Breakfast bubbly, medal-winning or cheap and cheerful: Gareth Stewart's top wine picks for Christmas

choosing wine Christmas lunch
Whether you're sipping it yourself or gifting it to a loved one, this handy guide will get you through. Photo credit: Getty.

Whether you're sipping bubbles with breakfast, pouring a port with dessert or trying to find the perfect bottle for that hard-to-buy-for soul, wine is an integral part of the festive season for many. 

But with so many incredible local and international drops on offer, it can be tough to know where to begin. 

Chef and former My Kitchen Rules judge Gareth Stewart has just launched 'Wine Monster', a subscription service which introduces subscribers to a different award-winning local winery every month. 

And Stewart has put together a list of his top picks for Christmas - whether you're drinking it yourself or gifting to a loved one - so you can safely sip in style. 

What's your favourite wine for Christmas lunch? 

I love the Pinque Rosé from Man o War! I usually get a Magnum gifted to me from work, which we happily sip through Christmas Day. It's such a light and delicious wine – sweet and fresh and always goes down a treat with a nice summer platter. A rosé for New Zealand's summer Christmas dinner is an all-round winner.

What's your favourite NZ wine that you will find in the supermarket?

It's got to be Church Road's Chardonnay for me, which is absolutely delicious with seafood and poultry. The Church Road Chardonnay is always my go-to, it's such a crowd-pleaser, it never fails to disappoint. You'll find it at pretty much any local supermarket so it's easy to pick up on the way to visiting friends and family. 

Gareth Stewart has launched Wine Monster, a new wine subscription service that does the hard work for you.
Gareth Stewart has launched Wine Monster, a new wine subscription service that does the hard work for you. Photo credit: Supplied.

Best wine you've discovered in 2020?

Earlier this year I stumbled upon Saint Clair and absolutely fell in love with the Saint Clair Pioneer Block 1 Sauvignon Blanc. It's super fresh and tasty, quite fruity actually and full of grapefruit and tropical fruit. I love finding and tasting new wines, especially if they're from New Zealand. We've been reminded time and time again this year how important it is to support local, so it's a no brainer for me when it comes to wine too.

What's the best wine if you aren't made of money - within a $15 - $25 price range? 

This is one some people may not have heard of, but Main Divide wines are excellent value for money. These wines are made in Pegasus Bay in North Canterbury and taste seriously delicious! If you're a newbie to wine a great way to make sure you're getting good quality wine at a lower price point is to look for the awards on the bottle. You'll see little gold, silver and bronze stickers that show the medals the wine has been awarded. If there's plenty of those on the bottle, there's your ticket!

The best bubbly for Christmas morning?

We have a little ritual for Christmas in our house. We always pop open a bottle of Mumm in the morning. You can't go wrong, it's a very consistent drop and the bubbles set the day off to a great start. Nothing beats a champagne breakfast on Christmas morning. 

The best wine for gifting?

The best wine for gifting is a wine that you can enjoy now with friends and family. One you can tuck into straight away rather than in five years' time. With seafood, Christmas ham and lamb on the menu for many Kiwis, you can't look past a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or a Central Otago Pinot Noir! 

Stewart's final note: 

Outside of wine, eat and drink as local and fresh as possible. Discover new artisan products at local markets, drink local craft beer, explore local cellar doors and support locals. Keep it simple too - or you can subscribe to Wine Monster so we can do the hard work for you.