If you’re curious about traditional festive fares from around the world and looking to try something new, here is how some of our producers celebrate Christmas.
Cherries, crayfish and Champagne in Australia
Mij and Liv of South by South West are partners in life and in winemaking, so Christmas is definitely a time to celebrate the year’s successes with their families. ‘We normally do a Christmas breakfast that typically rolls into a Christmas lunch,’ says Liv. ‘We all share the load – everyone helps in the kitchen. We always have a traditional Italian panettone first thing in the morning when opening some pressies, closely followed by some locally farmed Margaret River Christmas ham and cherries for brunch. The lunch is always a sit-down affair with lots of smaller courses, including fresh seafood, the local delicacy of marron (crayfish), and there is always some form of pasta and fresh salad.
‘Wine-wise, the day typically starts with Champagne and normally continues through to lunch. Then, there are always some bottles that have been pulled from the cellar. Wine that’s been put away to age a little, and normally a mix of Australian and Italian. The day always finishes with even more Champagne – it’s a celebration, after all!’
Trout, turkey and riesling in Alsace
Joseph Cattin is the largest independent family-owned winery in Alsace. So, it’s no surprise that Christmas is a family affair. Anaïs Sirop Cattin is the one in charge of the traditional Alsace feast, which is no mean feat. ‘We have a large family so always have several dinners,’ she tells us, ‘but my favourite is our big Christmas Eve dinner, where I’ll cook for up to 20 people! For an apéritif, we’ll have a traditional smoked trout from Alsace with fois gras. Then, for the main course, a turkey roasted with truffles and chestnuts – I’ll serve this with spaetzle (egg-noodle dumpling) and cabbage.
‘After the mains are cleared away, we'll have a huge plate of cheeses from various regions of France and finally a bûche (sponge cake stuffed with chocolate cream). I always put home-made bredele on the table after dessert – these are traditional Alsace Christmas shortbreads usually made with cinnamon, hazelnuts, strawberry jam and chocolate. My husband Jacques takes care of the wine – we always serve many different things. We try new things from around the world but there will always be at least three wines from us: crémant for an apéritif, riesling for the smoked trout, and pinot noir with the turkey.’
Barbecue lamb, snapper ceviche and syrah in New Zealand
It’s summertime in the southern hemisphere when Christmas rolls around, so a New Zealand Christmas feast is world away from turkey and roast potatoes. ‘Generally, we have a big social gathering for drinks with friends on the 24th before the big family day on the 25th,’ say Rosie Finn of Neudorf Wines. ‘My mother is queen of the kitchen, but everyone has to bring something to the table: my partner brings fresh fish, I make dessert and dad usually brings Champagne. In New Zealand, December is in our summertime, so we have a long lunch with lots of salads, snapper ceviche, berries, whitebait patties and lamb on the barbecue. We do keep it a bit traditional with a glazed leg of ham, too!
‘For wines, we start the day with Champagne at breakfast, usually Louis Roederer. Then, with the main event we’ll drink some local wines from friends, maybe a poolside rosé in the afternoon and a white Burgundy later in the day. As the day cools down, you’ll find me winding down in the evening sun with a glass of syrah or pinot. Absolute bliss.’
Pickled tongue and cabernet sauvignon in South Africa
Hannes Myburgh, the eighth-generation owner of Meerlust Estate (pictured above), is renowned for being an excellent cook – and hearing about his annual festive feast, it’s no wonder. ‘We usually celebrate on the eve of the 24th, and spend Christmas Day enjoying the leftovers,’ says Hannes. ‘We usually have warm pickled ox tongue, which is a popular dish in South Africa, but we serve fillet of beef for those who are a bit squeamish! This is served alongside a selection of mustards, potato salad, freshly baked farm bread and a big mixed green salad. As a snack, I usually roast pecans in a hot pan with butter, rosemary, and I salt them afterwards while still hot.
‘For our wine selection, we start off with pinot noir and chardonnay to pair with the snacks. For the main course, I`ll serve some older Meerlust Rubicons, cabernet sauvignons or merlots – they go very well with the two red meats.’
Beef rouladen, braised red cabbage and pinot noir in California
Kristine Schug is the chef for Schug winery, and although they’re based in northern California, their festive season is influenced by their German heritage. ‘Because our parents were born and raised in Germany, we have always enjoyed our holiday dinner on Christmas Eve, with Christmas Day reserved for our in-laws,’ says Kristine. ‘I remember that after our meal, our parents would light real candles on their Christmas tree. We would turn out a few lights and enjoy the glow…
‘The women of the family are the ones who cook the Christmas feast, which is served in courses: a salad comes first, followed by a soup. Then we serve beef rouladen, braised red cabbage and hand-made spaetzle. Bubbles are served with hors d’oeuvres, then white wine for salad and soup. Usually, an older vintage of red wine, especially pinot noir, is enjoyed with the main course. Usually we enjoy our own wines, but our dad, Walter, had quite the cellar. He always had “a little something” to share with us, shared with a little story about the wine itself.’