Red Wines for Winter Weddings

As the temperatures slide down the scale this winter, it’s time to warm up by bringing red wines to your winter wedding table, writes Belinda Jackson.

Trademark pinot noirs, Italian varietals, cool-climate cabernets or sustainably-created shiraz… the Yarra Valley’s reds run the range from rich and deep through to lighter grape varieties new to Australia that will get the table talking.

Off-Peak Weddings chatted to a few wineries in the Valley and to Rick Creamer, owner of Yarra Valley wines specialist Rick’s Wine Tours, for their pick of the bunch of red wines they’d be pouring into the glass this winter, with delicious menu suggestions to match.

THE WINE 2018 Steel’s Gate Shiraz (Melba Block), $45


“This single-block shiraz is created sustainably and the vineyard doesn’t use anything that will harm the environment in the winemaking experience. So it produces a more luscious, intense grape that gets strong shiraz characteristics rare in Yarra Valley wines,” says Rick Creamer of private wine touring company Rick’s Wine Tours. “It’s not a heavy Barossa style, but has good body and length. I recently helped bottle the 2022 shiraz and it blew me away.”

DISH IT UP WITH… “Great with big, gamey meats, you could pair this shiraz with a rack of lamb and mushy peas every day of the week (not just at the wedding). Do people serve mushy peas at weddings?”

FIND IT HERE Steel’s Gate, 1974 Melba Hwy, Dixons Creek, 03 5965 2155,


THE WINE Rob Dolan White Label Cabernet, $38

Made with Yarra Valley fruit, this cabernet is in Rob Dolan’s flagship White Label range. “It’s not a very heavy cabernet, but a cool-climate cabernet with beautiful black fruit notes such as blackcurrant and black plum,” says Mel Gilcrist, of Rob Dolan Wines.” It’s elegant and smooth, a really lovely eating wine.”

DISH IT UP WITH… Pair it with a slow-roasted lamb shoulder with mojo verde, or a beetroot gnocchi, smoked beetroot and candied walnut, suggest Anthony Cutajar, head chef at The Farm wedding and event venue, which is owned by Rob Dolan Wines. “The earthiness of the beetroot integrates well with the savoury notes of the wine,” he says. Both dishes are part of his feasting menu served at The Farm.

FIND IT HERE 21-23 Delaneys Rd, Warrandyte South, 03 9876 5885,



THE WINE Tokar Estate 2018 ‘Coldstream Vineyard’ Tempranillo, $50

“This is a medium-style, hand-picked tempranillo with a good balance; it’s somewhere between a pinot noir and a shiraz. It’s a real in-betweener, almost like a merlot in its balance and softness. People who don’t really like reds always like this one,” says Rick Creamer of Rick’s Wine Tours.

DISH IT UP WITH… Braised beef really complements the wine – add mashed potato on the side for a winter wedding warmer.

FIND IT HERE Tokar Estate, 6 Maddens Lane, Coldstream, 03 5964 9585,

THE WINE 2021 Fergusson Pinot Noir

“The Yarra Valley is very well known for its pinot noir, and our 2021 pinot is a light fruity wine that’s very well balanced, with earthy undertones and a nice acidity,” says Jaclyn Cooper, who owns and runs Fergusson Winery & Restaurant with her chef husband, Paul.

DISH IT UP WITH… “Because it’s lighter, it can match with chicken and light game meats, or even served beside fish with heavier vegetables and garnishes, such as a beautiful piece of salmon or trout with root vegetables.”

FIND IT HERE 82 Wills Rd, Yarra Glen, 03 5965 2237,


THE WINE 2019 Maddens Rise Rosso, $30

A blend of seven different grape varieties led by Nebbiolo, the Rosso is an Italian-styled wine aged in French oak. “The wine’s got a bit of body to it, so sits well with bigger, savoury dishes,” says Rick Creamer.

DISH IT UP WITH… “While the Rosso will stand up to a main course, why not put it with the pudding? It’d be perfect with a chocolate ganache or a chocolate, almond and pistachio tart. You could even serve it with a heavy chocolate wedding cake.”

FIND IT HERE Maddens Rise, Corner of Maroondah Highway and Maddens Lane, Coldstream, 0491 001 246,


THE WINE 2018 Many Hands Pinot Noir, $49

“This easy-drinking blend is estate-grown and hand-picked,” says Rick. “It has typical Yarra Valley characteristics, but with it’s a standout as the owners are focused on the Italian style, so everything is done by hand, ensuring the quality is higher.”

DISH IT UP WITH… “I’ve drunk this pinot noir with a prosciutto pizza – delicious. It would sit well with duck dishes, and just as well with a great vegetarian option of pear, rocket and goat’s cheese salad.”

FIND IT HERE Many Hands, 2 Maxwells Rd, Coldstream, 0400 035 105,


PS “Can I sneak in a bubble recommendation?” asks Rick. “En Vie from Helen’s Hill is a good all-rounder great for toasting that everyone seems to enjoy.” En Vie Blanc de Noir, $28, 16 Ingram Road, Lilydale, 03 9739 1573,

Rick’s Wine Tours runs full and half-day tours through the Yarra Valley every day. Costs from $155 full day. Rick’s Wine Tours,, 1300 306 805