Here’s 16 Christmas gifts ideas for the drinks’ lover in your life (or for me)

Christmas gifts ideas 2017

Another year has flown and here I am with a handful of Christmas gifts ideas for drinks lovers. My choices are based on the simple scientific law that I’d want them myself. 

Christmas gifts: Books for drink lovers

I Love Champagne (RRP £12.99) is a fabulous guide by Davy Zyw subtitled “Fall in love with 50 of the world’s best champagnes” and it helps you do exactly that. There’s glossy sections on 50 champagne houses, food tips, history  and loads of other info too.  Fantastic.

I love The Wine Dine Dictionary (RRP £20) by Victoria Moore. The first section lists foods in an A-Z and offers brilliant wine pairings; then the role is reversed in part two, with the wines in an A-Z alongside suggested foods. It is a must-have for food and wine lovers. I’m very excited.

In Clean Cocktails (RRP £20) Beth Ritter Nydick and Tara Roscioli  share pages of colourful cocktails recipes, all with the emphasis on health. They use low-calorie spirits, fresh juices and natural sweeteners. Naughty but also good for you.

Doctor’s Orders (RRP £12.99, Hardie Grant)  by Chris Edwards and Dave Tregenza is another book full of cocktail ideas to restore, refresh and revive.  Edwards and Tregenza have created  drinks such as Thirst Aid with gin and herbs and An Apple a Day with Cognac and Calvados.

The title of the book Ginspiration (RRP £9.99, is a giveaway to what lies inside. There’s an A-Z of well-known gin brands, with lots of gin cocktail recipes and a guide to creating your own flavour-infused gin. A bit of gin DIY for you.

*Find these books on Amazon or good book stores.

Christmas gifts: Talking of gin

A couple of miniature sets to look out for. The Whitley Neill Small Batch Gin Selection (RRP £12.99, Amazon) includes 5cl of Whitley Neill Gin,  made with South African botanicals cape gooseberry and baobab and 5cl of Whitley Neill Quince Gin and Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger Gin.

The City of London Distillery Gin Taster Selection Box (RRP £34.99, Amazon) has five 5cl tipples of premium small-batch artisan gins all handcrafted in the Square Mile’s first gin distillery for nearly 200 years.  It includes Christopher Wren Gin and City of London Old Tom Gin.

Or here’s a thing, dangle gin from your tree with a pack of Pickering’s Gin-filled Christmas baubles (£30 for 6,

Christmas gifts: Special treats

The One Fo(u)r Brut and Brut Rosé (£10 and £12 respectively, John Lewis) are festive, fizzy and fun; 20cl bottles bubble-packed with Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne. Boozy Berries (£6.50, is a jar of oh-so-punchy raspberries left over from making Pinkster gin. Pop them in a pudding or dip them in chocolate. The Prosecco Gift Set (£45, is relaxation in a box and includes truffles from the Secret Truffletier, a bottle of prosecco and a Vineyard Candle.


Christmas gifts: FOR Serious wine people

In the Chapel Down Vine Lease Scheme (from £275) five vines can be leased from the Chapel Down Bacchus vineyard in Tenterden. People can follow the seasons by visiting their vines, enjoy an annual celebration lunch at the winery and take home a case of their own Tenterden Estate Bacchus wine complete with personalised wine labels. 

 The Coravin Mark 2 (£249, is a grown-up gadget. The technology allows you to pour the right amount of wine you want without removing the cork. This keeps the wine fresh in the bottle for a long time. I guess you’ll love someone lots to buy them this … but they’ll keep rewarding you with wine.


Christmas gifts: Final thoughts and a special offer

Premium Champagne Stopper Avina Christmas giftIf the one you love enjoys lots of fizz and likes to keep some opened in the fridge, then the Premium Champagne Stopper (£11.42) from Avina could be perfect. The simple stopper clicks in to an opened  bottle to keep the bubbles as fresh as the day they were opened. If you use this code AVINA15F you’ll get  15% off on the Avina website.
A lifetime membership of
The Wine Society (, £40) is a snip and there’s a £20 credit towards the first order.  A subscription with online Your Sommelier (from £36 a month) is a great shout. Each month three French wines arrive from vineyards and there’s tasting notes and regional guides. 

Enjoy shopping. Xx


Claymore Wines: I take a deep breath and mix Liverpool Football Club with pleasure

Claymore Wines Liverpool Football CLub

Many moons ago, when Twitter was just invented, there used to be loads of social gatherings called “tweet ups”. I don’t know if they still exist, but essentially people who often tweeted each other would meet in person.

I remember meeting a chap who was clearly disappointed that he was following me under false pretences. It was in the days before I “discovered” wine and I was on Twitter wearing a football hat. The hat being @claretsgirl. He’d followed me thinking “clarets” = “wine”.

I can still remember his face. I think he’d expected wine recommendations but what he got was a Lancashire lass who could explain the off-side rule.

I hadn’t thought of the association before – wine and football –  and perhaps it was a one-off. But no my friends, it appears there IS a connection between football and wine and it rests firmly with Claymore Wines from Australia.

Liverpool football club Claymore Wine
Anfield … I’ve been before as a football fan but never as a wine writer!

Wines of Australia  told me a Claymore tasting was in my neck of the woods so to discover more, I took a deep breath,  donned my Twitter wine hat @JaneClareWine, and  headed off to Anfield, the home of Liverpool Football Club. 

I needed the deep breath because my Twitter football hat – @claretsgirl – was feeling disloyal. On the day, LFC were above us in the Premier League separated only by goal difference. I made a point of mentioning it once or twice while I was there.

What’s the connection between football and a winery in the Clare Valley?  Anura Whittingham, the founder of the winery, spent many years in Liverpool and his love of the football club has shown itself in football-inspired wine names. In Australia, Claymore and the club began a three-year commercial relationship after the pre-season tour in 2015.

Oh, Anura  loves music too, which is revealed in music-themed wines.

Carissa Major Claymore Wines Liverpool Football CLub
Carissa Major with some of Claymore’s football and music-themed wines

Here’s some of the wines I tried under the guidance of Carissa Major, Claymore’s general manager, who was finishing a visit to the UK with Claymore. The link with LFC was saved for the final day of the trip.

Claymore Wines: A selection

You’ll Never Walk Alone GSM (£15.95, Whitmore & White) GSM indicates a blend of grenache,  shiraz and mourvedre. There’s herbs, violets, eucalyptus and big bouncy black fruits in this wine.

You’ll Never Walk Alone The Boot Room Shiraz 2013 (£18.50,  Lots of dark fruits with a hint of spice and vanilla from 18 months maturing in oak.

Skinny Love Viognier 2016 (£12.50, Grapes are grown on the Shankley plot. It is a low-alcohol fresh white with a green apple crunch, peach and a touch of sherbert.

God is a DJ Riesling 2016 (£13.95, Grapes grow on vines up to 100 years old. It has notes of citrus (lemon and lime) and a playfulness with stone fruits.

Superstition Riesling 2016 (£17.95, Yay the eyes have it.  I love the label here, a bit scary. Carissa explained the wine is a perfect balance of flavour, acid and sugar. The wine is made from free run juices and the notes of lemon, lime and peach are restrained.

Voodoo Child Chardonnay 2015 (£14.50,  It has texture from some lees contact and hint of spice from French oak. A complex wine but structured, with citrus, stone fruit and vanilla.

London Calling Cabernet Malbec 2015 (£13.95, A delightful wine which has brought Claymore their first Decanter Platinum medal.  Flavour notes include black fruits, raspberry, vanilla and black pepper. A bright fruit profile with oak influence.

Dark Side of the Moon Shiraz 2015 (£16.95 or £68.97 for three at Amazon)  Rich black cherries and plums, with vanilla and spice from oak, and a smooth finish.

The Joshua Tree Riesling (I can’t find a  UK retailer) Grapes are grown on the Watervale vineyard. It is finely structured, with good acidity, lemon and lime citrus, a delicate minerality and some floral notes.

PS – as I write, we’re still only separated by goal difference. Ha ha. xx