Life Eat & Drink The boozer’s guide to Xmas party season
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The boozer’s guide to Xmas party season

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Let’s not utter platitudes about offices bathed in flouro light, nor hallway rumours and cigarette break wisdom. Let’s get down to business. You may have had one to many last year, and photocopied your bum, in colour, but this year is time to show you’ve matured. Take the lead in the drinks department, ooze local booze knowledge, global awareness and just a general aptitude for what’s what in the stemware section. Choosing some interesting drinks will make them think you’re smarter and worldly and that is always a good thing. Don’t go on about it though, there is a very fine line between, wordly and wanker.

1.Don’t say Champagne when you’re buying domestic bubbles
It’s 2013 and we still haven’t nailed this one. Champagne is a place that makes a wine with bubbles in it, but that does not mean that all sparkling wine is champagne. It’s like driving a corolla and telling people you have a Porsche, yes, they are both cars, but they are not the same thing. If you want wine with bubbles in it, ask for sparkling, it avoids almost certain ‘bill shock’. Call domestic sparkling, “sparkling”, and you’ll be fine.

Domain Chandon ZD ( ZD stands for Zero Dosage)Yarra Valley, Vic $35
Brown Brothers Brut ( Brut means dry) King Valley, Vic $24
2007 Jansz Cuvee (Cuvee means blend), Pipers River, Tas $35

2.Think of something other than Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc with your entrée

I’m the first to admit,that Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is delicious, Mahi, The Darling, Seresin all make wine I will gladly imbibe, but come on, we make some tasty aromatic whites in Australia. If you still want crisp and aromatic, try Riesling from the Clare Valley, or Eden Valley. Drink some of the delightful Italian grapes of which there seem to more and more, or any one of a number of Fiano that are popping up all over town.

Pewsey Vale Riesling, Eden Valley, SA $23
Quartier Arneis, Mornington Peninsula, Vic $28
Saltram Winemakers Selection Fiano, Barossa Valley, SA $28

3. Show some leadership and ask for Syrah, or a spicy aromatic Shiraz with your main course
Firstly there is nothing wrong with big generous shiraz, but go wild and try something new.
Knowing that syrah and shiraz are the same grape will get you points, then knowing that syrah is often a spicier lighter bodied style will give you awesomeness status. This is the perfect red for a xmas lunch, and you still have the option of heavier reds later in the evening. * Note that not all cool climate or even lighter bodied shiraz are labelled Syrah.

Ruggabellus Fluus, Barossa Valley $25
Clonakilla Hilltops Shiraz, ACT, $28
Innocent Bystander Syrah, Yarra Valley, Victoria $25

4. Choose a dessert wine with cheese, don’t just order more big reds
There is a reason sweet wines are matched with cheese and that reason is that cheese is full of fat and salt. Reds can be ok, but sweet wines really take this pairing to another level, as they have sugar and more acid. Sweet wine and cheese are designed for one another.

Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling, Clare Valley SA $38
Tamar Ridge Botrytis Riesling, Tamar Valley, Tasmania $23
Vasse Felix Cane Cut Semillon, Margaret River $17

The main difference with these wines is that the Cane Cut and Cordon cut are not infected with botrytis, they are still sweet but have more in common with late harvest wines. Botrytis is a delicious mould that attacks the grapes. It sounds disgusting, but it’s wonderful.

5. Sidestep the jaeger bombs and order gin and tonic with local gin.
As the group starts to get loose avoid the temptation to go hard with shots. Shots may feel in order might, but they’re not. Ask for a local gin. I know the Brits have been making this stuff for centuries, but we know have own thriving gin producers and there are many more coming. Knowing about the local scene will give you extra kudos, and there is nothing quite like more kudos to help you climb the corporate ladder. Soon you’ll be in the corner office with your own swipe card to the electronic turnstiles.

Melbourne Gin Co., Melbourne Victoria
The West Winds. The Cutlass Western Australia
Lark Godfather Pepperberry Gin, Tasmania

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