How to choose great wine for the festive season
’Tis the season for indulgence, and it’s fitting that the wine is as good as the food. Whether you’re after a Champagne, chardonnay, shiraz or sticky, there are a few tricks to tracking down great wines without spending a fortune. After all, knowing that Krug Champagne is deemed the world's best non-vintage Champagne, doesn’t mean you can afford it.
RACV Club Sommelier Christian Maier says Piper Heidsieck Champagne is remarkable value for money, while the Upper Yarra Valley is renowned for chardonnay.
“If you know what varietals you like, whether it’s chardonnay or shiraz, then you’re halfway there in terms of choosing your wines for the festive season,” Maier says. “The next step is knowing which wine regions excel with those different varietals. If you pay a bit more for a wine from a good producer, then it usually pays off.”
Start with a bang
“You can never make a faux pas with a bottle of Champagne,” says Maier.
“Go with the classic ones that are widely available; Bollinger, Veuve Clicquot and Louis Roederer are your benchmark. If you want to make an impression, then get Charles Heidsieck. That’s on par with a luxury vehicle like Rolls Royce. Charles Heidsieck wines work like Krug, which is a top label, but without the price tag.”
For a nice local sparkling, Christian suggests a vintage Clover Hill or Delamere, both from Tasmania. He’s also a fan of Australian sparkling reds. These combine the flavours and tannins of a good red with bubbles and chill for a summer’s day. For fantastic value, he recommends Seppelt Original Sparkling Shiraz, which you can find for under $20.
“Sparkling red wine works because it can go with your barbecue, or even turkey, but it’s cool – from being chilled in the fridge – and it’s sparkling, which induces an element of freshness and liveliness. When it’s 30-plus degrees, and you’re eating outside, this one excels.”