Festive Food and Wine matching with Merchants


Well another year has flown by, and as the silly season approaches people often ask us at Merchants which wines we’ll be pouring over the festive period. We’ve put together a list of our favourite Christmas tipples with all the fixings from a classic Australian Christmas meal.

To start – bubbles are the universal way to bring people together at any event, and Christmas is no different. We love the Leura Park Estate Vintage Grande Sparkling Blanc de Blanc – its 100% Chardonnay and has a touch of rich ripe fruit and silky smooth bubbles that makes it a real crowd pleaser, especially if it’s the first wine of the day!

Entrée – for a land ‘girt by sea’ it’s no surprise that seafood is always popular around Christmas time in Australia. We love an entrée of fresh Coffin Bay oysters, with just a touch of lime juice – they have a delicious briney smell of the sea – and are perfect with a crisp dry Riesling. The Sorby Adams Jellicoe Riesling from Eden Valley in South Australia is a great example of the variety, and complements the delicate oyster flavours without overpowering them.

Main course – a glazed ham or roast turkey (or sometimes even both!) are popular choices for the centrepiece of an Australian Christmas, and both work well with a range of wines as they are flavourful but not too dominant. To avoid the usual argument about serving red or white wines with lighter meat dishes, we have gone for one of each! A fuller bodied white wine like the Fermoy Estate Chardonnay from Margaret River will hold up really well against the flavour of the ham or turkey, while offering some refreshing crispness. For red wine drinkers, try the Myattsfield Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot/Merlot blend. Cabernet Sauvignon blends like this are great with food as they have lots of structure and character, and any ‘grippiness’ in the wine will be held in check by the food – which really allows the lovely layers of fruit flavours to shine.

Dessert – matching wines with desserts can be problematic as the sweetness in the dessert can make wines look bitter or hard. The trick is to look for sweeter wines which can balance the sweetness in the dessert. Try a sparkling red – it’s a unique Australian style of wine (typically made from Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon) – and made in the same way as sparkling white wines but often with a touch of sweetness as well as some savoury notes. This makes it very versatile with foods, particularly with sweeter dishes. So we’d recommend the Gartelmann Sparkling Shiraz with our pavlova – it’s a popular Christmas dessert that’s like a slice of summer on the plate, and the red berry fruits just burst from the wine glass! And for the traditionalists, the Gartelmann is also a delicious match with a rich fruit Christmas pudding.

So there you have it – a great selection of wines for a very special occasion. Merchants has a beautiful Festive Menu on offer this year so you can relax and let someone else do the work! All that remains is for everyone here at Merchants to wish you all a safe and merry Christmas!


Wine and Chocolate Valentine’s Day Workshop


Blindfolds, chocolate, wine, wine, wine, more chocolate, oh and did we mention the edible stilettos…?
..things got a little tasty at our Valentine’s Day Wine and Chocolate workshop!!

Lovely Leela of Leela’s Fine Chocolates was our guide on this amorous exploration of 2 of our Greatest Loves of All.  Just like love – the relationship between wine and chocolate can be arduous ardour! There can be clashes, sometimes opposites attract..but occasionally you stumble upon a perfect, passionate match!

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Leela’s delectable handmade chocolates melted in our mouths: White chocolate, Dulce, Chai with flecks of gold, a spicy Chilli chocolate, a dark chocolate with Murray River Rock Salt and the most delicious milk chocolate we’ve ever tasted.

We paired Leela’s chocolates with a fascinating array of Merchants wines – Cosham Sparkling Pinot Noir, Ms Flamingo, Sparkling Strawberry Wine from Dandenong, a Bunnamagoo Autumn Semillon (the hot favourite), a Kies Deer Stalker Merlot and our visiting winery’s Fuddling Cup Cabernet Sauvignon 2008.

The key to wine and chocolate pairing is simple – match the sweetness of the wine to the sweetness of the chocolate – and the sweetness of the company if it’s Valentine’s Day! As with most things in life (and love) you’re searching for balance. Chocolate is a cheeky dominatrix – with intense flavours of sweetness, fruit, acid coating your palate. So we recommend tasting the wine first, and then nibbling your chocolate, then taking another sip of wine, and so on… Start at the lighter end of the spectrum for both chocolate and wine, e.g. white chocolate and champagne – then work your way towards the darker shades..

Speaking of shades, things got a little heated when we asked our guests ‘how well do you know your partner?’, and with blindfolds donned there was some energetic and frantic experimentation with wine and chocolate combos.

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Some mentioned it was a little (ahem) ’50 Shades..’ though we think 50 Shades of Gris would be more appropriate – perhaps we’ll save that for our next event!