Make Your Own Pizza Night & Robert Oatley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (#WorldWineTravel)

There's nothing like a pizza night to please a crowd. A Cabernet Sauvignon from Margaret River, Australia proves an equally crowd-pleasing pairing.

Christmas Eve looked a little different than usual this year. Normally, the fam gets dressed up and we spend it with family friends who have a party every year. (My parents usually have a gathering on Xmas Day.) Omicron did away with those plans this year. That said, Greg and I were at least able to go see my fam this year, so already we had a big improvement over last year! 

This was the first time I’d gotten to see them in about two years. There was also a whole new family member. My niece was born about a month into the Zombie Apocalypse and we hadn’t been able to meet her until this trip. 

Our smaller grouping did present some eating challenges though. My parents don’t eat a lot of meat these days, but the other four adults do, and then add on two kids who have their own eating preferences. My mom also already had her hands full cooking for Christmas Day – so she didn’t really want to take on another meal, and no one felt like getting dressed up or being too fancy. The answer – make your own pizza night!

I made WAY too much pizza dough – just comically way too much –– laid out a bunch of toppings, and everyone got to make a pie to suit their tastes. We had some hiccups, but my nephew and niece wound up happily chanting “Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!” for a long while as they ate, so that was a pretty great win!

I do have a couple of tips for even better success in the future. 

  1. If possible clear enough space to allow for at least 2 people to be prepping their pizzas at the same time — this includes room to roll out the dough, in addition to space to line up all your topping options. If you can, also clear space to put pizzas as they come out of the oven. 
  2. Try to have multiple baking sheets available – at least 4 if possible, and 6 would be even better. If you can get some of those disposable aluminum sheets, that would be ideal. This will allow you to set up a better assembly line with a couple of people building their pizzas, while 2 pizzas are in the oven (or more if you have a two oven set-up), and you won’t have to worry about hurrying to get sheets cleaned to be reused once pizzas are moved off them. I didn’t think to check on how many baking sheets were available until right before we started making pizzas, and things would’ve moved much faster if we’d had more and I’d considered the assembly line in advance. 

Even so, it was a good time and pretty fun to see all the variations. 

Wine Pairing: Robert Oatley Vineyards Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Alcohol: 13.5% | Purchased for $18 from | Additional details here

To be honest, Cabernet Sauvignon wouldn’t normally be my top choice to pair with pizza. Some can be really overpowering and can overwhelm the flavors on a pizza. However, my mom loves herself some Cab, so that’s what we went with. There are times when even I’m not paying careful attention to the nuances of how the wine and food are working together. The moment is about hanging with people around you and having a good time. As long as nothing clashes, it’s all good. This was one of those moments. And happily, the Robert Oatley Vineyards Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 wasn’t one of those giant overbearing behemoths and it worked pretty well. 

Today’s wine comes from Robert Oatley Vineyards. The Oatley family has their fingers in many pots including competitive sailing, tourism, hospitality, and of course, wine. The company was founded by the late Robert Oatley in 2006, but the family planted their first in the 1960s. It continues to be family-run, with Bob’s eldest son Sandy Oatley at the head 

They have a trio of labels, each with a different focus. In the case of the Signature Series, the wines are all maritime-influenced. They farm sustainably, using organic practices. 

On the night we opened this wine, I picked up notes of blackberry, cassis, cocoa, pencil lead, and plum on the nose. There were similar notes on the palate, although with more red fruits, dusty red earth, black tea, as well as dried thyme and oregano. I think those herbal notes helped it pair nicely with the flavors in the pizza.

Since I was running around a good bit, helping to keep the pizza train going, my wine had plenty of time to sit and open up in the glass. As I mentioned, this wasn’t a huge Cab. It was medium+ in body – it was mouth-filling without being heavy. It was a little grippy and tight at first, but I think that time in the glass helped it open up and smooth out. By the time I got around to drinking it, it was plush enough to enjoy with food, as well as on its own while playing an incredibly awkward, but hysterically funny game of Card Against Humanity with my parents during which my brother, sister-in-law, Greg, and I had to explain a lot of things while turning various shades of crimson. 

It was a very Merry Christmas Eve. 

Margaret River

Map borrowed from

The Margaret River region is located in the southwestern corner of Western Australia, about 168 miles (270 km) from the city of Perth. This is an incredibly isolated wine region with ancient soils and incredibly unique biodiversity – a whopping 80% of its plant species are found nowhere else in the world.

The Wadandi Aboriginal people have stewarded this land for over 50,000 years, and European settlements began in the 1830s. Vine cultivation didn’t begin here until the 1960s. A Perth cardiologist, Tom Cullity, was the first to plant vineyards after being influenced by a research paper by Dr. John Gladstones, an agronomist from the University of Western Australia. In the relatively short amount of time since, the area has become one of the most respected regions for Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as other Bordeaux varieties including Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. You’ll also find Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc. 

The Bordeaux varieties make a lot of sense here since the region has quite a bit in common with Bordeaux including its coastal location with a temperate climate and cool sea breezes. Much like Bordeaux as well, rains can get heavy at times, so it’s important for growers to look for areas with soils that drain well. However, Margaret River has a benefit over Bordeaux in that the rain tends to be concentrated in the winter, so it's much drier during the growing season. The region gest another leg up on Bordeaux in that it’s 10 degrees of latitude closer to the equator, which is sure to help the grape ripen more easily. The bottom line is that, while it does get its share of rains, the climate here is more mild and Mediterranean than in Bordeaux,  which makes it easier to grow healthy grapes. 

Margaret River's winemakers are particularly proud of this temperate, coastal location – and of its similarities to that of Bordeaux (despite being 10 degrees of latitude closer to the equator than Bordeaux). The result is that this region is known for a more European style of wine than much of the rest of Australia. I think that came across in the Robert Oatley Cab in the herbal notes, earthiness, and moderate level of alcohol while showing plusher fruit than I might expect from Bordeaux. 



TheWorld Wine Travel Blogging Group (#WorldWineTravel) is spending 2022 exploring Australia and New Zealand. The Wines of Western Australia are this month's focus, kicking off what is sure to be a tasty year of explorations. Check out the rest of their posts: 


Additional sources used for this post and extra reading: 



  1. I love that this was a lighter bodied Cabernet. I suppose the climate there, being similar to Bordeaux lends itself to this style.
    You pizza's look amazing! What a fun way to gather and enjoy a meal with something for everyone!

  2. What a wonderful Christmas celebration. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. Your new family member is just precious.

  3. What a relaxed holiday for getting back together! Fun to read about the custom-built pizzas and how the light-bodied Aussie Cab worked out so well. Cheers!

  4. Great job for publishing such a nice article. Your article isn’t only useful but it is additionally really informative. Adelaide Wood Fired Mobile PizzaThank you because you have been willing to share information with us.


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