You know the old saying – you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. This statement cannot be more true than at Christmas.
I blame Coles and Masterchef for these unachievable standards. Firstly my stepfather would have had anaphylaxis from the shellfish and my grandmother is yet to master the Christmas Turkey. At least she is consistent, she overdoes the bubbly as well.
There is always one family member (in my case multiple) that receives a special mention each year. The one who indulged a little too much, said something they shouldn’t have or chose in-laws over blood. Drama is one thing that we can always count on at Christmas – like Curtis Stone on our TVs with his honey glazed ham (both equally as mouth-watering) or the invariable, Christmas wine pairings – surely by now we know that Sparkling Shiraz works well with Turkey. But what we really need is something to complement the company.
In the epicurean world we talk about congruent and complementary pairings, the latter defined as ‘something that adds extra features to improve or emphasise the quality’.
If wine can complement food, who says the same can’t apply to people? No doubt everyone has a Christmas Guest they’d wish to improve ….
Fast forward to December 25th:
– You walk in.
– Mariah Carey’s on track 8- ‘Santa Clause is Coming to Town’ (personally Bublé does it better).
– The table is adorned with porcelain letters spelling NOEL – which after 20 years, mind the pun, is missing the ‘L’.
– Your 10 and 13 year old cousins are showing you their collection of the next toy fad… something called: ‘Squishies’. They lost you at Beanie Kids.
– And grandad is wearing a Christmas themed sweater to appease grandma – although he is more Grinch than Santa.
Sound familiar …. Or is this just my family?
Wine Pairing: a Christmas Guest Guide
Mid-Life Crisis Uncle
A Porsche this time – the irony is never lost on me that a tax accountant lashes money on what he lists as a depreciating asset. To accompany this midlife crisis is a lulu lemon wardrobe and strava app. Highly strung from his calorie deficit, a glass of Wolf Blass Zero Shiraz is the perfect pairing for his portion controlled lunch sans potato salad. Medium bodied with flavours of morello cherries, blackcurrants and stewed apples on the finish. However perhaps what is most appealing for an accountant is that with zero alcohol, it is eligible for the 10c deposit scheme. No offsetting that expense.
As my grandfather sits at the head of the table, Dr Seuss narrates: “Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot, but the Grinch…who lived just north of Whoville…did not.”. Conversation fluctuates between rising fuel prices and whether Pfizer is better than AstraZeneca. However, like Cindy Lou to the Grinch, the warming sweetness of Wynn’s Pedro Ximenez puts a smile on the old man’s face. Fruit mince pies, butterscotch sauce, lightly dusted with nutmeg – Christmas in a bottle “and what happened they say is that the grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day”.
The Cousin’s Christmas Date
Emma, Chelsea, Kate… the Christmas lunch date. Three months and going strong. Personally I like the novelty, just like a bon bon. For their fleeting moment, they provide the perfect amount of entertainment. So in the spirit of Christmas you fill their glass with Squealing Pig Prosecco… or should I say Prosec-Ho-Ho-Ho. Bubbly and blonde, it is reminiscent of wizz fizz sherbet hitting your tongue. The mousse of bubbles expand like a can of whipped cream – leaving behind a crisp, green apple finish.
The High Achieving Sibling
My parents were gifted two children – unfortunately for me only one of us received any form of talent. My brother is what Hollywood coins the triple threat – actor, singer and dancer. Every generation has one. What Elvis gave the 60s, John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever showed Gen X, and for the millennials it was Zac Efron in High School Musical. In the world of wine, we have a similar performer – Sparkling Red.
The Seppelt Sparking Shiraz is this one man show. The full body and complexity of a table wine with the performance of effervescent bubbles. Like Hugh Jackman moving sets from Wolverine to The Greatest Showman. Centre stage with an abundance of flavour; blackcurrant pastilles, cacao nibs, Black Forest cake, and notes of allspice. It does what cranberry sauce couldn’t… save the Christmas Turkey!
The Self Inviting Neighbour
To quote the book of Leviticus “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”. As though the sound of the table clearing is an invitation, two Americans let themselves in. Their children overseas, you apply the teachings of the bible and pour them a glass. Paired in time for Christmas trifle, the Pepperjack Chardonnay is just that in a glass. Yellow nectarines, ripe peaches (the ones that drip down your chin) and sponge cake soaked in thickened cream and honey. The flavours linger like your guests.
Despite being 2021 Christmas is proof of European gender roles. I blame Procter & Gambles’ ‘Fairy’ Brand for the oblivion. The males in my family genuinely believe in this mystical, Dishwashing Fairy… The real legendary creature is my mother. A parallel to Seppelt’s Hooded Woman, who according to its back label had a “duty to care for those that entered the asylum”; fitting as our Christmas Table seats many lunatics. Full of festive fun – a Seppelt Sparkling Rosé with ripe strawberries, pink grapefruit and rhubarb crumble. A strawberries & cream spritz, with a nostalgic nod to Kirks Creaming Soda.
You may not be able to choose your family – but you can choose the wine. And as the sommelier of Christmas Lunch you have an underestimated power. To put a smile on Grandfather Grinch’s face… sorry Jesus, THAT is the real Christmas miracle!