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Tasty wine and food matches for holiday entertaining
by Sue Courtney
31 December 2000

It's that time of year when late afternoon and pre dinner drinks with a few friends beg some accompanying finger food, so forget the 70's-era chips and dip and take a little time to consider these easy wine and food matching ideas.

I like to choose food that will match the style of wine and often the choice of wine is driven by the budget.

Marinated fish and capsicum Sauvignon Blanc is great for pre dinner drinks and with the right food it can be a taste sensation. I've been recommending Selaks Drylands Sauvignon Blanc 2000 (about $16) to all my friends this summer and everyone has loved it. It is a fantastic match to marinated white fish thread onto skewers with red and yellow capsicum. With all the colours, it looks good too.

Riesling with its citrus acidity is a winner in the hot summer sun and served chilled, it can be delightfully refreshing. Some of my under-$15 favourites are Vidal Estate Riesling 2000, Giesen Canterbury Riesling 2000 and Sanctuary Marlborough Riesling 2000. Match these wines to canape-sized whitebait fritters made with a squeeze of lemon juice, or honeyed prawns on toothpicks.

Chicken and Melon KebabsWith a Chardonnay try some chicken breast cubed and pan-fried then thread onto skewers with pieces of rock melon. Dip these in a lemongrass and peanut sauce and wow - a great match. I love the Grove Mill Marlborough Chardonnay 1999 (about $22) but for under $20, try the delicious Brajkovich Chardonnay 2000 from Kumeu.

What about a wine that is different? If you can get hold of the Te Mata Estate Viognier 2000 you will be in for a treat. Try it accompanied with freshly smoked salmon served on rounds of cucumber as the 'cracker'.

Watercress and Kina CrostiniIf you're daring enough to try something really different, what about kina (sea urchin) on a watercress cream topped crostini - this is simply stunning with Spy Valley Marlborough Gewurztraminer 2000 (about $17) in particular. Kina can now be purchased already prepared from the best seafood markets. Gewurztraminer is fabulous with lightly spiced Asian foods and mini Thai pork balls, made with sweet chilli sauce and fresh coriander amongst the flavourings, will also be a treat.

Baby lamb cutlets are great for finger food as they come with their own handle. Bake a rack of lamb whole with a mustard, garlic, rosemary and mint crust then slice when cool, for serving. Try with Shingle Peak South Island Pinot Noir 1999 or Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir 1999. Both cost under $20.

What about an Aussie Shiraz? This rich and slightly spicy wine will go well with spiced venison sausages. Partly cook, cut into four and seal the ends, then skewer with a toothpick for serving. Aussie wines are slowly creeping up in price but if you are lucky you might be able to find the Tyrrells Old Winery Shiraz 1998 for under $15.

There are many great ideas for entertaining and with a little bit of effort you can make some nibbles that everyone will remember.

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