Christmas party drinks: 10 ideas for tipples if you’re having people round

Christmas One Foot in the Grapes

If you’re inviting friends round for a quiet celebration, or you’re planning one of those “stand in the kitchen and ignore the sofa” parties, then you’ll be looking for ideas for Christmas party drinks. Here’s a selection.


Christmas party drinks: Nice and easy wines

Vignobles Roussellet Pinot Noir (£4.49, Aldi, 12.5% abv) I poured this red in a wine tasting and it went down a treat. It has bright jammy fruit, is easy-drinking and look at the price. Taste the Difference Bordeaux Rosé (£7, Sainsbury, 12.5% abv) A lovely pink. Made from merlot, it has a nose full of red fruits, fresh and dried strawberries and a hint of tropical fruit. Fruity White (£5, Spar, 13% abv) Ignore Spar wines at your peril, they’ve brought out a new range (more on that in the New Year). This is a simple South African white, billed as “smooth and mellow”, made from chenin blanc. It’s a kitchen party pourer.


Christmas party drinks:  Festive fizzlers

Martini Prosecco (£10.78, Asda – though I’ve seen it on rollback for £7, 11.5% abv) is a pretty prosecco and as it has Martini branding it might be overlooked in that prosecco “space”. It has uncomplicated aromas of apple and pear and a good citrus kick in the mouth.  

Borgo Molino (£ £9.99, The Co-op, 11% abv) You can buy this wine in a gift pack for £14.99, with truffles, to take along as a gift for your hosts. This is a dry prosecco with notes of green apple and a citrus bite, together with bubbles a-plenty.


Christmas party drinks:  Belting beers

Hobgoblin IPA (four for £6 in Asda, also sold in Morrisons, the Co-op) is a new launch. I’m told IPA drinkers nowadays are more likely “to be female and younger” though if younger than me, I don’t know. It’s a copper-coloured brew created from English hops Fuggles and Goldings.

Meantime Chocolate Porter (£23 for 12, meantimebrewing.com, or £1.99 each, Waitrose) is a dark beer with four different roasted malts, matured with real chocolate. There’s definitely chocolate on the nose! This robust beer will work well with party-time spicy dishes such as a chilli.


Christmas party drinks:  Christmas spirit

Monkey Shoulder (£27 at Tesco, widely available elsewhere) The name “monkey shoulder” refers to a time when maltmen turned barley by hand, causing their arm to tire and hang down like a monkey’s. It’s a blend of three single malt whiskies and has notes of vanilla, orange and a spicy bite. Check out party cocktail recipes at monkeyshoulder.com

Ramsbury Vodka (£34.55, masterofmalt.com) A super-special gold medal-winning single estate vodka. Ramsbury grow the wheat on their chalk downs in Wiltshire, combine it with water from their land, and distill. The nose is rich with vanilla, it has a creaminess and a good weight. Ice is all it needs, perhaps a slither of orange peel.


Christmas party drinks:  A creamy flourish

Amarula Christmas party drinks

Amarula (RRP £12.50, widely available) This isn’t as “gunky” as some of the more familiar creams and is just as tasty over a drop of ice. The base spirit is made from the fruit of the Marula tree in South Africa. Check out amarula.com for recipes. Oh, and Amarula has formed a trust to support the African elephant via educational and environmental projects.  

FIRST PUBLISHED IN OVER 30 TRINITY MIRROR 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 

Your best-buy supermarket champagne… here’s the festive fizz factor scores

Champagne bubbles in a glass

supermarket prosecco supermarket champagneYup – that’s me on this page. Sadly not the pretty thing in the middle, but the old blob on the left wearing a grey cardie. You’ll see we ran a supermarket festive fizz taste test … here’s the supermarket champagne ratings. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

SUPERMARKET CHAMPAGNE: BEST BUY

Wm Morrison Champagne Brut NV supermarket champagneWm Morrison Champagne Brut NV (Morrisons, £15, down from £19 until January 1st)  This is a silver winner at the International Wine Challenge and is a champagne which is happy in its soul. It has honeysuckle, the juicy tease of ripe red apples, vanilla, cream cake and a summer breeze on the nose. It is soft and subtle with gentle flavours and acidity and the juiciness stays with you long after the last sip. Which is what we want, right?
Fizz Factor: 5/5

SUPERMARKET CHAMPAGNE: BARGAIN BUY

Lidl Champagne Comte De Senneval

Champagne Comte De Senneval (Lidl, £9.99) I really, really liked this. There’s aromas of fresh apples with a touch of cinnamon and a yummy ooze of baked apples too, with some sweet temptation of a baking cake. It’s not in your face though, it is subtle like a spring freshness. Apple flavours are very refreshing, and the bubbles, well, they’re happy little bubbles.
Fizz Factor: 5/5

 Supermarket Champagne: The best of the rest

Champagne Veuve Monsigny Vintage Blanc de Blancs Champagne (Aldi, £19.99) You might find this a bit overpowering unless you have a head start in knowing Champagne nuances.  I love this wine. Its an award-winning seasonal  offering which has aromas of apple compote, super-fruity apple tarte tatin, butterscotch and nuts. Side by side with other champers it is almost toffee-like. It has a good acidity and lovely complex rich apple flavours.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

Duval-Leroy Fleur de Champagne Premier Cru (Waitrose, £17.99, down from £26.99 until January 3)  Ah, this is subtle and feminine, delicate and wistful. There’s fresh apples and apple crumble on the nose, with a “hey notice me” wave from lemons. It is more fruity than complex, has a soft mouth-feel and is confident in itself. The name is inspired by the scent of the vine flower.
Fizz Factor: 4/5 

Les Pionniers Champagne Brut NV (the Co-operative, reduced by £1 to £15.99  until January 3) Ah. One of my evergreen favourites. It is a super-reliable Champers, named after the Rochdale Pioneers who founded the Co-operative movement, and it has a reputation of beating big names in blind tastings. It has a nose of biscuit, brioche and apples, and tastes of toffee-dipped green apples. Very drinkable.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

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Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne (£16, down from £19, until January 9) The grapes for this champagne come only from premier and grand cru vineyards, which makes for a special experience from beginning to end. The champagne has a rich nose with lots of ripe apples, vanilla and brioche. It has a good balance of fruit and acidity and some lovely fizzy giddiness plays around your tastebuds. It’s not an overbearing style but has finesse and elegance.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

Sainsbury’s Champagne Blanc de Noirs (£20) There’s three main champagne grapes, one white, two black. If champagne is made   from the white grape only it is blanc de blancs; if just the black grapes are used, the wine is blanc de noirs. That’s what we have here. There’s sumptuous, tempting aromas of brioche, vanilla, butterscotch and citrus but the taste doesn’t live up to the aromas. Saying that, it has a good balance of acidity and a nice fruity flavour.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Louis Vertay Brut NV, (Marks & Spencer, £16.50, from £33 until January 1) A High Five to M&S for just scooping 60 medals, including six golds, at the International Wine Challenge last month. This champers has subtle aromas of fresh and dried fruit, with a sweep of tropical fruit which tickle the senses. Lasting bubbles liven the glass and a taste reveals touches of fruity complexity.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Marquis de Belrive Champagne Brut Reserve (SPAR, £16) I was surprised when I had my first nose dip of this champagne. I said “oooo” because I wasn’t expecting it to have such pretty aromas. It’s not a flag-waving champers, but it’s definitely one you’d be happy to pick up on your way to a party or a family visit. Grapefruit and toasty apples play on the nose and to taste a creamy texture is fizzled with citrus and brioche.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Champagne Pierre Darcy (Asda, £10, reduced from £18 until  December 27)  Well it’s a tenner so you can’t complain at that, but it needs perking up with fresh raspberries to make it a festive treat. The aromas have buttery edges but there isn’t much fruit; to taste there’s no depth or complexity. In fact it is bland and leaves a bitter aftertaste.
Fizz Factor: 1/5

*First published in December 2016 in several regional UK newspapers including:

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express