Whether it's for Christmas, the New Year or Chinese New Year, this time of year is always an ideal excuse for enjoying good wine. As you may feel like splashing out a little more than usual on wines, I'll focus on wines from New Zealand and Australia, which some of you have asked about.
Both countries boast very dynamic, mature wine industries producing world-beating wines in several categories. Generally, New Zealand produces better cool-climate wines and Australia better full-bodied reds requiring plenty of sunshine for ripening, although I'm sure the producers of some fantastic New Zealand reds and crisp, refreshing Australian whites might disagree!
My top picks (in no special order) for matching grape varieties and regions to ensure you have little chance of going wrong would be:
This grape put Australia on the international map with its full-bodied, juicy blackberry fruit and hints of leather and black pepper—great for steaks and barbeques. Recently, New Zealand's Hawkes Bay area has started producing great Shiraz, but it's hard to surpass Australia's Barossa Valley and Margaret River regions for some of my favourite wines.
Sauvignon Blanc (white)
Marlborough in New Zealand and the Loire Valley in France completely dominate the international Sauvignon Blanc market in terms of quality and awards. Fresh and zesty with flavours ranging from tart gooseberry and elderflower to more tropical, passion fruit and melon notes, it's really hard to beat Marlborough as the region for this.