Perk up your Christmas leftovers with a drop of wine

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Touraine Sauvignon Blanc

PHEW. That’s that for another year . . . now, what to do with the Christmas leftovers in the fridge.

If you don’t have some turkey or sad sprouts staring at you when you reach for the milk, I’ll eat my hat – if I wasn’t too busy eating what’s left of my Christmas ham.

I’ve bought some pomegranate seeds to perk up my turkey in a pilaff – with cook book guidance from Nigella – and I’ll be sipping a crisp sauvignon blanc.

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Touraine Sauvignon Blanc (£8.49) is from Touraine, in the Loire Valley – more commonly known for SB from the appellations sancerre and pouilly-fumé. The grapes are grown on clay and chalky soils which bring a flint- sharp edge to the classic flavours of gooseberry, apple and citrus zests. Refreshing, dry and pale straw, it has a restrained nod of fruit to brighten up your turkey.

The Co-op also has a Loire SB worth seeking out, Sancerre Domaine Raimbault 2011 is reduced by £3 to £9.99 until January 1. It is made to the north of Sancerre and has a well-defined, but subtle sauvignon fruit character and a refined mineral edge. Try a sauvignon blanc with those sad fridge- imprisoned sprouts, but not before you perk them up with a buttery, black- peppered flash in a frying pan – with a squeeze of lemon.

Muscadet Sèvre-et- Maine sur Lie, Domaine des Ratelles, 2011 (£6.50, is another Loire white, light-bodied with a gentle citrus and green apple background. As it has been on the lees, it brings a hint of creaminess. Pour a glass, then make linguine pasta with ribbons of smoked salmon tickled with dill and a whizz of lemon and creme fraiche – or any light-ish cream Auntie Bessie didn’t devour.

I’m eyeing up a viognier to drink with the leftovers of my ginger- beer soaked, apricot-jam baked ham.

F Stephen Millier Angels Reserve Viognier 2011 (from £6.99, is a delicious, full-on Californian glug of peaches and cream in a glass. Or try Zilzie Viognier which is on offer at Asda for £5.48 until January 3.

If your ham simply needs cheese and bread to satisfy, then seek out a Bordeaux blend.

South Africa’s Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot / Cabernet Franc 2009 (RRP £10.99 Majestic) is medium-bodied with a smooth and spicy mix of berries on the nose and the palate.

Now we’ve emptied the fridge, let’s think of 2013.

For party-time bubbles, Morrisons Cava Rosado, from north-eastern Spain, is on offer for £4.99 from £7.49. It’s a pink to drink with pals, with strawberries fizzily flirting in your mouth – it has won a bronze Decanter award, too.

Stay in Morrisons for Decanter silver award winner Pongracz Brut (£13.99) a stylish South African chardonnay and pinot noir sparkler. It’s a delicious mix of apple and buttery pastry, like an apple choux bun of moreishness to sip and sip some more.

Finally, once Big Ben has sounded, raise a glass of Taittinger Brut Réserve NV (RRP £37.99 Tesco, Majestic, Sainsburys and Waitrose).

This is the signature cuvée of Champagne Taittinger and is made with 40% chardonnay with the grapes coming from prime vineyards. It has a fresh nose with typical hints of biscuit and brioche, but it has lingering levels of vanilla and stone fruit, too.

All the best for 2013 from me and mine to you and yours – chink chink.

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Try a dessert wine with your Christmas pudding

croix milhas rivesaltes review

IT’S not most people’s average choice when they find themselves in the wine aisle, but with Christmas looming on the horizon, some of us will be contemplating buying a dessert wine.

This week – with help from a couple of tasting elves – I explore the sweet wine world some never consider. There’s a couple of reds too, for cheeses.

Here we go: France tends to dominate the sweet wine consciousness, but Yalumba Museum Muscat (£11.99, 37.5cl, Morrisons) from South East Australia is well worth a try.

It’s a hugely attractive deep caramel colour – think the bottom of creme caramel. Looks aren’t deceiving because it’s a lovely honeyed caramel on the tastebuds.

I tried it with rich Christmas cake and it developed a hit of sharpness that cut through all the sugar of the cake’s dried fruits. And it turned out to be versatile with a strong cheddar, the contrast intensifying the muscat’s underlying mellow sweetness. (CJ)

Also, from Morrisons, and fabulous for cheeses, The Grahams Crusted Port is reduced to £13.99 from £17.99 over the festive period. The 2003 won a silver medal at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) last year – and also a gold at the 2011 Decanter awards. It needs gentle pouring but it’s worth it for the concentrated red and black fruit which take you to a luxuriant place.

If you want to dip your toe nervously for the first time into sweet wine but don’t want to splash the cash, then Sainsbury’s House Dessert Wine is a sweet delight at just £3.99 for a half bottle. It has the peachy zestiness and delicate fruity tingliness of honeyed lozenges I bought as a child.

So moreish – it was sipped with mince pie and fruit cake morsels. Even a blue cheese couldn’t subdue this spritz of a German wine.

Croix Milhas Rivesaltes Ambre (Tesco, £4.99, 37.5cl) was commended in this year’s IWC. It is a fortified, blended wine which has had at least three years in oak. A rich amber, it speaks of crystallised fruit and sprinklings of cinnamon and even crusty bonfire toffee. Oh yes please, it said to cheese and mince pies.

The Wine Society’s Portal Moscatel do Douro, Reserva, 1996 (£7.95, 37.5cl) was elegant in its bottle and refined in the glass. A sunburst of concentrated, candied oranges to serve with dessert or sip on its own. There’s no law against it.

I wasn’t convinced by The Chocolate Shop (reduced from £8.99 to £5.99, Co-op) which is a red with added chocolate flavouring. I thought it a trifle odd. On the other hand, you can save £5 on some fine wines at the Co-op until January 1. Chateau Belgrave 5ème Cru Classé 2008 is a bordeaux blend, with blackcurrant notes and a waft of tobacco leaf. It did a fine two-step with a slither of brie.

Benjamin Darnault Montahuc 2010 (from £9.49 at is 500ml of organic muscat – a pale straw nectar rich with pretty honeyed notes. But just like Beth Tweddle, its femininity disguises a devilish little kick. I loved it.

Also from Naked, is Ocaso Malbec 2011 (from £7.99) from Mendoza in Argentina. It has a lighter, fruitier flavour than some malbecs – which make it a good match for cheeses that always seem to arrive with the Christmas cheeseboard. Spanish manchego works well as does tangy, slightly soft taleggio cheese from Italy.

But two locally-produced blue cheeses – Butler’s Blacksticks Blue, from Preston – are less salty than most blues. Their flavour is a good match for the fruity and fragrant malbec. (BM)

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