Christmas wines Part 4: Festive red wine to warm and hug you (if only it had arms)

red wine bauble festive red wines Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Hold on to your Christmas hats! If you love red wines with a bit of heart, depth, richness and ripe fruits which can comfort and hug, then I’m here for you. I won’t dilly dally with these festive red wine choices, as there’s lots to get through.


Three festive red wine choices from France

It would be wrong not to head to Bordeaux with a couple of wines that say “food, food, food”. Grand Plessis, Médoc, 2015 (£11, Marks & Spencer) is a smooth and fruity claret. It’s classy and elegant on the palate like a good French wine should be, with a lovely floral nose. There are hints of spice and liquorice beneath the blackberry fruit flavours.

Calvet Reserve, Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux, 2016 (Waitrose £9.39) is a blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon and is ideal if roast beef is your Christmas Day roast of choice. But hey! This full-bodied red, lashed with dark fruits and pepper is also suitable for vegetarians so forget the beef and sip with your veggie option.

Where to go next? Well I’m spoilt for choice but I’ll stick with France because I Iove this wine Domaine Jones Fitou 2016 (£15.50, The Wine Society). I jealously guarded it when I was “tasting” it for your benefit. The challenges I face. It’s a blend of grenache, carignan and syrah and is full-bodied and rich and the essence of ripe, delicious, plummy dark and red fruits stunningly shine through. Main course? Yes. Cheese? Definitely.


… and now four more festive red wine choices 

I’m here waving a Christmas glass of Zalze Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier (RRP £8.79, Waitrose, Morrisons and Asda) and thinking it’s a good match for a plate of all the Christmas dinner goodies, from turkey to parsnips, from sprouts to roasties. Shiraz takes centre stage in this blend, which has notes of brambly hedgerow fruits and cherry.

If a Spanish Rioja is more to your festive liking, then  Marques De Caceres Gran Reserva 2009 (RRP £18.99, majestic.co.uk) will be a good choice. It has been aged for over two years in oak, a process which leaves a legacy of vanilla, coffee, spice and bold red fruits. It’s a powerpack of a red wine and the flavours just keep on giving.

Clos de los Siete (RRP £17, Sainsbury) hails from Argentina. The country’s signature wine grape malbec takes the lead in a five-grape blend including merlot, cabernet sauvignon and syrah. The flavours of red fruits, plums and spices dance a tango in your mouth and then linger temptingly. Sip and watch the Christmas episode of Strictly for the full effect.

Co-op Irresistible Chilean Carmenere 2017
Co-op Irresistible Chilean Carmenere 2017

A final choice, as I hate to leave you with a wine dilemma, is Co-op Irresistible Chilean Carménère 2017 (£7) which is a new wine in Co-op stores and was two years in the planning between the Co-op team and winemaker Diego Covarrubias. You’ll enjoy an easy-drinking, any-day kind of wine, full of black cherries. More than anything, you’ll love the label.


Christmas 2018 wines Part 1: Fresh and fruity whites
Christmas 2018 wines Part 2: Six chardonnay wines 
Christmas 2018 wines Part 3: Six light, fruity, savoury, spicy reds


First published in over 30 regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales –  Huddersfield Examiner
– The Chronicle, Newcastle  – Teesside Gazette 
Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express 

Christmas wines Part 3: Six red wines which can be light, fruity, spicy or savoury

christmas red wines 2018 Photo by Toni Cuenca on Unsplash

If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know I’ve shared some white wine ideas for Christmas.  In this post I’m starting down the road of Christmas red wines.

It could be a long road to travel, but I’m doing it in two journeys.  In this blog, I’ve roadtested light, fruity, savoury, complex wines and next time  I’ll share  richer reds.

What does that mean for your Christmas dinner? I much prefer lighter fruity reds to sip with my festive plate of flavours which can have so many mix and match combinations. A robust red can be overpowering – but you know, if you love it, then you jolly well drink it. Some of you listen to Enya, but I don’t complain.


My first three Christmas red wines

I love a fruity beaujolais, which you may be thinking is a summer wine. Well absolutely not! It is light and fruity that is true, but because of that it can deliver staying power to your palate throughout a meal and doesn’t have huge fall-outs with the complex flavours on your plate.

If you didn’t know, there are three styles of Beaujolais you can buy (well four if you include Beaujolais nouveau, but let’s not go there). There’s the basic Beaujolais AC, then the next appellation is Beaujolais Villages and finally, within the Beaujolais Villages are the Beaujolais Crus, a handful of villages with their own distinctive tastes.

For Christmas, Lidl is selling the crus wine Françoise Dubessy Fleurie (£7.99). Fleurie is one of the most popular styles which is fresh and juicy with raspberries and a shake of pepper. By contrast, a much more complex crus wine is Chateau des Jacques Moulin a Vent 2016 (RRP  £19.60, Sainsbury) which is dark and spicy, savoury and complex. It is very tasty and elegant. A lighter, softer beaujolais is Louis Jadot Combe Aux Jacques Beaujolais-Villages 2016 (RRP £11, Tesco and Ocado). It is bursting with red fruits. This wine is happy to be poured and share its balanced loveliness with a plate of festive goodness.


three more Christmas red wines

Ursa Maior TempranilloUrsa Maior Rioja Tempranillo (£6.50, Spar) is a very accessible Rioja in the new Regional Range from Spar which delivers bright red fruits on the nose and soft tannins and the same red fruits in the mouth. It is unoaked and retains a juicy freshness which I enjoyed.

Oh, and then I enjoyed it again.

A wine I loved testing for you guys (well, you know, someone has to do it) is  KWV The Mentors Petit Verdot 2016 (£14.99, slurp.co.uk). Petit verdot is a grape usually taking a back seat in a Bordeaux blend, but here the South African producers have pushed it centre stage. It has a flash in its soul of cherries,  black fruits, spice and pencil shavings. Trust me. Pencil shavings.

Mentors Petit Verdot
KWV The Mentors Petit Verdot

Finally, if a pinot noir is your preference (and it is mine!) Tesco Finest New Zealand Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017 (£8.50) is well worth the price. Good pinot noir usually retails well above this, but it’s no slouch by comparison. That wonderful earthiness is there in spades and it’s got enough about it to give the parsnips and sprouts a run for their money.  A pal said it reminded him of Sunderland Football Club. Goes down a little too easily.

Tesco Finest Marlborough Pinot Noir
Tesco Finest Marlborough Pinot Noir

Christmas 2018 wines Part 1: Fresh and fruity whites
Christmas 2018 wines Part 2: Six chardonnay wines 


First published in over 30 regional newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales –  Huddersfield Examiner
– The Chronicle, Newcastle  – Teesside Gazette 
Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express