Red wine for Christmas: 12 choices to see you through the festive madness

red wine for christmas

The countdown is on. The tree is up, you’ve ordered the turkey, the presents are (nearly) all bought and you’re thinking about added extras. It’s my job to help you with drinkies – here’s some red wine for Christmas.

Pinot noir is one of my favourites:

The pinot noir grape is so versatile.  It will sip well with practically every flavour you might throw at it in the festive hotch-potch of food. I might draw the line at vanilla ice cream, but hey, each to their own. 

Jackson Estate Homestead Pinot Noir (reduced to £10.49 at Waitrose until December 26, 13.5% abv) has ripe red fruits, is silky smooth with light tannins and has a touch of earthiness to match the veggies on your plate. Spar’s PN Pinot Noir (£6, 13.5% abv) has plummy fruit, with pepper spice and is a winner in the quality versus price ratio. At Lidl,  Alte Vogtei Zu Ravensburg Spätburgunder (£8.99, 12.5 %abv) has light tannins and lovely raspberry notes. Spätburgunder is the German name for pinot noir.

Reds from the Americas:

No self-respecting chef would ever deliberately put together the random mix of flavours that is a typical Christmas dinner – from turkey, sprouts and chestnuts to bread sauce, sausages and bacon – but your wine choice has to stand up against all of them.  

Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (reduced to £10 at Tesco until January 1, 14% abv) This big Chilean Cabernet is full of dark cherry fruit and works brilliantly with the food. It’s a strong, concentrated flavour and won’t be overawed by honey-basted parsnips.   If you’re one of these people who likes roast beef for Christmas, this juicy Argentinian malbec is just the thing. Mora Vista Special Selection Malbec 2016 (£9.99, Virgin Wines, 12.5% abv) has dense, plummy fruit but with a light finish.  Back to Chile and Viu Manent ViBo Vinedo Centenario 2013 (RRP £16.99, oddbins.com, 13.5% abv) is intense with blackcurrants with an element of mint, of freshness and complexity which won’t overpower your Christmas plate. Shenandoah Amador County Zinfandel 2015 (£10.50, The Wine Society, 14.5% abv) has cherries running through it, soft tannins and a peep of chocolate. I’d love this on Christmas Eve.

A flirt with France:

Beaujolais is great with hard cheeses, and its fruitiness will add a lift to most meats and your Boxing Day buffet. Henry Fessy Brouilly 2015 (RRP £12.99, Waitrose) offers a raspberry medley with cheese and doesn’t demand a palate battle. Hot off the press, and Morrisons The Best Fleurie, 2016 (£8.25, 13% abv) has won silver in the new International Wine Challenge awards. Oh, my, cherries and violets. Or how about a Bordeaux. Château Sénéjac Cru Bourgeois (£16.99 at the Co-op ) is a delicious wine from the Left Bank, plums, spice, mocha, and woody notes. It is complex yet not overpowering and perfect for Christmas lunch.

Fireside riojas for a moment of calm:

Tesco finest* Viña del Cura Rioja Gran Reserva DOC 2011 (£11,  14% abv) is a delicious fruity wine with notes of blackberry. It is light enough to enjoy as a drink to wind down at the end of the day; or its berry flavours would be perfect with turkey, duck, beef or game.  Palacios Remondo Rioja Crianza La Montesa 2013 (RRP £16.49 Ocado, 13% abv) A luscious Rioja, full of interesting fruit and spice flavours. Produced mostly from the garnacha grape, which makes it lighter and easier to drink than some of the old-school riojas, but it retains a definite touch of class. A serious candidate to accompany Christmas dinner.

The last word on red wine for christmas:

Wine Atlas Negroamaro red wine for Christmas

Asda’s Wine Atlas range was created to help people discover wines from lesser known regions. Better still, they don’t break the bank. Wine Atlas Negroamaro (£5.68) is a stunning berry-packed rich, juicy red from Italy. It has a burst of fruits on the nose which I loved and will be a lovely red wine for Christmas. 

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 

 

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