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Winning food and wine, top 12 books, great gifts and weekend breaks to enjoy


Pinot Noir by T'Gallant on the Mornington Peninsula

It's a fabulous time of year here in Australia and New Zealand. The weather's great, the end-of-year excitement is building up, and I know more than a few people who have started Christmas parties already! The countdown is on to the holidays, and I know you're likely to be busy, so I'll keep this brief.

Are gifts, food and what to drink on your mind? If they are, we've got more than a few suggestions below, from the best wine and books to buy, fabulous food to serve for Christmas lunch if you are tired of turkey or don't want to spend all day in a hot kitchen, and lots more food and other ideas to help make your festive season even more special. Scroll down for more:

Some seasonal special offers for you to enjoy

Balgownie Estate Premium Cuveé Brut NV

But first, a few new offers exclusively for you:

  • Stock up your sparkling wines supplies with Balgownie Estate's  special offer of 20% off their sparkling wine, but don't delay, this offer ends on 30th November »
  • Looking for lovely gifts to spread your festive spirit to those in need? Sue Liu, a friend, has created a lovely range of  hand-poured soy (i.e. non-toxic fumes) candles to raise funds for the Cambodian Sunrise Children's Village. So feel virtuous, buy them for wine-lovers (a candle is indispensible when decanting a fine wine) and  you'll  receive a special gift, too »
  • Looking ahead to New Year's Eve, the Italian Fiesta at Warrenmang Vineyard and Resort promises to give you La Dolce Vita in Victoria's Pyrenees. Book your two night stay now and enjoy some exclusive extras »

Food news and reviews

Cold smoked Yarra Valley Salmon with charred leeks, lemon and soft herbs
We've been getting lots of great feedback from chefs and readers about the just-published Top 12 Food and Cookbooks for 2012, including a lovely note from Michelin-starred Chef Mourad Lahlou from Aziza restaurant in San Francisco, whose New Moroccan was awarded number six.

Ben Shewry of Melbourne's Attica was delighted, too, when his wonderful book Origin took out our joint number one place with Heston Blumenthal – for these and other sure cookbook winners for your Christmas gifts in our Top 12 list, click here »
Are you – like me – taking a break from tradition this year and thinking of serving seafood for Christmas, or over the New Year? We asked seafood guru John Susman how to select, cook and serve the best seafood for the feastive season. Yes, it's time to throw a prawn or marron on the barbie, and lots more! »
(We've added a few wine matching suggestions as well :)
Like John, we don't think you can go past oysters in summer. Tas Food Books has updated The House of Oysters with new mouth-watering recipes and more background info. If these salty delicacies are on your fave seafood list, then this book is highly recommended – it's a great gift idea for an oyster-lover in your life too »

(PS: we have one copy to give away, see competitions section below)
Kirstie Bedford has also provided us with a range of delicious (and fully tested) new recipes for Yarra Valley Caviar and Salmon. These start with Ballotine of Salmon with Watercress and Citrus Fruits, and will continue each week right through December and January, so stay tuned for entertaining inspiration!
Looking for something completely different? Then get a taste of Oregon USA with some real home-chef cooking from The Domestic Chef, Jack Madden (now available on Amazon) in this updated and revised edition, full of creative food, wine and fun drink ideas.
 More on food at » 


Food and wine travels

Rail trail cycling tours
Like some fresh air, gentle exercise, tasting some of the best wines in Australia and savouring delicious food? Rail Trail Cycling Tours offers a unique way to experience the gourmet delights of North Eastern Victoria including Milawa and the King Valley »
Hot news: Michelin-starred Moroccan Chef Mourad Lahlou of Aziza restaurant in San Francisco is coming to Australia in mid-February, as part of a U.S. chefs' committee invited here to become more familiar with our delicious beef and lamb. They'll also be holding  Masterclasses in Brisbane and Melbourne to share their ways of preparing beef and lamb in restaurants in the States. We'll share more info with you when we receive it.
If you were lucky enough to attend the Margaret River Gourmet Escape last weekend (22-25th Nov) – or even if not – there's a fabulous book on the region called Chefs of the Margaret River Region that will help prolong the memorable experience. I'm so impressed with some of the recipes – from nineteen of the region's top chefs – that I am planning my Christmas lunch this year from its pages. Even better, you can buy one for Christmas at an exclusive 20% off »

You can find more wine and wine travel gift inspiration in our Top 12 wine and wine travel books for 2012 »  
For more culinary travel adventures click here: » 


Win sparkling prizes and festive gifts

Balgownie Estate, Yarra Valley, Victoria.
It's certainly the time for all that sparkles and we have some lovely, bubbly gifts to be enjoyed!

The History of Australian Wine by Max Allen

From wine to books and food, some more gifts from us to you:
 More great giveaways: » 


 Are you a winner? Find out now » 


Food and wine events

Glen Ewin Estate
With the weather warming up and the festive season approaching fast, our event calendar is filling fast. Here's just a small sample of what's on around the country soon:
 Find more events near you: » 


 Read more about what's on: » 


Event organisers and marketers (including those in New Zealand!), you can quickly and easily list your food and wine events on our calendar for FREE. To reach our subscribers, simply go to and enter your event details.


Selections for RACT Members

Meadowbank Wines
This is a lovely time of year to be out and about in Tasmania visiting vineyards and providores. Local wine and produce make great gifts and with the discounts you enjoy as an RACT* member, you can afford to be generous!

It's not just the wines that are spectacular at Goaty Hill in the Tamar Valley, the view is pretty good too! Visit their very friendly cellar door and save 10% »

With Frogmore Creek and Meadowbank wines now all available under the one roof at Frogmore Creek/Meadowbank's delightful cellar door in the Coal River Valley just out of Hobart, you can save on more of Tasmania's finest wines. Receive a 15% discount on both Frogmore and Meadowbank wines »
Enjoy your Tasmanian travels – don't forget to check this link for the full list of savings and pack your RACT/AAA card!
* also applies to visiting members of other affiliated auto clubs (eg RAA, RACQ, NRMA, AANZ, AAA etc)


RACV members – regional Victoria calls

Grampians Estate Wines

Carry an RACV* card? Then regional Victoria is calling you, it's saying 'come hither for wine, food, lovely people and scenery to match'. Plus you can save up to 20% at cellar doors, vineyards, producers and more! Here's our pick for November:

If you love a cool climate peppery shiraz then a visit to Grampians Estate (pictured) is surely in order. Taste their award-winning wines and local produce for the festive season or put together some gift packs. It's a great time to stock up as you'll be saving 15% on your wine purchases »

At Warrenmang Vineyard and Resort in the heart of Pyrenees wine country, it's not just the luxury chalets that have the stars. Their premium wines are renowned for their quality and long term cellaring potential (although the latter might not be required at this time of year!). Save 20% on cellar door purchases »

So heed the call and pack your RACV card but don't forget to check this link for more wineries and producers offering you something extra.

*Discounts apply to RACV and other travelling auto club members (eg RACT, NRMA, RAA etc)

 Fifty more places to save at: » 


Auto Club savings in Queensland

Sirromet Winery in the Granite belt region of Queensland

Starting the festive season gatherings and planning gifts? Then grab your RACQ* card and if you live in Brisbane, you won't have to travel far to get a start!

Sirromet is the perfect place to catch up with family and friends for some great food and clinking of wine glasses but before you sit down, take a winery tour and tasting – flash your RACQ card for 50% off »

How delicious would a gourmet pack of olives be as a gift? At Coolana Olives there's a great range of olive products, infused oils, table olives and more. Fill a hamper and save 15% »

*Member of RACT, RACV or other auto club? Great news, these discounts apply to you too!

 Find out more: » 


Thanks for your feedback

Thank you to those of you who got in touch and pointed out that we listed a couple of events in our last newsletter that had already passed. We do our best, but we're only human – and the week our newsletter was originally due to be sent, Kerry's dear mum passed away, so we had to delay it. Apologies, nevertheless.

Kerry's feeling a bit better now, and we're starting to gear up for Christmas and the festive season. We're all looking forward to a bit of time off and to 2013! Meanwhile though, we've been looking for a new wine partner to offer you a selection of great wines – and we think we might have found one! More exciting news coming soon ......

Meanwhile, we hope your festive season planning goes well, and the start of office parties and Christmas lunches! Have a great time, and we really look forward to seeing you again soon.

Cheers and good health from Robyn, Kerry, Lara, Andrew and the rest of the team.


Keep up to date with the latest news from, share your experiences with us, or just drop by for a friendly chat you can find us on Twitter and Facebook, Google+ and also on Pinterest (yes, we love social media!)


Did you miss your last newsletter in the post-Melbourne Cup rush? (November wine edition)  Check it out here »

* Wine samples for review and publication can be sent to, PO Box 488, North Hobart. Tas. 7002.
Please include price information and tasting notes, and food matching suggestions and recipes if you wish.
** If you operate a vineyard, winery or restaurant, or grow, make or sell regional food produce in South Australia and would like to find out how you can be involved in our forthcoming program with RAA, please email Lara at for more info.