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edited by Sue Courtney
e-mail address: winetaster@clear.net.nz

Festive Feasting
© Sue Courtney
16 December 2002

Summer means sunshine. Sunshine means summery wines. My favourite summer wines are definitely wines that can be served chilled. Apart from the obvious choice of bubbles, I love to drink riesling, gewurztraminer and dry RosÚ.

But it is Christmas time. How do you combine the tradition of Christmas feasting with summery wines? Well, here's an idea or two.

Peppered Strawberry Bites
Strawberries are at the peak of the season at Christmas time in New Zealand. They are the ideal fruit to serve on Christmas Day for the red colour of the fruit and the contrasting green of the leaves are the colours of the festive season. Serve these 'bites' as finger food with a glass of RosÚ.

You will need
- One or two punnets of firm ripe strawberries
- Cream cheese
- Black peppercorns

Cut a wedge of fruit out of the strawberry along the length of the fruit.
Fill the wedge with cream cheese
Arrange the strawberries on a platter
Liberally garnish with freshly ground black pepper corns.

This is just a delicious appetiser to serve with a dry RosÚ. I recommend the Unison RosÚ 2002, reviewed as a Wine of the Week here.

Spiced Orange Turkey Breast
These days turkey comes as pre-packaged cuts, such as breasts, thighs or drumsticks. These allow alternative cooking styles to the traditional whole roasted bird. This is great if you're going beachside on Christmas Day - you'll only need to take enough to eat and not worry about the leftovers going off.

Gewurztraminer may not be a traditional match for turkey but if you steep the turkey cuts in a spicy orange marinade, the combination can be quite delicious.

For a large turkey breast you will need

- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon runny honey
- 2 teaspoons five-spice powder
- 1 capful of masala wine
- the juice and zest of an orange.

Combine the ingredients and steep the turkey breast for a couple of hours at least.

Either roast the meat in the oven before going to the beach or you can slice the boneless cuts and barbecue it once you get there.

I tested my recipes with some new releases and the two that came out tops are absolute stunners to serve on Christmas Day.

The sweetly scented Montana 'P' Gewurztraminer 2002 from the Patutahi region in Gisborne is definitely the most delicious and drinkable gewurztraminer on the market right now. This slightly oily textured off-dry wine is beautifully balanced with flavours of exotic spices and freshly squeezed juicy oranges that linger more-ishly in the mouth.

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2000, the first commercial release from the country's most iconic winery, is a richly flavoured luscious wine with orange toffee, roses, honey, lychees, lots of orange flavours and 5-spices to sweetly top it off. It was just terrific with the turkey.

Crispy Skinned Spiced Turkey Drumsticks
If you have children, you might like to try these spiced drumsticks. Give them a drumstick to chew on and they'll be quiet for ages. Dad would probably like one too and he can enjoy it with the wine.

Take 2 tablespoons of butter
the juice and zest of an orange or tangelo
2 teaspoons of five spice powder.

Combine the butter and orange zest and mix together until the butter is creamy. Rub the orange juice into the skin of the drumstick. Then smear the drum with the butter mixture so the drum is well coated. Now rub in the five spice power. Back the drum in the oven according to directions on the packet, until the meat is cooked and the skin is crispy.

Traditional Glazed Ham
I love glazed ham. It was the big treat for Christmas Day when I was just a little girl (not so very long ago). The brown sugar, cherry and pineapple glaze caramelised in the oven and the sweet crunchy outside combined with the saltiness of the meat. The key to success was the glaze and the presentation.

These days you can buy cooked ham so you only have to glaze it with this classic combination of brown sugar and pineapple.

You will need

- Cooked Ham
- Sliced pineapple in syrup. The 255g cans have 5 slices per can.
- 1 cup of brown sugar per 1/2 cup of pineapple syrup.
- one packet of glace cherries
- whole cloves

If the cooked ham has an outer rind, remove this quite carefully.

Score the ham to make diamond shapes and place cloves in the corner of each diamond.

Open the can(s) of pineapple rings and reserve the juice.

Place 1 cup of brown sugar in a saucepan and add half a cup of pineapple juice. Heat, stirring until dissolved, then remove from heat.

Place the ham onto a rack in a baking dish.

Liberally baste the ham with the pineapple and brown sugar glaze, reserving just a little to brush on the pineapple and cherries later.

Bake at 180░ C for 35 to 45 minutes, basting with the pan drippings about every 10 minutes.

Add the pineapple rings to the outside of the ham about halfway through cooking, securing with half toothpicks or cloves.

About 15 minutes before cooking is complete, add the cherries to the centre of the pineapple rings and elsewhere if desired. Brush with the remaining glaze as well as the pan drippings.

When the glaze is crunchy, remove the ham from then oven.

Allow the ham to cool and store in the refrigerator until serving.

Alternatively rub the brown sugar into the skin before decorating with the pineapple and cherries. Bake 10 minutes to start caramelising the sugar, then baste with the pineapple juice.

The New Zealand Pork Industry website www.pork.co.nz has guidelines for reheating cooked hams that say "Weigh the ham and allow 10 minutes per 500 grams. Cook in oven preheated to 160 degrees centigrade for calculated time. Brush with the glaze 3 to 4 times during cooking".

Ham is a salty meat and fruity rieslings are an excellent match especially with the fruity glaze. I recommend the super Pegasus Bay Waipara Riesling 2002, a spicy spritzy wine with citrus, apricot and tropical flavours. It is a sweet summery style and needs to be served chilled. It's a great label to have gracing the table on Christmas Day.

Rosey Sorbets
A sorbet of rosÚ wine is a delicious way to cleanse the palate in between courses of a midsummer Christmas dinner or perhaps as a cooler at the end of a summery lunch. I like to use seasonal fruit, especially strawberries and watermelon.

You will need
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup of pulp make from the fresh fruit - if using watermelon remove the pips before blending the fruit to a pulp.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup of RosÚ wine
- a few sprigs of mint if using strawberries

The key to success with this recipe is that you have to know how sweet the wine and fruit is and then you will know how much sugar to add. If it is too sweet, the flavour will be cloying rather than refreshing.

Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. This is the sugar syrup. Mix the blended fruit with the wine and add the cooled sugar syrup slowly, taste testing for sweetness as you go.

Stir to combine and pour into a freezer tray. Stir occasionally as it freezes. Because of the wine content it should not freeze solid. Break up the ice with the prongs of a fork before serving.

This looks quite nice served in small crystal wineglasses.

If using strawberries, blend the fruit with a couple of sprigs of mint and use mint leaves as a garnish.

Merry Christmas

© Sue Courtney
December 2002.


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