I write about wine and other drinks in a handful of regional UK newspapers; I sometimes share my columns here on One Foot in the Grapes. Here’s some Christmas drinks to pour when friends or family visit spreading seasonal love. And expecting a drink.
Christmas drinks: A trio to mull over
Lyme Bay Winery’s Mulled Wine (10% abv £8.29, www.lymebaywinery.co.uk) This award-winning mulled wine is made in small batches in Lyme Bay’s East Devon winery. It is a vibrant pink with lovely aromas of ripe fruit, dusted with clove and sweet spices. It is delicious, soft and moreish. So much so I also “tasted” it cold.
Crabbie’s Mulled Ginger Wine (12% abv, £6.99 or three for £5.49, www.drinksupermarket.com) Oh it’s a ginger wine true enough! The nose is all ginger then – wait a minute – in sneaks sweet feminine citrus before aromas of dried spices take over. A surefire hit for ginger lovers everywhere.
Taste the Difference Mulled Wine (11% abv, £6, Sainsbury) I sensed the red wine aromas before the spices; then sweet berries, flecks of orange peel, cloves and vanilla tapped me on my nose and said Hey!! We are the mulled bit!! And sure enough they were right.
Christmas drinks: A trio of spirits
The Pogues Irish Whiskey (40% abv, £27.95, www.thewhiskyexchange.com) Christmas isn’t Christmas without hearing the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York at every turn. The band has an official whiskey you can tipple as you sing along. The nose has malt, vanilla, spice and nuts; then to taste more vanilla and spice, wrapped in a surprising softness – with lots of whiskey bite!
Kraken Black Spiced Rum (40% abv, £19.99, Aldi) This Caribbean rum, named after a mythical sea monster, is distilled from sweet molasses, aged for up to two years, and then blended with 11 spices including cinnamon, ginger and cloves. It has aromas of toffee, Christmas pudding and chocolate; take a taste and by jiminy the rum tingles to your toes.
Cranes Liqueur (20% abv, £15 for 35cl, drinkcranes.co.uk) This new liqueur is made from cranberries, blood orange juice and orange rind. A tart cranberry aroma is the first to pop up its head, followed by a sweet thrill of orange and citrus. To taste, there’s a cushion creamy mix of fruit, soft, plump and warming. Pour in a glass and top with prosecco.
Christmas drinks: A trio of reds
Extra Special Douro 2014 (13.5% abv, £5.48, Asda) This Douro – a blend of four native Portuguese grapes – is a whopping explosion of warmth and complexity, full of blackberries and prunes. If you imagine the fruity richness of port, you’re not far off the richness of this red, as they’re from the same region.
Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva 2011(13.5% abv, £9.99, the Co-op) I love this rioja and if anything is guaranteed to warm up your guests as they come in from the chill, this will. This wine is ruby red, has toffee, spice and coconut on the nose and delivers a warming spice and fruit velvet hug in the mouth.
La Flor Malbec Pulenta Estate (14.5% abv, £9.95, winetrust100.co.uk) Perfect for cold winter nights is the jammy, fruity style of a good malbec. This wine is packed with black cherry and plum fruit flavours, with hints of caramel, chocolate and wood smoke. If you don’t want to share with visitors enjoy on your own with a steak.
First published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals