We teamed up with our friends from Wairau River Wines to help you plan the best and most festive dinners of the season.
With cooler weather ahead, it’s time to spend long nights drinking with all our loved ones to celebrate the holiday season. Of course, no dinner is complete without wine, and I love Wairau River. Sauvignon Blanc And Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand for the occasion. Here, I’ve prepared two five-course dinner menus that showcase the versatility of each variety. Whether you’re looking for a vibrant seafood feast or something perfect for your Francophile friends, there’s a Wairau River wine for every occasion.
I can’t get enough of seafood, and if you’re like me, this is the perfect menu to accompany Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc. This wine balances fruity notes of grapefruit and nectarine with acidity for a lively, elegant and extremely drinkable wine.
Start dinner with a platter of Grilled Oysters with Sriracha Lime Butter. Grilling the oysters helps concentrate the briny flavor while simultaneously poaching them in the punchy butter sauce. For our vegetarian friends, I love to serve Crostini with burrata and olive tapenade. The tapenade can be made up to a week in advance, making this snack especially easy to prepare right before the party: simply top the toast with a piece of burrata and the desired amount of tapenade.
For the main course, serve a Classic bouillabaisse with a side of asparagus with a Dutch girl and crusty bread. If you’re unfamiliar, bouillabaisse is a traditional dish from Marseille, France, that combines a myriad of seafood, like mussels, shrimp, clams, and white fish, in a tomato-based broth and saffron. My perfect bite involves dipping a piece of bread into the broth and then into the Hollandaise. This hearty French dish is intensely flavorful and calls for pairing with the bright, refreshing notes of Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc. The key to this pairing is that the wine tempers the fruity concentration with subtle herbaceous and floral notes, which balance the bouillabaisse.
End the meal with my all time favorite dessert, Pavlova with berries and cream. There are a few things to keep in mind when making a successful pavlova. First, it’s best to prepare the meringue in cool, dry weather, which helps keep the sugars intact and prevents the pavlova from sinking. The finer the sugar, the more stable the meringue will be. If you can’t find powdered sugar, add regular granulated sugar to a food processor and pulse until smooth. What makes this recipe particularly special is the addition of crème fraîche to the whipped cream, which both stabilizes it while adding a little spice to soften the sweetness of the meringue.
The second menu takes inspiration from cool, cozy nights with French-inspired comfort food that pairs perfectly with those from Wairau River. Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is known for being a wine that everyone loves, and this one from Wairau River is particularly wonderful. With deep notes of cherry and red fruit, this wine has undertones of smoky oak that make it the perfect partner to a hearty meal.
Baked brie is at the top of my favorite snacks. It’s hard to beat a piece of bread in a puddle of oozing brie. Enter Brie Bites, which combine all the joy of, you guessed it, baked brie in one bite. Mini brie wheels are brushed with hot pepper jelly for a punch and wrapped in puff pastry. The end result is an addictive snack that is sure to have the whole table coming back for more.
In keeping with the French theme, start the meal with a salad of French “peasant” beets. This recipe makes clever use of beets and their greens, which are cooked together in the same pan. Finish the dish with a shower of black pepper and a piece of Lumberjack. It’s the perfect palate cleanser after those baked brie bites.
For the main course, serve two of my favorite cold dishes: Duck with orange And Mushroom Bread Pudding. Although duck may seem intimidating, I promise you that if you take it step by step, it’s a completely doable starter for a dinner party. This recipe takes inspiration from Julia Child’s classic recipe while also taking inspiration from the preparation of Peking duck, ensuring crispy skin with a bright orange flavor. To counter the more laborious aspects of preparing duck, bread pudding comes together quickly. Chunks of creamed challah are studded with crispy mushrooms and pockets of cheddar cheese for a downright delicious side dish. Sipping Wairau River Pinot Noir, with its bright, fruity notes, is the perfect companion to the acidity of orange and flavor of bread pudding.
Don’t forget dessert! This occasion-worthy meal wouldn’t be complete without a sweet treat, and these Olive Oil and Salted Caramel Blondies are the perfect way to end the evening. Sprinkled with your nut of choice (I love these with pistachios), these blondies are extra special thanks to an olive oil caramel swirled into the batter. Pro tip: I like to cut the blondies into bite-sized pieces so everyone can have as many or as little as they want.
What dishes are you serving this holiday season? Tell us below!
Creation of Phil and Chris Rose Wairau River in 1991, 13 years after establishing their first vineyards in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. To this day, the winery remains primarily family-owned and is known for its estate-grown Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and much more.