It’s dinner party season. Whether you’ve set a table in a fairy light-clad courtyard or in the dining room with the breeze rolling in, summer is made for get-togethers. Even more so at a time when – understandably – some of us are choosing to stay in and avoid strangers.
The key to creating a winning dinner party vibe is simple: choose fun, crowd-pleasing wines and pair them with equally vibrant dishes. We’ve got the wines covered with our latest Broadsheet Wine box, featuring six eclectic pours curated by Chin Chin Sydney’s head sommelier, Isobel McFadden. Ranging from light, textured whites to chilled, juicy reds, McFadden wanted her selection to represent “hanging out with a group of friends who have great chemistry. Easygoing, lighthearted, bright and eclectic.”
And the food? Being the expert, we asked McFadden for her suggestions on what dishes she’d pair with the wines included.
Voyager Estate Sparkling Chenin Blanc 2020 Margaret River, WA
Keep it light and fresh for aperitivo hour. This vivacious sparkling has a touch of tropical fruit on the nose, so you can play around with some aromatic herbs in your dish. Pair with seafood like scallops and prawns, and light, citrusy flavours such as makrut lime and lemongrass.
Von Buhl Riesling Trocken 2020 Pfalz, Germany
You know the saying, "where it grows, it goes"? Generally, it's true. Unless we're talking about German riesling and Thai cuisine. It's always blown my mind that these two things – from opposite sides of the earth – are a match made in heaven. This is because aromatics, acidity and sugar are integral to both. What dish would I go for? Serving whole fish at any dinner party is always a show stealer. Try steamed barramundi marinated in garlic, zesty lime and ginger with a green mango salad.
Ravensworth “The Long Way Around” Bianco 2021, Swan Valley, WA
This textural white is predominantly trebbiano, with a hint of skin contact. Trebbiano and chicken is an easy pairing! Here’s the twist: there’s a splash of riesling and gewurztraminer in this blend. These aromatic varietals pair well with spice and intense herbs, so my ideal pairing would be gai yang – a Thai street food-style barbeque chicken. Juicy, flavoursome and a little spicy.
Lucky Cat Amber Gris 2021, King Valley, VIC
How depressing is it when you go to a dinner party and the only vegetarian offering is some sad leaves with a splash of dressing? Go the extra mile for your plant-based pals! This skin-contact pinot gris has a savoury element that pairs well with umami. Go for king oyster mushroom “steaks” grilled on the flame with garlic butter and fennel seed spice salt.
Little Reddie Nebbiolo Refosco 2021, Colbinabbin, VIC
Chilled juicy red is one of my favourite pairings for Panaeng curry. Steer clear of big, tannic reds like cabernet sauvignon and shiraz to avoid palate fatigue. Instead, lean toward something with high acidity to cut through the rich coconut milk. You can use any protein, but I’d go for luxurious duck.
Bondar “Junto” Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2020, McLaren Vale, SA
I would pair this with Wagyu beef brushed in a soy glaze, and grilled over an open flame (preferably charcoal-fired). Simple and tasty. It can be difficult to pair wine with soy sauce – often it makes the wine seem flabby or bitter. But I find grenache can have a natural umami quality about it, which in turn complements the umami in soy. Being an Australian GSM, there’s also a sweet fruit element that matches the sugar content in tare sauces. So many elements just work.
The Chin Chin x Broadsheet Wine box is available to purchase via the Broadsheet Shop from $150. Order quickly, as numbers are very limited.