Food and Drink 

First go white, then mix up the reds

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The holiday entertaining season is upon us and that usually means it’s time to party with friends. Just remember, securing the perfect suit or the perfect dress for the holidays won’t mean much if you are caught serving or drinking yesterday’s wine.

Being hip doesn’t mean you have to give up drinking your favourite merlot or cabernet sauvignon or even that chardonnay you won’t let go of, but why not move away from the safe and familiar and pick up some bottles that will set you apart from the crowd.

As I’ve said before, the good news about shopping ahead of the trend or simply a few metres off the well-worn path usually means the wines you are searching for will be available long after all the critter labels are gone. Don’t forget store clerks can be your best friend. They know where the wine is or even if it’s in stock. Better yet they can suggest an alternative if they don’t have the bottle you are looking for.

We begin with the white, which IS the new red. Nothing says you know more about wine than to be seen clutching a kick-ass, glass of white wine in a room full of red wine drinkers.

Groovy grüner from Austria is the ultimate, holiday season sipper so make sure you are seen clasping a glass of super crisp, delightfully floral, groovy grüner. Top picks include Jurtschitsch Sonnhof Steinhaus Grüner Veltliner 2005 ($20) which comes with a slick Vino-loc glass stopper closure ensuring it is the ultimate in freshness. I love the Rabl Grüner Veltliner Spiegel 2005 ($16) and its passion fruit and granny smith flavours or Hiedler Grüner Veltliner Loess 2005 ($17) with its crisp, round, juicy entry and clean dry finish.

Aromatic white blends are just as much fun and probably more versatile when it comes to food and large parties. In this case sauvignon blanc, sémillon -sauvignon blanc, riesling or viognier are all worth clutching and there’s a pile to choose from. Under screwcap is the refreshing Wirra Wirra Scrubby Rise ($15) from Australia. Cono Sur Viognier with its orange mineral flavours selling at a mere $11 is, as the kids might say, “stupid” value. Similarly priced is the French version from Moillard 2004 Viognier Huges le Juste ($11.75).

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