beach in Sydney, photo by Sharyn Foulis

Imagine if Christmas was in the middle of your summer holidays.

Work has slowed down, the kids are out of school, summer sunshine and lazier living beckons you. Now imagine how that might change what you want to eat and drink on Christmas day. You might start thinking about something lighter than the traditional stuffed turkey, roast potatoes, and gravy right? What about some seafood? Maybe some fresh prawns with just a squeeze of lemon and a big glass of something cold, white and crisp. Now we’re talking!

Welcome to Christmas in Australia!

Sydney fish market, photo by Sharyn Foulis

Australia loves Christmas. It’s the official start of the go-slow season for summer. Traditional activities include:

  • going for an early morning swim at the beach on Christmas morning.
  • attempting to consume our own body weight in prawns.
  • telling the kids that Santa’s sleigh is pulled by 6 white kangaroos instead of reindeer.
  • drinking white wine and beer – lots of white wine and beer!

Christmas lands in high summer in Australia and, because it’s often too damn hot to eat roast anything, we tend to take the traditional Christmas feast and adapt it for warm weather dining. Happily, it’s an evolving feast too. Australia is a multicultural country, so as well as English Christmas traditions, we have a tasty tasty mix of Italian, Greek, Irish, German, Filipino, Indian, Portuguese and Lebanese – all slowly transforming their traditions into a summer version of the original.

But to keep it simple, here are my top 3 ‘ultra-classic’ Australian Christmas food and wine matches:

Sauvignon Blanc and Prawns

Australians buy staggering amounts of prawns for Christmas. Australia’s biggest seafood market, The Sydney Fish Market, is open for 36 hours straight in the 3 days before Christmas and selling over 200 tonnes of prawns. Australia’s favourite match for prawns is crisp, juicy, flavoursome sauvignon blanc from our favourite neighbour, New Zealand. Drink like an Aussie and try Kim Crawford New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016 (gold medalist 2017 Melbourne International Wine Competition).

Sparkling Shiraz and Turkey

Having said that, some old traditions die hard. A lot of Australian Christmas dinners still feature turkey. It’s a bird we don’t really eat at any other time of the year and mild panic usually sets in as we have to remember how to cook it. In a bid to keep the temperature down we often match it with a chilled sparkling shiraz. Yes folks, you read it right – a sparkling RED wine – aka ‘Fruitcake in a Bottle’. It is usually a rich and delicious shiraz spiked up with a little hit of dosage sweetness to balance the tannins and it is served nice and cold! Sounds awesome you say, but can I buy this amazing national treasure in the States? You sure can! Look for Bleasdale Sparkling Shiraz NV or The Chook Sparkling Shiraz NV.

pavlova, courtesy bestrecipes.com

Fruit Pavlova and Dessert Wine

If any one dish symbolizes an Australian Christmas it’s this one. If you have never encountered a Pavlova before it is a gorgeous cake-shaped, meringue based dessert topped with whipped cream and summer fruits, usually cherries or mangoes or strawberries. It is traditionally served with a sticky dessert wine and a long afternoon nap!

Want to give this a go? Recipes can be found here.

Merry Christmas everyone! I’ll eat an extra prawn in your honour. At the beach.