I always recommended pinot gris and pinot noir,” she says. “A good pinot gris has enough texture and flavour, but the acid is a little softer, so it suits a range of palates. And you can’t go wrong with a pinot noir from Central Otago – it has enough complexity to impress any wine aficionado.” And don’t be afraid to serve sparkling wine with food too. “You can never go wrong with pairing a vibrant blanc de blancs with fresh seafood, especially oysters,” says Senior. “There’s a salinity that makes it a perfect match for the seafood we love during the festive season.” Another good pairing for seafood is a riesling, and the ideal match for a Christmas roast is chardonnay. “A Burgundy will be impressive but if you don’t like oak, opt for a Chablis instead,” suggests Mathews.
Want to try something different? Surprise and delight your guests with some Italian barbera or American zinfandel. “A lighter barbera from Piedmont has a dried red fruit and savoury chestnut profile which pairs well with Christmas turkey and stuffing,” says Mathews. “Robust wine drinkers will love a fruit forward zinfandel – it is perfect with pork or lamb roasts.” “I also make sure I always have some French rosé in the fridge,” she adds. “It’s a great back-up wine and someone will always drink it!”