I love sitting at the table on Christmas day, eating well and sipping some lovely wine with my family. A nice wine, I think, is a must. Here are my top wine picks for the festive season.
If you’re looking to splash out then you can’t go too wrong with my favourite red, Château Musar. If you can get a bottle from ~1996 to 1999 then it should have aged well and be a lovely smooth robust wine. Should cost ~£14 a bottle but may be more for the older vintages.
If you’re looking to spend a little less then you should try Ravenswood Lodi. This wine was highlighted in the excellent Oz and James’ Big Wine Adventure on BBC2. James May has been looking for a good quality affordable wine, in the Ravenswood Lodi he found it. At ~£7-8 a bottle this is excellent value and strong to boot! This wine was also highlighted in The Daily Telegraph recently so it’s a wine to look out for.
My bargain of the year must be McGuigan Gold Shiraz. I’ve recently posted a lot about this being available at crazy prices, go get some! A wine somewhere between a classic Shiraz and a Merlot, easy drinking both with and without food.
Again, I have to recommend my favourite white, Highfield Sauvignon Blanc. For ~£11 a bottle this is an excellent bargain and something different to the usual premium Sauvignon Blanc of choice, Cloudy Bay. Drink this with your Christmas ham/gammon, fish or even with your canapés.
For something different try a Gewurztraminer (again great with ham). I liked the Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Gewurztraminer. A nice example, off-dry and floral in aroma. It’s strong flavour makes it a good choice for stronger food, for those moments over Christmas when you can’t be bothered to cook so you get a take-away! Should be ~£7 a bottle.
At the cheaper end of the market are two excellent wines. Brown Brothers Dry Muscat (<£5) is a delicious dry floral wine which is great on it’s own or as a Kir. Hardy’s Stamp Riesling Gewurztraminer (<£5) is sweeter than normal but an excellent glugging wine.
Hopefully you followed our Great Summer of Rosé. The winner, Pink Elephant, is an excellent example of a rosé and great again with your Christmas take-away. Available from most supermarkets at ~£4 a bottle.
For your special fizz why not try something different this year and go for a premium Sparkling Wine from the New World. I’ve got in some Cloudy Bay Pelorus (both Vintage and Non Vintage). These cost about the same as a decent Champagne at ~£16 per bottle.
If you’re looking for bargain fizz try a Processo (Italian “Champange” from the Venice region). Usually available for <£6 a bottle Prosecco tends to be less dry than most Champagnes and the bubbles, in my opinion, less gassy. This makes it an excellent party wine without the gassy side effects! I like La Gioiosa Prosecco from Tesco but all the major supermarkets will do a similar wine.
Here are a couple of different fortified wines for you from De Bortoli. Mrs ITs Food loves “dessert wine” (or stickies, rather, as she prefers New World). She describes the Show Reserve Muscat as “liquid Christmas pudding”. At less than £10 a bottle this is a great buy. I love this review of it…
“Maybe one year we will have more fortified wines in the UK to choose from, but until then, you can’t find a better wine to exchange for a tenner than this one. Liquidised, boozy Christmas cake in a glass.”
Matthew Jukes, Top 100 Australian Wines, 2006, UK
Instead of a Port this year I’ve stuck with De Bortoli and bought their 21 year old “Old Boys” port (PDF fact sheet). I know they’re not allowed to call it Port but I will (with a lower case “p” though). This is really intense, just how I like my port.
“Wonderful, nicely intense nose. Fruity balance with a very long finish.”
Wine & Spirit (UK), December 2006
Enjoy your wine this Christmas
I hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to wines for this Christmas. If you do try any of these let us know via a comment what you thought, we’d love to hear from you. Most importantly though, whether it be a £4 or a £40 bottle, enjoy it and have an excellent Festive Holiday!